Egyptian Gods and Goddesses
Our morning class explored the gods of Ancient Egypt this week as we continued our reading of Chapter 2 from Story of the World. We discussed how Egyptian children would listen to myths told by their parents and that these stories often tried to explain the physical world.
We read a shortened version of the exciting myth about Osiris, Isis, and Set - a tale that offers an explanation for why the Nile River overflows its banks each year and provides water for crops.
We also learned that the king of Egypt was called a pharaoh, and that ancient Egyptians came to worship the pharaoh as a god. We will continue our exploration into the life and death of pharaohs in the coming weeks as we investigate mummies and pyramids.
After we looked at picture cards and names of some of the more well-known gods and goddesses, students spent time in small groups playing "memory" using the cards. Ask them is they remember any of the names and characteristics of these gods, and which animal heads were associated with them!
We concluded our morning class with some original story-telling as students used Story Cubes to create their own stories by rolling the story dice and connecting the images into a plot.
Our word wall continues to grow as we include more vocabulary from our reading and studies of life in ancient Egypt.
When we come together again after Columbus Day, we will learn about the first forms of writing - cuneiform and hieroglyphics.
See you all then!
The Sun God Ra
The ancient Egyptians thought that Ra sailed across the sky with the sun every day.
To follow up on the morning's exploration of Egyptian myth, we read from an astronomy book and then we experienced the movement of the planets around the sun.
We learned the meaning of
Ask your child if he or she remembers what those two terms mean.
Math - Place Value
We will continue working with these two activities for the rest of the fall season, extending the bank game to include the addition and subtraction of large numbers. We will work on our number roles until we reach 1000.
If your child did not bring a toilet paper tube last week, please send it when we meet again so that he or she can begin a number roll.
We will be learning about calendars next time- both ours, and ancient Egyptian. Have a wonderful week off!
with Kim Rodgers
Students were yet again challenged by Professor Arbegla this week!
She shared with us her T-chart showing that whatever number she put into the Fabulous Function Machine, a seven would always come out. Even when she entered zero and 1⁄2!
We discussed how our Algebra Tool Kit would be helpful in tackling this challenge. To begin with, students spread out on their own around the room in order to try their hand at it. After a few minutes many students were still stumped. I went around asking each student how getting the number down to zero might help the process. Many students picked up on the fact that when the initial number entered into the machine was brought down to zero they could easily add seven. Soon after this discovery, they began pairing up and sharing more ideas. I was just about to pull the class back together, when I noticed that pairs of students were joining other pairs to share even more ideas! It was like once they found one rule the floodgates opened and many more ideas came out! I was so proud of the students who went out on a limb to try a new idea, even if it needed tweaking. The students saw that even if an idea didn’t fully work that we could change a thing or two in order to be able to use it. It’s all a part of the process.
In two weeks I will be introducing a new machine that contains different challenges for the students to solve. I look forward to seeing what they come up with!
with Leigh Ann Yoder
The Magic of Error Detection!
We opened class by sharing our Text Compression puzzles with one another. This was a challenging exercise for some of the students, and that is OK! Some will be better at making puzzles, some at solving, and some may have trouble with this exercise altogether. There are many types of puzzle solving, and generally speaking no one would be good at all of them. For homework, I have provided a link with different types of puzzles that the students should try. Also for homework, do the Locking a Dead Man’s Chest Activity. Do the activity at this website -- be warned…it is challenging!
We continued our discussion of Algorithms with some magic! The students learned a new card trick that again illustrates the value of algorithms. The trick and solution can be found here.
Next, we embarked on Error Detection and Correction with another magic trick. The students should be able to perform this trick at home using a standard deck of cards. The point of the trick was to teach the concept of adding parity bits to recognize when data has been corrupted and also to reconstruct the original data.
with Michelle Cameron
Today was all about revision. We talked about how revising a work marks the difference between an amateur and a professional writer, and I shared a couple of pages of my own novel in progress, which has plenty of red marks all over it.
I also shared some editorial mark-up symbols, as well as a 2-part blog post that I’ve written on revision. We used the blog post to structure our revision session today.
Phase one of revision is putting the work away and getting some distance from it. We talked about the natural tendency for young writers to procrastinate on their school assignments, but that – eventually – they would see the value in being able to write earlier on, and revisit their work with some objectivity.
We then talked about what they need to look for in the content edit stage, or phase two:
We had one student bring in poetry, and the rules of revision are a little different there. In this first stage, the critique partner focused on:
We split into content edit teams to peer edit one another’s work:
The students worked on the piece, and then conferenced with one another. We talked about the fact that the writer is not required to accept all criticism and must weigh it carefully.
Once that was done, we moved into phase three, or proofreading and line editing. We discussed what they should look for:
With word choices, we discussed “killing your darlings” – those wonderful phrases that make us dance in our chair when we write them, but which distract rather than add from a piece of work.
Again, poetry was a little different. Capitalization became a more important issue, as did cadence and rhythm.
The proofreading/line edit teams were:
Once that stage was done, the final stage, reading the work aloud, was done by the writers themselves. We talked about trusting your voice to find problems your brain doesn’t necessarily find – and that, if you do nothing else with an assignment that you’ve waited to work on, reading it aloud when you’re done is a good way to turn up problems and errors.
Once they were done, we had some time left over, so we did a quick pick three prompt. The writers were given three words, and had two minutes to try and trade them with one another. Then they began (though they didn’t finish) stories using these three words.
THE ONE PAGE TENDENCY
One other thing we discussed today is their tendency to write a page or half a page and then stop writing. We discussed what the true length of short stories, novellas, and novels should be, and that they need to complete a work when they’re given time to do so at home. I hope to see them take this seriously in the coming weeks!
With a week off next week, they have two assignments:
Have a great Columbus Day, everyone!
with Kim Rodgers
Algebra Tool Kit
We started class this week by sharing our strategies for solving the card problem from the week before. The students went up to the whiteboard and explained their process, filling in the numbers of the cards as they went. We gave each strategy a name and created an Algebra Tool Kit. We will continue adding to it throughout the semester as we discover other important strategies.
Next, we moved on to a letter we received from Professor Arbegla explaining that the Fabulous Function Machine was not displaying it’s fabulous-ness. Every time she put a number into the machine the same number would come out! She thought her machine must be broken. After spending a few minutes talking with a partner about what could be happening in the machine, they each wrote a rough draft of a letter responding to the Professor. Each student took a turn explaining what they thought could have been going on. Here are some of their ideas:
I pointed out two in particular that have to do with the identity property of addition and multiplication: A+0 and Nx1. These seem basic, but we will be building on them over the next few weeks. Students were encouraged to come up with a few extra crazy and creative ways to explain what was happening in the machine to share in class on Monday.
Next week we have a challenge from the professor! She read the letters from the students and was impressed with their ideas and thought they might like a harder problem to solve.
I’m looking forward to seeing them rise to the challenge!
Foundations of Philosophy (Ages 9-11)
with Sally Zeiner
In our discussion of Robin Hood today, students raised some very thoughtful questions. After making sure that students understood the stories we began by tackling the challenging question of the ethics of Robin Hood; was what he was doing right or wrong? When is it ethical to take something from someone else? This conversation led us to ask other questions. Do we have a responsibility to take care of people in need in our community? Would Robin Hood have helped the poor if he had not lost his family and his property? Should Robin Hood have asked the old woman to disguise herself as him? We also raised an interesting and surprising question; did Robin Hood have a greater obligation to help others because of his exceptional talent?
Students should read Robin Hood, chapters VII and VIII, for next week, and prepare for our discussion by writing a brief description of each chapter, answering the following questions: Who are the main characters? What is the problem, main event, and resolution? We will review their answers to make sure that the students understand the story before we continue discussing the social and ethical questions raised. We are not looking for one right answer to any of these questions. We are working on the ability to state our thoughts clearly and listen to others with a willingness to take their ideas seriously -- very challenging and important skills. If it is difficult for your child to speak in a group, it may be helpful for them to write down their reactions to some of the questions we discussed this week.
Philosophy for Children (Ages 12-14)
with Rich Piscopo
At the end of every class, students write down a summation of ideas drawn from our time together. I find writing to be an excellent way to crystallize the thoughts generated during class. And, when we read these writings aloud at the beginning of the next class, it serves as an excellent means of reviewing the material.
I encourage our students to save these writings, for in their search of discovering who they are, the writings give an excellent sense of perspective. And, the writings are also very grounding. They give concrete examples to sometimes very abstract and elusive concepts. Of course, the saved writings also serve as a portfolio of the student's progress.
I was very impressed with the writings generated from our last class about criteria. I was a little concerned that the concept was not assimilated, but my concerns were put to rest once the students read their writings. Everyone assimilated and applied the concept. In other words, they got it!
We did some more review on criteria, just to cement the concept, then we moved on to the idea of manners. What are manners, anyway, and why were they invented?
One student thoughtfully said that manners were rules for society. Another picked up on this idea and offered the thought that there might be "emotional manners". Upon encouraging her to fully develop her idea, we discussed that just as there are rules for outer behavior, perhaps there are rules for "inner" behavior -- our feelings. We decided that these "inner" rules are based on respect. Respect for our own feelings, and respect for other's feelings.
We further discussed that manners are invented social conventions. Why should we follow them? A student answered that if we don't follow them, we are not accepted. And we decided that acceptance is a good thing, especially if you want to get into a college or get a job.
For next week, we plan to discuss what value is. Similar to the idea of quality, what gives something value? Do we ascribe value to an object or idea, or is anything inherently valuable, i.e., is anything valuable "in and of itself"? For example, is the idea of freedom inherently valuable, or is it valuable because we ascribe value to it?
We also plan to discuss the mental act of judging. What is involved when we make a judgment? Here is where our background on criteria comes into play. All judgments are based on criteria. Before we make a judgment, we take into account as many considerations as we can think of. Some considerations are more important than others. Some are, in fact, decisive. We call these decisive considerations criteria.
On with the search! I look forward to our next class!
Our morning began with cave painting design, as a follow-on from our previous class discussion of nomadic life. Students sketched ideas for their painting scenes on white paper as we discussed the types of large animals typically found on cave walls and ceilings - deer, horses, bison. After students had some practice making outlines of their animals and scenes, they prepared their "cave wall" by crumbling a large sheet of brown packing paper to imitate the folds and crevices of a cave wall.
We used black charcoal pencils to sketch the outline of our scenes in the classroom and then moved outside to enjoy the beautiful fall day as we painted our scenes with earthy, natural colors.
Silly Story Telling
With our remaining morning class time, we played a group story telling game. Each student was given two index cards and asked to write (or draw) a person/place/thing on one card and a describing word on the other. We mixed up the cards and went around in a circle, creating a story, with each student choosing one Noun and one Adjective when it was their turn. As you can imagine, our story took some silly twists and turns!
We will continue this type of activity in the coming weeks as students learn how to expand their language skills and their imaginations.
Modeling The Nile River
The flooding of the Nile River was crucial to the agriculture of the ancient Egyptians.
In our afternoon class, we read Chapter 3 from Story of the World and learned about the rains and floods of the region, as we made a model of the Nile. We will paint it when it dries.
You can ask your child what they remember about silt and farming, and what part of our model they helped to make or label.
We continue to enjoy our math games, with some students racing closer to 100 this week.
Please send your child with a empty toilet paper tube next week so that we can start making number rolls. We will explore place value and practice writing our numbers.
with Leigh Ann Yoder
We opened class with a quick review of our image compression homework. All students did a great job, but only one pair sent and received their images perfectly. This demonstrated how simple it is to make errors. We will talk more about detecting and handling errors next week.
Next, we discussed the word algorithm. An algorithm is simply a series of actions to perform which will get a job done efficiently. An algorithm can be applied to any task, but they are especially useful in the field of Computer Science. Your student should be able to define the term and know how algorithms are used by computer scientists.
In order to illustrate an actual algorithm we had a mini-mathematical/history lesson on Carl Gauss. Carl Gauss is now recognized as a great mathematician, but as a 10-year old boy he solved a time consuming mathematical problem in record time using triangular numbers. Hopefully, your student can demonstrate this for you -- they may even want to challenge you!
The storage capacity of computers is growing at an unbelievable rate, and computers are becoming smaller. We continued with our focus of data compression from last week, specifically, text compression and the Ziv-Lempel coding method, commonly referred to as Zip. The students had to become puzzle solvers in order to grasp the concept. Once they understand the puzzle, it becomes a lot of fun! They will continue working on this concept in their homework.
Since we had a few extra minutes at the end of class, we talked through a real problem regarding Hotel Doors and Keycode algorithms. Just like real computational scientists, the students were able to think through the problem and come up with a workable solution. They did a fantastic job!
Please be sure to check your email for detailed homework assignments.