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December at GAP School!

Yellow Crystals

English Language Arts with Emily

In the month of December all Yellow Crystal groups; Robins, Chickadees, and Bluebirds wrapped up our changes over space and time unit. All three groups reflected on ELA our driving question: why did we stop using old technologies? Through our reflection, the Robins and Bluebirds reminisced over photographs of our time learning together before captioning them with sentences. In our photographs we see ourselves exploring and observing our phone museum, our creation of GAPS printing press, and our time recording our ELA cheers on a cassette tape recorder. The Chickadees created a large summary of our book study of The Kingdom Of Wrenly: Adventures in Flatfrost. On community day families saw our Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then template. This is what each class used to track the summary of our story and document how each main character changed over time. 

The Robins and Chickadees have been practicing sentence editing through writing worksheets and have been introduced to "r" blends through word searches. Word searches are a class favorite for all! Learners practiced on the focused blend (digraph or vowel team), work together, and segment multisyllabic words. After answering the question "what is a noun?" in this unit, we learned the difference between a singular noun and a plural noun. We worked together as we sorted out nouns that were singular and nouns that were plural as well as adding the correct "s" or "es" when making nouns plural. We have recently introduced the dictionary! Each class has participated in a dictionary walk through and have started searching for words. Our dictionary investigation will continue into the New Year.

The Bluebirds have been gaining great confidence in their reading! In December we focused on the letter Ee. As we learned about this vowel, the Bluebirds worked hard to detect its identification and sound as we read "short e" CVC words together. The Bluebirds also LOVE to watch themselves become readers as they complete word searches. This class is passionate about reading and feels so much joy segmenting words and becoming detectives in their search. We are proud of these learners as they show bravery with themselves and encouragement towards others! 

Math & Science with Noni

In the first two weeks of December, math/science classes continued to hone in on number and finger awareness.  We also started practicing reading clocks and understanding the intervals of 5s. To help with comprehending the passage of time, we counted seconds and minutes and timed each other running the village obstacle course. Finally, we completed a colorful birthday chart that illustrated the months and seasons as well as a tooth chart that showed how many teeth the yellow crystals have all lost. 

Social Emotional Learning with Janelle

Over the hills and through the woods we went. The Yellow Crystals went on so many adventures to search for changes over time and space, we unanimously kept returning to Water Chicken Way. All agreed that it is a place that makes us feel the color green - peaceful and calm (despite it being lots of gray and brown right now).  Each Learner identified a spot that was special to them, had their photograph taken in that spot, illustrated, and formulated their own questions to ask about how it has changed over time. One day we had a special treat and Libby Rothenberg(co-owner of Triple C camp ) joined us to show us pictures of how it has changed over time, she also answered each Learner's questions. We are so fortunate to have been able to learn how and why things have changed as well as some things we can do to help keep the trees, water, and ground healthy so many more people can enjoy WCW for years to come.  

The Yellow Crystals are brilliantly demonstrating an ability to advocate for themselves during age appropriate disagreements. With support they are using  'I feel"statements consistently and learning how they can support/respect each other's boundaries. We will continue to reflect on what color each feeling may be associated with and where they feel it in their bodies.  We've established that sometimes taking space to calm down is a helpful tool for many and are encouraging them to identify a safe (within sight) spot they can go to when they "need a minute."   

We leaned heavily into hand crafts this month which gave us a lot of time to practice and refine our fine motor skills through cutting, coloring, gluing, rolling clay, sanding bookmarks and wood cookies, hand drilling, and knot tying.  As expected we also relied on some gross motor movement games to keep our bodies moving and warm.  Line tag, banana tag, tree tag and eagle eye remain the favorites for now.  

Silver Stardust & Warriors

English Language Arts with Sarah & James

Engagement was high while we were wrapping up our latest unit with the Dogwood and Willow groups! We started every class reading a few short biographies to study as our mentor texts. 

We asked ourselves: 

“What do these authors do in their writing that we could do in ours?"

"What type of information do they include?" 

"How do they structure their writing?” 

Simultaneously, we had BIG conversations around the people those biographies were about. We learned of both famous and little known scientists, civil rights activists, and athletes. 

A few amongst these were Claudette Colvin (the Rosa Parks before Rosa Parks), Raven Wilkinson (the first African American dancer of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo), Mary Anning (a female fossil collector and paleontologist of the early 1800's given little credit to her major discoveries that changed our understanding of prehistoric reptiles) and Marie Curie (a physicist and chemist who pioneered research on radioactivity). 

During the process of writing our biographies, Learners chose a person of their interest, conducted and collected research, wrote at least one, sometimes two, rough drafts. Next, they edited and revised their drafts before writing their final. Learners then traced their writing in pen. SO MUCH WRITING went into these works! 

When Learners completed their writing, they had an opportunity to create an artifact to represent their person. This process of course started with a project proposal. They created their masterpieces, then wrote an informational card to share about their work. For each card, they also wrote a rough draft, edited and revised, wrote a final draft, and traced the final in pen. 

They were so excited to show off their work during our incredible community day and we're excited for our next unit! 

The Silver Sycamores and Hickorys ended our semester with a daily timed reading challenge that focused on reading words in isolation. We tracked and graphed our results so that each Learner could see their progress. All Learners seemed to accept and enjoy this challenge. 

We continued our journey with the third Wayside School book. This reading still provides the bases of comprehension and writing practice. In addition, we also focused on the long and short vowel sounds and when to use C or K for the /k/ sound. 

James would love to meet with each of you to discuss your Learner. Please schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience. 

Math with Kyle

In December we focused on one major project to get on display at community day. This was our tiling project of mosaics. Every rotation did a project with a slight variation. The Sycamore group focused on creating arrays and how to solve the total number of tiles in an array. The Willow and Hickory groups focused on finding the perimeter of certain shapes or the entirety of their mosaics. They had to get creative with how they were going to measure! The Dogwood group focused on creating Tessellations. They were challenged with utilizing multiple different shapes. This allowed them to visualize the interactions of different angles.

Science with Furn

December in Silver Science was entirely focused on our Invent-An-Animal Project! We started our rough drafts on outlines of an Invent-An-Animal card. Each group was guided by a rubric that specified their requirements for each section of the card- name, drawing, adaptations, and energy pyramid/trophic level. As learners’ started wrapping up their rough drafts, each individual met with Furn to receive feedback and make any changes before receiving their final card. We focused on the “how” and “why” during these conferences, making sure that every category made sense with the other categories. Learners received a lot of freedom in creating their animals, and the phrase ‘as long as it makes sense!’ was probably our most used of the week. We were so impressed with the Learners passion, creativity, and adaptation knowledge throughout this process. Our final week of school in December was dedicated to finishing up those final drafts to be displayed at our lantern walk community day. Some learners even started to create additional cards. As the beginning of the year wraps up, I’m looking eagerly towards reuniting in January, where we will start with a mid-year review and move on to bigger (like galaxy big!) topics next month!

Emerald Alpacas with Corrie

During December, the Emerald Alpacas focused mainly on the Spiral of Time Community Night Project. The final projects integrated all Brain Blast subjects to create a interactive exhibit that illustrated the magnitude of the Earth’s dynamic history. After researching the different periods of Prehistoy and Ancient History, the learners assigned roles and collaborated on the design. They wrote a project proposal that outlined the materials and steps required to complete the project. The Alpacas used their Exploration time to harvest over 900 feet of wood in order to create the spiral form. In the final days leading up to Community Night, learners finalized their written research cards, measured out the interval in the spiral, and installed the final touches with the candles and speaker. The final result was greater than imaginable! In addition to the Spiral of Time, we studied tracking mammals around the property by observing tracks and scat and researching field guides. 

Projects & Knowledge Seekers with Max & Ryan

The close of 2023 saw our Learners continue to work on their tracking skills and create personal timelines as their public product for our Community Day on Thursday, December 14.

Learners practiced tracking in a variety of ways including looking at photos of tracks in the sand, mud, and snow and then putting those observations into their nature journals.  We also looked at a set of 'cast tracks' which are real prints that have been preserved by creating a cast of the print using plaster of paris. Learners used these cast tracks to create a set of tracks in the mud at Water Chicken Way. Once a Learner created a track they found another track and tried to identify it. Tracking is an excellent tool for continued practice of our observation skills and a great skill set that grows as we continue to practice over the years.

When we were not looking at the past through animal tracks our Learners were doing some of their own personal tracking by creating a timeline of events in their lives along with other historical events of interest.  

Leading up to our Community Day and finishing our personal timelines, Learners got to participate in campfire cooking by making soup over the fire for Community Day. Learners practiced chopping and peeling vegetables, seasoning soup, and tending the fire for cooking coals. Our soup was a wonderful winter warmer during our chilly Community Day. We hope you enjoyed it! As always, several Learners asked for the recipe and the truth is there is none! In the spirit of stone soup we throw in what we have and make sure to use plenty of salt. This year we were proud to use some of our garden bounty from the spring including corn, garlic and onions.

During Maker Days our Learners are continuing to practice the design process as they explore new ideas. We are excited to see our Learners challenging themselves and learning new skills as they explore more challenging projects.

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