Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Fort Week Fun!! February 6-10, 2017

During Undergrad at the University of Michigan, I took a course with Elizabeth Goodenough.  During this class, she repeatedly highlighted the need for and power of children having their own secret spaces in childhood.  It was constantly reinforced how powerful it is for children to have their own safe private space to be themselves in.

With that in mind, I have created a yearly tradition of Fort week.  During Fort week the students design and create their own little blanket and cardboard spaces.  There are forts, lean-to's, and secret hidey holes.  They work, play and create in their little spaces.  At the end of the week, we will have a pajama day.  We will try to preserve some of the forts for the rest of the year, but there are space and practicality issues involved.  We had a lot of fun building and using our forts.

For more information about the book 'Secret Spaces of Childhood' by Elizabeth Goodenough, see: https://www.press.umich.edu/11854/secret_spaces_of_childhood

Weekly Post 2-3-17

Hi team, this week on Team Spencer we have been working on continuing our Hero's Journey story. We have been perfecting our outlines and making sure we know what we are going to write before we start writing all of our thoughts down. We are also continuing working on the books that we are reading and summarizing as we go along. We hope to have both the Hero's Journey story and our books completed before midwinter break.
We have had a very interesting government session. Josiah has taken the lead on organizing all the governmental activities as the president. Spencer does not do anything during the government's sessions, but watch. We have been actively organizing what we are going to do and how we are going to do it. We are also finding out which charity we will support this term. Also, the Team Spencer News has it had its first edition published. If you'd like a copy please let Mason, Zoey or Spenser know. For every copy someone orders they get class money to continue their work within the class economy.

In math we are finishing up the final touches on our math songs. The class has been using famous pop songs and not-so-famous folk songs to create memorable math fact songs. It has been a lot of fun creating all this math music.

In repurposing we have finished our final challenge which was to create a toy, game, or piece of art out of repurposed materials. The items should be for sale and our next Charity art sale in the coming weeks. There are a lot of really cool items.

Weekly Post 1-20-17

While we are gearing up for the completion of Assessments, the kids are really working on independence and time management.  

This is Josiah's first week as Team Spencer President, and he is already on a roll.  He has assigned students to his cabinet who he thinks can do the jobs that need to be done. By Thursday, he was ready to run the session of government on his own. Mason, the new Treasurer, discussed some equitable tax options so that poor people can still afford to do business in our class.  Zoey, the Secretary of Jobs and Commerce,  set out to find ways to help our class's unemployment problem where the opportunities to earn money are uneven.  Ben worked on finding out which charity we should help next, by taking suggestions from the class.

On Friday we travelled to the HQ of Equality Michigan to give them the money that we raised for them.  Thanks to everyone who participated in our fundraiser!

We continue to work on our reading and our Hero's journey story.  This week we wrote about Crossing the First Threshold into a whole new world and Tests, Allies and Enemies, where we learn who our friends are and who our enemies are.

In Math, this week was all about our 6 times tables.  Everyone in the class is doing so well with memorizing their times tables, division is going to be a breeze!  Several students have finished writing their multiplication song and only need to record it.  Thanks to Josh who teaches all the kids how to write songs, so projects like these are a snap!

Team Spencer has published its first issue of Team Spencer News!  This is a student written and run publication.  If you would like a copy, please email our imaginary kid, Alexander, at ajackson@summers-knoll.org.  For every person that orders an issue, the press gets a class dollar, so help them out!

Weekly Post 1-20-17

Short week on Team Spencer.  We managed to finally vote on a president.  On Wednesday, Josiah and Noelle went toe to toe in a last minute debate.  Josiah is the new President of Team Spencer.  He ran on a platform of social justice and creating better systems in the classroom.

We have been making good progress on our Hero's Journey stories.  This week we are completing Step 4 on the journey: Meeting the Mentor.  The stories are getting good.

Our fundraiser last week was a great success! We managed to raise $100 for Michigan Equality.  Next week, Friday, we will be traveling to the Equality Michigan Headquarters to deliver the money and learn about all the projects the do.

In math, we have been working hard on our 6 times tables.  Things are getting harder!

Weekly Post 1-13-17

What a week in Team Spencer!  It is election week again.  This time we had 4 candidates and our primary narrowed it down to 2.  Noelle and Josiah are battling it out for the presidency.  For this election, we are focusing on issues in the community that you would like to champion.  Noelle want to thank our community's first responders for their heroism and bravery.  Josiah wants to fight for the rights of marginalized peoples.  It will be a tough call.  
Also in government, there was a big debate on tax reform.  When the new term starts, the class will no longer be receiving their government allowance.  This means that in order to afford their bills, the class will have to get a job, or make a business.  Our poorer classmates worried about being able to make ends meet with the weekly taxes and proposed that taxes be higher for the richer than the poorer, but the richer classmates rebelled.  There was a huge discussion about how the government runs taxes and how our class differs from the United States.  We will make a decision during the new administration.


In language arts we have two projects coming up that are due before mid-winter break.  We are working on reading and summarizing stories. Every week we are to summarize what we have read from that week in three sentences. No more, no less. The other project is our writing project. We have done all the prewriting and outlining for our hero's journey story. We are now in the middle of writing it. The hard part of both of these projects is time management. We now have an end date, and we are given work time in class. The students can choose to either work on their writing, their morning work, or any business that they have set up for government. They must use their time wisely and make sure that they are giving each assignment enough time. I am checking in with them every day to make sure that they are making progress on all of their projects, and making sure that they are accurate and correct in their work.

In math we have been challenging ourselves on our times tables. We have works on everything from 1 to 5 so far. We are also working on our music videos and putting are math facts to music. Many of us have worked on linking the idea of our five times tables to the time on the clock. We played some pretty intense games trying to read an analog clock.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Weekly Post 12-22-16

This week in Team Spencer we have been gearing up for the break.  Over last week our government has been deciding how to be more socially active.  We have decided to volunteer our time with the Michigan Humane Society in any way they can use us.  We have also decided to create fundraisers so we can donate money to Equality Michigan, an organization that helps support equal rights in our state.  When we come back from break, look for an art sale to help support this charity.

We have been continuing to read a chapter of our favorite books to each other in order to provide good options for our next reading project.  Each student has been asked to read from their favorite book and then choose one of their classmate's recommendations to read for our next project.  If you are interested in our suggestions, visit our class' front porch.  We have put up all of our recommendations and why we would recommend them.

In Math we are working on learning our multiplication tables.  We have been trying to increase our accuracy and our speed when recalling our facts.  In the new year, we will be creating our music videos to help us remember our facts.

Weekly Post 12-9-16

What a crazy week on Team Spencer. We have been working hard to get ready for the school play.  We all made shadow puppets and have been working on our lines.  It will be a great show.  

In government, we have a new president.  Sean is our new president.  He has already chosen his new government and is working on new ways to make the classroom system more sustainable.  The goal is for the class not to need the teacher.  

We are working on a general outline for our Hero's journey stories so that we have all the elements of our prewriting complete.  Next week we will start writing our first chapter to our stories.  We continued to read the Odyssey and are beginning to understand how to summarize what we've read without adding too much extra details to our summaries.  

Every week in our class we will be reading a chapter from our favorite books to each other.  We will then have to choose a book that was recommended to us for our next reading project. If you want to know what books we recommend, there will be a display of them outside of Spencer's classroom.

In math, we are beginning our music video project.  We are watching multiplication music videos and playing games to memorize our multiplication tables.  We will then be either writing our own songs or remixing a song we have already heard and making our own multiplication music videos. 

Students modeling for their shadow puppets  
 Staging our play