American Citizenship Test/American History: This workshop started out as a study group to pass the US citizenship test (100 questions). That was the first two weeks. It has now shifted to be an overview of American History. We have divided the American timeline up into 20 segments and we are going over major events. This is largely lecture and discussion. No major reading or writing is required. It is meant to give a general overview of major events and trends in American History. This class is aimed primarily at 6th-9th grades, but anyone is welcome to join and could benefit from it.
Poetry Workshop: This is a weekly workshop that includes reading, discussion, and writing of free verse poetry. It is meant to allow students of all grades to understand and enjoy contemporary poetry. It involves some reading of selected poetry, finding and identifying poetry that the students connect with, and writing some verses. The workshop is a mix of ages and genders with everyone from middle school boys to high school seniors participating. It is meant to see the vitality and passion of modern poetry rather than some staid, dry, sucking the life out of poetry. It takes place Monday mornings for approximately 10 weeks.
Sharks and Rays (including shark dissection): This starts next week. It is an exploration of the anatomy, habitat, etc of sharks and rays and will include a shark dissection. All ages are encouraged to participate.
Botony Experiment: A group of students are conducting an ongoing science experiment to see if plants grow better when plant or human probiotics (or none) are added to the soil.
DWNTWN magazine: We are getting ready to send the March issue of DWNTWN magazine to the printer. Deadline is today. We are starting to develop stories for the May issue. Students of all ages are encouraged to join in the production of the magazine. Some of the jobs are photography, page layout, ad sales, and writing. This publication looks great on a portfolio of work because it has an authentic audience (as all most all of our work does).
Math Hour 1-2 p.m.: We subscribe to an online math course called Videotext. Classes range from pre-algebra to pre-calculus. Students may move at a pace that suits them and they can work with others or by themselves. Terri our math specialist is available to help and explain concepts during that time. Everyone works on math during this dedicated hour.
Book Club: We offer an individual book club where students pick their own book and meet as a group every Friday to keep each other accountable for reading and to tell about their books. We also have a group book club where everyone participating reads the same book and discusses it weekly. The book club finished reading Bel Canto today. The next book club book is Station Eleven (it is also the Library’s Big Read book). A description of Station Eleven is on the blog.
u.talks: Every student is highly encouraged to give at least one u.talk on a topic of their choice. This is a 5-10 minute presentation (in TED Talk style) to u.school’s student body. Two dates are left to give a talk this year: March 22 and April 26.
The Intelligence of the Cosmos by Ervin Laszlo A discussion group based on the book exploring questions such as “Why are we here?” and “How are we and the universe interconnected?” This book discussion will wrap up in the next 2-3 weeks and we will probably pick another non-fiction to read and discuss. All ages are welcome.
Mindfulness: This is a weekly workshop on mindfulness techniques taught by a professor from MSU. All students are invited to join.
First Friday Art Walk: Our Art Walk theme for March is Luck. Students are welcome to work on a display of any kind of art or participate in the administration of the event. Art Walk is Friday, March 2 from 6-9pm.
Student-led Workshops: Students are welcome to teach classes on subjects that they enjoy and know about. Today was the first day of a workshop on 3D printing and jewelry making taught by a middle school and high school student (Will and Dawson).
Ice Skating: We have been walking down to the Ice Park every Thursday afternoon for the past month or so. We will be switching PE units soon. The students will vote on what they want to do next possibly bowling or open gym at the YMCA depending on the availability and cost.
Self-directed Independent projects and research: Students are highly encouraged to pursue independent projects and studies. Teachers are available and excited to brainstorm ideas and help with these projects.
Communitas: Weekly democratic meeting usually on Thursdays at 11.
Wiffle Ball Field Development: We have an opportunity to work with the City of Springfield to develop plans and put in place a wiffle ball field for use by the downtown wiffle ball leagues. We have a piece of downtown land to use, we just need a team of students to start work on this.
Meta hour: the first 30 minutes to 60 minutes of the day are spent in Meta hour. This is a time to plan, review, discuss group goals and personal goals and activities. We also do some creativity exercises, writing prompts, group activities, etc. Every one usually attends this daily session.