Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Congratulations


Congratulations, Darby K.! Author of a beautiful story called "40 Lengths," Darby has been published in Teen Ink's Creative Writing Issue. She is one of many students who sought digital publication after writing a memoir in Writ Lit. We're always happy to see our students' names in print!






Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Walking Tour of the 21st Century Workplace in Detroit


On May 10th, LC 9A took its second field trip of the semester. While that is not a common practice, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see 21st Century workplaces amidst the rejuvenation of Detroit, thanks to our host, Howard Luckoff, who works for the Quicken Loans Family of Companies. 

Over the course of two hours, we were guided by FOC employees volunteering to spend their work day with us. We began at One Campus Martius (the Compuware building), where we got to see what many companies are now doing to their work environments. Employees work in an open, colorful, well-lit space at desks that can be raised or lowered depending on whether you want to sit or stand. 


They have snack bars and snack trolleys in each office, and we even saw one floor on which you can bring your dog to work! It reminded the students a lot of the common areas at BHHS with the serveries and the low-top and high-top seating in our classrooms.  The students were really surprised that one office even includes a basketball court.



We toured other buildings around the business district, and one of the other aspects that really stood out to us was how the FOC has worked to incorporate design into these work spaces. This room is used for looking at color swatches. You can see that the space is white to provide the best lighting, and all of the walls are writable surfaces. Sounds like somewhere else we know! 

From there, we saw the Command Center, which is the security hub of the FOC for the city of Detroit. While we were not allowed to take photos inside, the students were in awe of how much surveillance there is in the business district to ensure that it is a safe place to be!


There was also a lot of artwork done to preserve the original buildings, including this piece of found art (left), in which they saved many of the items found in the flooded basement of this building, which was then turned into an office space. The goal, of course, is to foster creativity, comfort, and flexibility so that people can do their best work. It was really neat to see!

We saw a lot of conference tables, but we also saw floor seating with comfy cushions, lounge areas for meetings, and individual spaces as well. We noticed the same kind of flexible work spaces that we have in the new learning communities. 




Our morning ended with a special surprise: lunch atop the Madison Building with a view right over Tiger Stadium. What a treat!



We had a fantastic day. Many students (and adults) came away seeing Detroit through different eyes and seeing the exciting business opportunities happening there. They also saw that the way they are learning at BHHS (in collaboration, with flexible spaces and seating) really may be the workplace they walk into down the road.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

What Makes a Classic?

Sophocles' Ancient Greek play Antigone was written 
around 441 b.c.e., almost 2,500 years ago.  

Shakespeare is still the world's most quoted writer in the 
English language, despite the fact that he died 400 years ago. 

Why are those details important? That's what we've been asking ourselves this quarter in Writ Lit. Essentially, we have sought to find out what makes a classic. Is it how long it has been around? Does it depend on the author/creator? What about the historical context or how much influence it had? Students studied the works of Sophocles and Shakespeare as a way to consider these and other questions. They considered what makes a classic character (archetype) and how artists, poets, and songwriters try to modernize classics, with varying success. 



As a culminating way to show what they understand about classics, students chose things that they think should be considered classics and developed museum exhibits (inspired by our visit to the DIA in February) to teach their visitors all about them, focusing on what makes them timeless. The resulting exhibits were displayed the week before spring break. 


Several students chose classics connected to their own cultural backgrounds. Sophie (above) has her ancestry rooted in England, and she wanted to share an exhibit about why British Tea is a classic cultural practice. Donna (right) built an exhibit about the Western Wall, a religious and architectural classic connected to her Jewish heritage. Anna created her exhibit to teach museum visitors about Carnivale, an annual Italian Celebration, and Antigone taught guests all about the classic Albanian Plis, worn by men in Albania, where her family is from.


Some students chose exhibits based on their various hobbies and interests. Elijah (left) shared why the B-52 is a classic military plane. Tamia, interested in the law,  discovered a classic police case in the story of Marie LaFarge, whose murder of her husband in the 1800s was the first case to use toxicology for conviction. 


About half the students used physical displays for their exhibits. Ramsha (right) loves architecture, so she built a model in her exhibit to teach students about the classic Twin Towers. Taylor (below) highlighted what makes Coca-Cola the classic American beverage. 


Other students chose a virtual space to entertain and educate their museum visitors. Jacob (right), coded his own game on his website to educate museum visitors about the classic video game Pong. Lara created a PowToon to showcase the New York Times as a classic publication; Annie explored what makes a classic board game, focusing on a family favorite, Monopoly, also in a web exhibit; and Maxym created a virtual museum to explore a classic novel, Ender's Game.

Over the course of two days, each student had a chance to act as a museum docent as well as a museum guest. We enjoyed learning about a variety of classics, from classic musicals to classic shoes, as a way to tie this unit together. Thanks to all the students for sharing their classics!


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Field Trip to the DIA

Learning Community 9A had a wonderful field trip to the Detroit Institute of the Arts on February 1st. 89 students and 10 chaperones had an opportunity to see six galleries, focusing on an investigation of several themes related to World History and English Language Arts. And thanks to the DIA's extensive digital exhibits, students who were unable to accompany us downtown enjoyed a day of virtual art exploration from the classroom.



One of the highlights of the visit was seeing Rivera Court, Diego Rivera's mural depicting the advances and costs associated with the Industrial Revolution, which students will be studying this quarter in World History. Students learned a great deal from the docents on hand in this exhibit. Another impressive piece was a brilliantly colored Iranian Qur'an dated from 1450. Students were asked to consider what they felt makes this a classic piece of art as a segue into their Writ Lit topic for 3rd quarter about classic literature.







The students also thoroughly enjoyed the chance to sample two hot chocolates (one with cinnamon and cloves and the other with a hint of chili), thanks to the special exhibit "Bitter|Sweet: Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate."






If we can count on their reflections, each student saw an exhibit with which they connected. We hope that for students who have been to the DIA before, this field trip gave them an opportunity to see some of the pieces they might have overlooked in the past, and for those who have never been, we hope this gave them reason to go back. For residents of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties, admission is free!



Friday, December 2, 2016

Historical Fiction in Writ Lit and World History

November was the kick-off for our historical fiction unit in Writ Lit and World History, which began in English class with the delivery of students' novel baggies! Each bag contains one of the 6 novels we are reading (all centered around globalization in the 16th and 17th centuries), 2 packs of sticky notes, and the reading schedule along with reminders for how to sticky note during reading time.

Each day, students have 30 minutes of class time to enjoy reading their books. As they go, students sticky-note their thoughts, observations about the characters, and questions about historical references.

Students have also been categorizing their sticky notes as literal, inferential, or critical, helping them to better understand the different levels of thinking involved when we interpret texts.



On any given day, students can be found reading in various spots around the room. On the left, Antigona decided she was most comfortable at the high top table, whereas Noah wanted to read on the floor. There is great energy in a room full of readers (even if no one is speaking)!



The second part of each class period is giving students time to build a warehouse of resources that help them understand the historical context of their novels, events they are also studying in World History. So far, we have studied how the migration of the Germanic Tribes affected the evolution of the English language and how the Edict of Expulsion explains the beginnings of the Reconquista in Spain. Next? The Bubonic Plague!



We also used our very own BHHS statues of the Knight and the Baron  to give us insight into creating historical fiction. Below, York and Amari decide on the best angle from which to photograph the Knight for their story, and to the right you can see part of Georgia's story about the Baron.




While learning about these historical topics, students have also learned how to apply the C.R.A.A.P. test to assess a source's Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. And of course, they are quick to share that they're learning "CRAAP" in English. (As a side note, they are also using this CRAAP in World History and Biology!)

Here's what the students have to say about our unit so far:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Mathematics on LC Team 9A is on full throttle!  Algebra classes have studied linear functions and their graphs and equations this semester.  Most recently we have been solving systems of equations in many different ways including on the graphing calculator.  we have also used systems of equations in many applications.  Geometry has been getting introduced to proofs along with their study of triangles.  Crazy angle problems have been challenging.  Coordinate proofs have also been very interesting.  Both classes are ready for their unit assessment this week.  Remember this:  Mathematics is Logic, and Logic is the stepping stone into adulthood.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Goodbye, Invasive Species. Hello, Biodiversity!

Students are nearing the end of Unit 3 focused on biodiversity.  We started the unit by learning about what biodiversity looks like and how to quantify it by calculating the diversity index.  This was modeled through an activity called "Bird Island", which also helped to build our vocabulary with terms such as species, abundance, and endemic species. Students first calculated bird populations, graphed the population data, and then analyzed their data to use as evidence when discussing questions related to biodiversity.

Last week, we had beautiful weather to remove two invasive species right
in the backyard of our school.  Students learned about how invasive species impact biodiversity and the environment, the different ways invasive species come into the United States and then several methods to remove them from the ecosystem. Ten classes of biology students walked out behind the softball fields to manually remove two local invasive species, Buckthorn and Bittersweet Vine.  Clippers, root jacks and pure muscle ripped out the invaders and provided room and additional resources for other native species to continue to grow in the forest.  Sixty compost bags of leaves, branches, vines and roots are evidence of the students' hard work and dedication to help with habitat restoration at our school.  

The last piece to our biodiversity unit is presenting on how human actions such as deforestation, urbanization, pollution, and agriculture (just to name a few) affect our global biodiversity.  Possibly even more importantly is how science, technology, government and non-profit organizations are developing solutions to reduce the impact humans have on our plant and animal species.  I am looking forward to hearing the students' presentations in early December!