Fractions

I am so glad to have gotten a few “normal” school days with your children last week after winter break, snow days, and early dismissals! Since our return from break, we have been working on fraction concepts. The class has divided area and linear models into equal shares, has explored finding fractional pieces of collections, and used spatial reasoning to identify different mystery fractions of whole areas. I have been incredible impressed with their abilities in these areas, but I suppose I should not be surprised by their abilities because we have been working on foundational skills for these concepts since first grade. This entire week we have been identifying fractional pieces using fraction words like one eighth or four tenths. Next week, we will definite the terms numerator and denominator and work towards using the symbolic representation for fractions. Once we have a solid understanding of how to write these symbols we will be begin to add and subtract fractions with like denominators, identify and write mixed numbers, and reduce fractions.

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I have to say that I held my own personal anxieties about fractions. In my elementary education experience, I remember looking at a workbook that had a chapter on fractions which jumped straight to circles cut into pieces with fractions written underneath. I did not have experiences to self discover the relationship between fractions and then as the work with them increase in complexity I had no number sense scaffolding of fractions to build these concepts upon. As a result, I just had to blinding memorize the algorithms for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and diving fractions. I feel as though that is where the math train began to derail for me. After that, most mathematics was blinding memorizing which continued to work well enough to get good grades but left me feeling constantly as if I were stumbling around in the dark when it came to mathematics. Once I reached Algebra, it began to get too difficult to memorize all the steps without any understanding behind them and I didn’t advance a great

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deal past Algebra II in high school. I really regret the missed opportunity to form a meaningful relationship with mathematics during those years, and I feel to privileged to be able bring the building blocks for mathematics success to your children. 

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Winter Spiral

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 1.20.17 PM.pngOne of my favorite festivals of the year has arrived, the Winter Spiral or spiral of light. This will be the fourth year Circle of Seasons has held the Winter Spiral and it is the fourth time our class has the privilege of participating. This year we will also be getting to hold the winter spiral closer to the shortest day of the than ever before.

The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. The word solstice comes from the Latin word solstitium, meaning ‘the Sun stands still.’ On the winter solstice, the Sun reaches its southernmost position as seen from the Earth. The Sun seems to stand still at the Tropic of Capricorn and then reverses its direction. It’s also common to call it the day the Sun turns around.  Over the past couple months many of us have been getting slower in our movements, grumpier when we wake-up before the sun, frustrated that when we are walking to the car after work there are already stars in the sky. After the winter solstice, until we reach the summer solstice, each day will have just a little more daylight. We will lean ever so slightly closer to the sun.

The shortening of days and our distance from the sun’s rays bring the winter’s bleak and drear. This is why many cultures in the Northern Hemisphere have festivals celebrating light at this time of year. These festivals sustain us through these dark times and represent for many the struggles between dark and light in our lives.

At Circle of Seasons we have taken up a tradition help by many Waldorf school, the Winter Spiral. Each person in the school has the opportunity to visit the spiral. The children attend with their class teacher and their classmates. We all enter the darkened room silently. (This year we had absolutely beautiful musical accompaniment!) We all sit down and then one by one visit the center of the spiral which is made of fragrant pine boughs. Upon reaching the center each person lights their our own candle. They then carry that light from the center of the spiral and place it somewhere along the spiral as they leave. Each person brings a little more light into the darkness of the room until the winter garden is gleaming with the light of all our candles shining together. I am sure the symbolism is not lost on you, the reader, but it is not explained to the children. They carry the beautiful imagery with them and eventually will form their own meaning from the experience.  

Deep Mid-Winter drawing near,

Darkness in our Garden here – –

One small flame yet bravely burns

To show a path which ever turns.

Earth, please bear us as we go,

Seeking Light to send a-glow:

Branches green and moss and fern,

Mark our path to trace each turn.

Brother animals, teach us too

To serve with patience as you do.

We walk with candle toward the Light

While Earth awaits with hope so bright:

In the Light which finds new birth

Love may spread o’er all the Earth.

Deep Mid-Winter drawing near – –

May Light arise in our Garden here.

Nancy Foster

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Anyone recognize this little guy from our first Winter Spiral? 

It is such an honor to grow with your children and families each year. I hope that this time of year is full of light and love for you and yours.

Pronouns and Prepositions, The Three Norns

We continued our Grammar block this week focusing on Pronouns and Prepositions. The week prior we had studied synonyms and the class made the connection to pronouns being a little like a synonym for a noun. They take the place of a noun and mean the same thing. We also learned a little poem to help us remember when pronouns are used and a few common ones.

We also worked with Prepositions and discovered them in a story we had recently read. The class worked in groups in list the Prepositions they found and searched for them in a silly song.

Lastly this week, we were introduced to the three main. Verb tenses past, present, and future. A story with the mythological Norns opened this door for us. In Norse mythology, the Norns (pronounced like “norms” with an “n” instead of the “m”; Old Norse Nornir) are three female divine beings who have more influence over the course of destiny than any other beings in the cosmos. They dwell within the Well of Urd beneath Yggdrasil, the great ash tree that stands at the center of the universe and holds the Nine Worlds in its branches and roots. They shape destiny by carving runes into the trunk of the tree, or, in some sagas and poems, by weaving destiny like a web or tapestry.

Their names are Urd (Old Norse Urðr, “What Once Was”), Verdandi (Old Norse Verðandi, “What Is Coming into Being”) and Skuld (Old Norse Skuld, “What Shall Be”)

Grammar

In Second grade and Third grade, we worked with Grammar in a very imaginative sense. We explored naming words, doing words, and ‘colorful’ words. Then we learned the names for each of these words: nouns, verbs, and adjectives. We then explored adverbs. This year year we reviewed these previously learned parts of speech and are beginning to take more in depth look at the parts of language. We will still approach each new topic through a living image, but now the children will begin to apply the concepts we study to their writing independently. When I first announced that we would be studying Grammar this block, I quickly heard groans and complaints. I then explained that we would be exploring Grammar the way we explore all topics through exciting stories, Norse Mythology for this block, and by reading and learning by heart beautiful poems. I had cheers in response to the Norse Mythology and when I told them they would be writing their own poetry.

This week we heard three stories from the retellings of Padraic Colum, The Children of Odin. They heard The All-Father’s Forebodings, How He Leaves Asgard, and Odin Goes to Mimir’s Well.  It still amazes me each time I tell a story how deeply the children live in to it.

This week we used the parts of speech, nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs to compose a poem about a Norse god or goddess. The first and last lines needed to be nouns meaning the same thing or another name for the character they chose. The next line was to be two adjectives, followed by three verbs and two adverbs that could modify the verbs. The class did a really great job and the first and last lines being two different ways to say the same thing…lead us to our study of synonyms and antonyms.

                                                                         Loki

honey-tongued, clever,

sneaking, stealing, lying 

 charismatically, wickedly

Jotun 

This week the class was introduced to the thesaurus. They first explored the new reference book and noticed things like the fact that the words were in alphabetical order like the dictionary and that there were guide words at the top of each page.

The class also composed some synonym poetry.

Love

Adore, admire,

Affection, devoted love

There is no one I would place above.

I am sorry that there are no pictures and for the lack of posts. My technological devises are aging and no longer allowing me to take pictures. I am doing my best to get them up and running again, but in the meantime pictures will be limited.

 

 

 

 

Zoology: The Cuttlefish 

The transformation from imagination to objectivity and detailed observation is manifest again in the study of nature that forms the Human and Animal main lesson block (Zoology). Animal study is introduced, growing out of a descriptive study of the human being and our place in nature. The child develops an understanding and appreciation of the animal kingdom as it reflects the environment to which each species has adapted. Through detailed study of the forms and habitats of animals, the children begin to get a feeling for the fascinating assortment of skills and qualities that the animals possess. At the same time, the children begin to see the unique and responsible position they hold as human beings upon the earth. This detailed study offers opportunities for the child to develop his/her comparative, conceptual, and observational skills, and it provides additional material for artistic, dramatic, and language arts activities. 
  
Last week, the class began by studying the cuttlefish and the gray seal. The class is working on improving their informative essay writing and are beginning to word towards peer editing. 

   
 
During extra main, I have been working with the class on continued math fact practice, problem solving, and writing pen pal letters to the fourth graders in Mrs. Hedrick’s class at the Swain School. 

Hello Fall Break 

We had a great week of learning and being together as always this week. The days before fall break are always bittersweet. The kids and I are both ready for a little down time, but we have so much fun together that I hate to take a break from it. This week we reviewed all of the math concepts we covered over the course of our first arithmetic block including 

A review of measurement learned in 3rd grade

Perimeter 

Estimating measurements

Converting measurements

Area

Square numbers

Prime numbers 

Factoring, finding factor pairs 

We starting using this terrific book as a class reader, reading stories the class has heard orally as part of main lesson.  

 
We have been singing and dancing as usual, and the children have been doing a wonderful job singing this Autumn Roundelay as a class. 

 
Today we had our first introduction to slant line drawing. Here is a little more information about slant line drawing. I will talk in depth about this at our next parent evening and we will do a few exercises.  

    

Here is a peek into a tag game the class has been playing with Miss Edit in Games and Movement class. 

  

Bifröst and Yggdrasil Factors and Factoring 

This week we began using Math Daily 3, as a way to allow the children time to practice arithmetic in small group with me and Miss Sarah, our classroom apprentice. The children will engage with math independately through games and activities, while the teachers cycle through groups of students based on need and ability. This is done for usually the last thirty minutes of our math period. 

This week we also learned a great deal about prime numbers, composite numbers, factors and factoring, and rules of divisibility. We used the Sieve of Eratosthenes to find prime numbers and practiced finding factors of composite numbers using the old Norse rainbow bridge, Bifröst, to help us. 
We then use the old Norse tree of life, Yggdrasil, to factor numbers. 

      

We also explored square numbers. 

    
Last Friday, we celebrated Circle of Season’s fourth annual Day of Courage by performing the play George and the Dragon as a whole school. Each grade recited part of the story and sang songs.  

 
And the day before the Day of Courage, we were fortunate enough to have the author Alan Gratz come to school to give a talk to our 4th through 6th graders a talk about his newest book, Ban This Book. Alan Gratz, who was invited by Let’s Play Books Bookstore, was an excellent speaker and really engaged the kids. They have been very excited to read the book and to learn more about writing books.