Saturday, November 18, 2017

Geodesic Domes - Project Based Learning

We were studying Renaissance architecture as part of our world history class, and I was absolutely intrigued with Brunelleschi's Dome which sits on top of the Cathedral of Florence in Italy. Completed in 1436, it is still the largest masonry dome in the world.  Engineers to this day are not sure how it was built, though there are several theories.  

I have begun to delve a little more into project based learning, and I thought that making geodesic domes would be an interesting study in math, history, and architecture.  The students completed these in a little over an hour using just newspapers, tape, staples, and the instructions I found online here.  

  I was hoping that the completed domes would be large enough for a student or two to actually get inside them, but all eight gentlemen and almost all the girls fit inside their respective domes.  
And of course, the ladies weren't allowed inside the guys' dome. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Khan You Believe We Had a Mongolian Party?

Besides the fact that I had my camera on the wrong setting all evening (argh-[and that's the official pirate spelling, thank you]) we had a fabulously fun Mongolian Genghis Khan Achievement Party. (We had studied the ancient Mongolians a few weeks ago.)
The furry invitations were placed on their desks earlier in the week.

The day before the party, four of the teachers were in the kitchen preparing a delightful menu of authentic, Mongolian recipes.  The downstairs of the school still smells amazing a few days later.
Guuriltai shul
Suutei tsai

Dumplings filled with beef: Buuz

Vegetable and chicken soup: guriltai shul

Beef and chicken filled fried pockets: khuushuur

Mean, Mongolian cooks

Donut/cookies: Boortsog
These yummy, fried donuts were served Mongolian-style, stacked upon a cake plate with candles on top. 

Creamy tea with milk: Suutei tsai

After school the students met Genghis Khan (Mr. Swanson) in the stairwell where he gave them envelopes.  The envelopes informed them which teams they were on, and what they were to do first: put on their robes or long shirts and winter hats (which their invitations instructed them to bring), and Mongolian sashes (which I had cut out earlier and provided for them.)  

  The teams were named as follows:  Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan, Marco Polo, Chepe Noyon, and Temujin.  Next they were told to go outside and find five Mongolian coins and a Mongolian sheep bone hidden in the bushes around the school.  

After that they ran downstairs and played Mongolian morra, a finger-counting game.  Then they ran upstairs to play Khan Curling, a game in which they slid bean-filled socks down the hall trying to get one to land on the Khan's nose.  Next they were given duct tape by our principal to practice yurt-sitting.  The team with the most points received a small prize.

Then all the teams met downstairs while Genghis did some Mongolian throat singing for them.  Really.

Then we all headed out beyond the soccer field where we had built a yurt the day before after school.  Several of my eighth graders from last year, who are now ninth graders, assisted us in making the yurt, and they were amazing.  They also dressed up and helped us serve at the party. 

The yurt

Snugly inside the yurt, we enjoyed that fabulous Mongolian menu, sang songs, told stories, played a game, and laughed a lot.  Two spies stole the khan's cup, which we retrieved and then witnessed to the spies, hoping they would become khan-verts.  We played kahn-fusion in which we had to khan-centrate.  We decided that we did not live in Khan-sas, Khan-necticut, or Khanada; but that we liked Khan-verse tennis shoes.  
We were going to go outside and look at the Mongolian khan-stellations, but it was too cloudy.  (Yes, we milked the whole "khan" thing quite a bit.  The students were really into it. ) 

We left the yurt up until the next day so that the other grades could go inside it.  During the last hour of the day, which was a study hall, most of the seventh and eighth graders went out into the wind and cold and helped us take down our yurt.  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The 17 Present a Concert of Lyle Stutzman's Arrangements and Compositions

Last summer while Lyle and Maria and their children were staying at our house for a convention and wedding, Jeff and I suggested to them that we get a group together to record his a cappella pieces for his new website, Blue Sky Music.  Human voices are so much better than a midi file!  Lyle said he would come conduct if we got a group together to do it.  The result is "The 17".  

Since we will be recording on Saturday and will all be together anyway, we figured we might as well have a concert Sunday afternoon.  There are also rumors of a Saturday evening flash mob.  Stay posted for more information on that one.  :-)   

The 17
Soprano - Sierra Herr, Lisa Martin, Katherine Mullet, Cari Nolt, Louisa Seapy
Alto - Rosalie Beiler, Laura Conley, Deana Swanson, Esther Swartzentruber
Tenor - Chuck Burkholder, Dan Miller, Jesse Weaver, Derrick Yoder
Bass - Lavelle Beiler, John Strickler, Jeff Swanson, Linden Wadel

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Heart and Voice Men's Choir 2018 Live Stream

This program will be live streamed Sunday morning at  The recording is usually available for viewing for several days.  

How to Build a Yurt in Three Hours - Otherwise Known as "How to Khan-struct a Yurt in Three Hours"

We had studied about the ancient Mongolians and Genghis Khan this quarter, and I really wanted to have a Mongolian achievement party.  And I wanted to have it in a yurt.  
We knew we would need some extra help for this one, so I asked several of my former students (from my eighth grade home room last year) to help.  Since many of them are right next door at Terre Hill Mennonite High School, they came right over after school and got to work.  

First we drove six, six-foot t-poles into the ground in a large circle (about forty feet in diameter).  

Next we leaned several pieces of chain link fence up against the poles, and secured them to the poles and to each other.  

Then we used four, ten-foot 3/4" conduit poles for the center piece.  The guys made two square wooden frames and drilled a 3/4" hole in each of the corners.  One was the base and one was the top which would hopefully hold up the ceiling.  It did.  

Once the center piece was up, they pounded it into the ground and then secured it with stakes and more twine.  

Next, we pulled a large piece of landscaping plastic (part of a 100' x 8' roll) over the top of the entire yurt.  We covered the rest of the ceiling and the side walls with large tarps, securing them to the fencing with twine.  

Once the yurt was set up, we added a fake fireplace, several pieces of patterned fabric, pillows, 11 x 17 photo copies of Genghis Khan, and yarn pom pons hanging from the center ceiling holder-upper.  

And that is how we built a yurt in about just three hours.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Truly Medieval Party*


Sometimes I wonder why I say some of my ideas out loud so that my students can hear them and then want to do them.  Such was the case with my "Medieval Marketplace" idea as we finished our Medieval Ages chapter.  My eighth grade world history class worked together to create it, and we invited the entire school to attend during the lunch hour.  
As I was gathering up all the stuff beforehand, I wondered why I had ever uttered such an idea.  But later, as we were laughing and mingling with the kindergarten through seventh graders and their teachers, sipping rose water, sampling stews, hot cross buns and sugar cookies, I was glad that I had said my idea out loud.  Several students tried out the "longshanks" (stilts) and attempted to write their name using a feather pen dipped in blueberry juice.  Not very many wanted to put the Vinegar of the Four Thieves on their skin to keep away fleas and thus the Bubonic Plague.  We enjoyed ourselves and learned at the same time.  
That's good stuff.  
*I borrowed the title from our cookie baker who had "Truly Medieval Sugar Cookies".