Friday, February 24, 2017

Carnets de Voyage

Our school year will end in June so the children can enjoy a Summer break with their friends and go to camps (mountaineering, rafting, horse-riding...). Nighthawk School will close its doors with a final trip to Yellowstone, Montana and Grand Teton National Park. Of course we will still enjoy reading and some creative writing during the Summer.

We will also travel to Alaska for couple of weeks. The children will take notes and draw some sketches or paint with their watercolors in their Moleskine. This is usually the only work they have to do when we travel. For us, the most valuable learning experience is to discover new environments and cultures.

Lili and Jules really enjoy doing their journals. It is a great time to reflect on what we did during the day or to pause and ponder during a visit. Those 'Carnets de Voyages' are a wonderful way to document our adventures and what we see, with our own eyes. They are also beautiful pieces of their childhood memories.

An excerpt from Lili's journal

4, Nov, 2016

Two days ago we visited a Native American reservation named Oceti Sakowin, Sacred Stone. The first thing we did when we got there is we took a tour. There were tents and tipis everywhere, and small tents for cooking. On our way near the river, we met a kid, his name was Mickey or Miki. He took us to the school where we read a science book about the human body with a teacher. After school me and my mom went to see a statue on a mountain that had a big view on the river and sadly the pipeline, we called the black snake. Then I helped a group of Indians to build a tipi and I cooked dinner with some of the people. Right before lunch, the Elders did something they call a spirit plate, where they take a small portion of each food and put it in the fire to feed the 'ancestors'. After the Spirit plate, we all ate a gumbo with rice, burrito, salad and fruit. It was a great experience to see all the Indians and white people working together.

Jules in Mexico

Humanities & English with a Cup of Tea

Here is an update on our Humanities and English curriculum.

Lili just finished a fantastic three weeks research work on Colonialism, the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution. She covered all the continents and she dedicated a whole chapter to the Social Contract she found interesting as a philosophical concept (but also pointed its flaws). She is now working on an academic presentation (with the use of slides for her oral presentation) and the delivery of a well structured essay. She is preparing herself to debate - argumentation, voice qualities and body language. She is learning to evaluate texts (notably press), understand ethics, define if a paper is a simplification, a generalization or a caricature, discuss the aspect of a text (aesthetic and social value) and identify individual ideas and point of views in a text. She is also working on classification, generalization in specific fields like architecture, arts, medicine, technology... and their disciplinary vocabulary.

Next on her Humanities program: Out of Africa and following migrations. Evidence of society establishment, and key features of ancient societies and religions (pottery, writing tools, art, iconography...). We also asked her to challenge one archeological mystery or controversy (she is greatly looking forward to that part). Then she will cover the Ancient Asian World (China and India). She will learn about resources and environment (notably water in the world). We will have interesting lessons and discussions on the Australian Constitution (French and American have already been covered), the separation of roles and powers, the Federalism, and the importance of a secular nation in Democracy. We will also cover some important points like the Rule of Law, the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof and the right of trial and representation.

Beside working on her first music album, which is her empowerment project, she is working on the evolution of Language (Greek and Latin roots) and the effects of technological innovations, and she is doing a lot of creative writing with the use of Elements of Style.

Jules is learning opinion, feeling and factual reporting. He is identifying different types of text: narrative, procedure, simple persuasion and information report. I believe it is important to understand since a young age the differences between imaginative, informative and persuasive texts. He is doing a lot of creative writing and he is starting to use text connectives. These days we have been working on homophones and direct and indirect speech. Jules is currently researching on the journey of a world navigator and its contact and impact on other societies. He is also working on an adventure creative text with 'My side of the mountain' from Jean Craighead George as a support (next will be horror with 'Hansel and Gretel', science fiction with 'Brave New World' from Aldous Huxley, fantasy with 'Peter Pan' from Barrie, mystery with an Adler and some poetry). He is also updating his diary on a daily basis, his cursives are becoming beautiful. In a few weeks he will start a research work on the First Fleet and the Australian Aboriginals. We will have an extensive few weeks on climate and hazards, vegetation and sustainability. He will then study the main characteristics of Africa and South America. To finish, he will comprehend the role of the local government and the differences between rules and laws.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Building Blocks of Knowldege

'A GPS is a system made of a device and satellites. A GPS device sends a signal to a satellite, then the device receives the signal that the satellite sends back. The device can measure the time it takes for the signal to come back. We know that the signal travels at the speed of light, therefore we can calculate the distance from the device to the satellite. Therefore we know that the device is on a known circle at the surface of the Earth. By measuring the distance to a second satellite, we now know that the device is on one of the two points where the two circles intersect. By adding a third satellite (or more) we now know the exact location.'

GPS is a fun topic to learn about. But what is the most interesting, and valuable, is to learn how to organize our thoughts in proper English sentences, and understand the structure of scientific knowledge. Take what you know already, combine it - and you may know something else. Two pieces of information (time and speed) put together result in a new knowledge (distance). Re-iterate. After an interactive discussion with Lili and Jules, with practical illustrations (a globe + a piece of string attached to a fixed point), the challenge for the lesson was for Lili to summarize the whole lesson in one paragraph made of six sentences articulated together with proper transition words, in an order reflecting how this new knowledge was built.

Lili's summary

Monday, February 13, 2017

Our Final Months

Welcome back at school Lili and Jules! We are starting a new year, the Australian way. We will leave the Cabin and Nighthawk school at the end of September, to go back to Sydney. Lili is now in Year 7, first year of High School and Jules is in Year 4. They are working incredibly hard. The quality of their work is amazing and their dedication, focus and will are growing fast.

Our family has decided to make the best of our final months in the USA and in Colorado. We have planned two more breathtaking trips, one in Alaska and another one in Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP. There is no more snow at Nighthawk since our return. We are back on the trails...

Beautiful Pike Forest
Gorgeous Colorado trail
Home for little bit more

Friday, February 10, 2017

Kansas City

Day 12 and 13.

Kansas City, KS. We are getting tired. We have decided to enjoy a shopping spree and we went to the movies. We had some delicious ribs in the evening in a local and family owned BBQ restaurant.

Tomorrow another 7 hours drive from Kansas to our Cabin in Colorado is awaiting for us. It was an amazing road trip!

3,500 miles - 5,600 km.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Oklahoma City

Day 11.

We are in Oklahoma, in Oklahoma City.

Another emotional day as we are visiting the Memorial Center. It was completely overwhelming to see the 'little chairs' in the park. However we found hope and continuity near the 'Tree of Life'.

To cheer us up, we went to the Science Museum during the afternoon.

Memorial Center
The Chairs
The Tree of Life

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Little Rock

Day 10.

Little Rock Arkansas. We are still learning a lot about the Civil Rights movement. Today we are standing with great emotion in front of Central High School.

This amazing to realize how much has been done. But also sad to realize how much still needs to be done.