Experiential Learning in Full Swing

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Dear Families, 

Last week, on Monday and Tuesday after dismissal, the next layer of getting to know our children began.  BNS Cross-Talks are another one of our fall traditions, wherein teachers and educational assistants share knowledge across grade levels.  For example, last year’s first grade team (Monique & Rachel, Bill, Sandy & Elissa, Jennifer D., Abby, Portia & Celso, and Tammy & Armando) met with this year’s second grade team to share lots of important nuggets of wisdom and relationship learned over time last year.  This cycle of discussion will take several weeks to complete, in order for each team to have ample time to talk and listen.

But last week, on Tuesday, two of our teams weren’t available for cross talks – they already had plans.  The third grade team had organized for family volunteers to come into school after hours, to spruce up the bulletin boards in the third grade hallway.  Just like the “olden days,” where families helped us build benches and assemble furniture for sparse classrooms, where love and hope filled up the spaces in between, many hands made light work, and together, the hallway got an upgrade – spaces to showcase student work will surely pop giving each piece the feeling of being on display in a gallery.  

Painting the billboards

The other busy group was the fourth grade team – they’d arranged a meeting with Paola, retired BNS art teacher.  Paola is one of our arts partners this year, who will work with grade level teams for residency-style studies of arts, culture, and media – connected to self-expression, art for art’s sake, and of course, curriculum.  We are excited to see what we will learn from this new model for visual arts. 

Curricular units have begun and observations are being documented in a variety of ways. In Fourth grade, Zack and Kaelyn’s class have explored animals of Manahatta from some 400 years ago. They used collage as their medium to capture creatures that once lived in our “city.” 

Manahatta collage

Second graders in Beth’s class spent time trying to solve engineering problems as a team. Their experiences have been catalogued at the Ecorama Blog.

Science in second grade

And, first graders in Bill & Sandy and Jess & AnnMarie’s classes showed step by step instructions for how to start a sunflower plant. 

Sunflower planting directions

One of those first graders, Bretton, found a bag of roasted sunflower seeds last spring and wanted to see a new plant grow.  He planted some – and checked back again and again to see what sprouted, to no avail.  Now, a year later and a few weeks into their farming study, first graders can ponder and try new methods to see how Bretton’s experiment can serve as a springboard for their work with seeds, soil, and all things green and growing. If you haven’t seen our Ecorama Blog yet, we invite you to start with this entry, follow, and check back often.  First Graders Want to Know: How to Start New Sunflower Plants

Students are engaged in inquiry and expressing what they’re learning in a variety of ways – experiential learning is in full swing.

Until next week!

Diane & Malika

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