Friday, June 17, 2011

We have moved

Welcome to our "startup blog!"

The last post on this site was uploaded in June, 2010. Since then, we've been operating on our new and improved site: We'd love to see you in our new cyber space.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

As Busy As...

From May 28, 2010

A beehive is a finely orchestrated organic system in which every bee has a job that contributes to the overall sustainability of the entire community. Our pre-kindergarten class is also an organic system, in which all of the people have many responsibilities for taking care of themselves, each other, and the space they share. During their study of bees over the past two weeks, the children have found many ways of connecting their knowledge of communities with the information they have been learning about these fascinating insects.

“Bees are hard workers, and we are too!” exclaimed one student. During a recent morning meeting, the children sorted through a series of photo cards that Mrs. Zamore had made to illustrate many of their daily experiences. The teachers helped the children recognize the importance of following a specific sequence in their schedule, as well as the necessary tasks related to the activities. For each card, the children discussed the relevant “helper jobs” that contribute to that portion of the day. Taking attendance, putting away writing and drawing materials, distributing snack, storing clothes in their cubbies, and holding the door for classmates were some of the jobs they named. Earlier in the week, the class had learned about the jobs that bees have within the hive. Collecting nectar and pollen, feeding the queen, protecting the hive, and keeping the hive cool by beating their wings were some of the behaviors that the children investigated. Did you know that the buzzing you hear around a beehive is the sound of thousands of bees’ wings beating to reduce the temperature by fanning?

As the bee unit progresses, the idea of caring for the community has taken on a new look in the classroom. A large pocket chart lists the various responsibilities held by pre-K students. Photographs of the students, wearing special bee hats, are inserted into the pockets of the chart to show which person is assigned to each task. The children are very excited about the visual “hive” on their wall!

A final element of the class study of bees emphasizes the connection between bees and people. The children are finding out about ways that people can take care of bees by planting flowers and not hurting bees who fly near them. They are even learning about the jobs of beekeepers, who raise bees to produce honey and beeswax. The theme of working together is an idea that connects all of the lessons in this colorful and busy unit.

It Takes a Village... and a School

In a warm corner of Kindergarten, safely ensconced in a climate-controlled incubator, tiny beaks are poking their way out of shells. The children have been counting the days, waiting eagerly for this moment. And now, finally, the chicks are hatching. On the floor in front of the incubator is a masking tape line, marking a safe spot for watching and admiring the fluffy new inhabitants of the classroom. The Kindergarten chicks have been a tradition for many years, and it is remarkable how the news travels through the hallways. Older students, parents, and faculty members find their way into the room just to take a peek, and to marvel at the tiny creatures.

On the other side of the room, a row of plastic cups filled with soil stands along the sunny windowsill facing the new play structure. Small green sprouts are emerging from a few of the cups. Just as they have waited for the chicks to hatch, the children inspect their cups closely each day, hoping to see new growth. Although each of the seeds has received the same light, water, and attention from the children, Ms. Chu says, “it’s an experiment. Some seeds will sprout, and some won’t.”

At first glance, the chicks and the seedlings are a delightful demonstration of life science instruction in primary school. For visitors with the good fortune to spend a bit of time in the classroom with the children, chicks, and plants, however, it soon becomes evident that all of these living things are a testament to our social curriculum and an embodiment of our school values.

The sense of responsibility and the caring that the children demonstrate for “their” chicks and plants extend to their stewardship for the shared space they have occupied all year. The respect that they show for the newly hatched chicks is matched by their appreciation for other members of their community. Their diligence in tending to their seedlings, and their expectations for “the tallest plant of all,” in the words of one child, are echoes of their drive for excellence. Their recognition that not everyone can have the tallest plant, and their ability to accept this reality, while still maintaining that “it’s not fair” point to the challenges of embracing honesty.

But finally, it is the celebration of life--pure, simple, joy-- that powers us through this last week of the academic year. It takes a whole school to live these values, to create a shared purpose, and to make a community.