Summer time ….. and the learning is relaxing.

The regularly scheduled school year is over.  But just a week and a day later I am back in my classroom with a roomful of students.  The difference?  This is summer school.  I can suggest the classes I would like to teach and the students sign up for what they are interested in learning more about.  There are not assessments.  No grades.  Just relaxed learning.  Joyous!

The first class each morning is my Real Script class.  The students are learning to relax their hand and let the pen dance across the page.  In the following two pictures you can see that the students are focusing on proper posture and a proper pen hold.  It is important to keep the index finger relaxed and in control of the pen’s movement.  In the two pictures you can see two different pen holds.  The one in which the pen is between the two fingers is called a plume hold.  Back in the days of dipping bird plumes in ink, many held their pens in just this way.

As you can see the other thing we are currently working on is ligatures.  We are practicing writing digraphs and the ligatures that connect the two letters.

DSCN5458  DSCN5461

Another class that I am teaching (back by popular demand) is Ukrainian Egg Decorating.  Years ago I bought a kit so that my children could make Christmas presents for their grandparents and teachers.  My daughter and I enjoyed it so much that we’ve spent many hours creating beautiful eggs.

Students begin with a white egg.  They use a tool called a kitsky to draw lines of beeswax on the egg.  The kitsky is warmed over a candle flame to keep the beeswax flowing.  Once the design on the white egg is completed, the egg is placed in a dye.  I have 12 different colored dyes, the lightest being yellow and the darkest being black.  As each successive dip in a dye is sealed with beeswax, the egg becomes covered with color.

Once the egg is finished, all of the beeswax must be removed.  We do this by holding the egg close to the flame.  As the wax become glassy looking, the wax is wiped off with a paper towel.  After all of the beeswax has been removed, I take the eggs outside to spray them with a clear coat that will seal in the colors.

The next day the eggs must be emptied.  I have some tools for this that make it rather easy to do.  And now the egg is officially finished!

A Fifth Grade Send Off Full of Memories and Laughter

One of my favorite quotes is this: “Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.”  It was written by Daniel Boorstin, and I think it sums up our year together nicely.

We had new topics in science, so there were cool discoveries and realizations being made all the time!   And of course orthography took us on fascinating twists and turns in regards to words!  It was quite common to hear someone say, “I didn’t know that!” or “That’s so cool.  Why didn’t I know that?”

It is always amazing to me how quickly September becomes June!  We have shared some really great moments together and made memories that will last.  Enjoy this slideshow!

The following film is something I had fun putting together.  I believe it embodies the spirit and lightheartedness we have shared this year.  Who says grammar has to be boring?  Enjoy!



“Orthography Makes Spelling Less Complicated”

This year I had a high school student who came to my classroom every day to help out.  The other day while she was here, two 5th graders shared their poster about the digraph <wr>.   They were listing words that began with <wr> and had something to do with twisting and turning.  (Wringing, wrench, wrinkle, wrist, …)  After the bell rang and the 5th graders left, she turned to me.  “Every time I’m in here and these students present like this, I am blown away.  This stuff is so cool and interesting!  Do they have any idea just how lucky they are to be learning this stuff?”  I had to admit that I’m not sure my students realize how unique their situation is.

So today I gave them the opportunity to reflect on our study of orthography.  Each student spent 5 or so minutes writing down some of the things they learned.  Then I asked them to share.  Some were comfortable letting me record their thoughts.  Others preferred to give me their thoughts on paper.  Here is what some of the students had to say:

~Orthography makes spelling less complicated.
~I used to just write the word.  I didn’t know nothing about the word or the base of the word.  Not even the prefixes or suffixes.  Some words are hard to understand, but this way helped me.
~I learned that the <carn> in carnival has the same meaning as the <carn> in carnivore.
~Syllables are not word sums.
~Orthography is not just learning the meaning of a word.
~Instead of learning how to spell words we learned their history and how they were made, allowing us to sort of understand what they mean.
~Word sums are not found in a dictionary.
~Yes!  There were no spelling tests!  We worked on something new almost every day!  I now know new and harder words.
~I don’t like spelling, but I like orthography.
~Words have connections to other words that we don’t always recognize.  Example:  lavendar and lava.
~It helps me because I can remember the morphemes, and they help me remember how to spell the word.
~Lots of words have histories and were spelled different back then.
~Words have not just one meaning but multiple meanings.
~Back when some words were spelled a little different, they also had meanings that were a little different than their meaning today.
~Orthography helps you find bases so you know if the words have something in common like in sign and signal.
~I liked this more than spelling because it had more thought in it rather than just memorizing the spelling of a word.
~There is actually a reason words are spelled the way they are.
~I always used songs to remember how to spell words.  Now I just need to break them down into morphemes and I can spell the words I don’t know.
~In the past we’d just get words and the teacher would be like, “Make sure to study!”  But none of us did.  Now we don’t have to study.  It just kind of sticks.  I can spell much better.