News from the Classroom

It’s been a rollicking start to the year at Holden High! Diving right into community building and curriculum, we’ve been on hikes, solved problems, made great academic strides, and personalizing learning plans for our students.

Given a most propitious mixture of individuals and inclinations, we have a real class, able to discuss trigonometry, chemistry, literature, U.S. History, and “much, much more!”

Each student’s “Personalized Learning Plan” (or “Individualized Learning Plan”--even the name is open to discussion!) is built around the “core four:” Math, Chemistry, English, and History. While still probing for student interests to serve with learning opportunities, we have the following individuation emerging: French, German, Music Theory, Automotive Mechanics.

Mathematics: We begin the year together getting acquainted with the “unit circle” for trigonometry. Ask your student what this means! Discovering its powerful properties is a terrific way to work together as a class before dividing up into more Algebra II concepts and extending trig identities in preparation for Calculus. Moving on, Algebra II is transforming functions. Go ahead and bring it up at dinner: When is a function a function?

Science minded students make for rapid advancement into the realm of learning Chemistry. Puzzlers like “if a car is on fire, and there is time, what is one thing that can be done to decrease the chance of explosion?” feed into PV=nRT, a formula we won’t meet in the textbook until January, but that is part of our daily life.

One place we see Pressure, Volume, and Temperature in action in class is our “soup-to-nuts” brewing of a cup of coffee. Students find three-out-of-four signs of chemical change as they roast coffee beans to either a light or dark roast; students differentiate between chemical and physical change as the beans are ground; students communicate their learning to classroom guests, and use the principles contained in the Ideal Gas Law to explain how an unusual coffee infuser harnesses the power of rising temperature and pressure to levitate water. Obtain an explanation from your resident scholar: it’s good to the last drop!