Arts Update: Third Grade Examines Gender Stereotypes
Third graders enjoyed the opportunity to discuss gender stereotypes and participate in a drama activity that helped them better process this important arena of social justice. We began the class with a read-aloud of the book PugDog by Andrea U’Ren and an enlightening video entitled “Inspiring the Future – Redraw the Balance,” which provided students with the background and motivation for the day’s activity. Students were then assigned groups and asked to come up with one gender stereotype that they could create a frozen acting tableau from. The goal was to break down these stereotypes by showcasing positive examples. They then performed the tableau for the rest of the class and their peers guessed at which stereotype they were breaking down. The rich and in-depth discussion that took place during the activity was an inspiration to everyone who participated!
– Christopher Parsons, theater arts teacher
Pre-kindergarten: Revisiting, Revising, and Redefining
The six weeks away from our onsite classroom between November and January is a long time for a pre-k student. So when they return it feels like starting the school year over. Having remote gatherings during December meant children saw one another and this helped with one of a pre-ker’s worries following a vacation: “Will my friends remember me?” So what do we do to bring our young students up to speed onsite? We revisit, revise, and redefine!
First of all, we revisit what they already know such as the routines, the daily schedule, and having lunch in the courtyard. We revisit and reorient children to the many places we use on campus such as the Barn, the trails in the woods, and Big Blue. In our class, we took our “explorer flags” and found our favorite places to play in the woods, and claimed them for our own.
While our schedule remains the same, there are some changes or revisions as well. We introduce new teachers and specials. We now have music with Mr. Toppa, and school librarian Ms. Sprung returns for our recesses. Dr. Hoyt watches us on Big Blue. We are getting our ”noses tickled”, or tested twice a week. Spotting the change on the schedule becomes a favorite game at the beginning of our morning meeting.
The weather has grown colder over the six weeks away and we have to bundle up because we spend much of our day outside. We needed to redefine our outdoor clothing needs. Outdoor clothing needs to be put on in a particular order so pre-k students learn to dress themselves independently. We make special signs for our cubbies that show the order of getting dressed using pictures and numbers. We have new fingerless gloves we wear so we can continue eating snack and lunch outside during warmer winter temperatures.
And now, we hope for snow by reading books about waiting for snow, cutting snowflakes, making special “snowballs” from sparkly pipe cleaners, feathers, buttons, beads, and paper to hang in our classroom. These projects give us practice using tools and develop our fine motor skills. Slowly, over the first couple of weeks, we rebuild our classroom environment and learning together.
– Alice Henry, pre-kindergarten teacher
Fifth Grade ‘Suitcase’ Project Furthers Understanding of Immigration
In fifth grade humanities, we started reading The Arrival by Shaun Tan. The Arrival is a wordless graphic novel about a man who is immigrating to America. Since the novel deals with immigration, the fifth graders analyzed several primary pictures about immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. Students noticed that many of the immigrants only had one or two pieces of luggage. We then discussed how space on ships was limited and there was only so much a person could bring, and as a result, some belongings were sadly left behind. To help students grasp this idea better, they completed a mini-project: making suitcases out of tissue boxes. Students had to cover and design their suitcases and choose three items of sentimental value they would want to bring with them. They then had to create a 3D re-creation of those items and place them inside their suitcase.
– Vaniecia Skinner, grade 5 teacher