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Teaching-Learning Situation No. 2*
Social studies.-This large classroom was a center of activity. A big table near the door held many articles which the teacher had brought from Mexico. Among them were vases, trays, a serape, a hat, a dress, straw mats and baskets, and tin objects of a purely decorative nature. Chalkboards were covered with outlines and plans, a bulletin board was hung with the children's booklets, and easels held plans, displays, maps, and notes. The bookshelves were amply stocked with varieties of readers, social studies and science books, and magazines.
On an easel hung a poster reading:
Requirements for Reports
An attractive cover pertaining to the subject
Tables of contents
Outline of material to be covered
Author's name, title of book (underlined), publisher, date
On a bulletin board was an outline, Study of Mexico, made cooperatively by teacher and children from 13 questions which the children themselves had raised. The latter were now working in small groups, using a wide assortment of materials, to fill in the details. There was great difference in quality and quantity of the facts which the children selected. Two boys, far ahead of the others, said they planned to read books about Mexico until others were ready to discuss the outline.
The following words appeared on a chalkboard:
What do these words bring to your mind?
Carefully imitating their teacher, the children pronounced all the words in Spanish. Some had listed many more Spanish words in their notebooks.
Language arts.-Booklets made by individual children were displayed on a bulletin board. Pertaining to such themes as Our Earth, Mother Earth Herself, Meet the Earth, Earth, The Earth's Geography, Black Beauty, Secret Garden, The Crusades, Heidi, the booklets
showed a wide range of ability in content, organization, style, appeal, artistry, and imaginative quality.
Science. A bulletin board held a chart reading as below:
The Six-Legged Class-We Want to Know
What materials could you use on an insect-collecting field trip?
How are butterflies banded?
For what reason do aphids sometimes develop winged generations?
What features of the dragon flies help to identify them?
In what way are the hunter's butterfly and the painted lady similar?
Name three reasons why insect collecting has value.
A shelf of books from the library presumably held the answers, and children showed eagerness to get started.
Teaching-Learning Situation No. 3*
Reading. The children went to the library to read and get books. Two children checked the books in and out and the librarian helped the children select books from the shelves. The class study was The Westward Movement and the children were expected to choose books to use in the classroom. Several groups were seated at tables in teams selecting book portions to make into a play. One group, interested in the subject of Time, was pursuing this in reference books of several sorts. When the children were called to return to their classroom, this group asked for more time to work.
The librarian said that all the children of this particular class were "very bright" and voluntarily read a great deal, but that doing this is not invariably a characteristic of very bright children. Some require much motivation. Books about animals, adventures, and families were among those chosen by the children in this particular class for their independent reading.
This library has 8,000 books, serves the elementary school alone, and is spacious and simple. Shelves are labeled with the classifications, History, Biography, Science, Health, Reference, Literature, Folklore, Legends, Stories, Fiction, Art, and a few others.
Back in the classroom, the teacher stated that the children read aloud stories written for younger children. When half the class
approves, the reader may go to a lower grade to read to the younger children there.
Social studies and language arts.-The teacher read aloud several stories that the children had written to explain reasons why settlers went west. These were all well written; several were humorous. One story concerned settlers going from New England, one from Virginia, and one from Charleston.
Another story presumed to have been written by "an old maid of 31 who looked like a pickle," and who was going west to get a man. This produced much laughter. The story about settlers from New England also was funny, featuring Mr. McGillicuddy; his wife, Gertrude; and his daughters, Petunia and Myrtle. The child writer queried all the family about why they were going, showing reluctance to agree that any reason to leave home was a good one. He ended with: "... and away they went. In fact, I think I may go myself." This nearly created a riot of mirth.
The teacher led the children in a discussion of why people went west and she placed their ideas on the chalkboard. These added up to "more room, better soil, cheaper land, better trapping and hunting, and gold."
In a conference between the visitor and teachers of the school, the teacher in question said that one of the greatest differences, apparent to her, setting the "gifted" apart from others, is the ability and desire to do creative writing. "They never tire of it," she reported. "I can hardly keep up with them." Other teachers in the conference group, however, thought that some who do not express themselves so easily are also "very gifted."
Teaching-Learning Situation No. 4*
Social studies and art.-The class was working on the theme, How We Live Depends Upon When and Where We Live. A mural was in process: Where-Midwest; When-1783-1959. A committee explained they were going to study changes in houses during that period and the influences bringing about the changes. They also said they had exhausted all their resources and would have to go to museums, the library, and other places. They needed information about central heating and about people in our times. They had been advised to consult the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature to locate more material.
The children would also make floor plans, perhaps a big book or a round picture display, or animated cartoons. They were thinking, too, about how they could show the interior of the house they were making-perhaps they would hinge the roof.
The bulletin board reflected study of News of the Day, Our Creative Moments, and Our Plays.
Science. On a bulletin board was a huge chart having a skeleton outline like the following:
Jupiter Mars Mercury Neptune] Pluto Saturn Uranus Ven us
The actual chart, as seen by the visitor, was partially filled in.
On another bulletin board were pictures showing various rock formations and below, on a table, many specimens. The rock study was in its second year.
The teacher held up a series of photographs taken through a telescope, asking for identification. The children identified Mars by "canals and the polar cap." Another photograph led to guessing: sunspot, comet or a shooting star, earth going around the sun, moon going around the earth, the North Pole. The teacher held up some pictures containing "hints." Almost at once, a child volunteered, "The Big Dipper," which proved to be right. The teacher then asked whether the camera taking the picture had been set all night. "No," was the response, "the lines would be complete, but these are broken." Discussion led to the conclusion that the camera had not been set for either 12 or 6 hours perhaps for only 2.
Another picture was identified as Higgin's comet.
A boy explained how he was making the various planets out of string, paper, cotton, and clay. Jupiter was complete, all but the rings. He was now working on the earth. Someone suggested how he could make the rings out of cardboard.