Halls and Walls — Late Fall Edition

This is the time of year at Parker when our halls start bursting with the overflowing creative evidence of months of thoughtful and industrious project work. Students are fully immersed in the substantive work of bringing projects to fruition. Our students know that the work they do in the classroom has implications that reach beyond the halls of their school. This sense of creating for an authentic audience inspires students to produce work that is meaningful not only to themselves, but also to others. It is undoubtedly difficult in this time of Covid to invite our audiences into the building to provide real time feedback for our students. However, we CAN share their work with you here, and we encourage you to engage by talking to your student(s) about their projects at home or writing to us HERE with your reflections. With that in mind, we would like to once again feature a “Halls and Walls” edition of our Snapshot, to welcome our families and friends to see what they would experience if they were able to visit inside (and out!) here at Parker.
Kindergarten Weavers
*Please click on the image below to see a video of the Kindergarten weavings in their outdoor classroom
Kindergarten students have continued to extend their love for Charlotte’s Web by taking a deep dive into weaving. The inspiration for this work began when Leigh challenged her students to use themes of identity from Charlotte’s Web to examine how they view themselves and others. Each student was assigned a peer and asked to “think like Charlotte” and come up with a single descriptive word that could aptly celebrate their peer. Students then used glue and colored sand to “weave” their word into a two-dimensional web on black paper. This project was met with such enthusiasm that Leigh decided to take it further and experiment with actual weaving. Over the past few weeks, Kindergarten students have woven designs into “Y” branches to decorate their outdoor classroom. They are now working on using weaving boards to create complimentary designs to adorn their indoor classrooms. Leigh has also launched a broader fiber arts exploration that will include students embroidering their own initials, and many other projects to come in the new year!
Robots and Race Cars
Enthusiasm has been brimming among our lower school scientists as our 1-2 and 3-4 classes are deeply engaged in the hands-on scientific discovery that exemplifies our Parker science program. Students in Leiana’s 3-4 class have been applying their knowledge of circuits as they begin to work with beetle bots. These small robots will have lights and a motor that works on a two-way switch, enabling the robot to move forward and backward. Once their bots are built, the students hope to construct mazes to see if their robots can navigate their way out. Meanwhile, students in the 1-2 class spent the past month experimenting with force and motion by designing and crafting rubber band racers. Students used CDs and popsicle sticks to craft a 2-wheeled vehicle powered by a rubber band axel. 

Hands-on experimentation like this creates invaluable opportunities for children to formulate hypotheses, test their work, and make adjustments in real time. Failure is not laden with disappointment, but rather becomes motivation to try something different. As Leiana observed of one 1-2 interaction, “As we were testing our cars, a student came up to me and asked me if I had a longer rubber band. When I asked her why she wanted one, she explained that she was wondering if that would make her car go further. As this was happening, another student approached complaining that their car would only drive in circles. Before I could answer, this first student asked the second student where their rubber band was placed on the axel. They quickly ran off to test whether moving the rubber band more towards the center of the axel made the car drive straighter. It did! And the class quickly erupted in spinning and zooming cars as everyone started adjusting the placement of their rubber bands on their axels. Discoveries like this help remind me as a teacher that this is exactly the kind of work they need to be doing.”
5th Grade Democracy
Today the 5th grade class culminated a month’s long project by voting in their 5th grade class election. Over the past few months, each student has been hard at work collaborating to emulate techniques that are utilized in real-world campaigns. The 5th grade campaigns developed multiple student surveys to help accumulate pertinent information about voter concerns, which was then analyzed by the students and employed to help develop their campaign platforms. Each student, including those that chose not to run for office, played a pivotal role in the development of campaign posters, advertisements, and videos to help enhance their campaign’s message. Our 5th grade social studies teacher, Derek, reflects, “It has been a powerful and moving experience as a teacher to observe the democratic spirit of each student, and to watch them listen to the concerns of their classmates and strategize to develop the most effective measures to provide potential remedies to these issues.” 

Last week, the 5th grade class began the final stages of the election process, which included a class debate. Students developed thoughtful questions to ask their peers that were running for office. These questions were kept confidential so that the candidates were not able to prepare ahead of time. This type of questioning is difficult and challenging for a debate between adult candidates running for office, but not for these 5th graders. The 5th grade candidates tackled the questions head on with a relaxed tone and a confident voice. Their responses were detailed, sincere, and filled with passion towards their school and fellow classmates. 

Through this entire process students learned the importance of teamwork. As students vote and make decisions to improve the classroom environment, they are learning how to accommodate others for a common goal. Some students may not be happy with the election result, but they will definitely value the experience they had with each of their classmates. Focusing on this shared journey shines a light on what each student gained in trying to reach their goals. We are so proud of our 5th grade students for all their contributions in forming a truly democratic classroom.