What a wonderful week to start thinking about snow! Beginning with a super moon and the arrival of Flannery’s new baby sister, our class has been dreaming, reading, and thinking about the magical time of year before us. Research has continued and writing has begun on the animals we are all researching. We have also begun creating our ecosystem map of Chewonki, starting by making a grid over a small map, and determining a new size and scale. Students have carefully and accurately drawn the coastline of Chewonki over the course of two days, making edits and changes. We will begin to draw in the trails starting next week. Our week ended today with singing about winter, sending the children home for the weekend with dreams of snow!
By Emily Bell-Hoerth (Grades 3/4 teacher)
This week students participated in our third round-table discussion, related to a non-fiction reading assignment about Maine’s early Native People, and European explorers and settlers. The reading was a chapter from a Maine history book that was written in collaboration with multiple Native People, and told from the point of view of a fictional Wabanaki elder. The assignment was to read for content and make note of specific dates of historical events, but also to pay attention to the way bias can play into writing. As students analyze causes and effects, and turning points in history, I am asking them to be aware of how people in the past viewed their world and why this may be different than today. Our conversation on Monday was the most captivating and comprehensive yet, with students able to recognize and speak about how background and experience play into people’s perspectives. There were incredibly profound observations of the differences between European and Wabanaki systems of governance and ways of life, and an awareness of how misunderstandings between these groups could have occurred. An equally essential part of these student-facilitated discussions is being able to listen to peers’ ideas, and being open to learning from others thoughts and points of view. Our discussion ended with an activity where students had to match events from the reading with the correct dates in order to create an accurate timeline. The past can be a tricky thing to fully comprehend, but by having responsibility for reading about it, taking notes, and participating actively in discussions about history, students can begin to make sense of the past.
By Kat Cassidy (Lead teacher / Grades 5/6 teacher)
This week we began to construct a platform for the historical fiction story that we are about to write. We were given a story map and a guide of ten easy steps to help us create a more advanced piece of writing. A story map is a template we fill in that helps us to think about our characters, conflict, setting, major events, end/resolution, and the theme for our story. It is very helpful and got me so excited to dive right into writing. All our stories will be set in midcoast Maine, and the characters have to rely on the water in some way. We’ve done a few activities where we’ve brainstormed how our own families rely on or are connected to the water, and how people in the past may have depended upon it. I’m writing about a girl whose father works at a grain mill on the Sheepscot River in 1811. Her family lives in Head Tide, which was a small community in Alna. Before 1811, Alna was called New Milford, and before that, it was a part of Pownalborough. This is just one of the things that I have already learned. We are all excited to immerse ourselves in Storyland!
Student – Grade 6
The 7th grade has been deep in the writing process this week. With our first big deadline for work completion looming, students have been practicing their task prioritizing, time management, and frequent self-assessment. We have been peer editing each other’s stories with an eye for rising and falling actions, conflict and climax, as well as protagonists and antagonists. In addition to working on communicating knowledge through long-form writing, we have been designing species account posters in which students are practicing writing concisely and using appropriate visuals and graphics for communicating knowledge. With most of the hard work on these projects wrapping up this week, we are looking forward to some special events coming up. We will be making wreaths with Carol, practicing our Spanish with a guest foreign language instructor, and heading down to Deering Oaks Park for a tree tour from the arborist for the City of Portland.
By Trevor Slater (Grade 7 teacher)
This week we did a lot of cool things and activities. On Monday the Elementary School students ate in the dining hall. The 5th and 6th grader’s helped make the meal. They made delicious chocolate cookies. Tuesday we worked on finishing our historical fiction and our species accounts. In the historical fiction assignment, we each chose a tree to write a story about (in which we are sharing our learning about forest disturbances and different tree species). We made species account posters on the same trees we are writing about in our historical fiction papers, with important facts like their habitat or natural history. On Wednesday we worked more on our posters, but most importantly, we walked to see the new pasture Chewonki is clearing for the farm animals. A motorized machine called a feller buncher cut down a bunch of trees to make the clearing.
Student – Grade 7