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When individual reports were called for, a girl told about the Conference of Southern Governors which had just been held. Using the newspaper and chamber of commerce publicity materials issued by the conference and by the city where it had been held, she explained how the Conference of Southern Governors was formed, the sort of work it does, and such a host of details that the children were amazed by their number. When she sat down, the children (one of them leading) evaluated her work on the following points, which are listed on the poster: Beginning sentence, topic choice, worthwhile facts, correct English, visual aids, distinct speech, posture, preparation, use of notes, and closing sentence. She was rated "excellent" on every point.
Another girl, Linda, made a report on The Hunting Wasps. To show how these wasps look, she used large drawings hung from an easel, and she turned them over one by one as she talked in turn about each wasp. The gist of her talk follows:
There are five kinds of hunting wasps:
1. Caterpillar Hunter (Ammophila)—the only user of tools except man. 2. Subterranean Hunter (Scolia)-a giant, 3 inches long. Hunts grubs, especially Japanese beetles.
3. Fly Hunter (Bembex)—puts her eggs in a mud tube.
Paralyzes one fly,
Flies which are
4. Cement Maker (Odynerus)-Using saliva or one drop of water, she moistens the clay, makes a beautiful bench circle shaped for her babies, spoils it by plastering mud all over it. (Chuckles!)
5. Spider Hunter (Pompilus)-Rather aggressive. Attacks the tarantula, inserting a sting again and again behind its leg.
"Why do wasps not kill their prey?" asked the speaker, and then answered her own question. "They want their babies to live, and a jelly made from the live bodies of the prey is necessary for the wasp babies. They don't often sting humans, because to a wasp mother, these huge monsters don't seem like tasty morsels to feed her babies."
Each story was a delight to hear. Linda explained in the discussion that she had worked over and over to get good original opening and closing sentences.
C-What is a segment?
L-Well, you've seen a caterpillar, I hope. (Chuckle.) You know how it is jointed. One joint is a segment. (Draws on board to illustrate her point.)
C-What are mandibles?
C-How long is a bembex?
L-1 inch. Others are one-half to an inch longer. It is the pygmy.
C-Linda seemed to look at this side of the room and then over there.
C-My speech teacher says you should look people in the face.
C-I thought Linda held our attention.
It was evident that in evaluating, children could find no terms to express Linda's excellence. When they came to vocabulary, the children laughed appreciatively. "It didn't sound as if it came out of a book, either," said one. The teacher remarked, "Where she quoted she said so. Did you notice?"
The children said yes, but wanted Linda to repeat that part, so they could "hear it again."
When they evaluated her closing sentence, Linda said, "I changed it several times to get it more original."
Teaching-Learning Situation No. 9*
Social studies.-It was an exciting time. Bread and butter were to be made, as in earlier times. Groups had been chosen, one to work at bread and one at butter. The bread recipe was on the board, and the teacher had set the yeast the evening before. Now, in the bread group, ingredients were on hand, brought by the children from the Home Making Center. Bowls, measuring cup, measuring spoons and wooden mixing spoons, wax paper, glass baking dishes, and towels lay on the table. As the children took turns measuring, mixing, kneading, it was quite evident that their abilities varied in all these activities. Some measured accurately; some mixed without splashing, reaching to the bottom of the dish; some kneaded to the center, wrapping fold over fold and working it in.
In the butter group, the churn had been secured, cream was poured in, and the children were taking turns at the churn. Eventually, their excited voices announced the appearance of butter. Now each had a chance to pat out the buttermilk and it was stored for future
It was 1:15 p.m. and the children were putting the precious loaves in the Home Making Center oven. While all waited for the bread to bake, a committee washed the dishes. At 1:55 three golden loaves were cooling on the racks. Now the last of the dishes, the breathless cutting, the proud serving, and the happy, tired children going home to report.
Gifted? Who knows? Perhaps among the group are the food chemists and the highly intelligent home makers of tomorrow. "All
children are gifted," said the teachers of this school again and again. "It is up to us to set the stage so creativeness in any line may be released and interests pursued."
On the classroom wall were pictures of pioneer life, commercial and child made. On the tables were colonial and pioneer bowls, spoons, irons, kettles, coffee grinders; and books about many subjects, carefully moved away from the flour and butter, but easily accessible when needed.
Teaching-Learning Situation No. 1*
Current events. The children were engaged in an informal discussion of current events, especially the request of the Russians that we take our troops out of West Berlin. As they talked, they made the following points:
C-A German scientist was on Meet the Press yesterday.
C-The failure of Juno was not really a failure; we got a lot of information from the broadcast.
C-There was a cartoon in the paper about Berlin. It showed the tail wagging the dog.
T-(to visitor) We are interested in cartoons because we made some about Germany and Russia.
T-Here is an editorial from “Life” about the German-Russian situation.
(Read it aloud to the children. As she read, their attention went quickly to details. They looked up words and places, and discussed meanings.)
T-Let's read some of the editorials we have written.
Several were read aloud: Probing the Universe, Don't Trust Any Country Too Far, Homework for Christmas, and Homework for Hanukkah. The class talked about the difference between editorials and the news.
Later in the day, the children divided into sides to debate whether the United States, France, and Great Britain should withdraw from West Germany. They discussed the meaning of "pro" and "con." The chairman introduced both sides and called on the "pros."
The case was stated: Our troops should stay because Russia is trying to trick us. If we get out, the Communists will take over and grow. We don't want Berlin to be Communist. We don't want communism to grow in control. This would be a steppingstone for communism.
The "Cons": If we stay, we may start a war, and we're not sure we can win it. If we lose, communism will grow.
Rebuttal: If we give in, the corridors would go. The corridors could go anyway and still we would have to get to West Berlin. The airlift worked once but might not work again. The Russians have troops nearer than we do.
The chairman asked whether there were questions.
T-If the Communists asked or threatened you, would you take the troops out?
C-No; we have as much power as they do.
C-We might have to. There are many more Communists there than we have people. (He gave the figures from the New York Times.)
C-If we do take them out, we must help Berlin to plan ahead. We do have a chance to win.
C-If we show Russia we are afraid, they'll do something else.
C-I now agree with the Cons. If we both remove troops, perhaps there will be no war.
C-But we would lose West Berlin's friendship.
Social studies.-The children and the teacher reviewed together what had been learned about the Constitution of the United States. They then proceeded to a discussion of amendments. Keen interest was shown in the 21st, translating it as a decision that our Government was not to say what people would eat and drink, except in wartime. The children worked on their notebooks, bringing information on the Constitution up to date.
Science. The children were moving excitedly around a table where the teacher sat. The teacher moved wires from dry cells to poles. Two girls held up posters with directions and diagrams labeled Circuit-Open and Closed, Knife Switch-Open and Closed, and Electromagnet. The teacher tested many materials to see whether they were conductors or nonconductors. On the wall hung a partially completed poster headed How Do We Make Our Slave Work for Us?
(The "slave" was electricity.) A section of the poster showed homes and travel before and after electricity.
Music and reading.-Several children sat on chairs in the front of the room, holding large posters (made by a "very gifted child 2 years previously"), which showed names and pictures of string instruments: violin, viola, cello, and double bass. The children discussed the different tone qualities of these instruments and also mentioned other strings-harp, ukulele, mandolin, lute, fiddle, and lyre. The string-instrument group of children vacated their chairs and a group holding posters showing names and pictures of woodwinds-flute, bassoon, oboe, French horn, clarinet, piccolo, and tuba-then moved to the front of the room to sit on the chairs.
The moment had arrived to turn on the classroom radio for the educational broadcast. "It is good to surround yourself with music," said a voice, which went on to describe and play several woodwinds, calling attention to the muted tones of the trumpet and inviting anyone having such an instrument to produce these tones. The program ended with a band march.
The teacher asked certain children to tell about their wishes in music. One said he was studying the guitar; another, the organ. One said he wanted to play the organ, but it had "so many valves-and was so gigantic."
T-You don't mean “gigantic”—“magnificent," perhaps.
C-Oh, yes, that's the word I meant.
C-I am studying piano. I heard Bernstein.
C-We don't like just rock-and-roll. We like classical music too.
C-I heard Bernstein at Carnegie Hall. He was wonderful. My brother plays the piano. My mother can hardly get him to go out and play because he practices and listens to records all the time.
We have them all. Just
C-I can bring any Beethoven records you want.
name a few.
C-May I tell about the book I am reading?
good. It's Beyond the Solar System. (He described it.) C-I'm reading about Theodore Roosevelt. C-I'm reading about Paul Bunyan.
C-I'm reading Pioneers of the World.
C-I'm reading Let's Look Inside Your House. I learned a lot.
bells, lights, etc.)
It's not music. But it's
(Models of door
Next day the children brought their instruments so that others could hear them play. All showed enthusiasm.
Physical education.-Boys and girls, with evident satisfaction, did square dances together-the Virginia Reel, the Texas Star, and others.
Resources. After school the child hostess took the visitor over the room to show the "fabulous resources." A file held pictures and mimeographed pages about "practically everything." She pointed out library shelves filled with hard- and paper-back books and library cards, which she explained were kept up by the children. She showed the individual reading-progress records, notebooks, original poems and stories, plays, maps, and other things useful in teaching.
The teacher said trips were already planned (or would be) to the public library, railroad station, children's musuem, science museum, airport, and aquarium, as well as to several other local points of importance, and to a farm.