Ideas from December Faculty Meetings

Winter Break Mac Maintenance

As I mentioned at our last faculty meetings, I’d like those of you who have a school Mac laptop to do some “spring cleaning” over winter break. The process below only takes a few minutes. Please take the following steps sometime before January 7:

  • Open your Applications folder – this can be done in multiple ways, but one way is to click the Go menu (top of screen), then Applications.
  • Open the Utilities folder.
  • Open Disk Utility.
  • Click Macintosh HD.
  • Click Repair Disk Permissions.  Wait for it to say Permissions repair complete.
  • If it says it cannot repair permissions, please email me!
  • Here’s a YouTube tutorial for this:
  • By the way, any time you need to know how to do something on your computer, searching for the thing you want to do plus the word “tutorial” often turns up many hits!

As always, let me know if you have any questions, happy new year, and see you Monday!

Links for Faculty

Here are the links from our recent faculty meetings (week of 11/12/12).

Lower School:

Middle School:

All Faculty: Adding Links to Class Folders
  1. Navigate to the web page you’d like to have students visit.
  2. Open the Class Folder.  If it is not in your dock (near the trash can), follow these steps:
    • Go to your Home folder by clicking on the Finder icon.
    • Press Command-Up (the up arrow) twice.  It should now say “Homes” at the top of the window.
    • Open the folder with your class’s grad year (such as “Class of 2022” for 3rd grade).
    • Open the “Class Folder.”
  3. Drag the icon immediately to the left of the website’s address into the Class Folder (see image below).  You can rename the file if you like.
  4. Students can now access the site by clicking on the shortcut in the Class Folder.
As always, links to all of these sites, and many many more, are available at my Diigo page.

Best Excuse in the World

Here’s why I haven’t been keeping up with my blog for awhile:

Yep, my baby girl was born on September 1.  I have, of course, been focused on nothing but her since then.  But now I am ready to start posting again – and not only that, I am going to have a lighter work schedule to allow me to focus on blogging and writing from now on.

Websites We Used

I was asked to send out a list of the websites and resources we used during our Where in the World? Discovery session.  Here they are:



S. America/Brazil:



Final Day: Culture Fair!

Our last day of Discovery was spent hosting a “culture fair,” where we showed off what we learned to other teachers and students in the program, as well as our parents and friends.  We spent most of the two days before preparing for this fair, and we were happy with the results.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by!

Each student chose a country that we had studied and set up an activity table for that nation.  In the center of the room, we set up a larger area where guests could label and color various world maps, look at our big atlas, and take online geography quizzes.  Each guest was given a “passport” when they entered the fair (we made these the day before) and received a stamp at every table at which they completed an activity.  I think the passports motivated the visitors, especially our younger ones, to be more excited to participate.

At the Niger table, guests practiced carrying water buckets on their head, winnowed some millet, and learned a few Hausa phrases:

At the Australia table, participants could color in a picture of Australian animals, learn about Australia from various websites, or play Ngaka Ngaka on our lovely game boards:

At the India table, there was more coloring (images of Holi and Diwali celebrations) and a little yoga.  Even other Roycemore staff took part:

Guests tasted Brazilian mochas and “Romeo & Juliet” treats at the Argentina table, and watched a PowerPoint presentation to learn a little Portuguese:

The culture fair was a great conclusion to our three weeks of learning together.  Stay tuned for a post with links to the many resources we used throughout this course.  Otherwise, have a great rest of your summer everyone!



Our final unit was all about Australia.  First, we did an overview of Oceania, which includes 14 countries.  We found a fact about each of these and located them on a map.  Almost all of these countries, small island nations in the Pacific Ocean, were ones we hadn’t heard of before!

Then we focused in on Australia.  We spent time watching another movie from Discovery Atlas called Australia Revealed.  One of the things we learned from the video is that most people in Australia live within an hour of the beach, and there is a lot of remote territory in the middle of the country.

We also saw several Aboriginal style dot paintings, and decided to try our own the next day.  This website had the idea to create a tic-tac-toe style game called Ngaka Ngaka with dot painting decorations.  We painted boards on simple black construction paper, and decorated stones as the playing pieces.  Students did a great job on the boards, and we enjoyed playing Ngaka Ngaka with others at our culture fair on Friday!

Africa – Niger

One year ago, I had the privilege of taking part in a volunteer trip to Niger in west Africa. It has been fun to share my experiences, pictures, videos, and souvenirs with Where in the World? students as we study Africa. To start our unit, we completed our traditional continent overview, finding at least one fact for each of the 54 countries in Africa and showing where each country is on the map. Then we focused in on Niger. We started with our study on water, then learned several Hausa phrases – with help from here and here.

Our biggest Niger activity was learning all about millet, the grain many west Africans grow and eat. The way millet and other crops are harvested and processed in Niger is quite different than the way crops are harvested in the US. We first looked at pictures of millet growing and ready to harvest, like this: 

Next, we learned how women in Niger pound the millet from the dried stalks down to grain, as in this picture:

After the millet is pounded enough, the grain, which is the edible part, needs to be separated from the inedible stuff. This is called winnowing. We didn’t have actual millet plants to pound and winnow, so to simulate the winnowing concept, I added some panko bread crumbs to millet grains from the grocery store. Then we poured the mixture from one container to another, and let the wind blow away the chaff (breadcrumbs). It wasn’t quite the same as the real thing, but I think it gave us the idea. We’ll practice winnowing again during our culture fair on Friday.

After winnowing, the millet might be ground further into flour. We practiced that by grinding grains with stones outside. We were surprised at how little flour came from our hard work. Imagine how much work would go into grinding enough to feed a whole family for a day!

Finally, we tasted some cooked millet. The verdict is still out on whether it was tasty enough to be worth all that work!

Water, Water, Water

Our focus country for Africa will be Niger, but many of the topics we’re discussing could be applicable to other African countries as well.  Such as water!  We spent lots of time yesterday and today discussing water and how it is acquired, used, and needed in developing countries like Niger.  We began by completing the “Water Problems” project from Real World Math.  This involved using Google Earth to measure and draw paths people take from their village to the nearest water source.  Google Earth has a really neat path-drawing tool that measures both distance and elevation.  I encourage students to try out these tools at home on other parts of the world.

A question came up about why people don’t just move closer to the water?  This question invoked some thoughtful discussion.  We decided there might be various reasons: someone else owns the land with the water, tradition, crops grow better in the village, or the terrain is too rough to live on close to the water.  We also decided that sometimes, people do move to be closer to a water source.  Water is a powerful thing!

Seeing that a person has to carry all the water they’ll need for the day as far as 2-3 miles is hard to believe, and it’s very hard for us Americans to understand what that would really be like.  So we decided to try it out for ourselves.  We calculated how much water we should be drinking each day with this Hydration Calculator, then filled a bucket with that much or more (some students realized they’d need extra water for their animals, plants, or for washing or cooking).  Then we headed outside and walked around.  We tested out the best way to carry the water – using the handles got tiring for our arms, so we tried balancing the buckets on our heads like they do in other countries.  We didn’t make it nearly a mile, just around the school campus, but I hope it gave students a tiny inkling of what it’s like to have to go somewhere to get your water every day.

South America – Brazil

There aren’t as many countries in South America as there are in Asia, so our South America overview didn’t take very long. Again, each student was assigned a few countries to research, then we shared one or two interesting facts about each country with one another. As we share our country facts, we use the map quizzes on Mapas Interactivos to point out where each country is located.

After our overview, we focused in on the continent’s largest country: Brazil. We started off by watching Brazil: Revealed from the Discover Atlas series. The movie gave us a great idea of what it’s like to live in Brazil for a few different people. Then we tried our hand at a few aspects of Brazilian culture:

  • Capoeira – A Brazilian martial art that looks like a dance, developed mainly by African slaves in Brazil. We searched YouTube to help us learn a few basic moves.

  • Portuguese – Portuguese in the main language spoken in Brazil. We used YouTube again to help us learn a few basic Portuguese phrases, then practiced what we learned on Busuu and EasyPortuguese.
  • Food! – I made this Pao de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) and brought it in to try. Then together we made these two recipes from Global Table Adventure (a family who is cooking their way through every country in the world!):
  • Samba – Samba is a type of music created in Brazil. We imported some basic samba drum loops into Garageband, then tried to create our own samba songs. It was harder than it seemed at first! Here’s what we came up with:

Next, it’s on to Africa!