In January I posted Intergrate and Collaborate – a piece about a special annual thematic unit at our school. This year the faculty decided on Rivers Around the World. All of our K-4 teachers planned the unit together and then executed it in April and May. Last Friday marked the end of this investigation.
Friday was finale day. The boys toured each other’s rooms and then we met in the theater for each class to sing a river song. Our final note was the entire Lower School singing Proud Mary. As the official photographer (and the curriculum coordinator!), it gave me the opportunity to observe and reflect on this particular unit and on this eleven year old tradition. My main thoughts were:
1. The boys learning was shown in so many ways. I love Darren Kuropatwa’s phrase of “Gallery of Thought,” and I saw plenty of different types of galleries: paintings, sculptures, models, journals, websites, videos, photographs, poems, brochures, murals, and more. A fresh unit each year lends itself to such creative, hands on, and investigative learning.
2. The boys were so engaged and connected to their work. Knowing that their peers were all studying the same theme- and then being empowered to teach those peers- brought their level of engagement to new heights.
4. Technology in the classrooms. The lab used to be part of the tour- now the teachers do it and display it in their rooms. Ebooks made on ipads, video streamed on Smart Boards, netbooks running websites and blogs- integrated into the classroom as just another tool!
5. Community- Community- Community. I cannot say enough about teachers helping teachers and boys and teachers learning together with common goals. As we sang, “Rolling Down the River,” as one voice, I knew that I had to find the energy to do this all over again next year.