Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Sensorium

We made it! After several false starts we finally embarked on our train ride from the suburbs of Richmond to the downtown station. It was an exciting and unforgettable experience.

We made the trek to gather more information, documentation and impressions of Richmond, our city.

Anna Golden, our atelierista, offered the children the use of cameras to document. We have posted many of the photographs in this entry. We returned to school and spent the rest of the week unpacking feelings, sensations, perspectives and memories generated by the train ride and the city. The children sketched to record their thinking.

Samuel, Eve, Annabel, Zoey, and Bryce volunteered to help me write this blog entry documenting the highlights of the trip.

 Staples Mill is a train station like a 600 feet train station.  It is the start of our field trip.

We are sitting waiting for our trip. Anna was giving some people cameras to use.
 Kate was trying to take a nap.

Syd is acting silly and fancy.

Avery was taking a picture of Cal and it was a soccer person. So Avery's camera has something special to it. You can push a button and you can turn anybody into anything. Well not anything.

This is the lollipop man and he gave us the lollipops. He worked at the train station in the snack shack. He was very happy and smiled.

We were waiting for the train to come and we saw a freight train. It is a  train. There was a gate thing that meant we could not go past it.

Avery is taking a picture in the train. We are all walking on the train. 

It felt kinda scary because it was only the second time I was boarding a train.
The stairs were really high. I had to look down on the ground and it was so scary. 
I had a shivering feeling when I was climbing the stairs.

This sitting person is my art, too. It is an army person. Annabel

He said that his job to do is to guard the airlines. He is like the commander of the air force place.

Scarlett said she saw a little forest from the train with birds flying.

This is a train bridge. I recognize that building. I see it every day on my way to school. 

Is it the children's hospital?

 It is raining on the train. There is a cloud that makes the rain.

That is definitely the city and there are shadows of the trees in the picture and it is raining on the window and that is making it blurry.There is a big skyscraper in the background. I think I see VCU.

This is a picture of new city hall with lots of people up in the observation deck but it is not us because we are in the train. I saw it from the train. I saw a flock of birds and a squirrel. Bryce

This is us in the train. Bryce

This is Cal's picture. He wrote the number of our train which is 67. It is a construction site behind the train. 

These are the flags and this is the conductor on the train. I am in the train with Bryce but I did not the get time to draw everyone else. There are flags in the background.  America is the first one.  Annabel

This is a picture of everyone on the train and I did not have enough time to draw everyone else. 

Bryce, did you count how many girls you did? 

Did you make thirteen girls and five boys? 


I remember this. It is a train bridge in front of VCU. There are many windows on this building at VCU because it is a skyscraper.

This is a train on the tracks and it is passing a construction site.

I am drawing with Caroline on the balcony at the Main Street station. I see she is looking very closely at what she is drawing.


This is us sitting having snack at Main Street station. There were stars on the ceiling above us. I could see them when I looked up. Eve

Kenny looked closely too. He saw all of the windows in the building. He noticed the animals in the city, too. I think that is a big bus below the building. You can tell the small building is behind the bus because of the way he drew 

We are walking across the street in the rain. We were waiting to cross the street. Cheri is directing the traffic.  

There was a walking sign telling us it was time to walk. It was clicking to let us know and to help the blind people know when to cross.

This is a government house and they make laws. They are called lawmakers. 

We think the statue is George Washington. It is outside of the law house. We googled it but don't know the answer.

We are standing on the big clock or is it a compass? I believe it is a giant compass. It is underground. Maybe they use it to tell which way to go.

We are walking on a one foot wall. It is like twelve inches tall. They are carrying an umbrella but I am not. Samuel

Kenny is laying down on a light up floor.   He is looking at cool stuff above him at old city hall. We think he is thinking how did they build this? I think he is thinking the cool stuff is on the top and not the bottom.


We are looking at the light up floor at old city hall.  We are wondering how the floor lights up. The man who lit the floor said it would take a while for the lights to warm up.

There are many designs There are many spikes and triangles and even on the outside of old city hall there were many triangles.  I noticed that there was a lot of lights.

Charlie: I was thinking about old city hall and it inspired me to do that.

Charlie and Avery replicated the design of the side of the staircase

The Kindergarten has spent some time reading poetry about the city.  A city is a sensorium....scents, sounds, feelings, sights and movement.  Poetry is a sensorium written down. We hope to have some time to play with words in response.  

Sing a Song of People

Sing a song of people
Walking fast or slow;
People in the city,
Up and down they go.

People on the sidewalk,
People on the bus;
People passing, passing,
In back and front of us.
People on the subway
Underneath the ground;
People riding taxis
Round and round and round.

People with their hats on,
Going in the doors;
People with umbrellas
When it rains and pours.
People in tall buildings
And in stores below;
Riding elevators
Up and down the go.

People walking singly,
People in a crowd;
People saying nothing,
People talking loud.
People laughing, smiling,
Grumpy people, too;
People who just hurry
And never look at you!

Sing a song of people
Who like to come and go;
Sing of city people
You see but never know!
      Lois Lenski

Friday, February 12, 2016

Composition and Decomposition

As an educator, I am always trying to develop a schema that is accessible to all, flexible and fluent and effective as a framework. Decomposition and composition are two of the most influential constructs in a primary classroom.  Children spend their days mastering  discreet skills/parts and then applying critical thinking as they compose or decompose parts and wholes. (reading, observational drawing, clay, writing, math, handwriting, sports, dance etc.)

Zoey is completing an experience we refer to as "the counting jar.". The basis of counting is composition. We take one jewel, add another and repeat the process until we have counted all of our jewels. She is exploring the sequence of numbers in the context of a number line framework (each line in the numberline is a multiple of five).

As a class, we consider the strategies that help structure our thinking. Are there more jewels than five but less than ten? How many more jewels than ten are in the counting jar?

This work is a prelude to addition and subtraction. We are beginning to add parts together and subtract parts from the whole. We start with games and then begin to formalize the process with the addition, subtraction and equals symbols. 

Cal explained his strategy for this domino. 
He knows that five plus five equals ten and then he added the remaining one. 

Cal decomposed the six into two numbers facilitating his process. 

When writing the number eight  how do we utilize different lines, curves and circles together (composition)? We start with the parts and then construct the whole number.

 The children understand that varying movement and combination of shapes composes other shapes.  We often play the game Fill the Hexagons. The children may use any of the pattern blocks in different combinations to create a hexagon. Each hexagon must look different.

Again, the whole is defined as the sum of its parts.

 A pattern is created with parts (units) combined in a predictable sequence. We often refer to the whole as the pattern train and the parts(unit) as the cars. Students create a pattern using a unit but also identify the number of units apparent in a pattern. The children compose a pattern and then consider decomposition.

Symbols and algorithm  do not hold meaning until children have ample time to explore the  mathematical thinking  present in the process of composition and decomposition.