Spotted Everywhere: Lower School Culminating Events Take Over Speyer!

A living museum featuring Manhatta and the people that first lived on this island: the Lenape. An interdisciplinary Literary Lollapalooza that explored all aspects of bringing a book from the brainstorming phase to a completed manuscript (and more). A cross-curricular celebration sharing discoveries about how and why the United States transitioned from loyal British subjects to revolutionaries and finally to the founders of a new nation. Parents of first, second and third graders were treated to all of these culminating events, showcasing these grades’ first semester unit of studies!

First graders welcomed their guests to The Life of the Lenape: A Living Museum. Throughout the first semester, the students studied how the Lenape lived on exactly where we are standing today and how they used the natural environment to meet their needs. To bring the Lenape people and their story to life, each student created artwork and diagrams and wrote about the characteristics that they felt defined the Lenape people (creative, resourceful, respectful, selfless, brave, efficient, and more). 

During the event, the first graders took on the role of docents, escorting their guests around the museum. They presented the exhibits in the hallway and, in the classroom, they showed guests all about the process that they went through and the resources they used to prepare for the museum, from the writing process to draft creative Lenape stories to the symbols and color wheels they examined to be intentional with their artwork. 

This living museum was a spectacular way to highlight all of the cross-curricular work and skills the first graders utilized all semester long – from writing mechanics to art skills, science exploartion to literary fluency.

The second grade immersed themselves in a literacy unit consisting of book reviews and writing “New York City Small Moments.” After engaging in book clubs reading realistic fiction, students learned how to converse about characters with their peers. They experimented with various ways of writing down their thoughts and preparing for future conversations. 

The students loved their books so much that, naturally, they wanted to recommend them to others. Using the computer-based application Seesaw as a vehicle to digitize a portfolio and document student learning, second graders collaboratively created and recorded a book review that will hopefully inspire others to read Stink by Megan Mcdonald, Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary, Horrible Harry by Suzy Kline or Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. 

As writers, second graders dove into the writing process learning how a small moment captures the essence of a personal experience. In connection with our humanities unit, The History of New York City, students were required to choose an experience that took place in and around the boroughs. They were taught to brainstorm, draft, add strong sensory details, revise, and edit to make their writing even better and then create a catchy cover. To compliment their stories with a STEM element, students created Lego artifacts that symbolized a scene or object from their stories. 

Our Brainpop friends, Tim and Moby, inspired our learners to create original Brainpop videos that displayed six scenes from their small moments. Adding characters, text features, and animation brought their stories to life in a creative and technologically meaningful way. 

Finally, students learned about the artist Romare Bearden. He was an African American artist who worked with many types of media, specifically collage. Through his art, he captured the culture of Harlem and various aspects of African American life. Students used shapes to create collages of people and city scapes in New York City to represent his artistic style. 

This unit was truly interdisciplinary and the kids were so proud of how their process truly impacted their final pieces!

The third grade celebrated all of their hard work from the first semester at their culminating event From Colonies to Country. The students studied how and why the United States transitioned from loyal British subjects to revolutionaries and finally to the founders of a new nation. 

Students began by studying the various acts and events that lead the colonists to be unhappy with the British rulers, while also learning the motivation behind the acts. Students then chose to represent patriots or loyalists and created their own propaganda videos. The students wrote, acted, directed, and edited the films independently!

Then, after learning about the various roles and perspectives of people during the war, students researched and wrote biographical articles about important and influential figures who helped shape the war effort for both sides. 

Finally, students had the opportunity to show off the government they created at their very own constitutional convention. Each third grade class had their own convention, at which each student argued from the perspective of their assigned colony while determining how many branches of government there should be, how many presidents there should be and how long a president should serve.

This event showcased so many aspects of learning the third graders do every day – public speaking skills they hone in Debate, research and writing mechanics studied in Humanities, creative design and digital storytelling they explore in the Makers’ Lab, and so much more!