Learning Updates for Week of April 12 to April 16

April 16th, 2021

Arts Update: Fourth Grade Quilt Project

Students in fourth grade art class just completed their hand-sewn quilts inspired by an investigation of African American quilting traditions. Students learned about the Gee’s Bend quilting tradition from rural Alabama that began in the 1800s and is still vibrant today. Beginning as a necessity, these fabric artworks have emerged as an American art form. In addition, fourth graders looked at the two surviving story quilts made by enslaved artist Harriet Powers from Georgia. After designing a geometric or figurative quilt, each student used watercolors to tint their fabrics. Cutting shapes and forms they pinned and sewed a quilt top by using needles and thread. Next, they put together the three layers: quilt top, batting layer, and the quilt back. As a final step, they used quilting stitches to bind all the layers together to create one-of-a-kind fabric artworks.

– Kathy Jo Solomon, visual arts teacher

Second Grade Fights Hunger, One Page at a Time

This year, the second grade explored in-depth what it means to be a changemaker. Now, students are putting what they learned into action with the Read for Seeds fundraiser for Gaining Ground. Gaining Ground is an organic farm in Concord that provides fresh produce for those facing food insecurity in the Boston metro area and Eastern Massachusetts. To help volunteers at Gaining Ground continue their important work, our second grade changemakers dedicated two weeks to raising money for seeds to be planted. Each student collected pledges from family and friends for each page or book they read during this two-week event. To celebrate the final day of Read for Seeds, students cozied up with their favorite books, blankets, and stuffed animals on Thursday for a morning-long Read-a-Thon. Stay tuned to find out how many seeds the Belmont Day second graders will donate this year!

–The Second Grade Team

Celebrating Spring in Spanish Class
Celebrando la primavera en clase de español

During this month, sixth grade Spanish students have enjoyed learning about topics related to spring. At the beginning of the season, they shared what they like to do during spring and talked about similar interests presented in the group. The class also took a walk in the woods to find inspiration and learn new Spanish words that served as a starting point of the La Primavera project.For the project, students created colorful dictionaries that included vocabulary related to sports, plants, animals, clothing, weather, and a section of regular and irregular verbs.

What a creative group they are! Each student showed their booklet to the class during their first oral presentation in Spanish! At the end of the unit, the group visited the BDS garden, where they helped Ms. Solomon with some work, learned new vocabulary, and drew plans of a garden with the foods they like the most.

¡Feliz primavera!

– Ana Maria Restrepo, Spanish teacher

PE Update: Charging Into Spring Break!

Even though the spring vacation week was right around the corner, there was no slowing down in our physical education classes! Students were enthusiastically dancing, running, throwing, catching, and honing their sport specific skills. Be sure to check out this week’s PE highlight reel to see our students in action. 

– Abbey Nyland, physical education teacher

Third Graders Raise Their Voices To Help Others

Third graders recently finished reading, Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami, a story about a young girl who loves to read and is empowered to support the kind man who offers free books to the community. She helps him to keep his book cart when others were making it difficult for him. Students read and discussed many other books about social justice issues and thought about the issues they care deeply about. They are creating protest posters to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities and folks who need us all to advocate for equity and empathy.

– Leigh Twarog, Grade 3 teacher

Sixth Grade French Students Just Keep Talking and Talking

When I announced to my grade six French students that sustaining a two-minute conversation exclusively in French was the goal of this year, I was met with doubt and disbelief. Two minutes is a short time to speak in your native language, but it is a real challenge after only a few months of learning a foreign language. This week, each student was involved in six two-minute conversations during the course of one class. They shared information about two family members. Each time that they had a new partner and it became easier to find the words. Peers became experts at asking questions to move the conversation along. When it was time to dismiss the class, the best tribute to the exercise was their question, “What? It is over?!”

I cannot put into words how proud I am of these inspiring French students. They took risks, were bold, and problem-solved on their feet. As with learning any new language, it was imperfect along the way and sometimes it was a struggle. But it was always marvelous. They conquered their fears and had fun, and that is what learning a new language is all about!

– Nathalie Pellenq, French teacher

Kindergartners Dig Visit From Former BDS Teacher and Amateur Paleontologist

The kindergarteners were excited to welcome David Downing back to BDS this week via Zoom. Mr. Downing is a former BDS teacher and director of the associate teacher program who retired in 2017.

Since 1985, one of Mr. Downing’s favorite pastimes had been accompanying scientists on dinosaur digs. In fact, he became interested in them when he was a kindergarten teacher and his students were so intrigued by dinosaurs. While Mr. Downing no longer embarks on digs, he has many fond and vivid memories of his paleontology adventures locating dinosaur bones, teeth, and prehistoric reptiles. Since the current kindergarten students have been studying paleontologists as part of our community helpers unit, we invited David to share about his experiences.

Mr. Downing spoke about his travels around the country, mostly in the states of Colorado and Montana. He revealed that some of the important tools he used on his digs were hammers, chisels, and brushes. He briefly explained the process of preserving delicate bones that are discovered and the process of transporting them back to the lab. He also spoke about the importance of wearing appropriate attire during the digs. Long pants, such as jeans or dungarees, are important to prevent injury in case of any falls on the sharp rocks. Mr. Downing also pointed out how crucial it is to shield one’s face from the sun. Mr. Downing related how there was a large storm that caused unusually rainy and muddy conditions during a dig in which he and his colleagues uncovered some stegosaurus bones. Despite being well protected from the elements, Mr. Downing shared how it was still an uncomfortable ride back in the truck that day!

During the visit, students were able to ask several questions to Mr. Downing ranging from “What is the littlest dinosaur you have found?” to “What is your favorite dinosaur?” Thank you, Mr. Downing, for sharing your experiences with us! It was great to see you again!

– Betty Chu Pryor and Missy Hartvigsen, kindergarten teachers

Student Making a QuiltSecond Grader ReadingStudents Walking OutsideThird Graders Holding SignsTwo Students Speaking FrenchGuest Speaker Over Zoom