Orthography Projects

Hello folks at Home:

Before the March Break, we began individual word study projects that ended up taking more time than expected.  Some students did some work on these over the break and others have finished them in class over the last couple of days.  But we need to move on!  For those that are almost done, they may be bringing it home to finish up and make beautiful.  Help them in any way you like, get them to explain their work and take you through the process of investigation.  Each student chose their word based on their own question or curiosity.

The projects can be simple and neat:







Or a little fancier:









…but should have the same basic elements.  Here are the guidelines:

Checklist for Word Project:

Remember, our goal is now to teach everything we can to people who don’t know about your word or who know little of orthography.  You are the expert!

Must have:

Matrix (this may be of your starting word or of the base in that word)

List of word sums

Definition (what does the word mean?)

Root and meaning

Short paragraph about the story of the word or its relatives

Large, beautiful title

May have:

An oval enclosing other relatives with the same root

A list of other relatives that share the same root

A second matrix

A short paragraph describing other interesting things you discovered about the word

Any questions you still have about this word or family

Images, quotes, something to give your project some flash

Any questions you still have about this word or family


Geometric Creativity

Over the last while we’ve been working with geometric tools like compasses and rulers to construct triangles and other shapes.  Mastery of these simple tools can in fact prove quite challenging.  I began to extend this work to the creation of more complex forms, which many students found immediately enjoyable, and several–to be honest–did not. “Why are we doing this?” I was asked at least once.  I had to consider my response, which was, “Because it is hard.”  What I meant was:  perseverance takes practice.  It is my hope that working towards success with these skills will be just another small victory that a student can draw upon when tackling larger, more important challenges, whatever they might be.  I hope they may recall that, oh, yes, that was difficult and took a lot of tries to get decent at, and sometimes I wanted to give up, but then suddenly…it seemed easy (or, easier anyway).  I guess resilience is the goal.

But the other, related thing is this:  there is fundamental value in using our hands for purposeful work.  (I consider Art purposeful, and I believe you will see below that the students do also).  We just don’t do enough!  Whether it is knitting, or carving with wood, or constructing forts (or building dams in the mud as some students have been busily doing at recess this week) there is a deep need met by creating.  (I hope to do some kind of woodworking project in the Spring).

I am glad we’ve taken the time to try these forms over and over.  So often at school we do an art activity and then we have to move on.  By really getting the hang of a few forms, the students were ready to be creative with them.

Anyway, so this week I added watercolour painting, which brings its own set of skills and challenges.  I have never properly done watercolour painting with a class before so teaching it was a good challenge for me.  I was frankly astonished at the universal success of the student work and at how quickly they achieved considerable control over a tricky medium.  In the following video (thanks to all the filming-helpers) you’ll see our works in progress–I hope it conveys the focus and energy behind their work, as well as the tremendous skill and creativity.

Multicultural Math Preview

Here’s a quick preview of a new math game we tested today (and found a couple of little bugs I’ll fix tonight).  O.K., the game isn’t multicultural, but the people playing it are! If you’d like to receive your own copy of this game, play some others around the school, try  some mathematical challenges and eat good food with good people, see you Thursday!