Way back in graduate school I had a professor who talked about the importance of having a "hook" at the beginning of a lesson. It's all about sparking interest and making everyone say, "Wow!" In past years, we headed outside to unroll a timeline where each strip of paper counts as 100 years, and we traveled back in time thousands of years to when the first hunter gatherers came to this land. Or we grabbed big rolls of paper and experimented with splattering paint as we tried to wrap our minds around the art of Jackson Pollock. Or I carefully rolled out "naked eggs" with their shells dissolved by vinegar. This year I'll admit that I haven't had as much energy or time to create super exciting hooks. Extra daily cleaning, reporting requirements to NYS, and lots of extra communication with family have me a little tapped out. Luckily our kids are such enthusiastic learners that they're really good at making their own "Wow!" This week they dove deep into the ocean, were literally dancing around the room about the stories they are working on in writing, and had the "best day ever" thanks to a barred owl siting. I am grateful for their joy, their laughter, their insight, and their ability to sink into the "wow" in a moment.
Theresa's 3rd-6th Grade Reflections
The big kids at Country Classroom have been busy exploring the ocean. The students have been doing research projects about the ocean, and creating some life size replicas of ocean creatures. Some of the kids are even doing science experiments about water!
Kids are also finishing up science projects, to be ready for our all-school Zoom Science fair on Friday. The kids have been learning about all of the parts of the scientific method. This year, we introduced the concepts of a "control" group and the "variable." Each experiment can only have one variable that is changed.
As soon as we finish our Research projects, we are going to begin our next writing project, which is an imaginative piece.
The best things about school still might be recess. Tracy has been leading the kids in sports and games. Dodge Ball and Noodle Tag are class favorites. It's all a bit challenging once they are layered up, and sometimes we feel like we're running in slow motion, but we make it work.
Tracy's PK-2nd Grade Reflections
When we showed up to school on Wednesday, everyone was pretty excited to see all of the ocean animals made by the big kids. There were shouts of discovery, "It's an octopus. No, it's a jellyfish!" "Look downstairs. There's a really big one!" "I found some minnows." I love it when we find ways to cross the divide of our hybrid model and share some of the excitement of what we're learning.
Everyone has been busy at work on their science projects. We are all in slightly different places, but by the end of this next week, we'll be ready to share. A few of our scientists were discussing how it's pretty cool when their hypothesis is wrong, "You think it's going to be one thing, but then it's not." "I like it when I get surprised." We try to celebrate all the different ways we learn things, and it's gratifying when they see a wrong hypothesis as a source of pride.
We're also immersed in our creative writing, crafting an interesting story with a beginning, middle, and end. For these young writers, their ability to tell a story is often at odds with the actual mechanics of writing. We use a combination of breaking it up over multiple days (for our more experienced writers) and dictating (for our younger writers), so they can get all of their amazing ideas recorded. We also regularly look to some of our favorite wordless books for inspiration in telling a detailed and rich story with just pictures.
We've been really playing with shapes in math class lately, both 2-D and 3-D shapes. Our PK and K's made a "Solid Shapes Museum" this week, and many of the other kids contributed their own finds. The children are adept at noting attributes when we play "Guess My Rule" with our attribute blocks. We've been using shapes to compose bigger shapes and drawings through a combination of collage and pattern block template tracing.
Ask your kids about a "wow" moment from their school day and know that I am grateful for all that they bring to all of their learning.