Monday, December 7, 2015

December 2015

First Week:

116 went for a walk on Friday, December 4th. We have been having an unusually warm season thus far this year in Buffalo. In fact, we have broken the record for going the longest into the season without snow! This provides us with the chance to take the students to the Valley Nature Trail to see the changes that came about since our last visit in the fall. We were looking for the changes and to see what rules or laws apply in the community, at the trail and in nature.

The students noticed different paths and paid closer attention
to the factories and buildings, as the trees weren't blocking the view.

These red buds were one of the few colorful sights we saw.

We walked by the old bridges. The students are always quick to guess
that the bridges are from "a long time ago."

They found sand this time.

I took a similar shot in the Autumn, so it will be neat to compare these when
we get some Spring and Summer photos in, too.

We had a great view of the pond at this time of year.

This was exciting! The students found a few pieces of wood like this and quickly
predicted that a beaver lived on the nature trail now! 

Checking out the chewed up logs.
12/4 walk 

Shaytara- there's no leaves. Only sticks and sticks and sticks. 

Orfrelis- Can you ask them to be quiet? I have to say something. I heard something. I heard an animal like “raaaaaa” like a deer.

We hear the squeal of the train. 

Yarelis- it's a train!  It's like the horror movie music. Like Jason. 

Orfrelis- We found an empty factory. 

What do you think it used to be? 

Orfrelis- maybe a chocolate factory?!

With less growth, the kids are noticing more trails than they usually see. They are noticing the industrial buildings now, too. 

We walk by the old bridges. 

Shaytara- I think people lived here a long time ago.
Nairovy- like the 1980s. 
Aixa- a long time ago, like when our parents were two years old. 

Shaytara- it would be cool if there was a whale in the water. 

Shaytara- I see garbage in the water. 

Ericsson and Shaytara- it looks like pizza in the water.
Ericsson- like a metal pizza 

We see a train and Yarilys said its the polar express. 

Yarilys- our toys are on that train!
Kiarelys- Santa Claus! It's Santa Claus!

Kiarelys, Nariam and Shaytara never saw a train before. Kiarelys predicts it will never end. Shaytara says it has twenty cars. We wait for the train to pass and it took a long time but it did eventually come to an end. Then we went back to school. 

Second Week: 
Grade One:

I expect the students will be finishing up with their friendship mural next week. They are going to start brainstorming words and phrases that answer the question, "What does friendship look like?" and the middle part will feature their words, in their handwriting, in English and Spanish.

Melangell learned to outline the boxes using a ruler.

Almost there!

103 Mandalas to Math:

We are almost finished with our pattern and shape exploration. I find it interesting that when I asked them to tell me what they would say to someone else learning to create a mandala like this, most of the students went to the part about working with other kids. They were more concerned with working as a team than the procedure of how they created the mandala. 

Here is a snippet of the dialogue:
D- I see blue triangles.
K- I see purple circles and orange rectangles.
D- I see black circles.
Y- I see red.

What shape is the mandala? 
D- Circle.
What color is it? 

How many purple circles are on it? 
D- Three.
How many black circles? 
K- Three.
If there are three purple circles and three black circles, how many circles are there together?
D- Five?
Let's look again.
They count the circles.
D- Six! 

What do you think of your mandala? 
D- It's all of the colors. It's like a rainbow. 
Y- It’s cute.
K- It's looks pretty and shiny.

What advice do you have about making mandalas?
K- If you be nice together, you be friendship and you have something nice.

First grade completed the friendship mural and it will be shown in the Peace Project art show at Impact Artists' Gallery at Casa De Arte on Elmwood Avenue during the month of February.

Friday, December 4, 2015

November, 2015

This year, we changed my schedule so that I would be working in the classrooms for longer blocks of time. To accomplish this, I lost a documentation period in my schedule that allowed me time to write the blog and focus on the displays in the school. We've also gained a tenth class in the Reggio-inspired program with the addition of a third kindergarten. I love to write the blog, but it's proven difficult to assist the teachers with their displays and keep up with the blog on a daily (and sometimes weekly) basis. I just wanted to let everyone know that if there is less action on the blog, it doesn't mean we aren't producing. Rather, it means that we are very busy and focusing on the children and the environment here, so that the documentation is visible on the walls for them. 

To make up for this, I want to do a recap of what we have been doing for the month of November.

Pre-K: The pre-kindergarten has been working on the creation of 3D sculptures using papier mache. We used a theme of Puerto Rico, as we celebrated the Discovery of Puerto Rico in November. This culture is an essential part of who we are at School 33. Students wore or carried their sculptures in a parade we held to celebrate.  106 created careta masks like the Vejigante wear in the Carnival parades in Puerto Rico.

101 and 103 created the national bird of Puerto Rico, the Spindalis, also known as the Reina Mora. They were asked to look at photographs of the bird to see if they could match the colors and most of them demonstrated understanding of this use of artistic language for a scientific purpose- to teach other students about the Mora by using the actual colors of the bird.

First grade heard the story of Juan Bobo, a Puerto Rican folktale. Then they used visual language to retell the story. They were given the choice of modeling clay or paint. 

Other than our projects for the Discovery of Puerto Rico day, the students have been completing many different long-term investigations. 

103 has been continuing their study of mandalas and math with these geometric shape and pattern mandalas. They traced some pattern blocks, painted them with watercolors and outlined them in black. 

101 completed two of the three murals about where we come from. The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are finished. We are almost finished with a scene from the Valley Nature Trail behind our school, as the third part of this inquiry. 

Kindergarten has been drawing their houses in their other art classes with Ms. Ulak. We wondered what they would think about building a three-dimensional house for the class in the atelier. Using only cardboard and any other material they could find in the studio, they worked in small groups to create their classroom house. It's amazing to see what they think of when you ask them what is missing on the house. We have furniture, siding, doors, roof tiles... It's really been a fun experience. They are working with measurement using objects Is this piece of felt is the right size to be a blanket for the bed? How can I fit the popsicle stick siding if it doesn't fit this way? I'm seeing math and teamwork and problem solving. 

First Grade: 

This is one of those projects that comes along and everything in the universe lines up for us. The students were studying friendship in class. We wanted to tie in symbols, friendship and use an artist from our Buffalo Public Schools Art Curriculum, to create a mural that would tell a story of friendships between the first graders. 

I presented a painting from Aboriginal Australians that showed men hunting a kangaroo. It used only symbols. The students didn't understand the story at first, so we watched a video about Australia and then I showed them photographs and explained who the Aborigines are. The students immediately told the story and identified the symbols in the painting. We then switched to 1980s New York City and looked at Keith Haring's paintings of symbolic people expressing feelings. We talked about how they don't have faces or hair or clothing, but you can still tell what they are doing from their body language. 

The students brainstormed what friendship looks like: 
sharing (toys and food)
high five
walking together
love (hearts) 
having fun (playground, balloons) 

They then tried to draw Keith Haring inspired friendship stories. Each student was given a square to work with and we transferred their drawing onto a large canvas. The students were amazed by this technique like it was magic. They chose the colors pink, blue, purple, yellow, red-orange and green as the colors of friendship.

In their homeroom classes, they learned about friendship and then explored symbols, all while continuing to explore storytelling. The project overlapped in so many ways and is very meaningful to the students.

It's almost finished. In the center, a student will write a quote about friendship. Some students will learn to use a yardstick to outline the squares with permanent marker. This mural will hang between the two first grade rooms and the process will be documented on a panel for display in our Albright-Knox Art Gallery exhibition in June.

Second Grade: 

Both groups have been working hard at Story Workshop. 116 continued and finished up their stories on pirates. The students made connections between "evidence" they found on a nature hike with the legend of a famous pirate from Puerto Rico (Roberto Cofrisi) and then wrote their own stories inspired by what they learned. They also compared and contrasted what makes a person a pirate and what makes a person good or "bad."  They learned to create story boards and learned to use centers to explore their ideas for a story through purposeful play.

118 took the focus in a different direction. After Ms. Chowaniec read a trade book about different kinds of rocks, the students became very interested in learning more about geology. We took a walk outside and the kids each chose a special rock to take with them back to class. The students drew their rock and wrote stories about it. They continued to read and explore stories of geology and the month finished with a visit from a geologist who showed them different kinds of fossils, crystals and even "dinosaur poop" which was the one thing they remembered the most!