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Upper El - The Slalom (Ms. Shannon)

In searching for a theme of the week, ‘variations’ may be a good choice. In fact, it felt a bit like a slalom.

In the News

As a community, we read and discussed the recent announcement of the extinction of the ivory-billed woodpecker. It is among 22 animals and one plant that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said were moving from the endangered to the extinct list. As an extension, we researched how woodpeckers contribute to our ecosystem. They are both engineers and carpenters of the forest, excavating single use nests that are then used by other species. There was quite the ornithological debate (to be polite) over whether or not this bird had actually been spotted in the early 2000s. It was like a scene from West Side Story. In the end, no sightings could be documented since the last one in 1944. Despite this, one researcher stated, “As is so often the case, once people had taken a stand, few had the humility to reconsider their positions.” We talked about this statement and how it plays into our world today in so many ways. We discussed the importance of listening to one another, in particular those we may disagree with. We talked about community and humanity - what connects us all.

We also followed the announcements of this year’s Nobel Prize winners. With the peace prize going to two journalists, we had a great conversation about the Why? We talked about the importance of the media in holding government accountable through investigation and that freedom of press is protected by our Constitution. Additionally, we discussed the fact that the countries from which the winners came were not guaranteed these freedoms, as well as the risks associated with their work.

Geo - metry; Geo - graphy

Upper El continued geometry line studies this week using the Box of Sticks material. It uses wooden sticks, angle markers, tacks and a plumb line to examine various aspects of geometry. Our study involved positions of a straight line and the various relationships between two lines. The kids researched the morphology of the word geometry and will do so for geography next week. In geography, we began our study of the various positions of the sun and how that affects time zones across a world map. It included connections to our line study: perpendicular lines and oblique lines.

Literature Circles

Next week, we will begin literature circles. Eleven books were previewed and each student ranked their first through last choice. We will start with the books, Swindle by Gordon Korman, Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate and Escape from Mr. Limoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein. In groups of five, they will read in group and independently. When circles meet, we will use reciprocal teaching techniques to engage with content. This is a bit of a role-reversal where students take on the role of teacher with a specific role in the discussion: predictor, questioner, clarifier, summarizer and discussion director.


Guided meditation, anyone? We spent some time in the woods and engaged in a guided meditation on gratitude. It was so beautiful to see all of the children engaged. Yes, I peeked. We also had a wonderful conversation on virtues. What virtues do we think are a part of us and what are virtues we want to grow and nurture. Coming up next….a Virtue Tree.

Guided Meditation, The Gratitude Tree

A few other items:

  • Camryn began offering sewing lessons. India hand-stitched a torn pillow in our peace nook.

  • We begin Reading Buddies with primary next week. Each day, one or two UE kids will have the opportunity to read to a primary student.

  • Our community puzzle table is live! Check out some benefits of puzzling here:

  • Variety Show - we are narrowing down what our class performance will be. Should be a lot of fun!

  • Everyone took the Ruler Oath, promising to use a ruler for straight lines in geometry, math and …..

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