Entries Categorized as 'immersion'

Arkansan Spiders

October 9, 2013

The Heifer Ranch is home to quite the variety of large spiders, including the tarantulas we found a couple years ago. Most of them work hard at keeping the insect pests down. Here’s a collection of some of them we ran into this year.

A green spider from near the Heifer global village's refugee camp.

A green lynx spider from near the Heifer global village’s refugee camp.

A brown spider found in the brush on the dam.

A brown spider found in the brush on the dam.

A wolf spider with babies on its back. Found in the grass near the foot of the dam.

A wolf spider with babies on its back. Found in the grass near the foot of the dam.

Yellow garden spider found in the herb garden.

Yellow garden spider found in the herb garden.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Arkansan Spiders, Retrieved July 29th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Heifer 2013

September 29, 2013

The partially completed version of the artwork that our students gave to the Heifer facilitators.

The partially completed version of the artwork that our students gave to the Heifer facilitators. The border pattern comes from the DNA Writer.

This year’s trip to the Heifer International Ranch was as excellent as it has been in the past. Students worked in their CSA garden (planting garlic and picking peppers and tomatoes for example), helped with maintenance on the grounds, assisted with taking care of their livestock, and spent a night at their global village. We saw quite the variety of spiders.

Each night, students spent a half-hour doing some reflective writing in their journals, and we had a discussion or lesson that tied into what they’d done or seen during the day.

  • Sunday: The geologic and geographic importance of rivers. I’d pointed out the all the agriculture on the Arkansas river floodplain when we’d crossed it on the drive down, so we talked about how rivers erode mountains and deposit rich soils on their floodplains, and how important those floodplain and deltaic deposits have been in the emergence of civilizations and the location of cities.
  • Monday: Language Arts. We took a short passage out of one of the students’ journaling to use as an apprentice sentence.
  • Tuesday: Global village. Our group ended up in the Guatemalan house and the slums. The dire situation in the sums evoked some moral flexibility.
  • Wednesday: Art: Drawing vegetables with watercolor and color pencils. We took advantage of having our art teacher along as one of the chaperones. Life in the slums: We also talked about the difference between our experience in the simulated global village and real life in the slums.
  • Thursday: Social interaction. We were paired with the Girls’ School of Austin, who invited us over for smores after our debriefing of the week’s activities by the facilitators. Our boys, in particular, learned how to start and maintain a conversation with people of the opposite gender.

Students also had a bit of time between lunch and the afternoon activities, which they spent playing games and looking at insects under the microscope.

On the last day, we talked about giving something to the heifer facilitators. One student suggested a coded bead string, but since we did not have any beads, we went with a drawing (see above) that was bordered by a DNA sequence giving the names (and symbols) of all the water-balloon babies the group had on their visit to the global village.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Heifer 2013, Retrieved July 29th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Situational Morality

September 29, 2013

The stolen milk.

The stolen milk.

“Stealing is always wrong,” versus, “If I were starving, I’d steal from A. no problem.” That was the gist of our discussion the evening after spending a night in the Heifer’s global village.

The “slum dwellers” had started off with very little in the way of resources, and two of them decided, on their own initiative, to steal some “milk” for their “baby” from the “Guatemalans” who were significantly better off. However, the rest of the slum group found out there was quite a bit of dissension in the ranks.

The thieves also stole most of the rest of the milk while they were at it to trade with the other groups. Their logic — I think — was that since all the groups needed milk, and they would be distributing it, then everyone could ultimately get what they needed, while if they had not stolen the milk then the slums might not have gotten any.

The reverberations throughout the all the houses in the global village were profound, however, lots of distrust and animosity developed that had not been there before. It made it more difficult for the slums to get the other resources that they needed, because the other groups could not trust their motivations.

In fact, the other groups ended up having a harder time trading and communicating with each other because of the breakdown in trust. One other group started to lie about what they had and did not have. At first this was to deter theft, but they quickly realized that they could use this to their advantage.

Interestingly, it all worked out in the end. The slum dwellers felt guilty enough to exhibit real concern when they thought their plan had gone wrong and one of the other groups did not have any milk. The Guatemalans ended up with enough resources of their own to have a decent dinner, and even passed on some of their left-over vegetables to the slums. The slums invited everyone over to the “christening” of their water-balloon baby and everyone came. And we got to have a richer discussion than if everyone had just been nice to everyone else.

A generous donation to the slums.

A generous donation to the slums.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Situational Morality, Retrieved July 29th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

You Can See the Stars From the Slums, Sometimes

September 26, 2013

Writing with light.

Writing with light.

I spent another night in the slums. With a different group the dynamics were a bit different. Since I was not to intervene, I spent some of my time taking pictures of the stars.

The stars at night.

The stars at night.

And pictures with light.

An attempt at a figure eight.

An attempt at a figure eight.

Trees and stars.

Trees and stars.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. You Can See the Stars From the Slums, Sometimes, Retrieved July 29th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Grasshopper

September 24, 2013

Grasshopper under the microscope. (10x magnification).

Grasshopper under the microscope. (10x magnification).

I caught a grasshopper in the bushes this morning. They’re a bit of a pest at Heifer so I didn’t feel too badly about bringing it in to inspect under the microscope.

The students found it to be curious as well. So much so, that one decided — of her own volition — to diagram it as well; including one of the small fecal pellets our grasshopper had graciously deposited into its petri dish.

Exploratory diagram of a grasshopper (by E.H.).

Exploratory diagram of a grasshopper (by E.H.).

When we get back, I’ll point out Cmassingale’s nice grasshopper dissection page. It’s a pretty decent reference for gross anatomy.

Students studying a grasshopper under the microscope.

Studying a grasshopper under the microscope.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Grasshopper, Retrieved July 29th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Abby Stood

September 23, 2013

Abby stood, contemplating.

Abby stood, contemplating.

“On a particularly humid day, Abby stood, seemingly staring at the goat that was munching and crunching on oak leaves right in front of her. But really, she was contemplating the rather large fire-ant hill at her feet.” — by A.R.

So begins a rather curious short story, based on real-life events, in which a student faces a crucial, life-changing decision. Somewhat life changing for her, but rather more life changing for a bunch of ants.

This journal entry precipitated an impromptu language lesson that ended with a semi-official apprentice-sentence assignment.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Abby Stood, Retrieved July 29th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Heifer AM

September 23, 2013

Morning at the ranch.

Morning at the ranch.

Sunrise at about 6:30. When my students woke up I asked them if they wanted to see the sunrise. Then I showed them the picture on the computer.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Heifer AM, Retrieved July 29th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Back to Heifer

September 23, 2013

Our initial briefing on getting to the Heifer Ranch.

Our initial briefing on getting to the Heifer Ranch.

We’re off to Heifer International again with a new crop of middle-schoolers. This time Ms. Vranas is the other chaperone.

With stopping for lunch, stopping for gas, and stopping by a grocery to pick up supplies, the trip out lasted over 8 hours, but we made it out with everyone in good humor. The kids played Head’s Up Seven Up, and their own stashes of snack food.

I use these trips to introduce geology, specifically the dynamics of mountain-building and erosion using the Ozarks as an example. So every time we passed an outcrop (of which there were quite a number) I pointed it out and one of the students would invariably shout out “limestone” (and sometimes it actually was). I’ll actually try to take pictures of the outcrops on the way back when I’m not driving.

After dinners, I usually have the students spend an hour on reflection and discussion. The group gets split in two. While one half writes I discuss something we’ve seen with the other half.

I was planning to talk about the sequence of outcrops tonight, however, the discussion broke in a slightly different direction.

Just after crossing the Arkansas river, I’d asked the students why the land was so flat. It was because we were on the floodplain, but few of them had picked it up. In fact, most of them had not even noticed we’d crossed a fairly large river on a big concrete bridge not 30 seconds before.

So we started talking about why the flood plain is flat, then got on to the erosion of mountains and the deposition of the eroded material on the flood plains and river deltas. The key factor in erosion and deposition is the energy of the stream, which is a function of the slope. This in turn lead us to to talk about the Nile River – as an example -, which lead to the Great Pyramids, and how the fertility of floodplains lead to agriculture and civilization in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Cahokia, and along the Indus. I ended by pointing that most major cities are located on rivers because of their agricultural fertility, and perhaps more importantly today, the utility for transportation.

A) A landscape profile showing areas of erosion and deposition, including a delta. B) An erosional and depositional (lower) valley. C. Map view of a delta (like the Mississippi River delta). D. An older mountain range that's been eroded.

A) A landscape profile showing areas of erosion and deposition, including a delta. B) An erosional and depositional (lower) valley. C. Map view of a delta (like the Mississippi River delta). D. An older mountain range that’s been eroded.

When the discussions and writing groups broke up, a few started to play Bananagrams, while the rest got a little rowdy. So I pulled them all in again and we talked a little about adolescent development, self-control, and the development of the frontal lobe, as I read them the riot act on proper behavior. It turned into a pretty neat discussion, because they ended up interrogating me about the way I behave toward them: why I always pause a moment before answering even their simplest questions; why I laughed two weeks ago when one of them told me that I was their, “least favorite teacher”; things like that.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Back to Heifer, Retrieved July 29th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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