One of the traditional sixth grade right of passage lessons at WFS is writing community profiles. Looking for a more pandemic-friendly lesson in writing longer essays, sixth grade English teacher Sean Kerrane thought of the idea of having each sixth grader write a “how-to” essay. This was a manageable way for the students to tackle longer-form writing while focusing on something they already knew well or loved doing.
The how-to essays included life lessons in taking photos and making friends; practical skills like organization and stretching; artistic skills like how to draw a person’s eye; and athletic skills like how to beat a defender in soccer. Also, just in time for Thanksgiving, there were plenty of delicious how-to essays, like how to make a double berry custard pie. “Ahh, the sweet smells of custard and berries. Baking pie isn’t the most fun thing in the world, but the taste is what makes people want to make it,” sixth grader Jared wrote.
Looking to clean and organize your space? According to Pam, there are three steps you need to take to improve your room: cleaning, organizing, and decorating.
The students offered practical advice and also encouragement to their fellow students. “Remember there is no such thing as success or failure when you illustrate. But as long as you like it, it is a success!” Joss wrote about drawing the human eye.
“You have completed a plie combination. Hate to break it to you, but it only gets harder. Keep it in mind that ballet is extremely difficult to master, and you've made an outstanding first effort!” Liza wrote in her essay about how to position your feet in ballet.
Once their how-to essays were completed, each sixth grade student signed up to complete another student’s essay. They were asked to then leave a video response on Flip Grid (a website that facilitates video discussions) answering the following questions: What was fun? What was challenging? What was surprising?
“A byproduct of this project is the community we are building and the learning we get to do from each other,” Kerrane said.
This is just one case of the teachers at WFS constantly looking for new ways to engage students while developing their academic skills.
First graders are engaged in their new writing unit about opinion writing. Students brought in collections from home, evaluated each other's collections, and wrote opinion pieces on which item was best.
This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Hobart, Tasmania for a month-long exchange trip. The program included classes at The Friends School (TFS), a fellow Quaker school in Hobart, as well as weekend excursions throughout the island.