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.
6th Grade and The Menger SpongePosted by Eric Werner
If you see sixth grade mathematics students hoarding business cards in their lockers it is because they are knee deep in the construction of a Menger Sponge. A giant, 3-dimensional fractal built entirely out of creased business cards, the Menger Sponge is a year-long 6th grade mathematics project that picks up where the 5th grade Rubiks cube curriculum leaves off. Following themes of algorithmic process and requiring generous helpings of patience and persistence, the Menger Sponge continues to show students that there is more to math than crunching numbers. Each final product will consist of 2,400 cards and appear as a massive cube nearly 2 feet in height, width, and depth! Stay tuned to hear more about the development of the project…
Transferring Energy With A Disturbance – A Fun Disturbance For 8th & 2nd GradesPosted by Craig Knebel
The 8th grade is studying waves in science and learned that the scientific definition of a physical wave is a “disturbance that transfers energy through a medium.” In lab, the 8th graders researched the two main kinds of physical waves: transverse and longitudinal. They were then assigned the task of transferring energy in a slinky down the stairs. The excited disturbance of the 8th graders outside their classroom, led to some cooperative learning with the second grade…and several races!
A Big Knot!Posted by Lloyd Mitchell
Today in advisory, seventh grade did some mini-team building activities that helped them learn new things about each other and led to a bigger activity of working together. One activity was especially challenging! In my ten years of doing this activity, only one group has managed to untie the knot. Success requires patience, communication, cooperation and focus. I challenged the group to complete this task slowly and to work together.
First we gathered as a group and linked hands to form a human knot. Once locked together, they hesitated and worried that they couldn’t undo the knot. And then they were off! As they worked through their first attempt, they found themselves almost to the end but were unable to break the chain. Instead of giving up, they dropped hands and re-formed the knot and started over. Their second attempt proved to still be difficult…but they got closer! The third time was the charm.
It was amazing to see saw every single person in the room with such intense focus and determination to figure it out. Afterwards, we talked about how this activity relates to real life. Working together as a group, we proved that we could complete the challenge. Bravo, 7th Grade!