Highlights from our Visit to the Nevada Capitol

Our last field trip for the year was to the Nevada Capitol. We started with a tour of the capitol and quickly moved through 150 years of history including a look at the first Supreme Court, the first legislative chamber and a visit to the museum. This was followed by a tour of the Legislature and a chance to see first-hand the passage of several bills. Moreover, Assemblywoman Jill Tolles was able to visit with the students and share some of her experiences.

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Our First Week Working With Shakespeare

We finished our first week working with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Our initial discussions focused on understanding the historical context in which Shakespeare worked and who Shakespeare was. We unpacked the language of Shakespeare and practiced reading key pieces of dialogue with a focus on iambic pentameter.

This initial work has allowed us to read through the first two scenes in Act I. The students have been doggedly persistent and things have gone as well as we could have hoped.

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Our Pro Se Court

Today we did our first Pro Se Court. This was the culmination of reading through four different sources on zoos and identifying evidence to support claims about the value of zoos. All of the source material (here) is written at the 7th grade level and this required students to navigate complex text and work with challenging vocabulary.

The term pro se is Latin and means “for oneself” or “on one’s own behalf.” Students became defendants, prosecutors, or justices before creating triads to allow for rich discussions.

Ultimately the justices ruled 6 to 3 in favor of the defendants; that is, zoos were causing greater harm than good.

Using the Discussion Strategy, Fishbowl

Today we used the discussion strategy “Fishbowl” to debate whether using bottled water was more positive or negative. The students read two articles (here) and annotated the pieces looking for evidence to support one position or the other. Then they discussed both articles free of any valued added statements; instead, attention was pointed to finding evidence.

The students positioned themselves around a fishbowl with four students in the middle. Students would share a point, debate the point, and if they couldn’t find evidence or didn’t have a good argument, they would tap someone from outside the fishbowl to take over for them.

The annotating, discussion and debate will help us with our writing in which students have to support a super claim.

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Gomm’s Visit to the Spanish Springs Quarry

Today the students in Room360 got to visit the Martin Marietta Spanish Springs Rock Quarry. The team at the quarry was great and allowed students to tour the facility, learn about the work they do, and hear more about the quarry’s role in construction throughout Northern Nevada.

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Blending Google Forms with Fraction Work

Today we took an assessment covering multiplication and division of fractions and decimals. I changed things up a bit, however, by having students record their answers in Google Forms. This allows for instant feedback like you see below for me and a way for parents to keep current on student performance. In short, I’ll likely be doing this again.

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Zooming In

Today we completed a Zoom In. In this case we took a careful look at Edward Hicks’ Peaceable Kingdom. This is an instructional strategy first introduced to me by Angela Orr which she describes as follows:

The Zoom-In Strategy is an excellent way for you to have students participate in document analysis in a new way. Zoom-In’s are images that have been manipulated so the students only see a portion of the image, rather than the whole thing at one time. Students often struggle to identify the nuances in art, details in a photograph, or historical significance of terms or images chosen by an author/artist/photographer/illustrator. Zoom-In’s highlight these nuances and with the use of guiding questions enable students to analyze primary sources in a new way.

The strategy is important insofar as reinforcing the the habit of making claims supported by reasoning and evidence.

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Socratic Seminar: A Game of Catch

This week we completed our first Socratic Seminar. We used the text A Game of Catch to reinforce the habit of buttressing claims with evidence from text. In this case, students had to build their case and answer the questions, Why did Scho fall from the tree?

Our Socratic Seminar followed the structure listed at www.ProjectTahoe.org (here) in which 100% of the talking and arguing is done by the students.