Mosaic Odyssey Team Rocks Regionals!
Congratulations to our Mosaic Odyssey of the Mind team!
They placed 2nd at the Liberty Regional Tournament and will move on to compete in the NJ State Tournament in April.
Way to Go Team!!
with Michelle Cameron
Letters From/To the World!
A great batch of letters from (and even to) the world the writers created last time! Many included specific details from our world-building exercise. The students agreed that the most successful were very specific – in terms of names, descriptive qualities, etc. They thought that those that compared life on the new world to life on Earth were easiest to relate to. And the very best of the stories managed to integrate those details in some sort of narrative – whether that was simply the idea of travel to the new world, or a more complex plotline that was captured in the letter.
We did manage to get through all of the letters in good time today! Which left plenty of time for our next prompt.
Music as Inspiration
Music can be a wonderful source of inspiration. If your child (or you!) is blocked and don’t know where to start writing, putting on a piece of music can help get things going.
The best pieces of music are lyric-free (the lyrics can clutter a writer’s mind) and should be the right tone for the piece being written. In this case, I chose an “other worldly” piece that you can hear on Youtube, called Fired Earth Music - The Other World (Mark Petrie - Epic Heroic Orchestral). I was delighted by their reaction to the music – they were enthusiastic about writing as they listened and all felt that it helped immerse them in their worlds.
Before listening, we talked about using their senses in writing descriptive passages. Many of them included senses other than sight in their imagery and stories.
Once they completed these and we read them all, we talked about poetry. I explained that:
I asked them to take the piece they wrote to music and turn it into a poem. We began this in class and I had to model this for several of them. If they need some models while they’re home, you might show them some of the poems on this website: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/poems-kids.
Their poems can be narrative or lyrical. They can feel free to build on the piece they wrote in class – especially those whose pieces are relatively short. It’s okay for them to change what they wrote as well.
with Michelle Cameron
Today once again we began by reading the stories the children wrote – or revised – at home. One issue that I’m sensing is that – in their enthusiasm to write, which I’d never want to curtail – your young writers are writing A LOT and they love commenting on everyone else’s work. This is making it a challenge to listen to everyone’s story in the time we have. So this week I initiated a new rule – three children only can critique any one writer. Of course, we’ll rotate who gets to critique, so that everyone gets a chance to be heard.
In addition, there may be weeks where we can only hear half of the stories. I hope not have to do this, but I do want to leave enough time for new prompts and give the children a chance to write in class.
Among today’s stories, we identified a few more issues – as well as things the children are doing well:
Our world building class was quite short because we only had about 15 minutes left after everyone read. The students were asked about particular aspects of life on Earth, and then told to compare them to life on their own imaginary world. Because I don’t believe they had enough time to really imagine the new world, I’m providing a link to a PDF of the form we used (HERE). Please look this over with your student and encourage them to dig a little deeper.
Once they’ve done that, I’ve asked them to write a letter home from the world they’ve created, describing it. Some things to keep in mind as they write the letter:
I can’t wait to hear how they describe their worlds!
with Michelle Cameron
Today we began by reading the stories the children wrote – or completed – at home. The enthusiasm to read was overwhelming and the stories were universally terrific. There’s a lot of great imagination and some terrific wordsmiths in this class.
Before we started reading, we set down some guidelines for both reading and listening:
We then discussed that creating compelling characters are a critical part of any story. Each student was given a large sheet of paper and told to begin drawing a character. There were a couple of caveats about what they could and could not draw:
As the students drew their characters, I asked them the following questions:
The last of these questions is where a story starts, and it should inform the entire narrative arc of a story. We talked about what Harry Potter wants (a family), and Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz (first to leave home but then to go home).
The children then presented their characters to one another and – wow! – it was already time to end class.
For homework this week, since we’re not back for 2 weeks, I asked them to do two things:
Happy Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend – see you all in two weeks!
with Michelle Cameron
The dragon roared, belching out a plume of smoke and fire. The fire set the village on fire. The villagers ran in fright. The dragon let out a roar of triumph. But one brave villager turned around and went back to fight the dragon. With a mighty sweep of his tail, the dragon knocked the sword from his hand. Then the villager took a bow from his backpack. He hit the dragon and killed it. The dragon hit the ground with a “thud!” A unicorn emerged from the woods and thanked the villager for killing the dragon. At that moment, an evil wizard was testing his “life spell” and the magical wave hit the dragon and brought life to the dragon. The villager tried to hit the dragon but the evil wizard used his shield potion. The unicorn fought the wizard and destroyed the shield potion. And the unicorn turned its head and destroyed the dragon, too. The villagers thanked the unicorn, and they honored the unicorn for its bravery.
Alternate ending: Or did they? With a mighty roar, the dragon spit a fire ball which destroyed the unicorn in a gory way.
The man from Mars climbed into his spaceship and few up into space. He left Mars and went to crash into Jupiter. His name was Zineycolzackaless but many people called him Ziney. Ziney’s spaceship ran out of fuel, then crashed into an alien-populated town called Allacka. The Mayor of Allacka was cruel to Ziney; he didn’t know what to do to Ziney and gave him a cheat trial, then put him in jail. The maid who brought him his food was named Lazelya. She started to like Ziney and she helped him out of jail. Now they had one problem: there was a monster guarding the jail door. Lazelya pulled out a laser bazooka. Then the monster saw them coming. Before Ziney and Lazelya knew it, the monster jumped on Lazelya. Ziney was so mad he grabbed the laser bazooka and shot the monster. The monster fell dead and Ziney grabbed Lazelya and they ran to Lazelya’s father’s spaceship. Lazelya stole her father’s spaceship. They climbed in and flew off. Then Ziney and Lazelya – at the same moment – kissed.
At this point, each team was given the other team’s story, so they could pick out their favorite line. This line is the inspiration for their own story that they began writing toward the end of class time, which they are supposed to finish this week for homework.
Some suggestions for parents to help the writers finish their stories during the week:
Bravo Mosaic Performers!
Enjoy these wonderful photos of our final class and performance of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! It was truly delightful. I am so proud of the hard work and accomplishments of our students!
with Leigh Ann Yoder
Final Presentations: June 1, 2015
with Kim Rodgers
This week in Chemistry the students met in groups to design an experiment which would answer the question: “Do some M&M colors dissolve in water faster than others?” We talked about the variables used in our experiment from the week before and how we can make the variables more explicit, but only change one aspect (the color of the M&M) in order to make this a fair experiment. All the groups came up with their own version of the experiment and carried them out. Some used stopwatches to make the time more accurate. Some chose to draw a picture of what the M&M looked like after soaking for a certain amount of time, while others decided to track the time it took for the ring of shell around the outer edge of the M&M to dissolve and reveal the chocolate underneath. All the groups ranked their results in terms of how quickly the shell dissolved. The group’s data didn’t always agree with each other. We talked about how we would need to replicate the experiments to find out if color was a factor in determining the time dissolving took to occur. Next week we’ll take a look at the question: “What would the colors look like if we placed two or more M&Ms in a plate of water?”, coming up with hypotheses and designing experiments to examine this aspect of M&Ms.
Don't Blame Me…The Flea Did It!
In the Middle Ages this week we learned about the Black Plague, also known as the bubonic plague, and how it changed many aspects of society at the time. People near the Black Sea began hearing rumors of sickness and death. Soon, the people in that area began getting sick and dying. They tied herbs and flowers into little sachets they could wear around their necks to protect themselves from the smell. They believed that the Italian traders and merchants had brought the sickness, so they drove them out of their town and back to their ships, throwing the dead bodies of those who had died into catapults and hurling them over their walls. When they arrived home the people of Italy didn’t allow them to get off their ship. Most on board were near death or had died. Despite this, the sickness soon appeared on land and spread through Italy and into Europe.
Today we know that the bubonic plague was spread by an infection carried by fleas that lived on rats. Because grain was with the travelers, the rats followed along, bringing the sickness with them. Everywhere there was food available the sickness spread. Even from the ships, the rats crawled down the ropes onto land. During the Middle Ages garbage and leftover food was left in the streets, which became a breeding ground for rats...and the plague.
When the plague finally ended it was a very different world. One out of every three people had died. Whole villages had been wiped out! Noblemen who survived wanted their fields to be farmed, but they had a hard time finding any peasants who could do the work. Farm workers and craftsmen were in high demand and paid well for their work because of it. Because of that the noblemen grew poorer and poorer and their estates became smaller and smaller. Peasant survivors worked the land of unclaimed houses and took over the houses and possessions, allowing them to become richer and richer. The feudal system began to fall apart.
Playing with the Plague
We also learned that the nursery rhyme, "Ring-Around-the-Rosy," probably originated during the time of the black plague.
For our activity we did a Black Plague Simulation. Bags were laid out around the room based on a map of the area. Each bag had a name of a city that had been affected by the plague. Inside the bag were mostly white beans, with a very small number of pinto beans (to represent cholera, which was a problem from the water) and red beans (to represent the plague). Students were sent on a journey with a travel journal and directions. At each stop they rolled a die to determine the amount of nights they were lodging in that town. They were to pick out that same number of beans from the bag without looking. If they picked all white beans they were safe and could continue traveling along. If they picked a colored bean they had special instructions. At the next town they rolled their die. If they rolled a 1, 2, or 3 they had to add one colored bean to the bag. If they rolled a 4, 5, or 6 they added two. This served the purpose of representing how sickness spread. At the next town they wrote an “X” on the bag to show that someone died there. If they came to me before writing the “X” and could roll two “1”s in a row then they could survive. This was to show that there were a very few who contracted the plague and lived. We may continue the simulation in class if there is time. The sickness was just beginning to spread at the end of class time. Three out of the ten students participating had experienced an untimely death. One thing that students mentioned when we talked about the experience at the end was the fact that they felt bad they had infected others. We talked about how illness often spreads before anyone realizes they are sick, which was deadly in this case during the Middle Ages.
Shirts and Last Day Announcement
The students should have brought home the shirts we had completed. I admit... this activity didn’t come off as I had hoped. Ha! Here is the site for directions on how to wash it. I also realized after buying the shirts, that they were much smaller than I thought they would be. Sorry about that! I hope they can give them to a smaller friend or sibling if they wash out alright. Let me know how it goes!
Next Monday is our last class before the final class of the year (Memorial Day separates these two dates). On June 1st, the last day of class, the middle school students will be performing “Good Masters, Sweet Ladies,” which is a group of monologues representing people from the Middle Ages and the different roles they played during the time period. I think it would be a valuable experience to have our class attend the performances. That same day the middle school class will be giving presentations on genetic mutations. I’m thinking I’ll do one more Chemistry class instead of going to these presentations, but if you think it would be valuable to go to them please let me know as I’m up for either one. See you Monday!
with Angela Harris
We picked up where we left off last week with a discussion of the many different symbols found within To Kill a Mockingbird. Students have been working on an essay regarding the most obvious symbol of the mockingbird, but there are several others that are less obvious.
After understanding these additional symbols, students were challenged to write the opening paragraph to their own sequel to TKAM! It wasn't necessary to know the entire plot of their sequel, and as a prompt, they were to weave in one of the symbols from the novel that we had just discussed. This opening paragraph was to be short--between three and five sentences, and could pick up at any time in the future--one day after the end of the novel or ten or twenty years after--it was up to students to decide!
After only five or six minutes, students came up with some WONDERFUL sequels! I was really impressed with their creativity and mentioned that if anyone would be willing to continue his/her story over the summer, I would love to read it. In July we can read the "real" sequel together and see if there are any similarities! I would love it if someone would take me up on my challenge! :)
Analysis Chapters 25-31
We finished our discussion of the novel by talking about how the different characters were affected by the outcome of Tom Robinson's trial. We reviewed the end of the novel and the events that took place which finally revealed Boo Radley to Scout! In the end, Scout can finally walk in Boo Radley's shoes. She can understand his point of view both as a human being and physically, as she stands and views the town from his front porch. Good stuff!
Final Essay on Education (Thesis with Tension)
Essays on the mockingbird symbol are due May 20.
I posted a handout to the Community Page which you will need to answer part of the final essay prompt on the topic of Education. Much is said about formal schooling in the novel. Harper Lee gives a very critical view of methods of teaching and of some educational jargon in Chapters 2, 3 and 4, and Atticus voices his criticism of some educational philosophies in his speech to the jury in Chapter 20. Certainly Scout is depicted as learning more from Atticus and Calpurnia and from her experiences outside school than from her formal schooling. The scenes at school provide a direct counterpoint to Atticus's effective education of his children: Scout is frequently confronted with teachers who are either frustratingly unsympathetic to children's needs or morally hypocritical (Miss Caroline and Miss Gates). Remember: we aren't just discussing Harper Lee's views as expressed through the novel; you're going to take a position and agree or disagree with her.
Please refer to the essay outline I provided you a few weeks ago to help with crafting this essay. It is due by May 31 and should include a thesis with tension and a Works Cited (MLA Format).
The final quiz will be provided in the form of an electronic multiple choice test via WizIQ! I will send you a link to the test when it's ready. You should complete it before our last class on May 27. The final quiz will include story content, vocabulary, information from the Key Facts handout (literary analysis), information from the Great Depression handout (especially the timeline), and a few questions derived from our in class topics, such as Jim Crow and the Scottsboro Boys Trials. All handouts that you need to study are on the Community Page; please let me know if you can't find something and I'll email it to you directly.
Last class on May 27! What a journey this has been--see you then!
with Leigh Ann Yoder
Darwin's Theory and Evidence of Evolution
Class discussions were quite engaging this week. First we focused on Darwin's actual job on the HMS Beagle, as well as his discoveries. We spent a good deal of time discussing what a Scientific Theory actually is and how it differs from a Scientific Fact. We also discussed Natural Selection as nature's process of Selective Breeding. Next, we delved into the scientific evidence which supports Darwin's Theory of Evolution. I did point out that the text book did not discuss evidence that does not support Darwin's Theory, and the fact that there are many people who do not support his theory. The students seemed quite competent in the material, vocabulary and the concepts.
Interestingly, the students asked for my own personal beliefs as they pertain to the topic. I did share since they asked, and I explained how my beliefs help me stay true to both my religion and my scientific understandings. I urged them all to speak with their own families, and ask these same difficult questions. I find the students are eager to make sense of the science they now have a solid understanding of. It is a great opportunity for educated dinner discussions!
Bird Beak Adaptations
In this fun activity students were given a plate of seeds and 'insects'. They were also provided with four different tools to use as beaks. Choosing one 'beak' they had one minute to pick up as many seeds as they could and place in a cup. They repeated and tried to pick up 'insects'. They tried multiple beaks and at the end voted. The class was almost unanimous on the best beak for seeds and the best beak for 'insects.' This illustrated Darwin's observations of adaptations: a trait that helps an organism survive and reproduce.
Nature at Work Lab
The purpose of this lab was to see how a species changes over time and how its environment can influence the changes. Students simulated a population of white and brown mice living in two different environments, white sand and forest floor. They simulated survival rates over several generations. Students were able to collect all of their data, but they did not have time to complete the Analysis and Conclusion. These are to be completed on separate paper for homework. We will be going over these answers in class next week.
Complete the Analysis and Conclusion section for our lab. Be certain to write answers on a separate piece of paper.
Read 5.3 and complete the Study Guide
Project: Build your display or presentation
Chapter 5 Key Terms and Connecting Concepts
Study Chapter 5
Chapter 5 Review:
There will be an optional Chapter 5 review next week at 9:30AM