with Kim Rodgers
Don't "Mess" with Success!
We had so much fun making bouncy balls last week, so this week we used our class time to experiment with the recipe. Last week we learned that polymers can change their properties because of reactions that occur. In the case of the bouncy balls the molecules of the glue react with the molecules in the Borax so that cross-linking occurs, which allows the mixture to go from a sticky mess to a congealed ball.
The students went through a four step process. After looking at the recipe the students chose what they were going to change, whether it was to take one ingredient and change the amount or to try and double or triple the recipe. Second, they made their hypothesis about how this change would affect the final product. Would the ball congeal more quickly, bounce higher, have a larger diameter? Then the students mixed up their concoction and observed the results. Finally, they recorded their results by describing their observations.
Needless to say, it was a messy class! Some of you might have had kids come home with cornstarch or glue on their clothes. They enjoyed this process, even if it wasn’t as scientifically accurate as I would have liked. The students had a hard time distinguishing between 1 tsp and 1TBSP, which affected the results. We went over it in class, but maybe the next time you’re baking or cooking you could have your child help you with measurements for some practice. The practice of changing things up with an expected result in mind made the students pay more attention to what they were doing. When your child is completing their notebook page please ask them to include why they think the results came about as they did.
In the Middle Ages we learned about the Rus and their desire to conquer Constantinople. The Rus descended from a Viking warrior named Rurik, who wandered into Central Europe and decided to stay. They ruled over the Slavs, who were already living there. The Rus and the Slavs married and began forming their own tribes and building their own cities, trading with countries near them. They would sail down the Black Sea to trade with Constantinople, but sailing there was hard work. The rivers leading to the Sea were shallow and full of rapids. The Rus would have to pull their ships out of the water using log rollers, roll the ships past the rapids, and roll them back into the water. The trips to Constantinople took weeks or even months. They decided that conquering the city would make it much easier. Constantinople was built on a peninsula, so it was surrounded by water on three sides. They also had a thick wall surrounding the city, with a moat surrounding that! Towers allowed archers to aim precisely at their targets and an enormous chain was stretched across the water between two towers so enemy ships couldn’t approach. They also had something they called “sea fire.” It was an oil that kept burning even on water! Once the Byzantine army let this oil loose the Rus turned around and went back home.
At that point one of the Rus princes thought it would be a better idea to make friends with Constantinople instead of trying to capture it. The Rus prince sent six thousand Rus warriors as a present to the Byzantine emperor. The emperor made them his own personal bodyguard called the Varangian Guard. The emperor gave the Rus free food, beds, and baths whenever they came to trade. Soon the country of the Rus became Russia.
At first Russia wasn’t one country with one ruler. There were many warrior princes ruling over different tribes. The prince who finally brought the Russian cities together was named Ivan, a descendant of Rurik. We remember him as Ivan the Great because he united Russia. But his grandson was a terrible ruler, which is why he was called Ivan the Terrible. Ivan the Great had shown his might when he gathered an army together to go to war with the Mongol tribe who was trying to inhabit part of Moscow. The Mongol leader wanted Ivan to pay him tribute. Ivan refused. Once his army was put in place the Mongol warriors turned around and walked home. Ivan’s army was much too powerful for the small amount of Mongol warriors who were there! Now Moscow was free from Mongol rule.
The next order of business was to defeat neighboring tribes and make them loyal to him. He captured Kiev and other cities, took their princes off their thrones, and replaced them with governors loyal to him. He made Moscow the capital and built a fortress called the Kremlin, which held a palace inside where Ivan ruled Russia.
By the time Ivan the Terrible came into power Russia was known as “the third Rome” because it was such an important city. The leaders began to revere the king as a god, which Ivan the Terrible took very seriously. When Ivan’s wife died he began to go mad, with his hair and beard beginning to fall out. He accused his advisers of treachery and executed them. He formed a special secret band of police to look out for anyone who was against him. This band of police killed innocent people, took land and homes, stole, and burned buildings and homes down for no reason.
Sometimes Ivan would join in their crimes! The people wanted Ivan’s son to replace him on the throne. One day he and his son started arguing over the fate of Russia. Ivan grew so angry that he struck his son and killed him. Shortly after that he predicted his own death when he saw a comet in the night sky, and collapsed soon afterwards and died. Rurik’s dynasty was at an end.
with Angela Harris
Analysis Chapters 1-8
After our journaling prompt, and a quick review of the background reading from the Glencoe Guide, we dove right into character analyses of the main characters that we've met so far and talked about chapters 1-8. Please stay on track with the reading (we need to read about eight chapters per week) and check the syllabus for all homework.
Narrative and Point of View
To Kill a Mockingbird is told in the first person by Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. The novel begins from the point of view of Scout as she looks back on her childhood, revisiting memories through the filter of her adult experience.
Although the narrator is an adult looking back at her childhood, the perspective is limited to what she saw and felt at that time. Scout the 6-year-old often does not understand the full meaning of what she observes, and her childlike perceptions are frequently a source of humor, as when she says of her father, “Atticus was feeble. He was nearly fifty.” Yet even in this instance, the narrator does not confine her vocabulary to that of a child. Here is another example of how the narrator recalls childhood events with an adult vocabulary: “I wasn’t sure what Jem resented most, but I took umbrage at Mrs. Dubose’s assessment of the family’s mental hygiene.”
I asked the students if our memories change as they are filtered through the lens of our later experiences. The consensus was "yes."
The Scottsboro Boys Trials
We then read through a rather unpleasant matter from history called The Scottsboro Trials. I will not repeat the story here, but it's important to be aware of these famous trials of the 1930's as they were the inspiration for the trial of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird. You can read about the Scottsboro Trials and other related stories from the "Jim Crow Law" days at PBS.org, The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow.
Race and Relationships
Clearly, racism is a major theme of the novel. The essay prompt this week is meaty. I made a step-by-step outline for students to follow and created a worksheet for them to use during the research phase. Please read chapters 9-16 before attempting the essay! As always, let me know if you have questions. Hang in there, we're almost to the end!
with Kim Rodgers
In Chemistry this week we learned about long chains of many different kinds of molecules called polymers. Polymers make up many things and are all around us! Clothing, food, hair, plastic wrap, and car parts are all made up of polymers. Different polymers have different properties, like being sticky or stiff. When long chains of polymers slide up and down next to each other, as in glue or natural rubber, they can be sticky. Other polymers can be hard or stiff instead of sticky. You can change the properties of polymers with chemicals or heat. An egg is an example of this. When you cook it the egg whites change from a clear, sticky liquid to a firm, white solid.
For our experiment we took corn starch, Borax, and glue and wrote down our observations about each ingredient. The students then wrote their hypothesis for what would happen when the ingredients were combined. We added a little warm water to the Borax and a little food coloring for fun and went to town stirring it up. Once it congealed we took it in our hands and began massaging and squeezing the mixture. It became more and more stiff as we worked with it. We formed it into balls and let them sit for a few minutes to dry. They became bouncy balls! The students were very surprised! The polymers in the glue had changed from sticky to stiff through a reaction with the Borax where the molecules cross-linked with each other. I illustrated this phenomenon using paper clip chains. We made three chains and laid them next to each other. We slid them back and forth next to each other and saw that they moved fluidly. Then we linked a couple of paper clips from one chain to the one next to it to see how molecules can cross-link.
In the Middle Ages we learned about Marco Polo and his experiences in the Far East. Kublai Khan valued the influence of the West and turned his Mongol soldiers into guards stationed along the Silk Road in order to encourage traders and merchants to make the trek to China. Marco Polo’s father went to China before Marco was born and didn’t come back until Marco was 15! It had taken him three years to even arrive in China! He ended up working for the emperor as his messenger and had returned home to ask the pope for 100 wise men who could explain Christianity to the Khan, along with some holy oil. So Marco went back to China with his father. It took them 4 years! Marco wrote about his experience meeting the Khan and all of the things he experienced in a book called “The Book of Marco.” It was read all over the world and for many years was the only way for people in the west to know what was going on in the east.
Marco described the marble palace in a walled garden where wild animals roamed the grounds. Inside the palace were wonders that had never been heard of...a dining hall where 6,000 people could eat at once, walls covered with battle scenes and dragons painted in gold. Here was where Marco tasted his first ice cream. He also saw coal burn and wrote about the humongous pieces of fruit!
He and his father stayed for almost 20 years. When they returned their family didn’t recognize them and weren’t going to let them in. They had dressed in rags to encourage bandits along the road to leave them alone. Inside the seams of the clothing were all sorts of jewels, which tumbled out and proved to the family that they were who they said they were.
After Kublai Khan’s time, traveling to China became more difficult. The Mongol leaders had split up the kingdom among themselves when the Khan died. The new leaders didn’t value the influence of the west and they fought with each other over the borders of their little kingdoms, which made the Silk Road very dangerous. The leaders began to believe that China was better off sealing itself off from other areas, which led to the construction of the Forbidden City, so named because foreigners were forbidden to enter it. It took 14 years to build! About 90 years ago the last Chinese emperors were driven out of the Forbidden City. Today tourists can go in and see what no medieval traveler ever saw.
In class we talked about how Marco Polo felt when experiencing all the things that were new to him. The students thought about a trip they went on when they saw or experienced something amazing or unusual. They talked with a partner about it and then wrote it down as a journal entry and shared it with the class. While they were working the students took turns finishing their arrows to go with their bows from last week. It was a busy class!
Homework for both classes consists of notebooking pages, and mapping for the Middle Ages. See you next week!
with Leigh Ann Yoder
The Puzzle of Life
Our class time this week was dedicated to understanding Protein Synthesis. This was mainly accomplished by a hands-on activity called, 'The Puzzle of Life.'
In this activity students demonstrated how the message in DNA becomes the raw material (protein) used by cells. By using RNA and amino acid puzzle pieces, students were able to demonstrate how the RNA molecule translates into a chain of amino acids (protein) and explore how changes (mutations) in the genetic code can impact cellular activities. Students worked in groups to translate a RNA sequence into a protein, discovered the outcomes of mutations and errors in the genetic code, and "treated" a genetic disorder using gene therapy.
Hopefully this activity along with our discussions clarified the Protein Synthesis process for the students.
We also spent some time talking about mutations. Specifically we focused on the effects of mutations. Mutations can have a positive, negative, or neutral effect on an organism. We also discussed how environment can play a critical role on the effect of a mutation.
I shared several websites with the students and we began to talk about the final projects. The specific parameters will not be discussed until next class. For now the students are to read about a variety of genetic mutations and pick their top two topics. These should be emailed to me this week.
For the project choice you can also look for a beneficial genetic condition. (A mutation or trait that benefits the organism.) Also, you can choose a condition that has no significant effect, such as color blindness. Any genetic condition that interests you is acceptable.
Read 4.1 Human Inheritance and complete Study Workbook
Read 4.2 Human Genetic Disorders and complete Study Workbook
Send me your top two choices for your project by Friday. Remember to choose a genetic disorder that you will be able to give a 5 minute presentation on.
Two websites to help you get started are:
Chapter 3 Test - Please bring to class for grading
Online Activity pg. 115 and 119
with Kim Rodgers
Tasty molecules were on our minds in Chemistry class this week. We have learned about the general flavors of acids (sour) and bases (bitter), so in class we talked about why some foods are salty and others are sweet, and others are neither! Our tongues are remarkable indicators of the kinds of atoms that are found in foods. Salty and sweet foods are sensed by the tongue, but some foods like raw potato don't exactly taste salty or sweet. A potato is mostly made up of sugar molecules, but the tongue can’t tell because the sugar molecules are hooked together in long chains called carbohydrates. Cooking breaks these chains into loose, single sugar molecules and our tongue recognizes them as sweeter. So, a baked or mashed potato is more pleasing to our palette.
We put our tongues to work as we formed hypotheses about the flavors of different kinds of foods. We used celery, pretzels, marshmallows, raw and cooked potato, and green and ripe banana. Some foods were obvious, but others, such as green banana and raw potato, were hard to form an educated guess about as we don’t often eat them. After we formed our hypotheses we tried the foods to confirm our thoughts. There was some debate about the flavors and we discussed how our tongues are indicators, but that they aren’t definitive. My thoughts about what constitutes something sweet might be different from what someone else thinks. It was interesting to hear them defend their opinions!
This week in the Middle Ages we learned about Genghis Khan and his grandson, Kublai Khan. The Mongols were nomads from the mountains in Northern China who conquered and killed as they went along, sparking fear into the hearts of all who encountered them. They could go for days without eating, opening the veins of their horses to drink their blood when starvation was near. Then they would close the vein and keep on riding. Yuck! They never invaded China until Genghis Khan became their leader. He conquered neighboring tribes, forcing them to swear their allegiance to him or be killed. Once he conquered enough tribes they invaded China, leveling every building, and even breaking through the Great Wall! Once this was accomplished he set his eyes to the West against the Islamic Empire. He terrorized the western edge for five years and conquered many cities. The people were so afraid that they would surrender without even fighting! When Genghis Khan died his people buried him in China, killing everyone who saw the funeral procession so no one would know where the burial place was. No one has ever found it!
At this time the Mongols ruled a huge empire and quickly added part of the Byzantine Empire, ruling from the Yellow Sea to the Mediterranean. The Chinese invented poisonous fogs they blew across the battlefields, but the Mongols defeated them in the end, seating Kublai Khan on the emperor’s throne. He lived in a huge palace surrounded by 10,000 guards, demanding everyone enter without shoes and bow down to him when his officials lead them in. He set his sights on the coast, conquering Korea easily. His only defeat was with Japan, which had nothing to do with the Japanese warriors, but his own warriors lack of experience fighting in the water. Both times Kublai Khan sent his warriors to Japan, huge winds forced them back to China. The Japanese called these storms “kamikaze” or “divine winds,” which their fighter pilots remembered a thousand years later when they descended from the air to fight their enemies.
After Kublai Khan died, his relatives divided up his kingdom into smaller kingdoms and they grew weaker and weaker. They eventually lost the throne after their family had ruled for only 100 years.
In honor of the scores of wars the Mongols waged over their years in power we began work on bow and arrows of our own. The students finished the bows, but will have to finish the arrows during the next class.
with Angela Harris
Intro: To Kill a Mockingbird
After a journal/free-write on courage, we learned about our next author, Harper Lee, and how her famous manuscript almost became one with the slush-ridden New York City streets (it's true!).
As always, we spent time understanding the cultural and historical context of our next novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. We reviewed some basic facts about the Great Depression, viewed an important (read: will be on the final quiz) timeline of events from the 1930's to the 1960's, and took a few minutes to understand the Jim Crow laws of the post-Civil War South.
This biggest take-away from this week's class, other than understanding the context of our novel, is implementing Modern Language Association Format with regard to Works Cited (bibliography) at the end of all four of our essays this session.
Two handouts were posted to the Community Page (one example of a Works Cited page and one handout with reminders/bullet points). Everything you need to complete a successful Works Cited is on these handouts. Please let me know if there is any confusion; I am always happy to clarify/answer additional questions.
Remember to check the syllabus for all homework (reading, vocab, short answer) and of course, the essay prompt. This week's prompt should not cause you much trouble. Remember to pick a character you admire. Identify three ethical qualities you admire about that character (we're still working in threes here to easily construct a five-paragraph essay) and support with quotes from the book. Don't forget everything you learned last session about citing sources within your essay. Now, you're going to add a Works Cited at the end. The only works cited for this paper will be quotes from the text; our next and last paper will require outside research, therefore, your first paper will only have one Works Cited entry--easy, right?
See you next week. We will be doing either one or two more meetings via Google Hangout, and then by May 6th we will switch to the new online classroom by WizIQ. Crossing fingers that it's a great experience! :)
with Leigh Ann Yoder
All in the Family Projects
The students are progressing nicely on their projects. Now that they understand Punnett Squares, they are to add the five squares (one for each trait) for each of the F1 and F2 generations. Students should be able to discuss the differences between the theoretical and experimental probabilities as they relate to their offspring. Projects are due next class and I will hold them to display during our final class.
Review of both sections 3.2 and 3.3 began with a brief math lesson on theoretical probability. Students are expected to know how to compute and express theoretical probability for independent events. We also contrasted with experimental probability and discussed how the two would merge when a large enough data set is used. A review of Punnett Squares, genotype, phenotype, homozygous traits, heterozygous traits and co-dominance followed. Students should be able to use these terms correctly.
Model of Meiosis
The best way to understand Meiosis is to make a model of it. Students were supplied with poster board and a variety of materials to use to make their models. As they worked we were able to discuss the process more in depth. The main point to remember is that Meiosis is different from Mitosis in that one cell splits into 4 sex cells, each with one-half the original number of chromosomes. While students worked on their projects they could see that the first stage of Meiosis is basically Mitosis, and it is only the second stage that differs. Many students were not able to complete their projects during class time. I have asked for them to complete at home and bring in next week.
Video Field Trip
At the end of class we watched a video on mutations, specifically the one that cause Sickle Cell Anemia. We will delve deeper into mutations during our next class period. I briefly began to speak to the class about their final project. They will each be required to prepare a presentation on a genetic disorder. They are not to begin their projects yet. Over the next two weeks I will be giving the specifics and students will be choosing topics. More to follow!
Finish your Pet Project at home and bring to class next week. Include Punnett squares for each generation and each trait (5 squares for each generation). Make certain your name is on the front.
Finish your model of Meiosis (begun in class), bring to class next week. Make certain to label and describe each step. Add your name to the front.
Read 3.4 The DNA Connection and complete the Study Guide
Study for Chapter 3 Test
Chapter 3 Key Terms and Connecting Concepts
Online Activity pg. 101
Optional Chapter 3 review will be held next Monday at 9:30AM
with Leigh Ann Yoder
Project: All in the Family
Last week students began their second project for the semester. They each made a pet with 5 identifiable traits. For each trait they needed to identify both the phenotype and genotype. Today they found another class pet to mate with and began the process of creating offspring. Students were given very specific instructions on how to continue creating the 6 offspring for the first generation and the 6 offspring for the second generation. This step is to be completed by our next class period. (We will work on the final section, making the Punnett Squares, during the next class.) NOTE FOR PARENTS - YOU WILL NEED TO PROVIDE YOUR STUDENT WITH A POSTER BOARD FOR THIS PROJECT. Students must display at least two generations on their board, but they are welcome to create a third generation. Below are some photos of a sample project for the students to use as a guideline. Note - the generations were incorrectly named on the sample.
Math: How do we feel?
I spoke with the class for about 10 minutes regarding their math skills and the direction of our class for next year. I am suggesting to the students that we use the first part of next year to solidify our math skills, so that we may move to meaningful Physics and Chemistry programs. I did not propose we have a Math class, rather an applied Science class that would specifically help us target our math skills. One such program that I find interesting is a Computer Programming class in which the students would design and build their own computer game while learning the fundamental Algebra skills necessary for Physics and Chemistry. I would appreciate any input from the parents and students. Please feel free to email or call me to discuss. I am also often available during second period or immediately after.
Today we had a very first Exit Quiz. This quiz was specifically on the material covered during class time. I know I surprised the students with the quiz, but it is important for me to see how well the students are absorbing the material. It will also help me to tailor my teaching. I will begin to implement Entry Quizzes as well. This will show how well the students are coming prepared for class. I don't want the students to be stressed about these. They are really just another opportunity for us to learn together. I will correct them, but will not assign grades as they are to be used as a learning tool only. We will not have them every class.
Important Notes for Parents
No class next Monday - Spring Break!
Monday, April 13th - Class will begin at 9:30 (This is the third extra session to make up the missed class period.) Please make every attempt to arrive on time. We will be covering some of the most challenging material of the year.
June 1st - Presentations - During our last class students will be giving brief presentations and all are invited to attend. Save the Date!
Homework - Expect the amount of homework to increase over the next few weeks as we hope to finish the material by the end of the semester.
Mandatory: (Remember you have two weeks)
Project - Create the first generation of offspring (6 pets) and the second generation (6 pets). Begin creating your display. Make certain each pet has a name and the phenotypes and genotypes are clearly identified on the back of the pet. Remember you have all of the directions in your notebook under 'Projects'.
Read 3.2 and complete Study Guide: Probability and Heredity
Lab Activity: Coin Crosses pg. 86 of text
Read 3.3 and complete Study Guide: The Cell and Inheritance
Enrichment: The Test Cross (handed out and in your notebook)
Enrichment: Genetic Crosses with Two Traits (in your notebook)
Online Activity pg. 84
Online Activity pg. 94
with Angela Harris
A Last Look at Ántonia
We started our last class on My Ántonia with a writing prompt that asked us to imagine that we are moving to a foreign country and we don’t speak the language. The only people we will know there are our immediate families. We don’t know where we will live or what we will do for money. We then had to describe or make a list of the things our families would need to do to survive. This experience is similar to the one our heroine had, and it was great to hear all of the sound and useful ideas the students came up with: learn the language, attempt to network with people that might help us find work, and be aware of any cultural differences or barriers. These are all things that Ántonia and her family faced and dealt with when they left their home in Bohemia for the Nebraska prairie.
Before going over the answers to the final quiz, which covered content, literary analysis, and vocabulary, we read a wonderful letter in the original words of Annie Sadilek (aka Anna Pavelka). The so-called "Letter to France Samlund" is a letter to a high school student at Benson High School in Omaha, Nebraska from Anna Pavelka. Anna, now eighty-six years old, tells the real story of her first year in Nebraska.
Anna Pavelka, whose maiden name was Anna Sadilek, is the woman on whom the character of Ántonia is based. Willa Cather and Anna Sadilek knew each other in the late 1880s, when Willa was attending school in Red Cloud and Anna was working for the Miner family who lived down the street from the Cathers. After a failed engagement with a railroad man, Anna married John Pavelka, who is the basis for Anton Cuzak in My Ántonia.
We took several minutes to compare the original letter with events at the beginning of the novel, particularly Book One, and defined and identified uses of verbal irony. Even though English wasn't Annie's first language and her spelling and punctuation were poor, she knew how to convey irony!
Next Up: Mockingbird (not Mockingjay)
Homework is to finish all expository essays and the final project. Please make sure you have a copy of our last selection, To Kill a Mockingbird, and read the short summary from bestnotes.com.
See you on April 15. Have a wonderful Easter.