Urban Prairie Waldorf School
Ms. Cather's Class
Weekly Update - February 8, 2019

Upcoming Events:

Midwinter Break: February 16-23

Parent and Guardian Evening: CHANGED to Monday, February 25
I apologize for the change, but a schedule conflict has come up. I hope you can make it to the new date. The time is the same, 6-8 pm.

Morning Lesson
This week the children learned a story from Mesopotamia, the Epic of Gilgamesh, possibly the earliest known work of great literature! They were enthralled by this story of redemption and friendship, and have been working all week to draw a dramatic scene in their Morning Lesson books, as well as to write summaries of the story in their own words. They wrote rough drafts, and are in the process of editing them and writing them into their books.

By Wednesday, we had moved on to Ancient Egypt. The students learned about life in Ancient Egypt, including the importance of the Nile River, the emphasis Egyptians put on appearance and ornamentation, and the roles of women in Egypt. Today their learned about the pyramids, and were fascinated by the achievement that they represent.

School-Home Connection: I see such an interest in Ancient Egypt in the students that I encourage you to visit your local library this weekend with your 5th grader and check out some books on the subject. They are brimming with wonder and questions about this ancient civilization, and I would love for them to feel empowered to seek out information themselves rather than treat me as the one source of knowledge on the topic.

Today for our review of concepts, I had the students imagine that they were teachers and had to write quiz questions for the class. They came up with the questions, and then we played “Around the World” to answer them. This fun, competitive game got them out of their seats and enthusiastically waving their arms to be called on!

Social Issues: Cliques
I and other teachers have noticed a real tendency for the 5th graders to gravitate to their own friend groups and not be as willing to talk to or work with others in the class who are outside of that group. So on Thursday I initiated a conversation with the class about what cliques are and how they can be harmful. I was careful to say that I was glad that they had close friend groups and that it’s okay to want to be with your friends. However, when our behavior excludes others or inhibits us from working with or getting to know others, then it is good to branch out and “mix it up” a bit. At first no one said anything, and I was afraid I was not getting through to them, but then, little by little, they began to open up and share their thoughts. I was touched by their honesty (“I really don’t know _____ that well,” or “I hang out with these people because we have the same interests.”), but also their willingness to admit that they should branch out more.

We did some exercises in class where I paired them with students outside of their friend groups and gave them questions to answer about their hobbies and favorite parts of a story we read together. After our talk, I saw them much more willing to engage with one another and make an effort to get to know other classmates better. I plan on continuing to pepper our days with these activities and opportunities.

Which leads me to…

Valentine’s Day!
On Thursday, February 14, the 5th grade will celebrate Valentine’s Day during lunch time. The students have the option to bring in homemade Valentines to share with their classmates (13), or bring in a healthy food to share. This is completely optional–the children don’t have to bring in anything if they don’t want to. Again, in the spirit of togetherness, if your child does bring something in, please be sure it is for everyone, and not just their close friends.

During the week, we’ll be focusing on Acts of Kindness.

Skills Classes
In Math Skills, we continued to work on converting fractions to decimals, and also learned how to convert decimals to fractions. They worked on Speed Sheets, in order to practice and strengthen their mental math capacities.

In Language Arts, they took some time to work on their Gilgamesh summaries, as well as to participate in reading groups. I also taught them about Appositives and Parentheses, and the difference in the way that these conventions are used in various sentences.

In Painting class, they painted the pyramids. This was a challenging painting sequence that brought out some frustration, but also some pride when the finished paintings turned out better than expected.