This month, the high school is humming with activity as the students devote themselves to number of fundraising events designed to raise money for their spring trip to Ashville, NC. These begin on April 6, with SabrinaFest, a Canine Carnival, at which dogs and their humans will be able to enjoy games, competitions, the Barkery Bistro, a Cake Walk, pet-i-cures, and all kinds of fun. On April 12, students will challenge the staff to their annual basketball game – this time at the Banneker Center from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Finally, please bring any donations you might have for the high school’s rummage sale, which will be on April 27 and 28. There will be a table set up outside the office from Monday, April 8.
In the meantime April is also the last full month of classes, so work is reaching fever-pitch. In Western Civ, students are working on final projects that range from the history of philosophy and economics, to that of art and fashion, each through the nine eras we have studied: Prehistory; the Ancient Civilizations; the Classical Age of Greece and Rome; the Dark Ages; the Middle Ages; the Renaissance & Reformation; the Enlightenment; the Age of Revolution; and the Modern Age. The American Century class is also working on some very interesting ideas through which to view each decade of the 20th Century, including media and communication, comedy through the decades, and popular music. Presentations will be in the first week of May.
The juniors are also working hard on plans for their senior projects next year. They will be celebrating their transition into rising seniors at the Junior Dinner in the last week of April, date to be decided. If you are the parent of a junior, please check with them for details.
Our Geometry class is finishing up our unit on solid geometry by learning about pyramids, cones, and spheres. After solid geometry, we will spend the rest of the semester studying basic trigonometry.
Our Algebra I class is finishing up our unit on solving systems of equations. We will spend the rest of the semester on exponents and factoring.
In Algebra II we are almost through with matrices. After matrices I am going to change things up a little bit. In the past I have finished the year teaching about conic sections. This year, to prepare my students for finite mathematics in college, we will finish the semester learning about probability and counting principles.
In Pre-Calculus we have just taken an exam on basic trigonometry. We will now move deeper into trigonometry by studying the law of sines, the law of cosines, and trigonometric addition formulas.
Ninth Grade American English students are completing their writing portfolios using sources like Letters Readers Write to Sun Magazine and flash fiction from Crace’s Devil’s Larder. Students will keep food journals for a week and, of course, each week we enhance and hone vocabulary and language mechanics skills. Community of Teachers candidate, Mary Flegler, will teach her first solo lesson next week for this class.
The Greek & Latin Roots class is rivering along through our last few chapters and then we will head for etymologically open seas. Depth Psychology class emerged from the thallasian feminine and landed in the Grail Castle. We’ve been playing Parsifal with semi-precious gems and with 250 Miss Cleo’s Tarot cards adding mischievous symbols to promulgate AGORA.
Helping with Sal’s World Today class is a daily and weekly inspiration for me and I recently enjoyed helping students with their columns. I first started working at Harmony in a journalistic position. Student awareness of current events, local, national and international, is a crucial element of my pedagogy. I’ve also enjoyed hosting Harmony High School graduate, Riley Manion, for her positive/negative space paper-cutting Creation Agora class for middle and high school students.
Golden Shining moments this year include the Winter Farmers Market and the two breath-taking chanting and throat-singing concerts we’ve enjoyed.
In Ecology, students braved the late snows to visit a variety of local ecosystems, including Sycamore Land Trust’s Tarzian preserve and the IU field station at University Lake. We are grateful to Erich Nolan and his many collaborators for leading a unit on aquatic ecology, including Jessica Hite, Cori Weinel, Mary Flegler and Mary Weeks. Students have discovered a huge variety of benthic macroinvertebrates: gigantic cranefly larvae, hundreds of sowbugs, and ingenious caddisfly homes.
Energy students are in the midst of a variety of projects while details of the solar panel sculpture come together. They are designing and building solar ovens, and preparing lessons on various energy solutions. We visited Mann Plumbing to learn about solar hot water and other solar thermal applications.
In Anatomy & Physiology, students have learned about the immune system and taught each other about various diseases that attack our bodies’ defenses, including Lyme disease and lupus. We also learned a great deal about the biology and epidemiology of HIV from IU professor Richard Hardy. This class of students asks excellent questions which have led to some important discussions about medical care and diagnostics.
In all my classes we are heading towards final projects and end of the semester work. In American Popular Music, students have begun work to create original liner notes for their own compilation album of music from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Next week is ‘punk’ week, then we’ll be getting into rock, metal, hip-hop, and electronica from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Next in the morning is my ESL class, focusing on academic language and writing. We’ve been working on essay writing for the past few weeks and now we’re going to begin our look at the types of critical reading examples that often appear on language tests.
In Cultural Arts of Korea and Japan we are currently studying the post-WWII culture of those two countries. Right now, the focus is on manga and anime, so the students are having a good time.
My afternoon class, Art of Programming, has entered into a somewhat new phase. As I had expected, the students have spread out across the curriculum at vastly different paces of learning. Fortunately, since the course is based largely on the free online class from Stanford University, I’ve been able to simply facilitate their learning from those resources rather than force everyone to pay attention to one single lecture. In practical terms, the students who are struggling can move at a slower pace, explore material thoroughly, and don’t feel as overwhelmed; students who are more experienced and feel comfortable with the material can move forward as quickly as they like. Hopefully, by the end of the semester they will not need me at all!