2007-2008: Week 23 Reflections

February 1 , 2008 (Day 102)

Reflections
The theme of the day surrounded teachers looking back at the lives they have impacted.  This was a conversation among the faculty, and Mrs. Logan was due to have her daughter shadow her at school today (but she got sick) and a former student bought Mrs. Ewing coffee this morning at a café. We began the day reading and talking about Billy Collins’ poem “Schoolsville” (1985) – in which a long-retired teacher imagines a town populated by those he has taught.  We also watched CNN Student news, and the stories touched upon the disruption of internet service in Africa and Asia, the final Republican debate in California before Super Tuesday (with Ronald Reagan’s Air Force One looming in the background), and a personal look at one family’s successful gathering in China for the start of the lunar new year.  As for the last story, we all recognized the drive visible in this young family, and it encompassed a husband and wife both working in separate cities while their daughter lived with grandparents in a third.  Their hard work and commitment to succeed and live together pushed them every day to learn and to achieve, and they were now enjoying the few weeks of the year that they are together.   In Math, we collectively reviewed and worked through the fractions (both with and without variables) and word problems from yesterday.  In Spanish, we reviewed for Monday’s test on Unit 3.1.  We also took a diagnostic quiz and then reviewed it.  To conclude the class, we orally practiced with the verbs “to like” and “to want.”  In Humanities, we finished the discussion of Crèvecoeur’s “What is an American.”  We also debated contemporary politics and tackled the New York Times Civil War-themed crossword puzzle (with the use of internet research) that again linked to our recent exploration of this subject across the curriculum.  One of Mr. Kreutner’s former students from Heathwood Hall, Gabby Linder, joined us during Humanities and remained until close to the end of the day.  She is a student at MUSC, and she will link up again with us when we visit MUSC in March.  Mentor Zach Thames arrived during lunch and worked with us until the end of the day.  In Science, we talked about the cell membrane and then answered some questions using an interactive web-based cell model and cell biology website (Cells alive!).  This was a fun and thorough method to recap and to reinforce what he have been examining in the past few weeks.  During Flex Time, Mr. Kreutner showed us the beginning of a Frontline webcast that fit in with the day’s theme and began our studies during Black History Month.  First aired in 1985 by Frontline on PBS, “A Class Divided” shows the early-1980s reunion of a group of third graders from a class in Iowa.  They gathered to meet again with their teacher who pioneered an experiment in discrimination with her homogeneous group of students by dividing them by eye color.  We saw today their response to being grouped and treated as inferior, and she switched the groups so that they saw both sides.  The effect on their demeanor, behavior, and academic success was startling.  We’ll see on Monday their reflections, looking back on its effect from their perspective as adults now in their twenties.

Assignments
Leadership & Life Skills
– for Friday, 2/8 – Moodle on-line reflection on skill sheet rankings and narrative comments from First Semester. Include goals for the rest of the year.

Math
– for Tuesday, 2/5 – p.222 #s 12-27 odd

Spanish
– for Monday, 2/4 – study for Unit 3.1 test (pages 94-105)
– complete review sheet for extra practice (optional)

Humanities
– for Tuesday, 2/5 – chapters 9 & 10 in history text
– for Wednesday, 2/6 – quiz (with notes) on chapters 1,6,8,9 & 10
– for Thursday, 2/7 – chapters 11 & 12 in history text
– for Monday, 2/11 – short story due

Science
– for Thursday, 2/7 – test

January 31, 2008 (Day 101)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we watched CNN Student News, and the lead story gave us a primer on Super Tuesday.  We also watched a tour of Ronald Reagan’s Air Force One, and the final story involved a 10-year-old girl who is a veterinarian’s assistant.  We also wrestled with when placing a satellite in a non-geosynchronous orbit would be preferred in comparison to a geosynchronous orbit.   The period concluded by revisiting the Civil War by discussing the term “the bloody shirt.”  We learned about the root of its usage in America immediately following the Civil War, and we contemplated modern examples.  The impetus for this topic was a book review in The New York Times of Stephen Budiansky’s work entitled The Bloody Shirt: Terror after Appomattox.  The essence of his argument is seen in a quotation from a North Carolina judge from 1879: “In all except the actual results of the physical struggle, I consider the South to have been the real victors in the war.”  Budiansky looks at five Americans who worked to create a new world in the wake of the conflict, but they were forcibly rejected within years.  In Math, we tackled equations and word problems that involved solving with fractions.  Some were straight math, and others involved algebraic concepts to solve for a variable.  In Spanish, we took and corrected a quiz on “querer.” Using many different methods (through speaking and writing), we practiced “gustar” and “querer.”  In Humanities, we explored the English colonies in America in the wake of the Seven Years’ War (a.ka. The French and Indian War of 1756-1763).   The French leave, and Native Americans are forced to the west.  This opens the door to more settler expansion over the mountains, and this is within the spirit of  “manifest destiny.”   We concluded the class by reading a selection from J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur. Crevecour was French-American, and he wrote Letters from an American Farmer in the late-18th century, and our piece was entitled “What is an American.”  In Science, we were engaged in reviewing and writing our lab report from our 1-week egg experiment.

Assignments
Leadership & Life Skills
– for Friday, enter and sort skill sheet rankings into MS Excel
– thank you card for your guest at Wednesday’s lunch

Math
– fraction word problems worksheet (if you cannot do a specific problem or have spent four minutes on it, just write down the operation to be used and move on to the next one)

Spanish
– study “querer” and “gustar” with all of the pronouns
– complete Acts 20&22 on p.104
– remember your personal vocabulary
– for Monday, February 4 – Unit 3.1 (midway through Unit 3) test

Humanities
– for Friday, chapters 11-14 in The Scarlet Letter
–  for Monday, February 11 – short story due

Science
– lab report on the egg experiment due
– test on Thursday, 2/7

January 30, 2008 (Day 100)

Reflections
To start the day, we thoroughly cleaned the notebook computers, white boards, and windows.  In Morning Meeting, we watched CNN Student news.  It highlighted the results from Florida’s presidential primaries.  We then paused and discovered that John Edwards and Rudy Giuliani were dropping out.  The next gave us insight into the rail gridlock in China because of the terrible winter weather there – compounded by the traditional above-average number of travelers seen in China during the time around the start of the Chinese New Year.  The final story talked about the failing U.S. spy satellite that is due to crash to Earth in the next month.  This gave us a chance to have mini-lesson about geosynchronous orbits, orbit degradation, and what happens when a man-made satellite returns to Earth.  Mr. Kreutner then led us in a review of yesterday’s web chat about the film Glory.  We first came up with a list of the pros and cons of web chatting, and then we discussed the lessons we had drawn from the exercise (especially the power of perspective in affecting how one views history).  We then held a brief chat about questions about the presidential primary process in America.  In Science, we weighed the eggs that have been in water or syrup.  The eggs in water were very plump but did not have much change in mass.  The eggs in corn syrup lost mass.  This phenomenon was explained as osmosis.  We watched a video clip on equilibrium, diffusion, and osmosis.  We learned that osmosis is the tendency of water to move from a hypotonic solution to a hypertonic solution.  Reverse osmosis flows in the opposite direction and requires energy.  Osmosis did not require energy.  We discovered that this is how our cell membranes take in water from our blood stream.  We all felt the need to drink more water!  After Science, we shifted gears and prepared for our one-on-one lunches with members of Hibben’s staff.  This involved reviewing the social skills we have acquired throughout the year and chatting about tips for making small talk.  We then walked to a nearby deli to pick up everyone’s lunch, and then we headed back to the gym.   We each set up a separate table with our food and lunch for our Hibben partner.  At 1:00, our guests arrived, and we ate and talked together until around 1:45.  We learned a lot about our lunch companions, and we also shared a lot about ourselves.  The experience was fun, and we definitely feel prepared as we steadily gain readiness to begin oral interviews of experts and local residents for our various projects. After cleaning up, we played games in the gym, and then we got back together to talk about the lunch experience.  We took turns talking about our partner and how the meal and conversation went, and it was interesting to hear the similarities and differences in the topics that we discussed.  Mentor Zach Thames arrived at the end of lunch and stayed with us for the rest of the day.

January 29, 2008 (Day 99)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we watched CNN Student News, and it provided a starting point for a brief conversation about the State of the Union address and the history of the event.  We then had some Flex Time to work on independent study projects or other academic affairs.  In Math, we took turns practicing problems on the board related to topics we have studied in the past three weeks.  In Spanish, we took a quiz, corrected it, and reviewed our homework.  We also began preparations for our mid-Unit 3 assessment on Monday.  In Humanities, we watched an audio slide show from The New York Times about the recent vandalism of Robert Frost’s house – a poet whose works we have examined this year.  The rest of our time together centered on a discussion of the trial of John Peter Zenger.  J.P. Zenger was a newspaperman in the first-half of the 18th century in New York City.  Although indicted and tried for sedition and libel against Governor William Cosby of New York, he was acquitted in 1735.   His case is seen to have been very influential in the value placed on freedom of the press by the American colonial leaders.  This also looped into a discussion of the First Amendment and the post-9/11 Patriot Act’s effects on the Amendment.  In Art, Mrs. Johnson guided us through several exercises in creating expressive letters and text, and this was an extension of our recent work in cartooning.  We concluded the day with an on-line web chat (on our USL space on the internet), and it linked together our recent experiences.  The focus turned to the film Glory and how the history of the Massachusetts 54th and the assault on Fort Wagner on Morris Island could have been portrayed differently (i.e. the effect of perspective, etc. in telling the story).

Assignments
Leadership & Life Skills
– for Friday, enter and sort skill sheet rankings into MS Excel

Math
– none

Spanish
– for Thursday, study “querer” and pronouns on pages 94-105
– for Monday, February 4 – Unit 3.1 (midway through Unit 3) test

Humanities
– for Thursday, chapters 6-8 in history text
– for Friday, chapters 11-14 in The Scarlet Letter
– for Monday, February 11 – short story due

Science
– none

January 28, 2008 (Day 98)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we heard reflections from the 7th graders who took the SAT this past Saturday, and it was great to hear that they were not daunted – except by the length of the test!  Mr. Kreutner then showed us a picture to analyze.  After we shared our thoughts, we learned it was the photo accompaniment to a book review of the new work by Harvard University’s president (the first female president in the institution’s history) Drew Gilpin Faust.  Her book, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, explained that the enormity of the casualties in the war prompted massive changes in the country.  The 600,000 deaths, or 2% of the country’s population, is equal to 6 million Americans dying today.  Coping with these numbers led to the beginning of national cemeteries, processes for kin notification, soldier identification markers/tags, and others.  Our discussion of this book review harked back to our visit to Magnolia Cemetery, the film Glory, and what we learned last week about applying to the Veterans Administration for a military marker for a loved one.  We also watched CNN Student news, and the main story was the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary and Barack Obama’s decisive victory.  This led us to review the comparative results from both party’s primaries in South Carolina using quantitative data and graphs from The New York Times election profile of South Carolina.  In Math, we took an assessment on fraction equations.  We then had our first lesson in the official dance of South Carolina, the shag.  Mrs. Rowland and her husband are seasoned shaggers, and they led us in this exercise.  Joined by Mrs. Logan, another strong shag dancer, we learned the basic 6-step core of the dance.  We practiced both with and without music, and we danced in lines and with a partner.  It was a fun hour, and we are on our way to mastering this aspect of South Carolina “beach culture.”  In Spanish, we learned the irregular verb “querer” (to want) and practiced its use.  In Humanities, we reflected on Saturday’s primary results from South Carolina, and we talked extensively about the mid-Atlantic colonies.  Mrs. Logan also shared a link with us about Benjamin Franklin from this month’s issue of New Yorker magazine (“The Creed: What Poor Richard Cost Benjamin Franklin”). It was a clever piece and was filled with many of Franklin’s epigrams.  Mentor Zach Thames arrived at the end of lunch and spent the rest of the day with us.  In Science, we worked on MAD projects.  As part of the effort to ensure our passion for our topic, some of us have moved to new projects or variations of our original project after consulting with Mrs. Ewing.  One project will deal with finding proper cleaning methods for “washable” paints often used in various children activities.  We hope to provide these instructions for local teachers and parents.  Another group is focused on water purification systems, water-borne diseases, and sanitary practices of undeveloped countries.  Stormwater management is the other project being researched. This group is researching best management practices used in Mt. Pleasant.  It is our hope to help the Town of Mt. Pleasant publicize non-point pollutants that each of us contribute to our beautiful waterways.   Mr. Kreutner met with us individually throughout the afternoon to review our evaluations from the First Semester & 2nd Quarter.  We talked about our skill wheels, narrative comments, and grades, and this got us thinking about what we have accomplished and goals for the rest of the year.

Assignments
Leadership & Life Skills
– for Tuesday, Moodle on-line response to National Gallery of Art’s exhibition about the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial / 54th Mass. Memorial
– for Friday, enter and sort skill sheet rankings into MS Excel

Math
– problems from the board from Friday

Spanish
– correct your translations;
– study your pronouns chart
– learn “querer”
– complete Acts 18 & 19 on p. 104

Humanities
– for Tuesday, preface (p.9) and Chapter 1 in new history text
– for Thursday, chapters 6-8 in history text
– for Friday, chapters 11-14 in The Scarlet Letter

Science
– none

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