Monday, February 12, 2018

Art Challenge - 2018

For our first art challenge, it is pretty open - just create a piece of art! You can submit a drawing, a painting, a sculpture, a craft, etc. It can be as big or as small as you'd like. However, the artwork must be physical, not digital.

Entries will be due Friday, March 9th.

The artwork will be judged on a combination of creativity, style, technique, and overall "wow!" factor. The class will select 5 finalists from all of the submitted works of art.

Then, those 5 finalists will be featured in a blog post with a poll for voting. Voting will be open to students, parents, teachers, and friends. The winning artist will receive a $15 gift certificate to Michael's Arts and Crafts.

Below is a slideshow of a few of the entries from past years.

I can't wait to see your creativity and artistic talent!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Silk Road

Written by Sam L.

Today, many people exchange things through mail, texts, and talking on a phone. But things weren’t always that way. For hundreds of years, between about the year 500 and the 1500’s, the Silk Road was the main trading route of Europe, Asia, India, and many other countries and major cities.

Sketch by Finn
Many goods were traded throughout the Silk Road. Some of the main ones being silk, spices, gold, tea, salt, wines and furs, and ceramics.

Sketch by Marra
Sketch by Iliana
Sketch by Taya

Learning about the Silk Road is important because it teaches us about our history and how cultures were connected in the ancient world.

It also taught us about where most of the trade went along in Asia and Europe. Most of the trade routes passed through Constantinople which for most of the time the Silk Road existed was controlled by the Byzantine empire. Constantinople was later conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1453.

Sketch by Gabi

Going along the Silk Road the entire way would be a very hard and laborious challenge. The Silk Road was mainly made up out of different parts and sections of smaller trade routes that eventually came together and formed the Silk Road.

Sketch by Krish

The way the Silk Road worked is that one merchant or seller would take their product along the Silk Road and drop it off at a city on the Silk Road. Let’s say it was a shipment of silk. The silk could be carried from China to India and the merchant would sell it there. Then another merchant would take that silk and perhaps transfer it to Persia and from there to Arabia. From Arabia to Constantinople, and from Constantinople to cities in Europe.

Sketch by Saoirse

So items didn’t necessarily have to go all the way along the Silk Road with the same merchant. It would connect through a series of different merchants and trading routes.

By learning about the Silk Road, we learned about the history of contact and trade between many different people, including the exchange of ideas, technology, and germs.

As Palmer said, "I have learned many things, including world history, how you make silk, geography, and what countries made which things. The learning goal was to teach us about what life was like and what happened hundreds of years ago." 

Sketch by Abby

In a future blog post, we will explore what happened at Constantinople in the year 1453 and how that affected trade along the Silk Road and led to a "discovery" that changed the history of the whole world...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Genius Hour!

Written by Blake

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to have an hour a day to do whatever you wanted in school? Well, for Genius Hour (GH), we get to experience that. GH is 45 minutes to an hour of “free time.” We can work on any project that we want, as long as it is not illegal, inappropriate, or dangerous. Some examples of what some projects could be are taking apart a computer, cooking, and/or coding. There are so many possibilities!

During Genius Hour, students can get the chance to do something that they could not do before, either because people have stopped them, or they have not had the time. In GH, we are learning to use the Habits of Mind (cooperation, reflection, curiosity, creativity, self-awareness, adaptability, and persistence) to work out our ideas. Those traits are important because you need them throughout life.

Here is a video we watched when we first started Genius Hour:

And here is a slideshow of pictures from our first GH session last Thursday:

Here are some quotes from students about Genius Hour:
  • I think we are doing this to do whatever we want and to set a goal for what we want to do. These goals are important because at the end we try to accomplish the goal that we set. - Alex H
  • I think Genius Hour is really fun. I am doing cooking, so I am learning how to cook some foods that I have not made before. - Bailey
  • We are doing Genius Hour because we can learn anything. Also in genius hour we all probably make lots of mistakes we can learn from. - Leo
  • I think we are doing it so we can get creative and work on an exciting project. - Maddie D.
  • I love Genius Hour. The only thing I probably dislike is that time goes fast and we only do it once a week. Anyways, I love it. We are doing Genius hour because it helps to let us know that we will fail sometimes. - Gabi
  • We are doing Genius Hour to figure out how to research well and to learn how to work around mistakes. - Hugo
  • I think we are doing Genius Hour to express our ideas. - Maxwell 
  • I like genius hour because it gives us a chance to be independent for an hour and we work on our own project that we made up with a friend or by yourself. - Bethany

So, Genius Hour is a great time to be creative, and let your imagination run wild. Seize the opportunity of GH, and create something amazing. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Pumpkin Carvings 2017

We have 15 fantastic entries in the Pumpkin Carving Challenge! Lots of creativity and personality! (View the slideshow in fullscreen to appreciate all the details.)

And, it really doesn't matter which one is "the winner' because they are all amazing, but here is the poll to vote for your favorite. (Voting will close Tuesday night.)

Thank you to everyone who participated!

Field Trip to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum

Written by Bryan L.

This activity was a field trip to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. It was very fun, and it had a real-life scale model of a Native American village from around 1500.  In social studies, we were learning about all different tribes and who were the first people to come to the new world. We are also learning about how the Native Americans of this area lived before Europeans came.

There were also tons of artifacts. There was another part when you take an escalader down to a different floor about the Ice Age, and all around you there was ice and water running down the ice.

Here is a slideshow with pictures from the exhibit of the Pequot village and captions written by us!

Here are some quotes from students about the trip:
  • "I thought it was awesome!" - Josh
  • “It was so fun because we learned how to create tools and go on the tower. But we had lunch way too late, my stomach was growling.” - Seamus
  • “The things that I liked about the field trip were the giant elevator that brought us up high. I also liked the village, it taught me a lot of things and made me feel like I was really in a Pequot village.” - Palmer
  • “Why I think we went on the field trip is to learn how different and difficult it was back then compared to now. Because now we have phones, cars, computers, all this mechanical stuff plus all sorts of robots and parks etc.” - Maxwell
  • “It is important to learn about them because you can compare how they lived and how we live.” - Patrick

Learning About Simple, Compound, and Complex Sentences

Written by Marra

We are learning about different sentences to make our writing sound more fluent. Instead of just writing the simple sentences, “The dog jumped. The cat jumped.” we can that into a compound sentence. These sentences are important, but sometimes they can be tricky!

Here are a few quotes from students:
  • "I think we need the skill of using these sentences." - Palmer  
  • "It was a little tough at first, but then I figured it out." - Maddie 
  • "I feel that complex sentences are tough." - Saoirse
And here are some examples of compound and complex sentences written and labeled by students:

I think this learning is important. We will probably use these sentences in our everyday life. If you are writing to someone, and you don’t use proper grammar, they may be confused. This is why we are learning this and what we are learning from it.

These sentences are a little challenging, but as Maxwell said, “If you use these sentences, it will help your writing. If you don’t include the proper grammar in your writing, no one will know what you're talking about.”

Here is a slideshow explaining simple, compound, and complex sentences:

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Peasants and Monarch Simulation

Written by Alexander H. and Blake M.

Nowadays, everyone wants us to “treat others the way we want to be treated,” which is what we should be doing, but it wasn’t always like that. In Europe in the 1500’s, it was a very unfair and dirty life for the peasants while the King or Queen, the nobles, and the church had a lot of things.

This activity was about experiencing how unfair life was like in Europe in the 1500’s.

By doing this activity, it helped us understand what the peasants' life was like in the 1500’s. We learned that it was very, very unfair. Not all of us liked this activity, in fact, most of us didn’t. Everyone who was a peasant was very mad that the “queen” and the “noble” got to have fun and do whatever they wanted.
  • “It was terrible activity. It was the worst activity in the world, and I never want to do it AGAIN!” - Alex M.
  • “I hated it.” - Iliana
  • “I liked nothing about this activity because everything was unfair. I was very happy when it was over.” - Aaron
  • “I know that I didn’t like this activity because it was super unfair for the peasants, but I’m sure the 'queen' loved it because she was spoiled." - Sophia

In most students' opinion, it was not fun but other people's opinion was different because their experiences were different.

  • “I think that being a peasant was horrible, even though I was just a peasant for five minutes. When I was a knight, it was much more luxurious. I got to eat candy and play videogames, but I still respected the peasants.” - Leo
  • “It was fun because I got to play on the iPads, eat candy, and listen to music.” - Bailey (a noble)
So even though many people thought this activity was unfair, the peasants and monarch activity was a powerful way to learn about what life was like in Europe in the 1500’s.

Gabi called the activity, "Terrible. Unfair. Unforgiving." But she went on to say, “I learned how bad life was back then if you were a peasant.”