First graders learned about America and its people in an integrated social studies unit this month, culminating in a Famous Americans Day on February 20th. The unit began with students reading several biographies about different Famous Americans, through which they learned how to take notes on their reading. They then turned their notes into an informative writing piece, which was one of many ways the students demonstrated their understanding of timelines and biographies. They also created timelines of their own lives.
In another math lesson, students ordered numbers from least to greatest by sorting Famous Americans’ birthday years first into centuries (1700s, 1800s, 1900) and then by sorting within each century by the range of when their Famous American was born (example: who was born in-between 1700-1750). Students also used their math abilities to solve challenging math problems around the classroom while figuring out a 100s chart mystery picture--a flag!
To close the unit, students chose a Famous American who has positively contributed and impacted society. Then they researched individuals such as Georgia O'Keefe, Neil Armstrong, Abraham Lincoln, Clara Barton, Katherine Johnson, Daniel Boone, Helen Keller, Babe Ruth, and Mark Twain using books, articles, and the Internet. Following their research, the students created a speech that they performed in front of parents and the school on Famous Americans’ Day. In art, students created a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, and they also produced a flag that hung on a poster above their station at the Famous Americans’ celebration in Bishops Hall.
Throughout the day, the whole school community enjoyed "pressing buttons" to hear the individuals come to life, viewing expert costumes, and learning about men and women who shaped American history.
I believe in God above.
I believe in Jesus’ love.
I believe the spirit too, comes to teach us what to do.
I believe that I should be
Kind and loving Lord like thee.
In PreK-3, we recite the above prayer every morning. The underlined verse is posted in our classroom with handmade crosses lovingly created and tenderly glued on by a current student. We focus on being kind and loving throughout the day with everyone we encounter. It is somewhat of a mantra for us. Intrinsic kindness is especially acknowledged.
Both PreK-3 classrooms have a a kindness tree. When acts of kindness are observed by the teacher or children, the teacher instructs the children to add a heart to the kindness tree. Some examples of the intrinsic kindness we observe and acknowledge in PreK-3 are team work between friends, giving compliments to friends, teachers and staff, helping others in need, sharing, taking turns and just being a good friend. Finally, for a little fun, we “kiss our hearts” and acknowledge that our hearts are growing when we are observed to be kind and loving, Lord like thee.
- Kimberly Mahony, PreK-3 Teacher
What caused the American Revolution? 4th Graders Write Newspaper Articles to Relive the Boston Tea Party
Our fourth graders have been busy learning all about America's history this month with their teacher, Ms. Brooke Patterson. After beginning the year studying early explorers and the impact they had on our country, students studied the early colonists and the events leading to the American Revolution. They spent time learning about the French and Indian War, the Stamp Act, the Boston Tea Party and so much more. In their integrated Social Studies and Language Arts class, they wrote newspaper articles from the point of view of a Boston reporter the day after the Boston Tea Party. They creatively and accurately described what happened at the harbor and included the feelings of both American Patriots and British Parliament. 4th grader Lilly Rose included a fictional quote by King George III, imagining what he might say in an interview: “Well, what the colonists did was terrible, disruptive, and uncalled for. Parliament thinks this should be thrown into the rubbish and that we should come up with another act to punish the colonists for what they did.” Students not only demonstrated their knowledge of what happened, they were able to engage in perspective-taking, practice writing in different voices, and consider the different components and layout of a newspaper page.
Once they understood the causes of the Revolution, students researched battles and heroes during the war in cooperative groups. They also created their own timelines, put the events in order, and added to an ongoing timeline often referred to in their classroom. Over the next few months, students will continue their studies in discovering how America became what it is today!
Step into the Green Room on a Thursday morning, and you’ll find fifth grade boys and girls hard at work preparing for Bayou St. James, our daily news broadcast. With guidance from Broadcast enrichment teacher Emma Achorn, our fifth grade students are responsible for much of the content that appears in the six weekly shows viewed throughout the Day School in the morning and afternoons. Broadcast students work in pairs to research topics for our “Today in History” segment, determine newsworthy events to report on, select content for afternoon shows, and plan and conduct interviews.
In December, the fifth graders had the opportunity to showcase all that they have learned. The students were responsible for creating an entire show on their own. They divided the episode into four parts and quickly got to work. They wrote their scripts, designed scenes, and made a plan of action. The week before Christmas break, the school enjoyed watching the Grinch, Mrs. Claus, and other holiday characters deliver the school news. Throughout the project, students starred as anchors, operated the cameras, served as sound techs, became lighting experts, and more--applying the new skills they had worked on all semester. Once they returned to school in January, the 5th graders held a new level of confidence in their abilities as young journalists, writers, and technicians behind the scenes.
Check out an episode created by Ms. Struther’s class below!
I will never understand the rationale behind what some see as a great divide between science and religion. Science is linked to learning about this world; religion is about connecting to this world through our belief. The more I understand or do not understand of this world, the closer I am to embracing both my faith and the mystery surrounding God. The rich textures of this world should open our hearts and minds to the wondrous doings of our Creator.
Around the world, different faiths and cultures use light to express their beliefs. Near the end of October, I celebrated the Hindu Festival of lights (Diwali) with friends of mine who are from India. The Jewish Festival of Lights (Chanukah) is based on the biblical miracle of God providing enough oil to keep the Temple lamp (menorah) lit when the Jews returned home to Jerusalem. Kwanzaa is a festival of lights begun in the United States in 1966 to help bring unity to African Americans reconnecting to the continent of Africa after the diaspora of Africans due to the slave trade. The festival celebrates the strengths of African tribal life, and provides a hopeful message to the people of African descent around the world. For Christians, Advent and Christmas use the imagery of light to talk about the coming of Christ. Light - what a splendid choice for the image of Christ.
Light helps us to see things that were once in darkness, both literally and metaphorically. In our scientific language, light transits data (through radio waves and lasers), carrying messages far away; light can travel through walls at great speeds, yet is actually still in ultra-cold gas. In fact, we cannot see all light; only certain parts of the light spectrum are visible to human eyes. We know this through science, but we also know this through our faith. In Christianity, Christ is both seen and unseen, traveling through our hearts while seemingly slowed down by the coldness of others. And, like beams of light shooting out into the universe, the Light of the World will travel quickly to far places - miraculously unstoppable and unseen at the same time.
As our winter falls upon us, with our days shortening and our darkness lengthening, take time to notice the light of this world. The Light has come, the Light is raised, the Light will come again. The Advent wreath reminds us that when the world gets darker, Christ’s light shines out brighter, lighting our way to a new birth and a new light. Have a joyous Christmas!
The Reverend Dr. Michael Kuhn, Interim Head of School