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Learning Updates for February 28 to March 4

March 4, 2022

Fifth Grade Takes This Science Lesson To Heart

Fifth graders are continuing their studies of the circulatory system as part of their year-long exploration of the human body and its systems. Students have learned the names and functions of the different parts of the human heart and diagrammed how blood flows through the heart, lungs, and body.

This week, students enjoyed a classroom lab lesson during which they were able to see, touch, and learn from an actual heart. Cows’ hearts are similar to the hearts of humans, so to apply their learning, in teams, students had to identify the analogous structures on a cow heart. Students found the left and right atria, the left and right ventricles, the coronary arteries, and the aorta. Ask a fifth grader the name of the artery through which blood leaves the left ventricle of your heart!

– Emma Nairn, grade 5 teacher

Seventh Grade Math Extends Problem Sets to Friends and Families

Throughout the year, the Pikcilingis 7th grade math cohort has been exploring a wide variety of challenging math topics through ongoing problem sets. In the beginning, most students worked alone, grappling and toiling with these big ideas on their own. Over time, and with the addition of shared slides, the students started building a community of mathematics around this exciting work. Students have formed small and large groups in which the work of mathematics feels alive with discussions, disagreements, justification, and strategizing!

For the most recent set, students were asked to expand our community of mathematics to include parents, grandparents, friends from other cohorts, siblings, and anyone else who might enjoy thinking about and doing mathematics together! In the shared slides for each set, students, friends, and family can present and share their work–sometimes it is incomplete, sometimes it is incorrect, but the slides always reflect the curiosity, creativity, and ‘Ah-ha’ moments that come from working together on mathematics. The cohort hopes to present some of this work during a future sharing assembly, so be on the lookout. Interested in joining this community? We would love that so just ask!

– Sarah Pikcilingis, middle school math teacher

PE Update: Ballin’ Out!

During our winter athletics season, we used all twelve Barn hoops every day for practice, so we kept them all raised to 10 feet. All winter our physical education students asked, “When is our basketball unit?” Those that came to Friday Night Hoops couldn’t wait to start draining buckets and doing their best Steph Curry impersonation. Now, with our winter athletics season over, we’ve lowered the hoops, and our younger students are making it rain.

Of course, just like the pros, we work on the fundamentals. We learn to dribble with our fingers and soft hands, to use our legs to provide power in our shot and our hands to guide the ball, and to communicate and move the ball around, since a pass will always be faster than someone sprinting. We’ve done group games, station work, and, depending on the grade, are building towards age-appropriate gameplay. When I told a first grader recently that we were starting our basketball unit, the resulting fist pump was all you need to know about the next generation of BDS hoopers.

– Alex Tzelnic, physical education teacher 

Arts Update: Second Graders Learn About Mallet Instruments, Get Dancing

Right before the break, second graders were wrapping up their unit on mallet instruments by doing some composing of their own. After talking about different mallet instruments like the xylophone, glockenspiel, marimba, and vibraphone, our young musicians explored using different kinds of mallets to get new sounds. They used these new sounds and just four notes to compose their own songs with a partner! Some made songs that were beautiful, some made songs that were dreamy, some made songs that were epic and lengthy, and some made songs that were scary.

This week, second graders explored how to move in creative ways to different kinds of music. They experimented with how they could dance to music that’s bouncy, sleepy, sparkly, excited, or even angry. Some organized themselves into groups and moved together while others did their own special solo dancing. After the dancing, we finished up our unit on mallet instruments by learning about the history of the marimba, and how it’s used in cultures throughout the world.

– Tyler Cotner, music teacher

Eighth Grader Shares Capstone Research With Third Grade

The third graders had a guest science teacher earlier this week! As part of his Capstone project, eighth grader Peter Kurtz joined our class for a lesson about reducing global warming by using renewable energy sources. Students enthusiastically participated in the activities he had planned so students could witness both solar and wind power in action. The third graders also demonstrated their learning by creating photo sequences to show how renewable energy sources can become electricity (wind and solar) and also provide warm water (geothermal) to meet our everyday needs.

– Leigh Twarog, third grade teacher

Athletics Update: Spring Season To Start Soon

Despite the snow-covered fields and freezing temps, the spring season is right around the corner. This spring, 132 middle school athletes will take to the fields, courts, and trails to compete in boys’ lacrosse, girls’ lacrosse, track & field, varsity tennis, JV tennis, ultimate, JV ultimate, and mountain biking. The season officially kicks off on Monday, March 14. Until then, the athletics highlights include the Coaches vs 8th Grade Basketball Game and the Winter Season Sharing Assembly, both cherished traditions and full community events.

– John O’Neill, director of athletics

Eighth Graders Begin Study of the Reconstruction

This week in social studies, eighth graders kicked off their unit on the Reconstruction and reparations. Beginning with a historical roleplay, students considered what freedpeople might have wanted in terms of large questions facing the country in the wake of the Civil War such as “What should happen to Confederate leaders?” and “Who should be able to vote in the new South?” They then examined many ways in which freedpeople exercised their agency and responsibility as they built free communities after the end of slavery. The week ended with full group discussions that were thoughtful, interesting, and filled with great questions!

– Kate Burns, middle school social studies teacher

By John O'Neill, Director of Athletics |

April 5, 2024

The track & field team traveled off campus this week for a tri-meet against Shady Hill & BB&N. The Blue & Gold jumped out to a fast start with notable performances in the field events. Eighth grade classmates Alexander Meredith…

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March 22, 2024

Second Graders Host ‘Read For Seeds’ Read-a-thon On Wednesday, you could hear a pin drop in second grade. How is this possible, you might ask? We were holding our 17th annual Read-a-thon! The second graders spent all day reading to…
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