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(The children returned to their desks and the teacher turned her attention to the group working on the Christmas project.)
T-Is anyone out of money?
C-I'm almost out.
T-Well, we'll check on all this at another time.
(In another group, children were learning to estimate.)
T-How big is a foot? (Children showed with hands. The teacher tested
T-How high is your desk?
(Estimated, then measured and found it to be How much shorter is that than a yard?
T-How long is this room?
T-How did you find it?
C-I thought in feet.
C-I thought in yards.
C-I took a window. A window is about 1 yard. There are 10, so the room is about 10 yards.
T-I am 6 feet tall. (Standing near the board.) How high is the top of the blackboard? (Children estimated.)
T-How long have I been in this room?
T-Can you make good judgments about how long, tall, wide? How heavy, the length of time: playtime, worktime?
T-What does 27 make you think of?
C-27 wholes-20 and 7-27 quarters.
T-How much would that be?
T-27 ones; 2 tens; 7 ones; close to 3 tens. 72-? 72-nearer 100 or 2001 150. 150 nearer 100 or 200?
C-Nearer 200. At least in the store when it's half, it goes to the next
T-278—nearer 200 or 300? In 1920, the U.S. population was 128,475,623— near what figure? 128,500,000.
T-Ties sell for $1.98. I need 3. I have $5. Can I buy them? How did you figure it?
C-Almost $2.-need $6.
T-If I see one for $1.79, can I buy 3?
C-No, still not enough money.
T-Cookies are 59¢ a dozen. Want 1⁄2 dozen. Have 25¢. Can I buy them? C-No.
T-137+48=137+40+8 or 140+45.
6.40 10 -.77 -5
Later at a staff meeting the teacher explained that approximation has a social as well as a computational use. It is very important. Even kindergartners approximate: too big, too small. There is need to learn rounding off and the convenience of numbers. Some numbers are never exact: rainfall per year, temperature per year, population. Mental arithmetic, he said, is very practical. Charts help:
Cost of Candy
How do you
Farms in U.S.
6, 448, 000
Questions based on tables like the following single-line sample help children develop understanding:
Land in U.S.
950, 000, 000
T-What is the difference between O'Henry and Poe?
C-Poe wrote horror stories and O'Henry wrote funny ones.
T-How do they express themselves?
C-Through words. (Discussed this.)
T-Is the principal my “sidekick" or my "colleague"?
Language arts.-Children and teacher turned their attention to the chalkboard where the names "O'Henry" and "Poe" were written.
T-How do you know? What is a colleague"?
C-Well, I don't know, but even a teacher is entitled to a better word than "sidekick."
T-How do you learn words?
T-Which is the better language: "I done that," "I have done that," or "I have completed the task"? (On a flannelboard were cutouts of three women one in dungarees, one in a business suit, and one in evening clothes.) Which one would be likely to use which statement? (Discussed.)
T-Words can be informal, formal, or common and vulgar. I favor the informal. Let's list some words which apply to money.
C-Grand, greenbacks, lettuce, dollars, coconut, dough, jack, cash, funds, capital.
T-How do you use these?
T-(Led the children to offer synonyms for "friends" and for "information.") Would you ever need to understand, listen to, or read formal language?
C-Yes; the Constitution is in formal language. (They turned to the Preamble and tested it by putting it into informal language.)
(A child mentioned a last name and the teacher asked where the name came from.)
C-I don't know. I don't want to go into too much detail, anyhow.
T-Here is a book that would help. It tells where some names of things
and people come from.
(From The First Book of Words, the children read some names aloud: Killjoy, bellhop, rubberneck.)
T-Those have come from usage
C-From around the Mediterranean. Children-Panic-Pan-Greek . . . Muscle-"mouse," the name for the ripple of muscle. . . Humerus-the upper arm-Roman Pasteurized
from a Frenchman's name . . .
Where did most of our words come
T-So some words come from slang, some from dialect, and some from colloquialisms. It is our business to find out what is right and use it. C-We can derive that words are not just thought up; they come from something.
T-Yes; for most words that is true. (To child at board.) Do you want to be an entymologist or a philologist?
(Discussed meaning, study of words, collector of words.)
About the room were diagrams of the brain, types of eyes (normal, near, far), and a horizontal section of the right eye; charts showing tasting, smelling, touching; charts showing symbols of our democracy (Uncle Sam, the Liberty Bell, the U.S. seal and eagle, Columbia, branches of the U.S. Government); and a chart headed "How Many Keys Can You Claim?" On the chart hung six paper keys and below them paper chests labeled with author's names: Kipling, Dickens, Stevenson, Twain, Alcott, and O'Henry.
Creative rhythms.-The teacher played one classical record after another. The children were familiar with the stories. Barefoot on a smooth waxed floor, they portrayed the movements at will, some with originality, others with more or less imitation of their classmates. As they danced, in unselfconscious fashion, they formed and reformed groups, now all of one age or class, now of mixed ages or classes; now all boys or all girls, and now together, as the flow of the music or their acquaintance with the stories dictated.
Later, the teacher told the observer that she thought there was some correlation between intelligence and skill in dance performance; that this showed up particularly above fourth grade. At least, the children performed with varying degrees of ease or of beauty.
The sixth-graders remained for social dancing after the others had gone. Boys and girls sat on opposite sides of the room. The teacher called a girl to choose a boy partner; then this boy and girl each chose a partner, and so on until all the children were paired off. In this dancing, too, wide differences appeared in the ability to understand and put into rhythmic action the directions the teacher was giving.
Workshop in homemaking. The children were making puppets as Christmas gifts for little children. First, each made his pattern, then the puppet; and then stuffed it. Others were weaving, making placemats, knitting, or sewing either by hand or by machine.
Workshop in crafts. Here, the children were making clay animals, birds, and comic figurines. One boy manned the kiln. Others were making wood bookcases, magazine racks, shelves, and threedimensional cutout pictures. Still others were weaving baskets. One child was laundering the children's work clothes in an electric washer.
Workshop in fine arts.-Soft radio music played as the children worked on folios, pictures, and cut-paper horns of plenty.
Workshop in language arts.-The children were working alone and in very small groups on stories, poems, plays, and letters. Teachers and principal had expressed to the visitor their concern about an able boy who could not command his energies to do well at all times, and whose work and behavior were erratic. Their concern was over his own unhappiness even more than his underachievement, since they believed the unhappiness to be the cause and the low achievement, the symptom. The services of the school psychologist had been enlisted and the parents consulted, but the boy's behavior was not yet responding to treatment.
Science. The 100 children in grades 5 and 6 were divided among three teachers according to their interest in three topics: Study of Living Things, Human Beings, or Plants and Invertebrates. The teachers helped the children to be sure they had chosen the right topic and then invited questions and discussed possible resources.
Next day the children who had selected the second topic showed the books they had found: First Aid Textbook, Gray's Anatomy, All About the Human Body, "my sister's notebook on the human body," and a booklet made by "my friend across the street," The teacher brought out some other books, among them How the First Man Lived, The First Man in the World, All About Us, and The Story of People. The search would continue in the school and community libraries and the school storeroom.
The teacher asked, "Did you do anything about our study?" One after another, the children reported how they had talked with family members or others, how they had looked for resources. Then they offered ideas about things to do: make models, dioramas, and diagrams; give a play; dissect something; visit a hospital and interview a pharmacist, doctor, and nurse; visit the mental health institute (suggested by a boy whose father was head of a department there), visit the museum; write letters to medical centers, the Tuberculosis Association, the Cancer Society, the Department of Agriculture (about nutrition), and the National Safety Council. Several said they could bring advertising materials which their doctor and dentist fathers received.
Again, the teacher spoke: "Yesterday we chose as our first topic, 'How the Body Works.' What are the various systems we'll want to study?" As the children responded, she wrote on the chalkboard: Circulatory-heart, arteries, veins, blood
Digestive stomach, mouth, throat, intestines
Respiratory-lungs, windpipe, nasal air passages
Muscular "speaks for itself"
Sensory-five senses, nerves
They decided to begin with the skeletal system.
T—Find out what you can this evening. Where do we look for information?
I have a lot of books. I pick out the important facts and summarize
Creative writing. The teacher invited certain children to form a circle with her. She explained that these fifth- and sixth-graders had scored grade 8 on a spelling inventory, and were now working on