Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Thoughts

The snow dusting the ground, the short week ... it's that time of year - Thanksgiving!
I am truly thankful to be writing to you from room 104. It's a room in which metaphor flourishes and thoughts are so lateral that they practically defenestrate themselves.

All groups are used to warm-ups when they come in the room. Often, these are think/write/debate sorts of warm-ups. Lately, for example, we've been playing with questions like these:

  • Which is more tranquil: Area or Perimeter?
  • Which is more fragile: Diameter or Circumference?
And oh, the various approaches! Mathematical, lyrical, visual, whimsical....
We reason, we try to convince others. We listen. We revisit our opinions. We write some more.

Below is a snapshot of some things that various grade groups have undertaken, or are in the midst of exploring:

5 - We've been experimenting with metaphor, as an extension of classroom work in figurative language. How did the Reverend Martin Luther King use metaphor? Can we tuck metaphor into our verbs? Here is a link to the Family Travel Haiku site, featuring some of our metaphor haiku (along with droll editorial comments). We've also had fun dabbling with designing our own ideal schools, architecturally and philosophically, inspired by this Japanese Design Team's notion: some amount of danger is crucial to growing up. One group has also played with Möbius strips, along the lines of Wind and Mr. Ug (a fine video by a young mathematician). Ask your child to explain! Students are always encouraged to work on their personal projects in writing, with a dash of art. 

6 - In our quest to understand the evolution of language, we are investigating many things. (Does "survival of the fittest" apply to words? What's up with our diminished vocabulary these days?) Some fun resources include The Three Little Pigs recited in Shakespearean English (more or less) as well as an attempt at "translating" Lewis Carroll's classic Jabberwocky, with some help from Alice and Humpty in Through the Looking Glass. (Yes, Robert Frost, poetry IS what's lost in translation!). Many of the students are hard at work on independent writing projects, too.

7 - Are these The Fifty Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature? Well, that's debatable, so ... why not debate it? What's your favorite in the list? Why? Can you add your own top sentences? What even makes a sentence "good" anyway? Seventh graders are experimenting with poetry. A fine, inspirational site is this one, Poetry 180 (set up by Billy Collins, way back when he was U.S. poet laureate), but there is poetic inspiration everywhere. Also on our table are the Genius Hour projects. 
Some students may be working on "solutionary" projects, with their work and advocacy traveling on to a forum at USM. More on that later!

8 -  Our focus is on writing, revising, and submitting work for consideration beyond the classroom. Some venues are the thematically based, internationally read magazine KidSpirit, the Scholastic writing competitions, and our very own literary magazine, Legenda. Students are also undertaking MUGsX, an independent orchestrated grammar and usage exploration, based on such treasured sources as The Elements of Style, as well as online resources. We're just beginning to read Pete Hautman's National Book Award Winner, Godless. From the author's site: Godless is not about God. It doesn't weigh in on the existence or nature of a Supreme Being. It is not about which religion is the truest, or the best. It's about how people--teenagers in particular--deal with the questions that arise when their faith has been shaken.

Please let me know if you have questions or comments.

I am at HMS on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
I am at YES on Tuesdays.

Very best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving!

Charlotte Agell

What is the opposite of Dreaming? Of mushrooms? Of stars?

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