The students of the Mansfield Cooperative School have been very busy in the past few weeks working on a variety of independent activities and studies. In Science, the older students each researched and prepared experiments that they are now leading the rest of the class through on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Flynn taught us about surface tension and challenged us to blow bubbles inside of bubbles while adding different amounts of sugar to the soap mixture; Bella demonstrated the power of bleach, and we tested different colors of food dye to see which bleached the most; Delilah helped us to experiment with different citric liquids and heat sources to write and then read "invisible ink"; Leo explained static electricity and led us through rounds of testing variables of balloon sizes rubbed on short or long hair to move aluminum cans without touching them.
In Math, some of the oldest kids are working on solving systems of equations using elimination, substitution, and graphing, while others are using proportion and ratio to determine if two figures are similar. Many students are exploring exponents, integers, and solving one-step and two-step algebra equations. Other students are studying fractions, while some are working on multiplication and division. Many love to play “Multiplication War” with the cards, flipping two over at a time and then allowing the player with the larger product to collect the pile until all piles are in one player’s possession. Some of the kids are making math board games, too. All of the 3-6 graders and some 7th graders are creating Geometry books, using three-part Montessori cards. The cards have follow-up activities, such as art challenges using the geometric terms and requests for students to find examples of these figures in the classroom and beyond. They’ll be learning the formulae associated with these figures in the upcoming measurement unit later this month.
Language Arts offers students at the Mansfield Cooperative an opportunity to research topics of personal interest. Students are writing reports about Medieval Times, creating posters with footnotes about weaponry of the past, comparing characters in the X-Men, making books about Henna, it’s history, and symbolic meanings, and designing the setting, writing stories about characters, and drawing posters from the book Redwall. Other students are planning an eventful day inspired by studies of Native Americans, putting together first aid kits based on research, writing fiction stories, exploring zoos in order to build mock zoo exhibits, and reading about caves.
In addition to Personal Research and the reading and writing that accompanies these projects, many students are writing persuasive essays, and responding to questions that ask kids to critically think about articles read in Time for Kids or Junior Scholastic.
Our two second graders just completed five page fiction stories with paintings to accompany each page! Many older children have finished Brown Girl Dreaming. During our book groups, we discussed poetry, the meaning behind the book, and wrote our own poetry in response to what we read. We also created found poetry by highlighting meaningful parts of Woodson’s prose in artistic ways. Many kids are reading books of their choice and interest as well. All of the students are working on Grammar books exploring parts of speech or will be starting the books this week. The younger kids play a board game called “Silly Sentences” that we use to learn parts of speech! The students also work on vocabulary words, Greek and Latin, word ladders and spelling, and words from the texts they read. April is National Poetry Month and we’ll be reading and writing poetry on a daily basis!
In Art, everyone chose a style of art or a famous artist to study and mimic; students are doing everything from pottery to paper collaging to painting to drawing to jewelry making!
As a whole class, we are studying Food and its interrelatedness to the world and our community. In small groups, we made mind maps brainstorming all of the ways food touches our lives, our culture, our family, our jobs, the economy, and the environment. The older kids are now researching different aspects of food throughout American history. The students conduct research using the timeline found on tiki-toki and are collaborating to create a class timeline. The students have a lot of independent projects going on surrounding food. The younger kids are studying nutrition while older kids are studying different eras of food, and foods from different cultures.
Whew! There is so much going on at all times that it’s hard to capture in words. LOTS of learning, LOTS of collaboration, LOTS of independent projects not even mentioned. Plus, let’s not forget the learning that happens socially amongst a group of multi-age kids; sharing, peer mentoring, project planning and implementation, conflict-resolution, and community building. Needless to say, there is never a dull moment at the Coop.