Last year, Katie, Lynn, Aubrey, Julie and I participated in a team course, Teach for Understanding, through Harvard's School of Graduate Education's professional development program. This collaborative endeavor was certainly one of my highlights last year as the five us probed:
1) What is understanding, and why should it be an important goal of education today?
2) If understanding is the goal, what should we be teaching? That is, what ideas, questions, and content are most important for students to understand?
3) How can we can design learning experiences that support students in learning for understanding?
As we redesigned the fifth and sixth grade self-directed learning project (learning without walls) this year, the fifth and sixth grade teams ask similar questions. In a matter of week, students will reflect on their learnings in their presentations and performances of understandings. Our hopes are that they come full circle when they first proposed their driving questions and ask themselves how their self-directed learning projects were life worthy:
1) Was it big in insight? Did my investigation help me reveal how our physical, social, artistic, or other worlds work?
2) Was it big in action? Did my investigation help empower me and/or others to take effective action socially, politically, or other ways?
3) Was in big in ethics? Did my investigation urge me and/or others toward being more ethical, humane, and caring?
4) Was it big in opportunity? Did my investigation lead to other questions and understandings?
David Perkins, author of Futurewise, tells a story of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. "As Gandhi was getting on a train, One of his sandals slipped off and fell to the ground. The train was moving, and there was no time to go back. Without hesitation, Gandhi took off his second sandal and threw it toward the first. Asked by his colleague why he did that, he said one sandal wouldn’t do him any good, but two would certainly help someone else. By tossing down his second sandal, he showed wisdom about what to keep and what to let go of. Perkins believes those are both central questions for education as we choose for today’s learners the sandals they need for tomorrow’s journey."
On this rainy Saturday, I am reading The Confidence Code for Girls by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. So far, this engaging handbook written especially for girls between the ages of 8-12, has impressed me with a style and format that helps guide young women to “take risks, mess up, and become your amazingly imperfect totally powerful self.”
With health education behind us, we are moving toward a variety of end-of-the-year activities. First of all, there are two more weeks left for your child to complete the self-directed learning without walls projects. Each week, your child has been reflecting on their week’s experiences and making plans for the following week. I shared their Google doc with you weeks ago so that you can follow their progress and process. Students will present their understandings to the class the week of May 7th. I will send out a schedule as students sign up for presentation dates and times so that you can attend if you are available. All students will take part in the LWW Museum and demonstrate their learnings to the wider Horizons community on Tuesday, May 15 at 8:45 am in the cafeteria.
Next week, we will begin transition activities using components of the Passageworks curriculum. Fifth grade parents have already received an e-mail about the culminating ceremony on Monday, May 21 at 4:30-6:30pm. Sixth graders will not have such a ceremony, but will mark their own transition through a series of activities and then visit seventh and eighth grade classrooms on Friday, May 11.
Important End-of-the-Year Events
4/23 Passageworks Begins
5/7 LWW presentations in Homeroom
5/11 Transition Day
5/15 LWW Museum @ 8:45am
5/15 Community Table (Group 2) @ 4:15pm-5:15pm, 5:15pm-6:15pm
5/21 Fifth Grade Transition Ceremony @ 4:30pm
5/22 Mini Marathon
5/23 Fun Day
5/24 Last Day of School, 12:45pm dismissal
Guiding students to become community contributors is one of Horizons’ missions. This important part of our school curriculum allows children to make connections between themselves and the community to which they belong.
Community service at the 5/6 grade-level includes participating in classroom projects, Making a Difference projects, and other opportunities as they arise. We encourage students to participate in community service with family and friends whenever possible.
This year we will continue the Community Table service we joined a few years ago. Community Table is a cooperative program that provides nutritious meals to anyone in need. We work with Bridge House at the Mountain View Church (basement level and on North side) adjacent to Horizons.
Each student volunteers once a year for one shift helping prepare, serve and clean up a meal. Meal attendees may include individuals or families who are hungry, homeless, elderly, or those in need of companionship. The experience has proven powerful and meaningful for all involved.
This year we have added an academic component examining hunger in America. Please have your child talk to you about it
Students used market day as a measure of whether their basic understanding off economics, hard work, creativity, marketing, and budgeting "paid" off. In upcoming days, we will reflect on this truly hands-on unit as well as explore credit, savings and consumerism.
With our first and second grade buddies, we explored and played with the Mobile Maker kits on loan from the school district. Using our innate curiosity, we jumped right into Keva planks, Strawbees, Ozobots, Osmo, and Cubetto. and tinkered, inquired, and built.
Students work in feedback groups to present their driving and sub questions. We used the ladder of feedback to help structure constructive conversations. Students will check in with their group over the next month to set goals and reflect on their week.