Friday, January 31, 2014

This week's River News

This week's Big Fish

Check out our 100th Day video from last year

Next Friday we celebrate our 100th day of school. Check out the video from last year (above) to get ideas about what your children can bring. The day will involve lots of fun activities centered around the number one hundred. River students will visit Sky Class to look at their collections and Sky students will visit River Class. The students will complete a list of activities such as counting to 100, writing math problems that equal 100, reading 100 words, etc.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

This week in River

This week's Big Fish

Bowls of Belief

This art activity began with students listening to the book When Clay Sings by Byrd Baylor.   Baylor invites us to think about the "small voice" that each piece of clay might have and what it might say.

Students then learned to make small coil bowls in the tradition of the ancient potters from the American Southwest. The bowls were bisque fired in the kiln and then fired a second time in a sawdust kiln to give the bowls a smoky coloring. 

Bisque fired bowls
The sawdust kiln

In preparation for our Martin Luther King Day celebration, students also thought about something they believed in strongly enough that they would be willing to stand up for that belief and argue for it. These belief statements were placed in the bowls during the second firing to create the “bowls of belief” that you see here today. Click here to view all the belief statements: River Students' Belief Statements

Bowls of belief on display

Each individual bowl contains a belief statement

Collaborative project for MLK Day

Amelia helped by an Upper Schooler and a Lower Schooler

Amelia Shull and the Upper School Portfolio class imagined then created a large scale installation at the entrance of the gym for the Martin Luther King, Jr celebration this Monday, January 20th. Upper School art students volunteered to come to all units of the school to include everyone's voices, including River Class children. The installation was inspired by quotes from Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and included a fiber arts based 10 foot birdcage with a bird singing out the cares of the students.

River students write their responses on fabric strips

River students answered the question, "What do you care so much about that you'd stand up for?" then wrote their answers on the fabric strips- the 'song' of the bird. All of the students' answers were compiled and sewn into the project.

Two River students visit the gym to view their work.

When viewing the work, all must look up at the lifted voices of our students! Here two of our River students who participated in the project view and take pride in their contributions and the finished work.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

This week in River Class

This week's Big Fish

Art with Jamie

This week's art group decided to draw pictures of birds and rabbits. Jamie drew some examples for the children to look at and copy. Children also had fun finding their favorites on the iPad. The simple act of drawing does indeed play an important role in a child's physical, emotional, and cognitive development. Like no other activity, drawing allows young children to express emotions, experience autonomy, and build confidence. Interesting article about the benefits of drawing

Jamie helps individuals as they sketch.

Monday Mélange - Nutrition

This week's Monday Mélange was about nutrition. Our special guest parent taught us about the various food groups and the importance of nutrients.

We learned about how to divide up our food plate and what to put in each section, following the example pictured above. Each student made their own plate to bring home. (Thanks for all the food magazines!)

If you want to learn more about the healthy eating plate please click on the following link: Healthy Eating Plate

Design and Engineering

Students have now completed the Pollination Design and Engineering unit. Students were given one of four flower types and were asked to build a hand pollinator with their engineering team partner. Each team presented their hand pollinator designs to the class. They showed their first model and an improved version of the model. There were many clever and successful devices shared.

The team members discussed their thinking process during the design process. They shared what they learned and discussed problem solving strategies. The young engineers talked about the successes and challenges of working as a teammate.

Charlie shared a recent news story about the shortage of bees in Great Britain. He asked students what solutions they might propose to address this problem. This prompted a rich discussion and many clever ideas were shared. Below is a drawing of a pollination machine that one student drew after being inspired to help the people of Britain.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy New Year!

This week's Big Fish

Math in River Class

Both first and second year students work on CGI math problems. Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) is a professional development program that increases teachers’ understanding of the knowledge that students bring to the math learning process and how they connect that knowledge with formal concepts and operations. Developed by education researchers Thomas Carpenter, Elizabeth Fennema, Penelope Peterson, Megan Loef Franke, and Linda Levi, CGI is guided by two major theses. The first is that children bring an intuitive knowledge of mathematics to school with them and that this knowledge should serve as the basis for developing formal mathematics instruction in primary school. This thesis leads to an emphasis on assessing the processes that students use to solve problems. The second thesis is that math instruction should be based on the relationship between computational skills and problem solving, which leads to an emphasis on problem solving in the classroom instead of the repetition of number facts (e.g., practicing the rules of addition and subtraction).

In Dee's math group students have been working on CGI problems as pictured above and to the right. Students are asked to demonstrate in pictures or in number sentences how they solved the word problem. Sometimes students' names are used in the word problems along with their favorite things. This helps keep the math interesting and the children motivated. Problems include addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

In Ruth's math group students have been playing Ten-Frame Trains as pictured above. The application of ten-frames can be found in the work of researchers such as Van deWalle (1988) and Bobis (1988). Students have fun playing a variety of games associated with the number ten. Children learn a variety of strategies whilst playing the assortment of activities.

Students in Ruth's math group also had a listening exercise using a hundred chart. They were given verbal and written instructions to follow. Words to listen out for included before, after, between, digit, plus, minus, more, less, odd, and even. The completed design on the hundred chart should represent a letter of the alphabet, a number, or an object. Children are motivated to complete the exercise in order to discover what the final picture will look like. 

Both math groups enjoyed some time on the iPads. Second years worked on DreamBox, and first year students enjoyed a variety of math apps including Slate Math, SumStacker, and Acorn Multiplication.