The Spring 2013 facilitators (Jayne, Angela, Susan, Sally and Kim) would like to thank the students and families of Mosaic Freeschool for another successful semester!
The following is a collaboration of words and images from our final day together this spring.
What a day! Filled with so much creativity.
History of Science Fair
by Jayne Besjak
For the 11-13 year old group, the day started with the science fair in the dining hall. Students set up their projects on tables around the room. Each student explained their project, how it worked, and then
demonstrated it in front of a judge. First, second, and third prizes were awarded. A special thank you to our science fair judges -- Ed, Sally, and Pastor Matt of Lamington Presbyterian Church. We would also like to acknowledge the parents that came out to support their students -- it was a very festive turnout!
For most of our students this was their very first experience at a science fair. I would like to express my pride in the students' efforts put forth to determine a topic on their own, and then bring it to completion. Our fair was less traditional science, and more of a "history of science" exhibition, highlighting many of the historical developments in science we have covered this semester. Students could chose any topic that interested them, including the work of any scientist, philosopher, or mathematician of the ancient era. They came up with a great variety -- water clocks, the use of Hero's simple machines, catapult design, astronomical monuments, history of time keeping devices, Aristotle's geocentric universe, Phythagoras' development of music theory, atomic theory, astrolabes for celestial viewing, and the three great philosophers (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle). I truly commend their creativity and hard work, and hope they have enjoyed and grown from our time together in class and our journey through Aristotle's world!
A Midsummer Night's Dream
by Susan Martz and Angela Harris
After the science fair, everyone headed upstairs for the Mosaic Freeschool Player's performance of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Again, special thanks go to Susan and Greg Martz for prepping the room with lights and music and darkened windows to evoke the feeling of a theatre -- the room was transformed!
The Players filed into the room with very low light and sat on their chairs. The lights came up and they performed. When they were done the lights faded out, then up again, and they stood up and took a bow, then filed out again. The students did a fantastic job and we were pleased to receive such positive feedback from the audience!
After the performance, we had lunch and then resumed for the final session of Reader's Theatre. We talked a lot about how they felt about their projects and performance and what hurdles they had to jump through emotionally to get through it all. And, how they felt once it was over! Lots of great dialogue and processing. Then Susan guided them through more pantomime and acting exercises to release all that pent up energy and tension that had built up during the day. Congratulations to the 11-13 year old group for a job well done!
by Kim Rodgers
With all the rain over the weekend our special spot across the street was going to be a muddy mess. I’m not one to avoid the weather, but I was picturing boots getting stuck in the mud and kids slipping in the muck. So, I brought nature indoors!
Our tables were full of wildflowers, pieces of bark with moss, segments of branches from trees full of leaves. I reminded the students that all of the specimens were from my yard. We don’t normally go out in nature and pick whatever we want!
The students spent time going around to any item that stood out to them. Once they found something they wanted to focus on they used their senses to describe it, using words or drawings. After all the describing the students went through the field guides to try and identify what they were studying.
With all that information at hand the students wrote a Cinquain poem about their specimen. Before we could read them aloud to the class we quickly went next door to watch the older class perform a reader’s theater version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Wonderful! When we got back, the students read their poem aloud. How creative! What great descriptions! Ask your child to share theirs with you.
Have a wonderful summer, full of outdoor adventures! Our family has a six week adventure planned, driving around the country and camping in many beautiful areas. I hope you have a chance to spend some time in nature, relaxing and spending time with your families. I hope to see you next semester!
Maps & Stories
by Sally Zeiner
It is hard to believe that Maps & Stories is over! I feel as if we just got started, and there is so much more we could study together. If you are interested in continuing to explore geography together at home following the research approach that we used in class, take a look at Around the World in 180 Days.
Using this approach, the children learn the skills to find information for themselves in books, as well as leading them on a fascinating journey around the world. Another favorite book is Children Just Like Me. We have had this book at home for years and still love to read it. Every page offers a glimpse into the life of a child, including their family, their housing, their food, and their thoughts. It reveals how alike and how different the lives of children around the world are.
For older children, or a family read-aloud, I recommend Outcasts United (adapted for young people), which brings geography and politics to life in the true story of refugee children from around the world who are building a new life after settling in Atlanta. We have fallen in love with this work and the way it brings the world to us. To learn more about this community, check out Fugees Family.
I know that your very smart and creative children will enjoy continuing to learn about geography with you at home. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to get to know them all. Their final presentations were wonderful, each as unique and interesting as the children who shared them. You would all be very proud of the way that they have blossomed into confident public speakers and writers in the course of this class.
Have a great summer! I hope to see you in the fall.
Fall 2013 Registration Coming Soon!
We plan to post course descriptions by the end of June and will be opening up on-line registration to existing students first -- so sign up early to secure your spots! We will be offering three age groups in the fall (6-8), (9-11) and (12-14). An email will be sent to all current Mosaic families when the new class lineup is posted.
I can’t believe the end of the semester is already here, but when I look back over all the learning experiences we’ve had together we’ve done quite a bit! From studying the characteristics of Oobleck, to solving a murder mystery, to time outside studying nature we’ve had quite a mix!
Next Week - Schedule Change
Next week we will be ending class a little early (11:30) so we can head into the classroom next door to see the reader’s theater version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream before lunch.
See you next week!
From Thales to Augustine
It's hard to believe we are closing in on our last week of class. We have certainly covered a lot of ground over the past fourteen weeks. About 40 centuries in fact! We began the semester discussing the early civilizations of the Sumerians, Egyptians, and Babylonians and their quest to understand the origins of the world around them, and we have concluded our journey through the history of science with a discussion of St. Augustine's search for truth by integrating the work of ancient scientists and philosophers with religious beliefs. Augustine's insights helped keep Christianity open to the ideas of modern science which would emerge later.
In class this week, students were each assigned 2-3 of the scientists/philosophers whose work we have studied this semester. They were asked to use their texts to review the ideas and accomplishments of these individuals, as they relate to the development of scientific thinking, and to create a statement, or quote, for each scientist that sums up that individuals primary contribution to the development of science. During our journey through 40 centuries of history, using Joy Hakim's text, we met over twenty influential scientists and philosophers, so students had their work cut out for them keeping track of all of those names and associated accomplishments! This assignment was meant as both a review of the material we have covered this semester, and also to help students appreciate the breadth of scientific discovery they have witnessed. We reviewed each statement that the students created, and they then wrote their final quotes on graphics which I will be assembling on a tri-fold board for display at our science fair next Monday.
We almost made it through the entire text this spring....but not quite! There are five chapters remaining which we were unable to cover in class. I have encouraged students to finish reading the book in the coming weeks so that they don't miss out on the exciting work of Fibonacci, Thomas Aquinas, Gutenberg, and Magellan! For those students who have enjoyed this history of science book, you may want to continue reading Joy Hakim's story of science series.
"I have an exposition of sleep come upon me" -Midsummer Night's Dream
And so started our Reader's Theatre class this week as students shared their diary entries from their Dream Journal Challenge homework assignment. Students were asked to log their dreams this past week. Was there a pattern to their dreams? Were the dreams triggered by their daily life events? We heard some wonderful and insightful dreams, including a few that others had commonly shared at one point or another in their life. One in particular I thought was interesting was dreaming that they are in a public school and realizing that since they are homeschooled they didn't need to be there! Other commonly shared dreams were meeting their idol, and dreams when you are not in control -- you are being pushed to the edge and you can't wake up!
We discussed how some dreams are pretty obvious that they have something to do with what occurred in your day or week, for example, the audition or tryout you may have recently experienced. Later in your dream, you actually find out if you made the team (or not) or maybe everyone has heard the results but YOU! We have all experienced dreams like these. But it's the crazy, wild, inexplicable dreams that the students expressed didn't have ANYTHING to do with their daily lives (no way -- it's too weird!) I suggested that maybe some of those crazy monsters or aliens might be a representation of something they are fearing in their lives or an event in the future that they are dreading, therefore, the dream helps them fight the monsters and overcome those fears!
If your student wants to learn a little more about dream interpretation here is a book that might be helpful, or, if they just want to learn a few more tips on interpreting their dreams this might help a little. Either way, dreams can be a wonderful window into our deepest desires and fears.
Why all this talk about dreaming you ask? Because, as one of Shakespeare's characters in Midsummer Night's Dream, Puck, would say…
"If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend"
On with the show!Pyramus and Thisbe
We had our final run through yesterday and took most of the class time to work through kinks and stumbling blocks. And I'm happy to report the student actors are well on their way to their final performance next week. They are excited and nervous about performing Midsummer for you, but there's nothing like a little pre-show jitters to get their acting muscles in shape! We really explored "over the top" acting in this run-through. Like Hamlet, Midsummer also has a "play within a play" scene. The play is called "Pyramus and Thisbe" and has a feel like that of Romeo and Juliet. In this particular version, the actors really exaggerate their parts and are very self indulgent…over the top! This was a little challenging to evoke from the students, but they did step outside of their comfort zones and took on the challenge. This is the case with all of the students who came face to face with their fears of bringing their characters to life.
Once again -- Bravo, Brava!
Final Assignment and Important Reminders
Finally, students were given a handout and assigned one final homework challenge. See the handout for full and complete details. The finished assignment will need to be emailed no later than Sunday, May 19th, to Mrs. Harris and copied to Mrs. Martz for final semester evaluation. The evaluations will then be emailed to parents by June 15th. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Mrs. Harris or Mrs. Martz -- we are happy to help. A note about "double spacing": double spacing simply means to type leaving alternate lines blank. Click the link above for a visual.
Also, for performance day, this is very critical:
A special note* As we close the books on Shakespeare and Greek Mythology and our exploration into Reader's Theatre, it is with deep gratitude that I wish to say thank you to all the Mosaic families and students. I appreciate the opportunity to share the amazing world of theatre with your children. They are an inspiration and joy to watch, listen, and interact with…their energy and desire to learn is contagious. They are all shining stars with endless possibilities waiting to happen! Thank you for this wonderful moment in time. I will treasure it always. Susan Martz
What a great morning we had with Mike and Diana Dove from Dove Environmental Education! Mike and Diana do programs for groups all around our area and we were lucky to get them. They started by introducing the students to field guides and how to use them. They brought a stuffed Red-Tailed Hawk and a Great Horned Owl and had the kids look for characteristics of the birds in order to identify them in their field guide.
They also talked about litter and how long it takes for things to decay. Did you know it takes 600 years for fishing line to decay?!? We all agreed that plastic water bottles are a scourge as they take 450 years. Aagh!
We walked across to the stream with nets, microscope boxes, and containers in order to look at any creatures we found more closely. Once over there we identified a vulture that was circling overhead and some poison ivy along the stream. We set up on a small island while the kids went to collect specimens. The kids learned that even a small puddle a short way away from the stream was a microcosm of life. After collecting several living things we pulled out the identification chart for stream life. Water striders and mayfly nymphs were among some of the things we found. Diana lamented that we didn’t have more time! If we didn’t head back they were going to miss lunch so we packed up quickly and got on our way.
On the way back Diana gave me some good ideas of things we could explore the next couple of weeks. For any of you who would like more information about the Doves and how they could come visit a group you’re involved with please let me know. Towns get grant money to pay them for their programs, so it’s a wonderful deal!
For next week, please have your kids bring in any field guides, nets, or microscope boxes. We are going to continue our investigation of the stream and check out the spots we marked on our map last week. If anyone has an over- abundance of white gift boxes that are shirt-sized, could you please let me know? We are going to use them to collect specimens on bushes and grasses. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next week!
What's Out Tonight?
We began class with students sharing their observations of the night sky and measurements they had made using their astrolabes created in class last week.
We discussed how to use a star chart and planisphere to find celestial objects in the night sky, based on your location and date. Several students that had gone out last week searching for the moon at night were surprised to discover that it was not visible. As was I! My apologies for not consulting my own star chart before giving the homework last week. The previous week's sky was illuminated by a beautiful full moon, however by mid-week last week the moon had nearly completed its monthly phase and turned to a new moon, which is not visible in the sky. Students did locate and measure the altitude of several bright stars, including Polaris. Jupiter and Venus are bright and visible this month, and Ursa Major (the "Big Dipper") is almost directly overhead. At the end of May and into June three planets - Mercury, Venus, Jupiter - will come together in a tight circle in the northwest sky and be visible without binoculars. You won't get the chance to see this again until 2026! I encourage students to continue to explore the night sky using a sky chart (HERE's one with specific information for May 2013), and spend some time becoming familiar with the location and movement of the celestial world surrounding them.
Finding our Way Around
Students then worked together to complete Student Quest Guide page 79 on latitude and longitude. I had intended to spend only 10 or 15 minutes on this activity, but it soon became apparent that we needed a longer refresher to cement the concepts. Students should review the exercise to make sure they fully understand that latitude (parallels) run east-west but provide north-south measurements, while longitude (meridians) run north-south and provide east-west measurements. Students should also be able to identify specific locations on a map or globe using latitude and longitude coordinates. We discussed the location of 0 degrees latitude (Equator) and 0 degrees longitude (Prime Meridian at Greenwich, England). Recall too, that the distance between degrees of longitude decreases as you move north or south of the equator because the longitude lines become closer together. These are all concepts which seem readily apparent when we talk about them, but students need to practice using latitude and longitude on a map or globe to really digest the material and understand how this spherical coordinate system works.
Homework & Science Fair!
For next week, students should read Chapters 23 and 24 and continue to work on their science fair projects.
Remember - we will be holding our in-class science fair on May 20th from 10:15 to 11:15 am in the dining hall (downstairs). Parents are invited to come view the displays and presentations.
We started off this week's reader's theatre class with a little "Wheel of Fortune" pop quiz on the characters of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." It was fun and engaging for the students and helpful for me to see if they were grasping the "who's who" in the play. Although this particular play may be one of the most fun, uplifting and comedic plays that Shakespeare wrote, it certainly isn't the easiest to understand. I encourage students to take more time in reading up on the play on their own so they really feel comfortable with the three sub-plots and how they weave in and out of each other.
Here is a LINK that might give a little more background into the characters and their relationship to the story.
"The course of true love never did run smooth"
We then took a few minutes to understand the three main themes of the play: Love's Difficulty, Magic, and Dreams.
Love's Difficulty: Most of the conflict in the play stems from the trouble of romance, however, it is not a love story but rather pokes fun at the torments and afflictions that those in love suffer. The tone of the play is lighthearted and therefore the audience is free to enjoy the comedy without being caught up in the tension of an uncertain outcome.
Magic: It's the fairy's magic that brings about many of the bizarre and silly situations in the play. Although the misuse of magic causes chaos, it ultimately resolves the play's tensions by restoring love to balance among the Athenian youths.
Dreams: As the title suggests, dreams are an important theme in the play. Various characters mention dreams throughout. For instance, Hippolyta's first words in the play -- "Four days will quickly steep themselves in night, four nights will quickly dream away time." Shakespeare is interested in the actual workings of dreams and how time loses its sense of flow, and the impossible occurs as a matter of course. Puck ends the play by addressing the audience members themselves with the idea of dreams by saying if they have been offended by the play, they should remember it as nothing more than a DREAM! This all helps render the play a fantastical experience rather than a heavy drama.
Dream Journal Challenge
And so this led us to our Dream Journal Challenge! Students were given a handout with their homework assignment...logging their dreams! As we were discussing the dream challenge in class, many students believed they didn't have dreams. I suggested that they give it a try and possibly be amazed at how much they really do dream! Read through the handout, as it is pretty self explanatory.
We finished up the class with a reading of the play and discussed in more detail what we were reading, how to give more inflections, and practiced stage directions. This was helpful as we played off of each other and made sense of the whole piece. Bravo actors!
Two Hats and A Performance, May 20th at 11:30am!
Note to parents: Students were asked to bring two different hats with them to class next week, each symbolizing both of their characters. They will be using the hats to portray their two different roles. For final performance, students should wear blue jeans and a black shirt -- preferably all black with no writing or design on the shirt.
The Final Performance is May 20th at 11:30am sharp. This time reflects a scheduling conflict that we needed to address so everyone could be accommodated. Please make a note of it in your calendars so we may have the honor of your presence at the Reader's Theatre Performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" on May 20th.
Have a great week!
Shakespeare in Texas!
It was a wet day out there on Monday! We started off class by sharing what we wrote at the end of the class the previous week when we took five minutes to sit and use our senses in our area of study. Many students used the word “peaceful”.
We went on to discuss environmental factors that affect what we find in nature. Part of our list included sunlight, moisture, and cover. After drawing a rough map of our area the students were put into three groups with each group focusing on one of the three factors. Their job was to find spots in our area where there was the most of their factor and the least of their factor. For example, the group that focused on sunlight would highlight the areas where sunlight was abundant and areas that were extremely shady. Ecologists often map out areas as they begin their study in order to find spots to focus in on.
When we arrived back in class we transferred our finding onto our class map and added some landmarks that stood out to us. In the weeks to follow we will be looking more closely at certain animal life in our area. There is a possibility of having some naturalists come visit our class and join us on one of our expeditions. I’ll know more about that towards the end of the week.
Just as a reminder, please check your child for ticks after school on Mondays. Three were found after we returned from our walk. Luckily they hadn’t attached yet. A more thorough check at home will be needed each week.
Cross your fingers for better weather next week as we spend time observing in specific spots in our area!
"So quick bright things come to confusion"
…was the overall feeling of the class after stepping into "A Midsummer Night's Dream" this week. Sub-plots and spells, dreams and potions, all seemed to have our heads spinning by the time we finished up for the day.
Even the homework assignment proved challenging for some of our Shakespearean researchers. But it was great to read through all the collected data and compare notes with each other's findings.
The highlight of the research was in one of the final questions, "What is The Authorship Debate?" This brought a whole new light to the mystery that surrounds William Shakespeare and the conspiracy theories that have circulated regarding his works. Questions that arose from the students were, "How can we name someone if he doesn't exist?", "How can he have a date of birth or death?" You could almost sense the disappointment that there was even a question about a name we have come to know so well -- "What do you mean William Shakespeare may not exist?" -- as if the rug had been pulled out from under them. It made for some great inquisitive thoughts and dialogue.
Please use the above link provided to explore this issue further, especially if your student was intrigued by the subject matter!
Warming up to (Mid)Summer
We then opened the door to our new reader's theatre play, "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Students were read a brief description and synopsis of the play as they followed along with a character map of all the players. This helped give them an overview of the sub-plots and how they all come together in the end. We then got up on our feet to warm up our line readings and start to "wear" who's who in the play. Each student was given four lines from the play to read and study for a few moments. As a "director's script" synopsis of the play was read aloud to them, each student was asked to step into the middle of the circle and read aloud the assigned lines when it was his/her turn.
Something very interesting happens when Shakespeare's lines are taken out of their dialogue context, making for some very humorous line readings! For instance, this line in the play, "I am such a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me, I must scratch." You can imagine the uproar and silliness that ensued after that line reading! But after the humor waned and the line was further dissected one realized its meaning -- spoken by Nick Bottom a seasoned actor in the play who was made victim of a spell that manifested itself in the form of a Donkey's head upon his own. Upon realizing the excessive growth of hair he suddenly gained, he stated the above line which really means ("I think I have an awful lot of hair on my face, and I am such a sensitive donkey, that I must scratch even if my hair only tickles me a little!).
After the warm-up, we dove right into our first script reading and found ourselves getting a bit tongue tied. I reminded students that this was also the case when we read our Hamlet scripts for the first time and that it will come with time, and practice. It was interesting to hear how line readings were interpreted to fit our natural language flow today. For instance, "I had no judgement when to her I swore" was mis-read "I had no judgement when I swore to her." Naturally it feels easier rolling off our 21st century tongues with the second line reading, but this is the challenge we face with Shakespeare and his poetic 16th century style. It is a wonderful exercise in language and we are diving right in and mastering it!
For next week...
For homework…practice, practice, practice your lines so they start to become more effortless. Highlight your part(s) in your script, look over your Facts & Character Map Handout, and take 25 minutes to watch this simplified version of the play from "Shakespeare Animated Tales" to help orient yourself with the characters and the flow of the play.
Have a great week!
Number the Stars
This week we looked at the contributions of two 4th Century BCE astronomers - Eudoxus and Hipparchus - and their influence on mapping the sky.
We learned that Eudoxus, a student of Plato, created a celestial coordinate system for mapping the locations of the stars. About 150 years later, Hipparchus improved upon this sky map by adding a brightness classification for the stars. He also thought to apply the grid of imaginary celestial coordinate lines directly to the map of the Earth, thus initiating the use of our Latitude and Longitude coordinate system. He is known as the "Father of Trigonometry" and is credited with inventing the simple yet powerful astronomical instrument known as the astrolabe. Using his knowledge of spherical angles and the astrolabe, Hipparchus was able to determine locations on Earth's surface and to measure geographical latitude.
Simple Astrolabe Design
Students reviewed the vocabulary terms from Chapter 20 to make sure they have a working knowledge of these basic mapping and astronomy-related terms:
For a wonderful presentation on the use, history, and inspiration of the astrolabe, please view this TED talk.