MS Blazer Buzz 13 Oct

This week's highlight: Sweet or Tart?

Mrs. Denham: garden coordinator, science teacher, and expert!  Students in grades K-6 had the pleasure of tasting three different varieties of mountain apples from SkyTop Orchard.  Mrs. Denham set up an apple station in the garden and shared many apple facts with students.  Rain rolled in that afternoon, so the sixth grade students had to move their taste testing inside but that didn’t spoil the fun!  Students reported that the Jonathan apples were firm, sweet, and crisp.  Stayman apples received descriptions such as tart, crisp, and juicy.  And the third contender, Blushing Gold, was described as crunchy and sweet.  Round one of apple tasting involved observing, tasting, and describing the flavor and texture.  Round two involved students trying to identify the correct apple simply by taste.  Students were good stewards of the Earth as they composted the apple cores in our Woodlawn gardens. There was not a leading favorite among the three as apple fans had a hard time choosing their favorite.  But one thing is certain, apples seem to have a way of bringing smiles to many faces!

MS Blazer Buzz 6 Oct

8th Graders Experience 16th Century America

How do our Woodlawn 8th graders dive into a unit about 16th century America?  Oh, they are not just going to read about European explorers and Native Americans.  No…you see they would rather throw an atlatl, bake cornbread, and start a fire using flint and steel.   In an effort to recreate life in 16th century America, students spent the day outdoors engaging in activities similar to those carried out by European explorers and Native Americans.  By participating in this role play, Woodlawn students were able to relate to the efforts, struggles, and determination of European explorers and Native Americans in 16th century America.  

Teams of students dispersed in an early morning scavenger hunt that included a question about The Scarlet Letter, word games, milk jugs, hidden tins, and quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay "Nature.”  The fog that rolled in overnight made for even more interesting conditions on the hunt, which was the highlight of the day for many.  Hank and Axel earned the best time for the hunt: an astounding 6 minutes!

Morgan and Mayella especially enjoyed cooking with the key ingredient of the colonial times: corn.  Students made three batches of cornbread and honey butter from scratch.  On the nature walk, students donned pokeberry war paint, spotted garden spiders, orb weavers, and yellow argiopes, and tasted dog fennel and onion grass.  Students tested their skills throughout the day.  Sabrina was able to lift a huge bin of bricks much faster than a team of four others because she set up more pulleys and increased her mechanical advantage.  Garrett, Leila, Emma, and several others were able to start a fire using only flint and steel. And after perfecting her technique, Mimi displayed the best atlatl throwing pose while Morgan threw her atlatl the furthest.  

The day culminated with a drum circle in the amphitheater.  Fifth grade buddies joined in the drum circle and shared in the rhythmical and harmonious end to the day.

MS Blazer Buzz 29 Sept

This week's highlight: Be in the moment

Seventh graders experienced a Japanese tea ceremony with Ms. Robinson and Ms. Lysne last week in social studies.  Students (guests) entered a dimly lit classroom set up as a tea house through a small door which forced the guest to bow upon entry.  The host, Ms. Robinson, greeted each guest with a silent bow and asked them to first admire a Japanese scroll which read to "be in the moment”.  After admiring a flower arrangement called a chabana, guests took a seat on the floor of the tea house in a semi-circle.  

The host prepares extensively for the ceremony, which can last up to 4 hours and consists of many rituals to make the event perfect, yet simple.  Our seventh grade guests each brought their hand-made clay bowls, which they crafted in art with Ms. Lysne.  This allowed them to enjoy the tea without having to share the bowl as in traditional ceremonies.  To prepare their palates for the bitter taste of the tea, guests enjoyed a traditional Japanese sweet (a peach blossom gummy) and then sipped the green tea.  The tea house was certainly an experience in simplicity and serenity; and proper etiquette was observed by all of our seventh grade guests.

MS Blazer Buzz 22 Sept

This week's highlight: Words of Wisdom

Sixth and seventh grade students in Katie Verlin’s math class have quite a few inspirational quotes to share. Students were asked to research and find inspiring words to live by as a way to get to know each other better. Kaitlyn says that while it is not always easy, she believes it is important to: “Be who you are; not who others want you to be." Believing in yourself and attempting to get a little bit better each day were the messages from Kurt and Matthew. Kurt quotes Audrey Hepburn: “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m Possible.” He believes that anything is possible if you believe you can do it. Matthew’s quote: “You can always be a little bit better.” is from his role model, Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. Matthew said that he personally tries to get better everyday and he looks to his role model for inspiration. Joey and Ariele were both inspired by Maya Angelou’s words: “Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” Joey said that when people in a room are being negative, his tendency is to want to make the room feel positive. Ariele tries to make everyone happy and if she notices that someone looks sad, she will approach them to ask them how they are doing so they don’t feel left out. Overall, these words of wisdom seem like concepts we should all take to heart. Thanks for sharing your inspiration with all of us!

MS Blazer Buzz 15 Sept

This week's highlight: Intertwined—Weaving Together Community Through Collaboration and Creativity

Art teachers, Kim Lysne and Jackie Royce, have designed a collaborative art installation for kindergarten through eighth grade students that literally weaves together community through collaboration and creativity.  Recycled art at its finest, students (and teachers) are weaving on a repurposed soccer net, using all recycled and donated materials.  This project allows students in different grade levels to work side by side, which is the learner centered model that both Ms. Lysne and Ms. Royce are implementing this year in all of their art classes.  

Having done extensive research in choice-based art and transforming their classrooms to accommodate art stations, Ms. Lysne and Ms. Royce are already seeing the positive effects of choice-based art in just three weeks.  Students need opportunities to behave, think, and perform as artists so the goal is to facilitate independent learning in studio centers designed to support student choices in subject matter and media.  Teachers offer a demonstration, studio time at stations, and a wrap up which includes reflections and sharing.  Various projects throughout the year lend themselves to authentic interaction between the grade levels.  While Ms. Royce is teaching first grade, seventh grade students are learning next door in Ms. Lysne’s classroom and they can interact during studio time. 

This provides an authentic connection between lower and middle school students and the teachers are already seeing a lot of positive interaction.  Ms. Royce has noticed a lot more dialogue between her students during art class, asking each other “How did you make that?”  Ms. Lysne reported that this approach has encouraged more mixed grouping in middle school based on their interests.  Middle school students are especially interested in working on the weaving project in their down time at recess.  While you will see many middle school students on the soccer field during recess, you will also see several students weaving.

Check out this K-8 masterpiece in progress outside Van Buren Hall, and if you are feeling inspired, weave your own creation!