Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from all of us in River Class

A special thanks goes to Rachel, Carla, Andy, and Bill, for sharing their time and talents with us.  We made apple sauce with Rachel, learned about Hanukkah from Andy and Carla, and Bill taught us lots of facts about safety. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Art with Natasha

The students in Sky and River Class have been learning about working with clay during art recently. The ceramics center is one center that students can choose to work in when they come to art class. Units of study related to drawing and painting were covered during art classes in September and October and those centers are also open for students to work in. 

The unit began with a clay project that all students were expected to participate in. They learned how to roll out a slab of clay, use a pin tool safely to cut out a shape from the slab, how to turn it in to a small dish by gently curving up the sides of the dish, and attaching clay feet to the bottom of the dish using the technique of scoring and adding slip. The next week they were taught how to make a pinch pot. Some students choose to make this project, others decided to make something else with their clay, and a few students chose to work in the drawing or the painting center instead.

We have been talking about the process clay goes through after something is made. As a clay project dries, it becomes greenware and is very fragile. After being loaded in the kiln and fired, it is called bisqueware. Bisque fired clay is stronger than greenware and won’t break as easily. Because there are several times in this process when a clay piece can break, students have to learn not to be attached to their works of art, which is challenging for all of us. Finally, we will stain the clay pieces and they can be brought home (see picture below). Two-dimensional works of art are kept in the student’s portfolios and go home at the end of the school year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Monday Mélange

A big thanks to Lisa Hess, a River Class parent, for sharing her artistic skills with us! On week 1 River students had a lot of fun tearing paper, gluing, and creating collages. Week 2 comprised of choosing a stencil, working with partners to draw around the stencils, and then cutting out the chosen design. Thanks to Lisa and the River students we have beautiful water-related designs on our windows.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October's Big Fishes

Monday Mélange

JoAnna is an attorney and a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice. She visited River Class for our first Monday Mélange and spoke with the River Class students about her general job responsibilities and how the concepts of justice and the rule of law integrate into their daily lives. JoAnna asked the students how they would go about "investigating" an event and finding the truth. They had remarkable questions and observations! JoAnna asked them about how teachers or parents, as "judges," should go about making choices when there is a conflict between siblings or peers.  

JoAnna also asked the students about the different purposes of punishment (in their case, minutes off of recess time) and they discussed how one purpose of punishment is to help people make better choices in the future. Another purpose of punishment is to help people in the larger community feel confident that a fair and just result has been achieved. Finally, JoAnna showed them a few knick knacks from her job, including a picture of President Obama and Attorney General (and Durham's own) Loretta Lynch, a Secret Service sew-on patch, a toy Presidential motorcade limo, and a FBI collector's coin (pictured below).

(Monday Mélange (mixture/medley) is a time when we invite parents and other members of our community to share their interests and talents with us. In the past we have had presentations about safety, nutrition, and sound. We've also had hands-on projects such as making wind-up toys, rainsticks, and collages.)

Design and Engineering

In Design and Engineering students have been studying the field of agricultural engineering through hearing a story about a girl who lives in the Dominican Republic. They have learned that insects are a part of the natural world and can be both helpful and harmful to plants. 

As part of this unit students cut and drilled wood pieces to make a model of the natural system of pollination.

Over the next few weeks students will be working in small teams to design, build, and test a hand pollinator. They will be testing materials to determine which materials are best at picking up and dropping off pollen. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Welcome to River Class 2015 - 16

Ruth, Charlie and Dee
(River Class teachers)

Welcome to our River Class blog! We are delighted to be teaching your wonderful children. Please visit this site for monthly updates and to access forms and curriculum information.


Big Fishes

Our Back to School Video - Enjoy!

Friday, May 15, 2015

River Reflections

Our April and May Big Fishes

River Creations and Celebrations

We hope you enjoy our final video (above) of 2014/15. We've had a terrific year in River Class!

Friday, March 6, 2015

River Reflections


Our 100th Day of School - Enjoy the video!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Monday, February 2, 2015

River Reflections - January

Our January Big Fishes

Design and Engineering - Sound

Michael shows the McGurk effect

At the beginning of this year, I had the pleasure of joining the River and Sky classes during their Engineering classes to talk about sound. We looked at different ways that sounds can tell us information about an object, even without seeing it.

Listening to pitch we were able to guess the size of a house cat, and by lowering the pitch we made it sound like an animal closer to the size of a lion. We also played with pitches of some of the students’ voices, making them sound like chipmunks and giants. We even played a sound so high, that the kids could hear it, but not the adults!

We learned to listen to volume and other clues to determine distance, and to use both ears to determine direction. We even demonstrated that humans have a rudimentary echolocation, like a bat.

I showed two sound "magic tricks." One was the McGurk effect, which (for most people) demonstrates that what we see can effect what we hear.

Lastly, I played two loud annoying tones simultaneously, which resulted in near silence. Because sounds are made up of waves, playing two identical tones such that the waves directly interfere with one another can neutralize both tones.

This piece was written by Michael Kraskin, a former composer, sound designer, audio engineer, and Lower School parent.