Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Regrets and Plans, part 2

Last year wasn't all bad, was it?

You might feel the desire to ask this question after reading Regrets and Plans, part 1. No, last year wasn't all bad; there were somethings that went quite well and I hope to redo these things.

1. We had lots of fun demonstrations and hands on learning, especially in grammar 4 and 5. Grammar 4 is an introduction to physics. Yes, 9 and 10 year olds learning physics. We didn't do any of the math (they learned about decimal points and such that year in math), but covered most of the basic topics. That meant lots and lots of building things and seeing things happen. We built a paddle boat out of paper milk cartons to see elastic potential energy at work (used rubber band to attach the paddle and make the paddle go). We let a toy car roll down an incline and smash a banana to see gravitational potential energy at work (we raised the incline to see how high it had to be to smash the banana). Grammar 5 was an introduction to chemistry. Yeppers, 10 and 11 year olds doing chemistry! We made gak, we burned various salts in solution to see their colors, we put together a density tube, and any number of other 'experiments'. It was tons of fun.

2. I let the students ask all the questions they wanted. The grammar 4 students were the best at this, they were so good that I asked Hubby, a physics/astronomer nerd, to come and answer their questions. The kids loved it. They asked about black holes, why Pluto wasn't planet, was their life on other planets, will our sun ever run out, and on and on. The first time I let them just ask questions was a day we were reading about... gosh, I forget... but the students just started asking good questions. It was hard shutting it down when our time was up, they had so many more questions. After that, when I felt particularly busy, I'd dedicate a class to just Q and A. The older students weren't as into this, but that's okay. We still took rabbit trails through various topics. One class we were reading about designer molecules, and synthetic DNA was one molecule we read a brief paragraph about. Someone asked about cloning, and then someone asked if we could clone humans. We talked about what questions we should ask about morality and ethics when it came to cloning, as well as the physical/scientific questions.

3. We had some fun field trips. We went to the Waco Wet Lands (grammar 5 and 6) and I took the grammar 4 students to the Mayborn Museum. Must... do... more....

These are big things that are very big-picture oriented. I want these things to continue.

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