Jon's Weekly Update 12-12-14

posted Dec 12, 2014, 11:41 AM by Cynthia Friedman
Friday, 12/12 OBOB Meeting 1:20–2:30 pm
Sat, 12/13 & Sun., 12/14 Tree Sales 10 am–4 pm
Mon–Fri., 12/15–12/19 Joy of Sharing
Mon., 12/22–Mon.,1/5 Winter Break
Monday, 1/5 NO SCHOOL – planning day
Tuesday, 1/6 Classes Resume
Tuesday, 1/6, 6pm RCO—Jon presents Middle School Program 2015-2016 

Dear Middle School Family, 
We've spent every day this week learning about the human organ systems and how they function. The circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, immune, nervous, bone and muscle, and digestive systems are all being given their fair share of the spotlight--by your students. We're talking about 30-45 minute presentations, complete with visual aids, models, and simulations, delivered entirely by small groups of students to the rest of the class. 

30-45 minutes each!!! It's the bar they set for themselves! The nervous system group ran an extra ten minutes (55 minutes) into lunch! And the rest of the class stuck with them! (We extended the lunch break, of course.) 

And their presentations have been outstanding. Carrie has done an excellent job preparing these kids to do an outstanding job. Even more impressive is how seriously the rest of the students engage in each small group's presentation. They're taking notes like mad, and asking clarifying questions... 

Granted, there's an open-notes test on all 7 systems next Thursday, but still... Carrie and I are so proud of these kids! Presenting is hard and valuable. Even more-so when your classmates are counting on you to teach them, so much so that they're taking notes, and asking for clarification to make sure they understand. 

(We're doing one system a day through next Wednesday, in preparation for the test. If your student misses a day, or more, of school, we're coaching them to get notes from a classmate, or from the presentation group, on what they missed. High School readiness is one of our goals!) 

 Our collective exploration of the impacts of Imperialism in Africa continues to deepen into next week. We're wrapping up the picture of "Three Africas," in a sense. Pre-Imperial Africa, about which we know little, Imperial Africa, about which we know lies and justifications (and are only beginning to learn the truth), and Independent Africa, which is still struggling to emerge from external 'influences' (to put it politely). 

When we come back from Winter Break, we'll be breaking off from collective learning about Africa as an overwhelmingly un-simplifiable Whole (Big Picture learning), into more specific, focused Personal Projects of deep interest that the students will share with all of us to deepen our collective understanding about what's real. We'll also be bringing in guest speakers from Africa to check our reality. 

And math, and writing, and reading, and all of that, all the time. Communication requires tools. We must keep our tools sharp, and polished, and close at hand for ready use. 

Teaching is learning. A million things. Every day. 

Jon and Carrie 

P.S. Ridgeline's Middle School is growing next year! If you'd like to get in on the low-down, come to the RCO meeting on Tuesday, January 6 at 6pm. Bring popcorn; it's gonna be an eye-popper!