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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ursula and Edie

Ursula came out last week on the new Wednesday ferry, and she brought along her friend, Edie, who works at the high school. It was so good to see Ursula's smiling face again...we've missed her! She did a fun Q & A about what we did over the summer. If our answer was "yes", we had to stand up. The biggest responses were about lobster, go figure.
Edie is into yoga like we are, so she offered to do some moves with us. There were some oldies but goodies, like the cat pose, but then she taught us something new:
This balance pose is all about getting your body just perfect before kicking off slightly with your feet. There were a lot of face plants, needless to say.

It was so nice for us to catch up on all that happened over the summer. The kids talked about community as that's our opening unit in our Social Studies books this year. For the older students, they're learning about some ancient cultures and communities, but the younger kids are defining what community means. Ursula always tries to cater her lessons to whatever we are learning, which is another reason we love working with her! The Wednesday ferry will allow her to visit us all year instead of over the Polycom in the wintertime, so we're super excited for that!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Watercolor Harvest

We had a nice new painting project, brought to us by ArtProjectsforKids I just love all of the posts on that blog and get a lot of inspiration from Kathy's work.
This was a crayon resist watercolor of root vegetables. Since it's harvest time, it's a great way to appreciate the season and get some colorful art up on our bare walls.
We laminated the pieces with our brand new laminator and I just love how it really brightens the colors. What great place mats!

Microscope Share

All the work with microscopes reminded Saylor of a share that she could bring in. This mini microscope was given to her by her neighbor, Paul, who was weeding through some of his things. Saylor showed us how it worked, explaining that it doesn't have its own light source, but works pretty well with a flashlight.
She even shared the prepared slides that Paul had included with the gift. Pretty neat, share, huh?

Sunday, September 18, 2011


This pic makes me cry! Jessica left today on the ferry. She will be so so missed at Frenchboro School. We loved all the time she shared, and we learned so much from her. You're the best, Jess.

Geneology with Lloyd

I know I've mentioned that we have some seriously talented folks out here on the island and here's another one. Lloyd Coffey has degrees in physics and math. Yes. That's right. Two degrees in areas that make most people go, "Huh?"
Lloyd wasn't coming to work with graphing calculators...yet. He came in to work with us on geneology to complement our communities unit in Social Studies.
He showed us his own family tree on and showed the kids how the site works.
I got ourselves an account so we could each do our own trees. If you've never used this site, it is totally awesome. I traced some of my mom's family back to 1500! Amazing.
The kids worked in family groups and also filled out as much as they could on paper. They had homework to do: go home and fill in the rest of their chart with some help from their parents. I'm happy to report that they will be working with Lloyd again on Tuesday. Excellent.

Island Classroom

We were out and about the other day. It was a great opportunity to review all we learned last year about producers, consumers and decomposers. It has been a veritable mushroom bonanza this year here on Frenchboro. Mr. Finn found some that were curling up, releasing their spores.

We hung out at our favorite rock, the one with all the pixie cup lichen and beautiful mosses. The kids cannot resist clambering all over it.
Deep cove with some impressive wave action left over from Katia.
They, of course, sat right down to enjoy the big swells. And I, of course, took lots of pictures.
Then we were on to the beaver dam. They did not know this but we just told them to follow the stream. I started singing "We're on a road to nowhere" by the Talking Heads in my mind. Well, maybe a little bit out loud.
A pause to show our muscles.
Muck boots are essential to classroom instruction.
You just hope the boots are high enough.
We must have crossed that little stream fifty times. They could not stay on one side for the life of them.
After a LOT of walking, everyone was getting very tired. Everyone, except Tyler.
And Seth.
Admittedly, it was quite a hot day for September, but they were over the top with their predictions. "I'm DYING, Ms. Finn! I need WATER!" So we headed into the shade and took a little rest.
And some more pictures.
Finally, we reached our destination. At first, they were confused because there used to be beaver out here, hence the beaver pond, but it had drained out and there was no current beaver sign. But a couple weeks ago a beaver showed up here and....
Voila! That little beaver has sure been busy! I, for one, am a little thrilled by the skating potential alone.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pet Parade

Last Friday was share day and we had a few visitors. Saylor got a gerbil last year. The pet store assured Saylor's mom, Tammy, that it was a boy gerbil.

Guess what?

It wasn't.

And it was already pregnant.

Sooooo, Saylor had a whole batch of babies to share. When she told the story about finding the babies, she said she came downstairs in the morning and looked in the cage and saw a "pile of peanuts" in the corner.

The peanuts have grown considerably since that day and have their own cage, separate from their mom. They are as cute as can be but hopefully they are all boys.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Where Art Thou, Water Bear?

Rod came in again yesterday afternoon to work with the hay infusion we had created during our first microscope lesson. Right away the kids made their wet mounts and got to work looking for microscopic creatures.

And guess what we found? Water bears! In fact, the very first time Rod used the camera scope he found a water bear immediately. Unfortunately, it was such a big bear that it had been smooshed with the cover slip.
But then...we found one on the move!
Here it is on a higher power. It was an active little bugger, wriggling all over the place. We could see the teensy little claws and the strange back legs that look like an inchworm. We saw paramecium, bacteria clusters, nematodes, amoeba and all other manner of organisms. It was totally awesome! I am in love with our new microscopes, and am developing a soft spot for the little tardigrades, too. Watch out, kingfisher, we might have another mascot in the running!

First Lego Practice

Yippeeee! Our Lego Robotics materials arrived in the mail. We couldn't wait to get our hands into all the goodies. This year it's Food Factors. All of the tasks have something to do with food.
Everyone zipped a copy of the plans onto their computers and set to work putting the table tasks together. They were only supposed to stay until 4, but they asked to stay another whole hour. That's dedication!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Microscopes with Rod

We are lucky enough to have a lot of very talented people out here on our little isle. Whenever possible we try to take advantage of... ahem, showcase them and their talents. This year we hit the ground running and on the second day of school, we were excited to have Rod Bost come in as a guest teacher. Rod is retired from teaching now, but has spent his career working with gifted high schoolers, teachers and college students in North Carolina. He is a scientist, specializing in recombinant DNA, and when he wasn't teaching, he was working in the lab. How awesome is that!? I know, I know, my scientific lingo bedazzles you.
Well, it just so happens that we purchased FOUR new microscopes to prepare for our work with phytoplankton and water bears (tardigrades). Rod talked with us about the work that we'd be doing and suggested an in-depth lesson on microscopes. Fantastic! We jumped at the chance.
Rod went over all the parts of the microscope and the terminology sunk in quickly with the kids. He's published an article about how people learn vocabulary and this sort of immersion is the best way to learn new things. My poor Word Wall might have to go the way of the dodo. The kids were able to point out the different parts right away, and tell their use. Then it was time to get our hands dirty!
Here's Cadin preparing a wet mount. Every student got a chance to make their own slides and we looked at the lower case letter 'e' under the microscope.
Cutting the tiny 'e' out of the newspaper was the hardest part!
After preparing our slides, Rod took us through the process of placing the slides on the stage, or flat part of the microscope, and securing it with the stage clips. We had learned to set up the microscopes by putting it on the lowest power objective, then bringing the stage all the way up, with the course and fine focus nobs turned all the way back towards ourselves. This way, you are always in the process of lowering the stage, so you never get the problem of cracked slides or scratched lenses when you switch to a higher power. Brilliant.

We also have a nifty bit of technology that attaches a camera onto the microscope and projects it up to a screen. This way, we can model what is being seen for the kids as a group. I can see using this little beauty a LOT this year.
It was all microscope exploration for an hour. I would have killed for this as a kid! So great!
We had a little fun.
And learned a ton.
Thanks for the great lesson Rod! Can't wait for the next one!