At lunchtime Friday I walked into a group of our early childhood teachers who were discussing the Community Meeting.
When parents attend the meetings they see a snapshot in time, with the children performing and celebrating success.
The teachers have the opportunity to see the incredible growth of the group of children through the years. When I walked into the room Joanna was discussing how during the meeting she would explain, to any adult who would listen, the development of the children that each of the activities represented.
The Community Meeting on Friday started off with a presentation of music by Mary. For much of that presentation children were playing the Orff. This is a tool that is used to teach the children basic elements of music, including note reading and playing an instrument. Did you notice that the last section of this was two girls playing music they had composed? Two sixth graders! The ability to put music together to take known elements and create something new reaches to the highest levels of thinking (called synthesis in Bloom’s Taxonomy).
Then we had the kindergartner’s sing. These are the same children who hid behind mommy or daddy on the first day of school, too shy to come out. They stood up in front of an audience of close to 400 people to perform…and to sing in unison, know the lyrics and to develop their confidence.
Melissa’s second graders then shared poems about their social studies project—The New York City skyline. What a wonderful way to integrate learning in a way that has the children making connections between language and their extended neighborhood. One father wrote:
Melissa has done something that reinforces what we love about Elysian. Noticing that the kids were enjoying architecture she created a unit on skyscrapers and architecture. In addition to all the studies and scientific and factual programs they are going through most recently we enjoyed the poems created on the same subject. Real holistic experiential learning.
It's really fantastic.
An outgrowth of a fifth grade in-class project is a social action holiday activity where the children will be supporting a local animal shelter. Again the teachers took their cues from student interest (very possibly motivated because one of the families just adopted a dog from a rescue shelter), turning a classroom lesson into an activity that helps the children develop a social consciousness.
We then had the middle school dance seminar perform. Now, just think back to your own teenage days, would you have gotten up in front of the entire school to dance? Most teenagers are too self-conscious! When I was 13 I remember my cousin Fern trying to teach me to slow dance just so I could get through the night of the school dance.
Our Community Meetings provide a snapshot of children’s performance (by the way something we are expected to be teaching) and a celebration of their work. But these meetings also highlight the students’ growth as they integrate ideas from all areas of the curriculum.
A big thank you goes to our entire staff, especially Mary, Aram and Derek who contribute so much to the success of these meetings and the children’s performance in general.