Class Notes April 20, 2011

  Last week a warm day brought us to the Mundy Wildflower garden at Cornell Plantations, to see what was stirring in the soil. The geometry, petal structure, leaf formation and color were some of the things we began to notice about identifying species. So we started a Botany bloc in earnest. Using field guides and Botany books we studied and drew diagrams of the many variations of leaf structures, families of flowers, and parts of flowers. The following day I quizzed them by erasing the names under two blackboards full of  plant diagrams, and numbering them. We then took a hike up into the Cornell fields across the creek from the BCC,and on our way began to be able to identify many different leaf types, petal configurations and flower structures found in our classwork. Learning was happening as they walked, in spite of their fragmented and extraneous teen conversations. We will continue to deepen our study of and observation of the unfolding plants that blossom in our environment; this is a wonderful , edifying spring ritual that I’ve been practicing for almost sixty years now.  It’s good to come to a close understanding of our fellow plant beings. These kids are very ready for analysis, diagrams, and identification challenges.
   We continued to work on Vocabulary, meanings and spelling, by means of multiple choice quizzes and review. We continued to work on various stages of reading comprehension, again through multiple choice quizzes and review. Some of the more tangential multiple choice answers, and the twitters of laughter they inspired, suggested a fun creative writing exercise: I asked the students to write a supposed test question and then go off into the multiple choices with creative abandon; the kids were enthusiastically writing well into lunch – the results were imaginative and varied. And a form, or format, seemingly so structured, became a launching pad for free thought.
   Our trip to Corning Glass , under the enthusiastic, capable, and remarkably comprehensive guidance of Warren Bunn, my friend, was aesthetic, scientific, historical, technical, environmental, emotional, and really fun. When we passed under the sign that read ” Staff Only ” the students looked at each other, and were taken into a world of behind the scenes expertise, exploration, conservators, storehouses of unseen treasures, and the complex business of running a museum. Warren’s energy and hands-on interaction with each piece in an exhibit, made the pieces come alive for us, as art, as history, and as a challenge for the exhibitor.

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