Tales from Lower School

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What Does 100 Look Like?

Calhoun students celebrated the annual 100th Day Museum to commemorate completing 100 days of school. Each cluster worked together to create projects that reflected their understanding of what the number 100 looks like.

This year’s 100th Day Museum was full of interdisciplinary projects that made connections between math and other fields: from a scientific model of a 100-tentacled jellyfish, to an interpretation of a Kandinsky painting. Community service was also a common theme, with some clusters showing collections of donated books or canned goods for a local food pantry.

All of the projects were put on display in the 74th Street theater, and the entire Little Calhoun community dropped by to enjoy the creations.  Bravo to this year’s exhibitors!

Second graders made a scientific model of the 100-tentacled immortal jellyfish. Each of the 100 tentacles had an equation that equaled the number 100. The project reinforced concepts of biology, while helping students practice math skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, cubed numbers and factorials.

Using the painting Squares with Concentric Circles as inspiration, second graders created 100 paper squares layered with colored circles to mimic the color study by Wassily Kandinski in 1913.

100 food items that were collected for the local food pantry West Side Campaign Against Hunger.

A collection of 100 books donated to Project Cicero, a non-profit organization that creates and supplements classroom libraries in under-resourced New York City public schools.

First graders created artistic renditions of favorite Pocket People foods. Each child made 10 of one type of food, which they will later add to their Pocket Person’s home.

One group of second graders made a representation of 100 words that they can read, write and spell.

3’s students counted from one to 10 in 10 different languages. Each language was chosen because of its connection to the languages of the families and teachers in the cluster. Many of these preschoolers are bilingual and have been teaching their classmates how to count in different languages.

First graders drew, cut and painted 100 eagle feathers. After counting by groups of 10’s to make sure they had exactly 100 feathers, they then sorted the feathers by colors and divided them into two groups of 50.

First graders posed with their project of 100 paper flowers.

4’s students created a centipede with 100 legs.



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Math Comes to Life Through 5th Grade Classroom Economy

It was payday at Calhoun, and people were busy depositing their checks, paying rent and reconciling their bank accounts. But these weren’t your typical employees: the scene was being played out in Molly Cohen’s fifth grade math class, where students have been engaged in a classroom simulation as part of an ongoing project in financial literacy.

For this fifth grade economic construct, students earn pretend money through such jobs in the classroom as homework monitor, administrative assistant, banker and even loan officer. Students receive bi-monthly paychecks for their work (printed to look like real paychecks with tax deductions), and are responsible for paying for basic needs--rent for their seats. Once they’ve paid their rent, fifth graders can decide to save their remaining money or purchase coupons for certain privileges, such as having lunch with Molly or watching a video in class.

Fifth grade math topics come to life through the lens of the classroom economy: students practice working with decimals while balancing the withdrawal and deposit columns of their bank sheets; they work on percentages when calculating the interest of a loan; and through the simulated banker-client relationship, they learn to articulate these numerical concepts and work together to solve a problem.

The classroom economy also instills a key non-math skill: responsibility. “When [my students] get a check, they work harder to hold on to it than they would a homework assignment, since no replacements are given out for lost checks,” says Molly, who adds that they also learn the importance of preparing for unexpected life events. Early on, the class made a series of “Life Happens Cards.” When one is drawn, a student is faced with either a financial emergency (ex: “you tripped on your way to school and owe $75 in insurance fees”) or surprise (ex: “your grandma sent you $100 for your birthday”).

By bringing real-world situations into the classroom, Calhoun fifth graders are learning first-hand about the impact of their own financial decisions. But the ultimate aim of the classroom economy project goes beyond creating smarter spenders. “When math is hands-on, it resonates more with students,” says Molly. “They’re much quicker to do the math when it’s put in a real-world context.”

Posted by Anonymous in math, multiplication, experiential learning, 5th grade on Friday March 10, 2017 at 12:05PM
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4th Grader Discovers New Way to Multiply by 6!

A great math breakthrough: fourth grader Baelee has uncovered an easier way to multiply large integers by six; check out this video!

Baelee made the discovery on her own while doing homework for her fourth grade math class, taught by Austin Applegate. Although Baelee’s assignment was simply to fill in a multiplication grid, her explorations of patterns during class activities—using manipulatives and number games—prepped her well to notice yet a new pattern....  

When Baelee revealed her innovative approach to Austin, he had her present her findings to fellow fourth graders and colleagues. Baelee’s classmates and several Calhoun math teachers tested the method with a variety of integers, and were amazed that it works every time! 

One of the teachers wowed was Michael Vercillo, who was doing his PEL teaching fellowship in Calhoun's Lower School when the fourth grader first revealed her discovery. In a blog describing Baelee's method, Michael writes, "This is the sort of curious, creative, exploratory mindset that Calhoun and other progressive schools are aiming to foster and encourage in their students.” 

Austin agrees, noting that Baelee's discovery is a also a great example of creating new knowledge. “It’s about inventing a new way of looking at multiplication," enthuses Austin. ”And it issuch a simple, elegant trick that it makes you say, ‘What a great idea; why didn't I think of that?’" 

Posted by Anonymous in math, multiplication, 4th grade, experiential learning on Thursday April 7, 2016 at 12:21PM
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Lower School 74
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Main Building 3rd - 12th Grades 433 West End Avenue New York, NY 10024 212.497.6500

Robert L. Beir Lower School Building 2.8 Years - 2nd Grade 160 West 74th Street New York, NY 10023 212.497.6550

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