What makes a good community? This has been the question driving our work during these first two weeks in the 3rd and 4th grades classroom. In order to better get to know our classmates and the larger Chewonki community of people and animals, we have been learning about maps and using them to find our way. Collectively, our class defined a map as, “an image or representation of a person, place, or thing that helps you understand it and navigate it.” After a brainstorming session and a workshop on the writing process, students set out to identify five things about themselves that are the most important to them, including family members, pets, and personality traits just to name a few! We are busy at work putting the final touches on these maps of ourselves and will use them as tools to understand each other better.
Simultaneously, we are acquainting and reacquainting ourselves with Chewonki Neck, and enjoying orienting ourselves to this beautiful place we call school. As we trek and explore to new places we have been tracing our progress on what is now a well-worn and loved Chewonki map. Everywhere we go, this community has an eye for the small details and the larger picture. We have observed and identified a Sharp-shinned Hawk in the barn, watched a porcupine snooze in a tree, made detailed sketches of leaves and mosses in our nature journals, and explored in the grass with Linus the Eastern Box Turtle, who is visiting our classroom from the Traveling Natural History Program. I am so looking forward to broadening our understanding of community this fall as we inquire further and ask, “Who else might call Chewonki Neck home?”
By Emily Bell-Hoerth (Grades 3/4 teacher)
Something we have, I think, all enjoyed this week is probably farm time. We got to pick flowers to make dye for yarn. We also picked onions and picked up rocks. We got to go in the greenhouse too. Another thing that I think we all enjoyed is going on explores. We have been able to go to a lot of places. Emily has kept a map of Chewonki and she has marked all of the places we have been on Chewonki! She marked it all off with a red colored pencil.
We also got a new class pet named Linus. He is an Eastern Box Turtle. He has orange speckles on his body and on his shell it is very smooth and a very, very dark green. On Thursday we got to bring him out on the Orchard Field and he kept running away so we would have to go catch him. It is easy to catch him because he has orange speckles on his body. He is super cute.
By Elementary Student – Grade 4
Support. Participation. Communication. Respect. These are the overarching themes for class guidelines that the 5th and 6th graders settled on during a group meeting out at the Point earlier in the week. The students met in small groups and brainstormed all of the ways in which they feel we need to go about doing and showing each of these things within our community. Students then learned how to fold origami cranes (a symbol of peace and hope in Asian culture) that will become part of a mobile we are creating, with each specific class rule handwritten on tags, hanging in a state of balance. The idea is that when our community adheres to the guidelines we have set for ourselves, we too will feel balanced and function well as a group.
After just a few days of school, the students were saying that it felt like we’d been working together forever. I take this as a good thing, and though I know we still have more to learn about each other, we’ve built a solid foundation. Forming our social community at school is crucial, as we will continue to rely on each other during academic projects, trips, and myriad Chewonki activities that require a group mindset. Already we have been able to engage in discussions about our personal identities, tackled challenging math problems, and begun scientific studies revolving around the local salt marshes and estuaries. We’ve practiced mindfulness, harvested and carried crates of onions together on the farm, and shared our hopes and dreams for the year. Though this school year is still fresh, I’ve already seen what this group is capable of, and the hints and glimmers of what lies ahead. I look forward wholeheartedly to continuing on this learning journey together!
By Kat Cassidy (Lead teacher / Grades 5/6 teacher)
The first two weeks of school have been fun and exciting. We have been going to the salt marsh during Theme time. We’ve been finding out what plants and animals live in the salt marsh and how they survive. After peering in closer, we have come up with some hypotheses. Meanwhile we have been working on an identity project. We’re making identity charts about ourselves and drawing pictures about different aspects of what makes us unique. Soon we will have amazing final draft masterpieces! So far we have been very successful getting to know each other. And we are off on a good foot for our school year!
By Elementary Student – Grade 5
“Who am I and who are we” has been the theme these first two weeks of school in the 7th grade. We have been focusing our time on getting to know each other on a social level as well as getting to know ourselves as students and members of a learning community. Through games and shared experiences we have been learning the ins and outs of our group dynamic as well as the quirks and uniqueness of each member of our small team. While trying to transport a marble in a piece of pvc pipe without touching the pipe with our bodies we began to learn who our leaders, idea generators, and care takers are. Our two night salt water canoe trip culminated this work by thrusting us together for seventy two hours in which we worked together to navigate the tidal waters of Hockomock Bay, set camp on the wilds of Oak Island, and work together to rescue a flipped boat in a simulated, and mostly comical, open water emergency (see image above).
In addition to this team building and group work, each student has been examining themselves to learn more about how they learn, what their personal values are, and how their brains work. To do this we have been learning about Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory and taking a self inventory to discover our own multiple intelligence profiles. We have also been doing a lot of thinking and talking about values clarification to explore what is truly important to us as individuals and as a class. This work will flow into next week and will inform the development of a classroom contract that will clarify and communicate our shared values.
By Trevor Slater (Grade 7 teacher)
It’s been an exciting two weeks in the 7th grade class. We’ve been playing and learning games with each other including: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Splits; Mafia, and Balancing Sumo. We’ve talked a lot about values and have been thinking about our own. To top off these amazing games and values discussions we went on a three day overnight salt water canoe trip to Oak Island. We ate good food, swam in the ocean (which was cold for some, but warm for others), and slept in cozy four person tents. All in all it was a great first two weeks.
By Elementary Student – Grade 7