Learning Updates for December 6 to December 10

December 10, 2021

Fifth Grade Explores Mind Mapping

In fifth grade humanities, we just completed a unit in which we read and analyzed the novel Morning Girl by Michael Dorris. At the end of Morning Girl was a primary document from Christopher Columbus to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Students learned the difference between dominant and counter-narratives by exploring different perspectives of Columbus’s arrival portrayed in Morning Girl, The Encounter, Christopher the Ogre Cologre, It’s Over, and A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus. With these perspectives in mind, their culminating project was the creation of two Mind Maps. Mind Maps express a student’s understanding of someone else’s perspective. It represents both the inside and the outside of a person. Students depicted either Morning Girl or Star Boy in one Mind Map and Christopher Columbus in the other, using evidence from the different texts to support their creative choices. The “internal” drawing included an illustration of the person/characters, three descriptive words or phrases, two thoughts that person/character has at some point in the book, and one thing that character/person does or says at some point in the book, all with supporting page numbers.

– Vaniecia Skinner, grade 5 teacher

PE Update: Winter Classics Abound

Our highest lower school grades have been getting after it recently with classic Winter athletics offerings. We don’t have an ice hockey rink, but fourth grade has been practicing stickwork, passing, shooting, and goalkeeping nonetheless with our pilo polo sticks. The intensity has been matched by the joy, and the box scores show zero penalty minutes.

Meanwhile, our fifth graders have decamped to Downing, where they are getting to learn the finer points of volleyball and wrestling. A hallmark of our fifth grade program is the opportunity to learn the sports that they can select as middle schoolers, and they are rising to the occasion big time. Volleyball, as Coach Ellie Brennan, head coach of our middle school team, can attest, is all about having a stable platform. We like to think of that as not just a fundamental technique but an athletic motto. Our fourth and fifth graders are developing the stable platform of knowledge, skill, and experience, that will carry them into their athletic careers at BDS without missing a beat.

– Alex Tzelnic, physical education teacher

Middle School French Students Learn About Cultures, Poetry

In both seventh and eighth grade French, students sent off their first letters to a class of middle schoolers in Viroflay, outside of Paris.

Seventh graders just completed a unit that included getting a glimpse of a school in Martinique and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This week they learned a poem about school by the well-known poet, Jacques Prévert. In France students often do recitations. We have watched videos of a few by both students and adults, and our BDS students worked on their own recitations, including memorization, pronunciation, expression, and gestures. It was a day of challenge, drama, and good humor!

Eighth grade French students wrapped up a unit about the culture of Sénégal. They prepared short presentations about a cultural element from Sénégal. We wrapped up the unit by doing mini-presentations about something about our own cultures: an element of family culture, a culture we relate to outside of the United States, or an element of US culture we connect with. It has been a good way for us to build our own sense of community at BDS.

– Jennifer Friborg, French teacher

Worms Wiggle Into Kindergarten Lessons

This week was “Worm Week” in Mrs. Hartvigsen’s kindergarten class! Along with some new wormy class pets, Ms. Heather Oliver, our kindergarten associate teacher, led the students through a variety of activities to deepen their understanding of earthworms. Kindergartners sketched observational pictures of our worm farm, read fictional and non-fiction books that revolved around this topic, and engaged with experiments to see the effect that earthworms have on soil. We even enjoyed reinforcing familiar academic skills with a wormy focus! Kindergarteners formed numerals with wiggly worm toys, and used tweezers to grasp worm toys in a sensory bin. We had so much fun, and certainly have a greater appreciation for all of the wonderful work earthworms do to help our world!

– Missy Hartvigsen, kindergarten teacher


September 15, 2023

Second Graders See Themselves, Classmates In second grade, we have been working on building our community and using our collective intelligence to create norms and guidelines to ensure friendship, fun, and learning for all. After reading This Plus That, Life’s…

By John O'Neill, director of athletics |

September 15, 2023

After a handful of years as an intramural sport, volleyball is taking its show on the road and will take on interscholastic competition this year. The transition has moved the sport from the winter to fall season and attracted 23…


September 8, 2023

Join us in welcoming our 2023-2024 Associate Teacher Program (ATP) cohort! Our five new associates have been on campus since last week, participating in orientation, faculty meetings, and classroom set-up and planning with their mentor teachers. This fall, associates will…


September 8, 2023

PE Update: Don’t Call it a Comeback! Team Teaching Returns   We are thrilled to announce an adjustment to our physical education teaching model for this year that is actually a return to our roots. Back before the COVID-19 pandemic,…
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