The Land of LostraliaPosted by Vincent O'Hara
Our 7th-grade humanities class has studied the spectrum of foreign policy and how the geography and history of a country influences they way it interacts with other nations. In preparation for our unit covering Afghanistan and the complexity of the challenges facing the Middle East, our class participated in “Nations: A Simulation Game in International Politics.”
Similar to Model U.N., students represented one of the seven countries on the fictional continent of Lostralia. Provided with a unique history, social structure, religious beliefs, intelligence secrets, and objectives, students had to improve the previously set factor totals reflecting the strengths or weaknesses of each country (e.g., food stability, infrastructure, military power, etc.). Three students, a minister of press, a diplomat, and a head of state, represented each nation. Now, this sounds too complex for a group of seventh graders, right? Not for our scholarly students! They threw themselves into the game with all the vigor and exuberance we could have hoped for, creating flags, national anthems, detailed maps, even passports! Each country produced press releases that used persuasion techniques, including propaganda; they scheduled diplomatic meetings and negotiated trade and military defense treaties.
The game culminated with a world summit to debate issues regarding human rights, religious rights, and environmental protection. It was an inspiring moment, witnessing our students solve the problems of their world through diplomacy. Most impressively, despite the temptation to declare war, students diffused tension before it could escalate. Upon reflection, the students expressed how difficult it is for diplomats to walk the fine line between peace and war. While it was only a simulation, it is comforting to know that our students- if given the opportunity- are capable and eager to solve the world’s problems with diplomacy.
Pen and Paper: Our Creative Arts MagazinePosted by Michelle Lamb
Pen & Paper is Unquowa’s creative arts magazine that is published at the end of each school year. It highlights student writing and artwork of various forms.
In 2009, two students asked to publish their writing for the school to read. With Ms. Lauer’s approval, a gathering of interested students in grades 7 and 8 came together to discuss what the important elements of this publication would be and to give it a title. They concluded that the magazine should be open to all forms of creativity and decided on the title Pen & Paper to convey the importance of the creative process in its most simplistic form.
Today, the magazine embraces the original mission of its founders while continually incorporating new ideas. The editorial, art, and publication staff meet weekly to actualize the magazine. The editorial staff focuses on writing their own work, selecting pieces for publication, and providing feedback for submissions. The art staff links writing to illustration, produces open choice art pieces, creates a unique font for the magazine, and works on the front and back covers. Finally, the publication staff codes writing and art submissions, making them anonymous, to keep the editorial staff objective during the reviewing process. They also organize and print submissions for review and advertise to the Upper School inviting them to submit their personal work. Lastly, the publication staff is charged with the final layout of the magazine.
We are off to great start with exciting writing and art that we can’t wait to share, and we look forward to creating a showcase of Unquowa talent!
All They Want To Do is DancePosted by Craig Knebel
Seventh graders have been studying the organelles or the “little organs” of plant and animal cells and have learned much about the function of each organelle and how complex a cell is. To illustrate both the function of organelles and how busy it is in the cell, students had to come up with a movement or dance to demonstrate their knowledge of a chosen organelle. Students worked together to keep the cell alive inside the membrane and danced!
A Day in Residence at The AldrichPosted by Krissy Ponden
The seventh and eighth graders recently spent a day in residence at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT. The students participated in workshops led by our Progressive Education Lab fellows that explored a variety of concepts with the museum’s galleries as both inspiration and backdrop. The program is designed to allow classroom teachers the opportunity to teach either their normal curriculums or a special project directly related to the exhibits in the inspirational and unique environment of the museum. The PEL fellows crafted thoughtful and comprehensive workshops on topics ranging from poetry to science, design thinking and even math. Later the students came together to take part in a debate about what makes a work of art either “silly” or “serious,” backed by their observations of specific elements of art. Listening to the conversations the students engaged in made it clear that the day was a success both in terms of art appreciation and cross-curricular connections. We are looking forward to our next day in residence at The Aldrich in the spring!
For the BirdsPosted by Faith Barbuto
The kindergarten class has begun its year-long study of animal groups by learning more about birds. The other day our fifth grade science buddies helped us integrate art and technology into this unit by researching a type of bird and creating a diagram. Students were told they could choose any bird and use any way they wanted to represent it. A model diagram was created and students helped name the important parts of a bird. We were amazed at how beautiful and accurate the descriptions were. Students enthusiastically presented their diagrams along with some information about their bird of choice. Some groups even played audio of the bird’s song while presenting!
Celebrating Dia de los MuertosPosted by Krissy Ponden
In a collaborative effort between the Spanish and Visual Arts Departments, we worked together to celebrate Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. To unify us in our efforts, we decided to create an ofrenda (altar) to celebrate the life of Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo.
In Spanish class, eighth graders served as project managers for the design of the altar. They researched the essential components of an ofrenda, studied the seven different levels of the altar and thoughtfully helped to organize the various pieces. Additionally, they worked hard to make sure that the altar would be educational to the public. Similar to a museum exhibit, they recognized the importance of having information in both Spanish and English. Finally, they decided that it would be helpful to the public if they color-coded levels, symbols and pertinent information. As project managers, they paved the way for students in other grades to feel comfortable contributing to the altar. Fifth graders contributed captioned visuals of some of Frida’s most famous artwork, while seventh graders contributed captioned photos from Frida’s family life. Finally, sixth graders weighed in by adding their opinions on the life and work of Frida.
All of the happenings in Spanish class were enhanced through the visual arts. Seventh graders cut delicate papel picado banners out of tissue paper and created intricate and adorned nichos (shadow box-style shrines) to honor Frida. Fifth graders designed paper sugar skull masks, and PreK-3 decorated actual sugar skulls inspired by eighth grader Will’s complex designs. Many students helped make paper pom poms and flowers to add to the altar. Finally, at Upper School lunch students were treated to a sample of pan de muertos, or the bread of the dead, made by Chefs Dave and Henri and our resident junior chef, Aaron.
The collaborative building of this ofrenda has certainly helped our students to see that many hands make light work, but more importantly it helped them to appreciate how Día de los Muertos can be lively and festive, all the while honoring those that have passed. As for Mrs. Brenna and I, the building of the altar gave us the opportunity to reflect on our Oaxacan experiences this past summer and to infuse them into our teaching.