April 18, 2008 (Day 149)
In Morning Meeting, we reflected on yesterday’s voyage on the Spirit of South Carolina. We also watched CNN Student news, and the stories looked at the role of food banks, the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and the goods being created by convicts in Germany. Each story served as a launching point for exploration and discussion. We searched for area food bank and looked at the website of the Lowcountry Food Bank and talked about Second Harvest. We also went to the U.S. Geological Survey website and saw that there were 1000 earthquakes in America over the past week – clustered primarily in Alaska and along the Pacific coast. We also reviewed the major fault lines in America, and this served as a reminder that Charleston is in the biggest fault area on the Atlantic coast, and there is another big one in the center of the country (located in Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, etc.). We also talked about prison labor and its history in America. Although we did not think it was the case, we found out that prison labor is used to produce goods for sale and for the public in America. Because the cost of incarceration is so high, typically over $20,000 per inmate, the use of labor can be used to defray these expenses – but the opportunity for abuse does exist. In Math, we went over the variable M to find the angle of a line and reviewed our worksheets from Wednesday. In Spanish, we reviewed for a little while, but we spent the bulk of the class asking each other questions in Spanish (and replying to those questions in Spanish). Mentor Chelsea Joyner arrived at the end of Spanish and stayed with us until lunch. In Humanities, we engaged in an exercise in perspective and empathy. We know our personal thoughts on yesterday’s cruise, but we engaged in an activity to understand and to imagine others’ thoughts. We wrote in the voice of one of the other individuals on the Spirit of South Carolina and offered his/her reflection on the day’s sail with us: crew member, USL teacher, USL student visitor, Windwood Farm teacher, and Windwood farm student. We shared our written reflection with the other members of the class and talked about the experience and the various individuals. We also presented our individual posters about America, and we read aloud parts of Act II from Romeo and Juliet. Mentor Khailey Walsh arrived during Humanities and spent the rest of the day with us. In Science, we reviewed the digestive system and completed a second test on it. Today we learned that bile in the gall bladder is actually recycled red blood cells. We thought it was neat how the body reused these dead cells to help neutralize the stomach acid when it reaches the small intestines. We also completed group evaluations on our “Cheeseburger in Paradise” presentations. We will be making our presentations on Tuesday.
April 17, 2008 (Day 148)
April 16, 2008 (Day 147)
In Morning Meeting, we watched CNN Student news. We learned about the Pope’s visit to America and the lawsuit filed by J.K. Rowling over the possible publishing of the Harry Potter Lexicon. This story gave us a chance to learn more about the difference between print and internet mediums (including how Rowling liked the website version but was angered when the attempt was made to financially benefit by sales – as opposed to website advertising support). In Math, we used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to complete a 1040EZ federal tax return for one profession we like (using average salary data), and this involved hand-calculating the tax using the 2007 tax table on the IRS website. This exercise was daunting and frustrating, even though the return was a single-page, and the language and terms were challenging in places. However, it was ultimately enlightening because we got a feel for this important task and a real sense of the amount and percentage of income paid in federal taxes among the various professions. In Spanish, we read some of the biographies we wrote and played a team game involving verb endings. We also reviewed some of our old worksheets that were challenging the first time around. In Humanities, we read some of the letters between John and Abigail Adams and discussed their context and style. We also learned more about the Alien and Sedition Acts, and we talked about parallels between the early-1800s and today in regards to these types of laws (Patriot Act, etc.) and the connection to our Constitution. In Flex Time, we got a preview of tomorrow’s Spirit of South Carolina tall-ship expedition. In Science, we took a test on the digestive system. We also worked on our slide presentation of the digestion of a cheeseburger with bacon.
April 15, 2008 (Day 146)
In Morning Meeting, we watched CNN Student news. The first story looked at the global food riots, and the perspective was from Egypt. This gave us a chance to both discuss earlier Egyptian current events (efforts to return antiquities and Palestinians breaking the wall to Egypt in order to trade) and the underlying economic factors behind high food prices. The second story looked at recent earthquakes off the coast of Oregon, and we made the links to earlier stories about the National Geological Survey and earthquakes in England. We also were reminded that the Lowcountry straddles a huge earthquake zone. We then went to the gym for some early exercise and a “Survivor”-style puzzle relay. In Math, we looked at lines and parabolas, and this entailed graphing coordinates of equations with variables. In Spanish, we practiced conjugating verbs and started writing biographies. In Humanities, we explored the presidency of John Adams and learned about him and his wife Abigail. In Art, we concluded our sessions with Mrs. Kathleen Johnson with a lesson in and practice of painting in impressionistic and abstract styles. Mentor Zach Thames arrived during Art and stayed for the rest of the day. In Science, we learned life lessons. We were supposed to present a power point presentation on the digestion of a cheeseburger but neither group’s work was at a uniformly high level. We were embarrassed, and this prompted a great deal of reflection in order to avoid this type of situation in the future. Mrs. Ewing decided to allow both groups to re-do their presentations and learn from their mistakes, but we were penalized. Tomorrow one group will present and we will complete a written test on the digestive system. Friday the other group will present and we will complete an essay on the Digestive System (after we enjoy eating the nutritious meals we make for each other!).
April 14, 2008 (Day 145)
In Morning Meeting, we watched CNN Student news. We learned about Global Day for Darfur and the Olympic charter. The final story looked at the politics of Wikipedia. Because many entries are controversial, opponents can work to constantly revise articles according to their perspective, and this can lead to errors and misstatements. Wikipedia has protections built in to prevent this: email notification for article changes, registration to gain permission to edit / posting associated with one’s i.p. address, and “locking” of articles that have become contentious. Still, the lesson we took away from this story was to look critically at Wikipedia articles and seek confirmation/verification. We also looked at a preview of the upcoming week. In Math, we played “MathFest,” and this was a speed-based individual challenge that asked questions covering the whole year’s worth of topics. In Spanish, we revised last week’s conversations and presented them to the class. We also practiced conjugating verbs. In Humanities, we examined and discussed the debates of the early-Republic between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Who should govern? How? We also delivered our presentations of the monarch reports. In Science, we worked on our group cheeseburger projects.