Thursday, October 14, 2004

I showed my 8th graders my absolute favorite science documentary: Death by Design. It's about programmed cell death in particular and cells in general, and it's beautiful, funny, and informative all at once. It weaves together visual metaphors from dance and day-to-day human experience, amazing imagery of cells, interviews with scientists, and hilarious scenes from old black-and-white movies. If you are a science geek or a film geek - or just interested in the world - you should absolutely rent this movie if it's available, or see if your library has it. Unlike many science documentaries, it isn't overloaded with complicated explanations of things - the scientists describe cell processes in simple, everyday terms. I wasn't sure how my students would react to it, as it is very different from the tv and movies they are used to seeing, but most of them loved it. They had tons of questions about what they were seeing and how the film was made. They got the humor. Tonight they are writing one-page responses to the film, which I am eager to read.

After school drama class met for the first time today. I have two classes, each very small, which is so nice. We did a little warm up stretching and some concentration games - trying to count to 20 as a group, clapping in rhythm, etc. - then talked about pantomime. I used activities from the drama class that I am taking, and they worked pretty well. I had them pass an imaginary diamond bracelet from person to person around the circle, then we discussed how it felt real and how it could be improved, and then we passed the bracelet around the circle again. They definitely improved! Then we did the same with an imaginary kitten, which was really hard. Finally, I had pairs and groups of three present short pantomimes of everyday activities like waiting for a bus, holding your new baby sister for the first time, playing ball, etc. They did a good job, and I saw them putting into action the advice they got from me and from their classmates. They remembered to put imaginary props away after using them (you don't want cups of coffee, bracelets, or babies to just drop to the floor at the end of the scene!), and they got better at turning their scenes so they could face the audience as much as possible. It was fun and I still had energy left at the end of the day, which is unusual for an after school day... maybe it was because I showed a film, so I didn't have to talk much during my regular classes.

Health class is an adventure. I'm doing conflict resolution with the sixth graders, and although they talk the talk during class, I don't see them putting it into practice outside of class. We're learning to use "I statements" and how to listen effectively... I have them keep a conflict journal, try out the techniques we talk about in class and report on the results in their journals. Of course, I can't tell if their journals are truth or fiction, but they do tell me the strategies get good results. Hmmm.

5 Comments:

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I just stumbled onto your blog while looking. Seems to happen to me a lot since I am a knowledge mooch LOL

Thanks

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