One of the comments I heard this week from the 5th -8th graders was about the fact that they had "no homework". As the staffs of the TCS & Chelsea middle schools worked together to create a week full of "project-based learning" activities, our students were engaged beyond belief. Ecology Week for our 5 /6 grades was put together with many staff hours, several community and statewide connections, and many passionate volunteers helping our students seek knowledge & wisdom beyond the classroom. The Exploratorium for the 7 /8 students was an effort to offer our students something they might not otherwise experience in the course of studies at their home school. Each day for the week was a celebration and accomplishment in and of itself, as outlined below.
Our Tunbridge 5th and 6th were joined by Chelsea 6th graders as they enjoyed incredible experiences such as 1) a day at McIntosh Pond fishing, kayaking, water sampling and nature identification; with assistance from Vermont Adaptive, the Vermont Fish & Game Dept, and Bonner Wheeler each student was able to enjoy all activities 2) a day at ECHO Museum in Burlington, 3) Recycling Raft Regatta 4) visiting two very generous farms and understanding the many facets in each ecosystem 5) a day of activities from our guests: Nancy Chapman & quilting, Heidi Chapman & pastels, Shane Young & his cider press, Lisa Kippen & charcoal art, George White & wood working, Mrs. Bogardus and Mrs. Lober & baking and Marion Lent with fiber arts. Each day, students used their google sites to keep a blog with their impressions, collaboration and new learning.
Meanwhile, in Chelsea, the 7th and 8th graders from each school worked together in an area of their choice. After a day at the Waits River School ropes course, the students chose one of five areas to study for the remainder of the week: documentary film-making, wood-working (saplings) design and stool making, drama & one-act play production, landscape pastels, and engineering design & bridge building. Friday afternoon, students, parents, and staff enjoyed an exhibition of the week's work --- a beautiful culmination of passion, hard work, and a hands-on approach to learning.
(more photos and videos are located on Tunbridge Central School Facebook and our video channel located on our tunbridgeschool.org website.)
It's a new beginning and several things are taking shape here at Tunbridge Central School as we begin the school year. Not only have we concluded many summer projects, but much thought went into creating the schedule and creating opportunities for our students and staff alike. In terms of summer projects, they include:
Our Teacher Advisories (TA) were also reconstructed such that our 5th and 6th graders now are combined and our 7th and 8th graders as well. This allows the one 45 minute period they are together per week to focus on developmentally appropriate topics: organization & time management as well as goal setting, self-advocacy & building skills for high school. These first few weeks are helping our TAs build community and begin to establish relationships to build upon for the duration of the middle school years.
We are also incorporating some "technology time" into the library period with our middle schoolers; whether this period explores the various technologies available or teaches digital citizenship, this 1 x week course is designed to spark the innovation amongst our students and allow them a safe place to explore various aspects of technology and build their skills in this area prior to reaching high school. Rumor has it, they may also create a "maker space" and / or begin to dismantle and re-build a computer or two before the year is out.
There is much to share; as this post is titled: Trying Something New, I am finding the courage and will commit to periodic posts in this blog to keep our families and public in-the-know here at Tunbridge Central School. We are rich in volunteers and are lucky to be a part of such a vibrant community. Stay tuned for more updates as I experiment with this technology, myself.