2007-2008: Week 8 Reflections

October 12, 2007 (Day 39)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we examined the web page for each course.  We also got a general sense of the on-line Moodle course for Leadership & Life Skills.  We then looked at the universal paper grading rubric for all written assignments, and then grammar was the focus of our attention.  We learned the difference between active and passive voice, and we practiced shifting between the two.  For formal academic writing, we know that active voice is preferred.  For the rest of the period we either explored the on-line simulations links on the L&L Skills page or refined our skills sheet in MS Excel.  In Math, Mr. Longanecker challenged us to determine accurate ways to measure composite shapes.  We saw several novel ways to do so with different composite shapes, and then the main goal became efficiency.  In Spanish, we went over the “time” worksheet as a review for the quiz.  We received some worksheets to help us start reviewing for the unit test, and then we watched a SCETV UnitedStreaming video on Cortes.  In Humanities, we took our test.  If one finished early, one was able to read quietly ahead in our novel.  Mentor Khailey Walsh arrived at the end of Humanities, and she remained until the end of the day.  We ate our lunch, and then we moved outside to collect trash and sticks in preparation for Hibben’s Fall Festival tomorrow.  We then took a small break and then resumed class with Science.  In Science, we reviewed Atomic Theory and touched upon the contributions of the subjects of our research projects.  We also practiced Bohr models on given elements.  Mentor Zach Thames arrived at the start of Science and remained until the end of the day.

Assignments
Leadership & Life Skills
– if not refined (centered, gridlines), turn in skills sheet worksheet

Math
– quiz on shapes (perimeter and area) on Monday
– thinking questions worksheet due Tuesday

Spanish 
– catch up on emails if needed (4 total so far)
– start reviewing for unit test

Humanities
– students may choose to continue reading Of Mice and Men over the weekend
– be looking for your favorite poem

Science
Atomic Tuesday! (see below)
1) models due
2) test on Atomic Theory (check the study guide)

October 11, 2007 (Day 38)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we took an interdisciplinary quiz on the things we have seen and done over the past few weeks.  It allowed for follow-up questions and discussions for understanding.  We also celebrated the Nobel Prize in Literature for Doris Lessing that was announced today: we read one of her short stories, “Through the Tunnel,” a few weeks ago in Humanities.  In Math, we continued our study of perimeters and areas of shapes.  In Spanish, we got back our dictation quizzes and reviewed/corrected our homework.  We went over our class notes, and then we discussed and then completed an exercise on time.  In Humanities, we delved into the contrast between Lenny and George in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.  We are seeking to understand the complexity of their bond.  In Science, we completed our presentations on Atomic Theory and discussed the difference between scientific law and theory.  In Flex Time, we worked both individually and collaboratively on our notebook computers to refine our MS Excel skills sheet overview.  It includes averages by skill and by course, and it will allow us to track and to graph our development over the course of the year.  New Mentor Chris Marsh arrived towards the end of Flex Time, and we all got the chance to meet him while we performed our end-of-day cleanup duties.

Assignments
Leadership & Life Skills
– complete updates to MS Excel skills tracking sheet

Math
– worksheet – find perimeter and area

Spanish
– finish worksheet
– quiz on Friday
– complete Acts 12 & 15 on pages 12-13
– weekly email to Mrs. Rowland due Friday
– be ready to turn in re-written research papers

Humanities
– Test tomorrow (you may use your class notes but not your text) .  Be sure to bring your copy of the New York Times article for the test, and the assessment will include a document-based question.

Science
– Atomic model is due Tuesday, October 16
– Atomic test is Tuesday, October 16
– study guide and vocabulary worksheet

October 10, 2007 (Day 37)

Reflections
Today was a “Learning Outside of the Classroom” day. In the morning, we watched CNN Student news. The main stories involved the prior evening’s debate among the Republican presidential candidates and the recent landslides and sinkholes in California. The instability of the soil on which these homes were built (strong when dry but slippery when wet) reminded us of the perils of man fighting nature. We then read and discussed an article from today’s Post and Courier. The article, “Shrimping is shrinking,” highlighted the complexity of the situation facing commercial shrimpers. Traditional methods result in huge amounts of by-catch that many consider wasteful, recreational shrimpers impact the quantity available through “death by 1000 cuts,” and the importation of aquaculture-raised shrimp from Asia depresses prices. To gain a fuller perspective of the issue, we visited websites explaining efforts in Asia to improve farming practices. The tactics and pressing issues are similar to ones seen in modern agriculture in America: crop rotation, genetic improvement of the species, and anxiety about the use of antibiotics. We finished our time on campus by examining another Post and Courier article about a potential development on Shem Creek that could result in an outright purchase by the town or the use of eminent domain (“Town might condemn land.” The information we gathered in the morning linked strongly to our day’s activity: kayaking with naturalists from Coastal Expedition. We walked from school to Coastal Expeditions’ headquarters, and then we got a primer on safety, paddling, and working as team with one’s boatmate. We put in near the Shem Creek Boat Landing, and then we paddled out Shem Creek past the restaurants and shrimp boats. We learned more about the history of the Creek and Charleston harbor, the role of economics, and the ecology of the area. We made our way to Crab Bank Island, and we were able to walk around, gather sharks’ teeth, and learn more about the accretion and erosion taking place on the island because of the currents at work in the harbor. We also learned that this island, a product of man’s efforts to dredge and to keep the channels clear, has resulted in a huge boon for wildlife. The island is a major nesting area for birds in the region. Our guides, Ian and Emily, were engaging and illuminating. We especially gained from Ian’s presence because he was our guide on our August expedition to Bulls Island, and he helped us make connections among what we learned then and what we saw today. Upon returning to campus, we wrote our thank you cards for Ian and Emily, and then we wrote reflections on the day touching upon different areas (environment, economics, etc.).

 

 

Above left and right – paddling down Shem Creek towards Charleston Harbor

 

 

 

Above left – egrets and pelicans enjoying what this shrimp boat brought back

Above right – entering Charleston Harbor 

 

 

Above left – landing on Crab Bank Island

Above right – Naturalist Ian Sanchez explains the ecological makeup of CBI

 

 

 

 

 

Above left – enjoying some Sea Grass

Above right – making the return voyage to Shem Creek 

October 9, 2007 (Day 36)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we watched CNN Student news.  The three main stories involved the tragedy in Crandon, Wisconsin, a primer court cases involving illegal downloading, and an update on world population projections.  We vowed to make mathematical connections to the stories we saw, and we did this by determining the impact of the deaths in Crandon.  For the town of 2000, this was a heavy blow and equivalent (in percentage terms) to losing over 300 people in Mt. Pleasant.  We also studied birth and death rates, and we saw how quickly over several generations a high and low birth rate can play out in affecting the size and age composition of a population.  For further information, we examined Norway, Sudan, and America on the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.  We looked at birth and death rates, infant mortality percentages, average age, age composition of the population, and average lifespan at birth.  We saw big differences among the three countries, and the most enlightening information concerned Norway’s twice-as-better infant mortality rate (3 deaths per 1000 births compared to 7 per 1000 for USA and 100 per 1000 for Sudan).  We will map these statistics for these countries and all Spanish-speaking countries over the course of the coming days.  In Math, we concentrated on finding the name, perimeter, and area of a variety of shapes.  In Spanish, we learned more about telling time.  We also took a dictation from Mrs. Rowland and then corrected it.  This allowed us to see how we handle moving Spanish that we hear to the written form (while working on our spelling and grammar).  In Humanities, we searched for character in Of Mice and Men, and we practiced paraphrasing.  We also read an opinion piece from Sunday’s edition of The New York Times: it talked about a comment made recently by Republican presidential candidate John McCain (“A Nation of Christians Is Not a Christian Nation.” It spotlights the issue of religious freedom and tolerance which were crucial issues in the Enlightenment in Europe and strongly influenced the Constitution. We are just now crossing over into this period in our study of American history. Time also remained for us to further explore the Federal Writers Project narratives of individuals in South Carolina during the Great Depression.   Using our notebook computers, we were able to find stories and individuals that we found compelling to learn about.  In Science, we watched an ETV Streamlinewebcast of a Discovery Channel Schools production – “Greatest Discoveries with Bill Nye: Chemistry.”

Assignments
We will kayak Shem Creek with a naturalist from Coastal Expeditions on Wednesday, October 10. We will leave from the Shem Creek Boat Landing at 9:30, and the expedition will take around 3 hours. Please wear shorts/bathing suit shorts, USL t-shirt, USL hat, and shoes that are safe for boating. You will need suntan lotion, bottled water, and lunch. 

Leadership & Life Skills 
– for Wednesday, October 10 – encourage your parents to watch the Frontline webcast on the brain (link from Thursday, 10/5)
– for Wednesday, October 10 – final version of MS Excel skills tracking sheet due

Math
– worksheet – identify shape, perimeter and area

Spanish
– study time and numbers (pp. 20-21)
– complete worksheets on time and numbers
– quiz on Thursday
– Rewrite Aztecs/Cortes project paper for Friday, October 12
– weekly email to Mrs. Rowland due by Friday

Humanities
– test moved to Friday, October 5
– continue “Of Mice and Men”
– have today’s handout in class on Thursday

Science
– Kayaking permission slips due

October 8, 2007 (Day 35)

Kathy Roberts, educational psychologist, will present a seminar on Tuesday, October 9 on learning styles. This event is for families and students, and it will touch upon strategies for using knowledge of one’s learning style to operate more effectively as a student. The seminar runs from 6-7 PM at USL.

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we talked at length about honor, and some of these discussions were student-only and gave us the opportunity to enhance the sense of ownership for the school’s culture.  In Math, we increased our comfort with measuring and estimating distance by using Utah State University’s internet-based manipulatives.  The first exercise involved skills seen in a popular programming language of the 1980s (and still used today) called Logo.  We had to write a script (go forward, turn left) to send a ladybug under a leaf and then through a maze, and then we “ran” the script to see how well we did with estimating distance and programming.  The programs are called Ladybug Leaf and Ladybug Mazes.  It was quite easy to see how one error could wildly throw off the final results.  This links strongly to today’s federal holiday – Columbus Day.  In the 15th century, European explorers were savvy and used new tools for traversing the seas.  However, estimates of the distance to India/China/Asia by the western route were incorrect, and Christopher Columbus thought he had arrived there when he actually saw San Salvador Island (Bahamas).  We were able to trace his course and see the margin of error between the expected distance and the actual distance using Google Earth.  For the end of class, we worked on pattern recognition and completion (Train Attributes) and estimating fill marks when pouring liquid from one container (of a certain size and shape) into another – called Fill and Pour.  In Humanities, we discussed character development in stories.  We also began preparations for our own character study paper, and this entailed looking at primary sources from the same period as Of Mice and Men.  We looked at life histories gathered through the Federal Writers Project (1936-1940) of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) interviews that are available on the Library of Congress website, and there are 170 for South Carolina.  We read two in class.  One was an autobiography of a textile millworker in Columbia in the 1930s, and the other was an account from a parishioner of an AME church that burned down in Charleston (transcribed verbatim in Gullah).  Mentor Zach Thames arrived after lunch for the remainder of the day.  In Science, we delivered our Atomic Theory presentations.  In Flex Time, we checked out a CNN story posted today about Middleton Place’s efforts to become more authentic, and this involved bringing and raising water buffalo on the plantation.  The original owner of the plantation brought the first water buffalo to the Americas, and we learned about this (the buffalo and the site’s recent efforts to tell the full story of everyone on the plantation) on our expedition to Middleton Place last month.

Assignments
Our Learning Outside the Classroom experience is on Wednesday, October 10.  We will kayak Shem Creek with a naturalist from Coastal Expeditions.  Please be sure to complete, sign (parent and student), and return  the two Coastal Expeditions forms sent home today:
1) Kayak Tour Registration 
2) Agreement for Release and Discharge, Acceptance of Responsibility and Acknowledgment of Risks

L&L Skills 
– for Wednesday, October 10 – encourage your parents to watch the Frontline webcast on the brain (link from Thursday, 10/5)
– for Wednesday, October 10 – final version of MS Excel skills tracking sheet due

Math
– least common multiple review worksheet

Spanish
– Study “La Hora” time
– do Acts 26&27 on p. 20
– be sure you can spell all the #s and vocabulary
– Dictation (spelling) test on Tuesday
– Rewrite Aztecs/Cortes project paper for Friday, October 12

Humanities
– read the selection from Of Mice and Men
– test on Thursday, October 11

Science
– Ion worksheet

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