On Great Schools

“The best schools keep their eye on the prize—the kids—not just whether they are pleasing higher civil authorities. They see the job of adults as one of nurturing intelligence and empathy, openness to the world, while cherishing their children’s uniqueness. They stay close to families, and see teachers and parents as allies not adversaries. Schools for democracy are quintessentially always an act of collaboration with families and communities — expression of the grassroots vitality and ingenuity that has always made our nation great.”

– Deborah Meier

Girls: Our Future Engineers

Historically, girls have not been given access to engineering, which makes it hard for them to see themselves as engineers. We aren’t forgetting about the boys, but this is an opportunity for girls to step into the shoes of an engineer and think of the possibilities available to them. Here are some of the girls in our class who prove that they, too, can think and be like an engineer:

This week, Kindergarten students are exploring the Animals 2 by 2 Science Unit. In this unit, students are learn to observe and describe the structures and behaviors of an organism and then compare the organism to a similar one; guppies and goldfish, land snails and water snails and earth worms and night crawlers. We have been looking at isopods, which are pillbugs and sowbugs. We have learned that these bugs are actually crustaceans (related to lobsters, crabs and shrimp). We have learned about the parts of the bugs, what they eat, how they protect themselves and the important role they play in our backyards. We have learned vocabulary words like habitat, exoskeleton, isopod, predator, prey, crustacean, molting, burrowing, soil, moist, damp, and moss.

The students are also designing and building habitats using unit blocks. As we do this, they are learning the names of the unit blocks (curve, unit, double unit, etc).

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Unit blocks that students are using to connect the science, math, and engineering concepts that they are learning.

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Students are observing the pillbugs in our handmade habitats. They were able to read books that I provided in the classroom and develop the vocabulary for understanding the life of pillbugs.

Grade 1 students’ first unit is titled Organisms. They will build on the foundation of living things by studying simple organisms at a deeper level. This week we talked about what living things need to stay alive and be healthy (food, shelter and water). We also talked about how all plants and animals are alike and different. We have been learning about the engineering process (ask (what is the problem), imagine (what are some solutions), plan (draw a diagram or make a list of materials), create (follow your plan and create something, test it out), improve (what works and how you can make it better) and students built organisms using different materials. Students are observing similarities and differences among goldfish and guppies, land and water snails, and earthworms and red worms.

Scientists at Work!

It’s the first week of school at the East Boston Early Education Center School, and Kindergarten and first grade students are working collaboratively to explore science topics and build a sense of community. By working on this sense of community, the students learn how to support each other and their learning. In these first weeks of school, this focus builds the structures and routines that the students will use to work together to solve problems, ask great questions, and become independent thinkers.

Kindergarten students are working together to build structures!  These students wanted to build a tall tower. They started with ideas from a book where other kids had built towers, and then translated and modified those ideas into their own tall towers.

The first grade students are working as a team to observe trees and draw the parts of the tree.  They are learning vocabulary about tree parts, diagramming the trees in their
schoolyard, and supporting each other with labeling.