This was a week of discovery and exploration. We have begun to dive into the world of ecology and learning more about the ecosystems on Chewonki Neck. Aquatic ecosystems have been the theme so far, with a multi-day survey of life in the frog pond and a day paddle in the salt marsh today. As our crew deftly maneuvered around grasses and rocks, we took note of the many different forms of life around us, Bald Eagles, beautiful grasses, and tiny snails, all the while cultivating our pirate personas! Upon our return to Chewonki, we mounted a full scale pirate attack on pack out, and made out with some delicious treasure; chocolate chips! Many thanks to Maria who joined us from the Outdoor Classroom staff to make our paddle as amazing as it was. This crew of salty sailors is proving to be ready for just about anything that comes their way.
By Emily Bell-Hoerth (Grades 3/4 teacher)
We caught the biggest ‘true’ bug in the world! We started learning about ecosystems and the first one we’re learning about is the pond. We went up to the pond and started trying to catch stuff and identifying them and then, we caught the biggest bug in the world, the Giant Water Bug. We learned that it has one of the most painful bites and squirts stomach fluid into its prey. We made a list of everything we saw and we categorized them into biotic and abiotic. We read a sheet of paper all about ecosystems and learned that if there is water, it is called an aquatic ecosystem and if it’s a land ecosystem it is called terrestrial.
This week we had challenge time with Shelly and attempted the “Uneven Whale Watch”. The Whale Watch is a seesaw like thing. The goal is to get it balanced. The day we did it it was off balance and we couldn’t move it back to being centered so we had to do it while it was even harder. We never succeeded but it was fun.
-Grade 4 student
It’s been a short week, with two days of academics and then a two-day trip. Though there is plenty of meaningful work going on in the classroom, our past few days together at Hoyt’s and on Montsweag Brook have been equally as challenging and rewarding. Our recent science lessons about the salt marsh ecosystem and tides were able to extend naturally, since our campsite was literally on the marsh. This allowed us to paddle all through the tidal creeks yesterday and today, in total awe of the sights that we have not yet been able to see from land. Additionally, we were able to engage in the real-life community building activities of carrying heavy gear and boats, cooking over a fire, keeping warm on a cold night, and moving as a group on the water. Over these two days I’ve witnessed an immense amount of individual growth, group mindset, and solid outdoor-skill building. Being out on a saltwater canoe trip with this group of children was powerful. The sight of six boats moving seamlessly up the river against a backdrop of colorful leaves and marsh grasses was a beautiful sight. There was nowhere else in the world that I would have rather been these past two days, and I’m pretty sure my students felt the same.
By Kat Cassidy (Lead teacher / Grades 5/6 teacher)
This week we went on a canoe overnight trip. One of the things that I really enjoyed was being in the stern and learning how to paddle harder and steer at the same time. During the days the air was cool and crisp, but last night it got down to 35˚ F! When it was that cold we were all chattering in our sleeping bags, with socks and hats on. This morning when we got up, we put on as many layers as possible and started a fire. After we warmed our toes, we had breakfast and packed up so that we could start the day on the water. As we canoed through the salt marsh, we found the small, delicate salt marsh snails that we had read about in A Place Between the Tides. We saw many periwinkles lining the bottom of the river, dog whelks, multiple Great Blue Herons, Canada Geese, Bald Eagles, and Lesser Yellowlegs. As we paddled through the small creeks of the salt marsh, we found spongy brownish-red mud that we think is the peat that lies under the cordgrass. During this two day trip, our class has become a stronger community by being challenged in many ways. After this wonderful experience, I feel like I’m a stronger paddler. I also feel closer and more comfortable with everyone in the class.
-Grade 5 student
This week was full of outdoor time for the 7th grade. We harvested sweet potatoes on the farm where we learned how fragile they can be. We had to excavate the roots with our hands so that we avoided snapping the potatoes as we pulled them from the soil. During our outdoor skills period every student successfully lit a one match fire that lasted over 10 minutes with no added fuel or blown air. We were also blessed with challenge time with Shelly as we worked on focus and shared airspace while navigating a spider’s web and transporting liquids across a gap while swinging on a rope.
Our classroom our work focused on observing forest composition and beginning our shared literacy book, Around the World in 80 Days. As a class body, we identified different types of disruptive behavior that we have experienced and discussed consequences and strategies to reduce these instances. Next week brings an increased math focus as we start our next unit on ratios and begin world geography work by following the character of our literacy book on the beginning of his travels.
By Trevor Slater (Grade 7 teacher)
This week began with a restorative justice circle to resolve an incident in our class from the week before. Everyone got time to speak about how we were feeling; apologies were given and accepted as students felt was appropriate. We came up with two names (Winifred and Marigold) that we want the farm crew to name the new ewe at the farm. In outdoor skills we worked with Sam from Outdoor Classroom to build fires. We each had a partner and were given 30 minutes to collect our firewood and build our fire. Once the fire was lit it had to burn for 10 minutes without adding any more fuel. We also had challenge time with Shelly. The class got through two low elements successfully by working as a team. During challenge time we worked on focusing and having equal speaking time. It was a very exciting week in 7th grade.
-Grade 7 student