In preparation of our first Socractic seminar next Wednesday, we read the beginning of Piero Ferucci's book, The Power of Kindness. You child will read the rest of the excerpt and question, highlight, and respond to the text for homework this week. He/she will also answer the question--what is altruism?
This method of teaching/learning is based on Socrates' theory that it is more important to enable students to think for themselves than to merely fill their heads with "right" answers. A seminar is a genuine discussion around a text, problem, or experience where students, through questioning, delve deeper into the topic. Its purpose is to explore meaning in a work when classmates support one another by listening, taking turns, sharing thoughts, and questioning. For me, it typifies one of the guiding principles in my classroom—collective inquiry.
Other Homeroom Highlights:
The past few days have been spent on concepts within number sense such as place value, expanded notation, positive and negative numbers (for some students) using the Jump Math curriculum.
We launch the next read aloud, Umbrella Summer, a story about a young girl who worries about just about everything. We'll uncover her underlying fears and reveal the support that she gets to overcome them. On Wednesday, we made predictions about the book based on the title and cover then read the first two pages closely using questioning strategies. In upcoming weeks, we will practice summarizing and analyzing characters, plot, and theme.
We recollected our experiences at 100 Elk and used thinking maps (specifically bubble maps) to organize our thinking then the children paired up and told each other their most memorable experience. Over the next few days, they will write their first draft. Also, in the upcoming week, each student will chose one adult to thank during outdoor education week and write them a letter of gratitude.
Finally, we started our spelling program, Spelling Plus, on Tuesday. This program was developed by Susan C. Anthony, a Colorado educator, over twenty years ago. In introducing the program, I emphasized that spelling is important, the English language does not follow many spelling rules, the importance of learning to spell correctly the first time, and reviewed the steps of daily spelling practice.
1. Point to the first word. Spell and read it.
2. Trace, spell and read the word.
3. Cover the model. Write the word and read it.
4. Check from the model.
5. Check and correct the word you wrote.
6. Close your eyes. Spell the word and say it.
We've been fortunate to have many outdoor nature experiences this year with naturalist at the City of Boulder's Open Space and Mountain Parks and a forester at 100 Elk Camp in Buena Vista. Our focus has turned to the study of plants. After an art class with Kara introducing the children to observing and drawing plants carefully, we walked to Thunderbird Lake and each child chose their own species to draw and write comments and questions about. On Thursday, we will spend the entire day at Sombrero Marsh with Thorne Ecological Institute. In the upcoming weeks, we will experiment with seeds and plants. Some of the learning objectives for students are to: explain why plants are called producers--living organisms that capture and use the sun's energy to create their structure; identify the sources of molecules that plants use to make their structures; describe some of the structures and functions of specialized plant parts; and trace the predictable life cycles of plants through germination, growth, reproduction, and death.
Photos of students with our first grade buddies painting rocks for the peace pole and creating thinking maps