At the time of this writing, we just completed our Ancient Asia unit and are moving on to Ancient Greece. During our unit in Ancient Asia, students studied various aspects of early Indian history, culture and religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.Â We examined the writings of the Bhavagad Gita and its influence in modern society.Â Then, as a class, we read The Dalai Lamaâ€™s Cat, which makes Buddhism’sÂ four noble truths and the eightfold path accessible through the whimsical eyes and adventures of a special cat. I was really impressed with the depth of thought of our students during reading Â reflections on themes from the book.
During this unit, students learned the positive physical benefits of meditation and one thing that has been really popular with students are guided meditations that we will be exploring these throughout the year. Â As a matter of fact, they downloaded the Insight Meditation App today. On this app are also calming nature sounds and music that students can use when writing and working independently.
For our writing unit, we explored the process of effective persuasive writing, with a special Letters To the Next President and PSA project. Â First, we explored an important issue todayâ€”the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Students read and analyzed different articles according to date, quality of media, bias and strength of argument. We also debated the pro and con points so we could see how some issues just donâ€™t have easy answers.
Students then chose their own topic to research and write about. Â After reviewing different letters to the next president for their efficacy, they wrote their own. Â The revision process included peer review.
Lastly, students took the contents of their letters and turned them into digital public service announcements.Â In doing this, student could reflect how the medium changes the message and how you approach it.Â It was wonderful to see the passion they have for the many of todayâ€™s issues. Â Letters are displayed on the bulletin and many PSAs will be shared during Portfolio Day.
One piece of the curriculum important to mention is twice a week grammar practice that will continue throughout the year. In this, students take a phrase and identify parts of speech, parts of sentence, types of clauses and punctuation. The curriculum is designed for short (10 minute), consistent practice to enable skills to build and be reinforced throughout the year.
We had to reschedule our first field trip, but on Dec. 8th, we are planningÂ to visit a Tibetan Buddhist templeÂ on 45thÂ street. Last year, students really enjoyed this trip and they were gracious in asking us to visit again.
Thatâ€™s it for now, but I will send you an update as we get going in Ancient Greece.Â In this unit, there will be a special emphasis on vocabulary and different ways to enhance note taking skills through use of technology. More to come!