Posted on January 20, 2013
Our monthly assemblies where we gather to share learning from the classroom never ceases to surprise. Two highlights from the recent assembly last week: the fifth graders took center stage with their book trailers -- a 21st century take on the traditional book report. In social studies with Cindy Hoddick, students have been reading historical fiction to broaden their understanding of colonial times in America. They read Blood on the River, Elisa Carbone's novel of 12-year-old Samuel Collier in London who becomes the page of Captain John Smith. Collier experiences the treacherous voyage to the New World and discovers that the New World is fraught with political danger, disease, and death, as well as opportunities for creating new communities, new friendships, and a new sense of self. Using their iPads and working in pairs, the students created book trailers to entice the audience to read the book. The skillful combination of selecting images, music, and writing appropriate text was demonstrated through five book trailers, which were viewed at the assembly. Many students across the grades raised their hands when I asked who'd like to read the book after viewing the book trailers. I'd say the fifth graders who shared their work fared well on the informal assessment of their video projects. And the second highlight at the assembly was . . .
the entire Varsity Boys Basketball Team and their coach Jason Hopkins. Spokesperson for the team, senior Brennan O'Connell, invited the students to the varsity basketball game on February 8, 4:30pm, in the gymnasium. February 8 is preschool/elementary night when special half-time games will be geared to our students. Students and their families are invited to attend the game. Brennan, who attend the MPI's fifth grade, also explained that the team would be coming up to have lunch and shoot hoops with the students in a week. Needless to say, the children were ecstatic about spending more time with the team. In a short Q & A, our students asked questions about when the team began playing basketball, how long they practiced, which schools they've played against, etc. There will be more information about the February 8th game available on the parent intranet later this week.
The other morning I stopped briefly at the Art House, on my way to playground to visit with the preschoolers. Third and fourth graders were intently painting some clay pieces, all quite different. When I asked a few what they were painting, they explained that they created a piece representing a vocabulary word from their independent reading in the classroom. See if you can tell which of the art pieces can be matched to the following words: cutlass domain impenetrable
What a novel way to learn vocabulary!
Through my office window, I spied students riding bikes around the turnaround, so I followed them to the firelane by the multiage 3-4 classrooms. Lo and behold, they were getting into formation to begin the obstacle course. Bike Ed is a non-profit that provides bike safety classes for elementary students. As you might imagine, this p.e. unit of study is one of the most popular among third and fourth graders!
This past Saturday, we hosted a professional development workshop to explain how the Reggio Emilia approach makes children's learning visible via the "hundred languages." This is a concept explained by founder Loris Malaguzzi that children have many ways to communicate their understanding -- through the use of clay, wire, drawing, painting, singing, dancing, drama. using digital tools, etc. Will Parnell, director of the Helen Gordon Children's Center in Portland, Oregon, shared learning stories to illustrate key concepts underpinning Reggio Emilia philosophy. Jordan Guillory, MPI's atelierista or art studio teacher in the preschool and kindergarten, led the 30 participants from various preschools and education program in an exploration of their childhood identity using natural materials. These workshops, open to all, are part of a professional development series preceding the arrival of the Wonder of Learning exhibit. There will be more information about this amazing exhibit coming to Hawaii in July 2013.
All of this (and more) in just the span of a week. Imagine the accumulated storehouse of learning experiences that our children will be able to draw from as they grow!
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey