7th Grade Diplomats Are Solving the World’s ProblemsPosted by Vincent O'Hara
The 7th-grade humanities class has studied how the geography and history of a country influence the way it interacts with other nations. As a culmination of our unit covering the foreign policy spectrum, the class is playing “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.). Each nation is represented by two or three students who fulfill the roles of a minister of the press, a diplomat, and head of state. Their goal is to use diplomacy to improve the lives of their citizens while avoiding catastrophe: unnecessary war.
The students have thrown themselves into this activity with tireless enthusiasm. They have created flags and maps and have written and performed national anthems. Each country has been creating news reports that employ persuasion techniques, including propaganda; diplomats schedule meetings to negotiate trade and military defense treaties.
How do teachers know when their lessons are a success? They know when their students jabber about the class in the halls, bounce into the classroom, and plead to start the lesson. The 7th graders are demonstrating their knowledge in the best way possible: by having fun- and all while solving the problems of the world!
Leaders of Environmental Action in Fairfield at UnquowaPosted by Craig Knebel
The Fairfield University LEAF (Leaders of Environmental Action in Fairfield) Club visited Unquowa on Wednesday, February 20th to lead our 6th grade students in a review of the problem of plastic in the ocean. LEAF brought five University students who presented information, ran a short video and led our students in a hands on activity modeling how currents from and swirl, and why the plastic circles in the ocean. The college students also led a question and response activity on what 11 and 12 year old students can do in their communities to foment change. Our 6th graders came up with ideas like writing letters to representatives, attending meetings about banning plastic in local towns, circulating posters and using social media platforms to spread information about the problem and on recycling tips. The science teachers were very impressed and the students were highly engaged while working with University students.
Getting to Know YouPosted by Faith Barbuto
We had our first weekly collaboration with our fifth grade social studies buddies on Thursday. During this time, Mr. Kayumba and I hope to explore the many nuances of cultures and diversity with our students. There will also be a weekly literature collaboration with the other section of the fifth grade class. We spent this first meeting getting to know each other. The fifth graders were asked to interview their kindergarten buddies and find out basic information like their names and hobbies as well as tell them about themselves. Then we challenged them to also share more personal information like fears and things they struggle with. It was a great opportunity to learn things we never knew about each other and break the ice. Some buddies found that despite the age difference they had lots in common. I even learned things about my former kindergartners who are now in fifth grade that were totally surprises to me!
Inspiration, Even in DespairPosted by Trésor Kayumba
In our literature course, the fifth graders have explored themes of personal responsibility, family, courage, and the process of dealing with hardship through their novel study of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. This account, written by Eleanor Corr, details the story of a brave Japanese girl after the drop of the atomic bomb. Our class explored the importance of family and the need for healthy coping mechanisms in the face of challenges. Working with Ms. Ponden in Visual Arts, the students created small emblems/totems that are unique to them. These items will serve as a source of strength and comfort during challenging times, similar to the paper cranes that offered Corr’s protagonist faith and hope while dealing with a debilitating illness. This experience allowed for our author-artists to reflect upon the ways our families and loved ones support us during life’s trials and tribulations, and how we can endeavor to be more in touch with ourselves.
狗年大吉大利 Luck and prosperity in the Chinese New Year of the Dog!Posted by Kate Haviland
With the drumbeat and chant from our kindergarteners, the excitement of performing to celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Dog began from the first moment. Students performed songs and chants using their own traditional crafts as props and introductions and background were given by our older students in… Mandarin and English!
Making these crafts gave students the opportunity to learn the Chinese traditions involving food, decorations and the history of this holiday. Very quickly each student knew the character – 福（fú, luck and happiness)and the traditional gesture for wishing a good Chinese New Year with the expression – 恭喜恭喜 ( gōng xǐ gōng xǐ). Students in third and fourth grade were very proud of themselves when they made their 福（fú）character crafts. As students learned in class, when福(fú）is upside down, it means “luck and happiness have arrived.” There are several upside down 福（fú）characters in the first grade students’ crafts, so luck and happiness have just arrived around us at Unquowa. Upper school students also made their own 春联 ( (chūn lián), adding happiness and best wishes to the celebration.
As you are watching this video full of our students’ enthusiasm and talent, we wish you and your family 狗年大吉大利 (gǒu nián dàjí dà lì)…luck and prosperity in the Chinese New Year of the Dog!
Food for ThoughtPosted by George Seferidis
Seventh-grade humanities class figuratively travels around the globe to delve into culture and current events. We learn about other peoples through literature, history, art, and film, but sometimes, we seek understanding through a somewhat unlikely curricular source–food. Food is a medium, a nourishing social art, which invites others to experience a culture through a language of flavors and a palate of aromas. We celebrate with food; we heal with food. Our students recognized this while reading I Lived on Butterfly Hill, a coming-of-age novel set in an allegorical depiction of Pinochet’s rise to power in Chile. Throughout the novel, the protagonist, Celeste, lyrically revels in the power of food. Of her grandmother’s journey to Chile as a WWII refugee, she learns, “Abuela suffers from an illness called nostalgia, which is often cured with a sprinkle of love, some lemon, a few raisins, and many slices of avocado.” The contrast of flavors and textures triggers sensations, awakens memory, alerts us to the present, and quite literally keeps us full.
As Celeste matures in her own journey as a refugee in Maine, she finds the strength to persevere through writing, reading, and preparing the comfort food of her culture, sharing them with her newfound friends. Celeste shares the food of her culture as both a celebration of difference and connection. Following Celeste’s example, seventh-graders collaborated with our kitchen staff to research and design the school’s lunch menu last Friday, sharing the knowledge during this unit. Chef David and Chef Jessica, always open to student collaboration in the kitchen, visited our humanities class sharing items and culinary knowledge with our seventh-graders. Each seventh-grader presented a salad, main dish, soup, side, and dessert, sharing their research and rationale. Our chefs selected recipes from student presentations and prepared them for our school lunch. Before we ate, seventh-graders introduced the meal to their peers and faculty. We were impressed with our student appetites for knowledge and understanding. Their presentations were emblematic of their appreciation of the novel and the history of Chile. We learned that food is a universal element that blurs the borders that we create between cultures.