Dear Harbor Families,
Throughout the past two weeks, families have been invited into the building after school to experience their child’s classroom with their kids. It’s a simple, low-key event - at first glance, just an opportunity to walk around the classroom for a few minutes after school. In fact, however, having attended as the Head and in my parent role, I think those 45 minutes have proven to be pretty powerful.
We use the words “student-centered”, “inquiry-based”, and “interdisciplinary” to describe our program, building on research-based practices in teaching and learning. At these after school events, dubbed The Harbor Experience, students are the guide for their parents. They develop a checklist of what they want to show their families - and then take the lead in reflecting on and sharing their learning. Just as they do in their everyday classroom experience, the students have a leadership role to play in their learning.
The kids proudly showed us their classroom routines, evidence of differentiated learning in academic subject areas, and inquiry-based, interdisciplinary projects related to their thematic units - on display in the classrooms. Here are a few examples of what was showcased in these past couple of weeks:
An interactive center to explore how different objects make different sounds when shaken, in preschool 4s (Five Senses unit)
Students’ research on bats and other nocturnal animals, including measuring kids' "wingspans" compared to a bat, in Junior Kindergarten (Nocturnal Animals unit)
In Kindergarten, photos, drawings, and student quotes with observations of a buddy classroom and ideas to help improve their classroom experience (Helping Through Making unit)
Recordings and band photos, complete with home-made instruments, original melodies and lyrics, and a green screen background, in grade one (Sound and Vibration unit)
In Grade Two - examples of acrostic poems, shape poems, and a Poet Tree (get it?), among others (Poetry unit)
Families of our oldest and youngest students in grade three and preschool 2/3s will be sharing their learning with families on Tuesday and Thursday next week. Personally, I can’t wait to watch our littlest ones proudly showing their family members their classroom routines and how independent they are becoming as they showcase their All About Me unit. And in grade three, our students have been researching a social activist who has worked for a cause of their interest, through their unit on social justice; the research process has been deep and enriching, and it will be wonderful to see their presentations.
As you have seen (or will soon see), our inquiry-based, interdisciplinary units allow students to follow their own interests, integrate and apply learning from subject areas in meaningful ways, and develop learning dispositions such as collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. We look forward to providing more opportunities for classroom visits as the year progresses. In the meantime, this Curriculum Overview was provided at Back to School Night and might be nice to review.
Also, please mark your calendars for our next Parent Coffee with me, Andrea, and members of the Teaching and Learning Committee on Tuesday, December 7th after drop off. We’ll hold this event indoors and enjoy coffee and breakfast as we share more about our thematic units and inquiry-based approach. We hope to see you there!
Head of School