Last week we received a taste of thawing winter and the light of spring, and our collective energy appeared to start flowing in the 5th& 6th grade. Talk of the Soccer Challenge with the middle school was heard during family meeting last week, and we are pleased to see so many of our students sign up and commit to representing our class in this annual event. Although setting a date has been something of a challenge in itself, know that you will soon be informed through the weekly Study Guide and the WHAT. We hope you will come and cheer (加油！jia you , literally – ‘add oil’) for your favorite team at Karst Farm Park. Although the odds tend to be stacked against us, we are confident that our teamwork and good sportsmanship will win the day and make us all proud!
The latest news ringing in our ears after an extended study of civics within both our immigration theme and the Legal Literacy class, our court date has arrived. A group of our students was called to jury duty! On Thursday, April 4 at 10:30, our bailiff asked the court to rise, as the Judge (an IU Law School professor) called the court to order. We had a well-prepared plaintiff and group of witnesses, and two excellent legal teams. According to the recent issue of an underground class newspaper, Class Cap, the students lingered in suspense to witness opposing lead attorneys, Ian McKean and Elisabeth Siena, faced off in their opening and closing remarks. Be sure to read the May edition of our Harmony Newsletter for a recap of this exciting event. Much appreciation from our class and entire Harmony community for the volunteerism of the IU Mauer School of Law in general and our Legal Literacy teachers, law school students.
This year has seen some relational struggles among our class, and though late in the school year, we as a community never want to lose hope in our young people to come together as a family, regardless of our disagreements and power struggles. In the wake of a recent all-elementary school meeting, we held the most recent of three “chalk talks,” this time on the subject of relationships. I found the participation process and thematic results of this chalk talk inspiring and profound. As student volunteers read their peers comments out loud to the class, recurrent themes emerged. Doria, our teacher’s assistant, wrote up the dominant themes that blossomed through the chalk talk protocol:
Having each other’s backs
With this process in mind, the last two weeks seem to me to be prolific with examples of all of these themes. I could recite numerous examples of each of the above tenets in this time. Growing up and learning is sometimes messy business, yet the fruit of our labors is delicious indeed. And guess what? This bit of progress arrives just in time for…
Spring flowers blooming, birds nesting and singing… this stirs our souls, and so our annual Life Skills and Human Sexuality curriculum begins. Community educator from Middle Way House, Prevention Programs Coordinator Cierra Olivia Thomas-Williams, will head off our Life Skills curriculum with a five day seminar on Building Healthy Relationships and Digital Citizenship. Life Skills will segue into our Human Sexuality curriculum which will be supported with weekly seminars with Harmony grandparent Shelia Evans, the Community Health Educator at IU Bloomington Hospital.
Speaking of birds, augmenting Scott’s ornithology curriculum, we’ll be heading out to the field in April for some bird watching and environmental education. I heard through the grapevine that Scott is pretty excited about recently sighting a rare Spotted Redshank at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County, and perhaps we’ll each see some new birds and start bird sighting lists of our own.
And, of course, there are our independent study Graduation Projects. At this point, our grads have completed a project proposal (last semester,) an introductory and background or historical stage 1 paper, a primary interest stage 2 traditional research paper, a documented experience paper (often supported by research) for stage 3, as well as their experiences and much of their community service projects. Yet on their ‘to do’ lists for April are the stage 4 reflection upon the overall process, assessment of goals, summary of research findings, and re-examination of essential questions as they prepare to say goodbye to elementary school and look ahead to the next stage of education and life. In addition, grads will no doubt be quite busy checking in with their 5th grade interns while preparing final presentations. 5th graders at this point in time have completed first drafts and are making final revisions, editing corrections, and preparing final drafts of their second of two traditional research papers. Please join us for graduation presentations to be held May 6th -9th at Harmony School. A schedule will be posted in our classroom and near the office towards the end of April.
As we wind up the school year, we’re squeezing in a few other activities this month. Energizing Indiana curriculum will help us look ahead to Earth Day on Friday, April 19. Over the course of the month, we’ll read about and discuss resources and energy at school and conduct experiments on topics related to reducing our energy use with a kit provided by Duke Energy. As time allows in May, Al Jarvis is generously providing solar energy kits to provide our kids with more knowledge and experience with renewable and sustainable energy forms. On Earth Day, some students will be out in the field participating in all-day projects, while some will be at school engaged in two half-day workshops.
As you can see, the 5th and 6th grade has a big month planned. I think I speak for all of us in that we are eager for the weather to warm up a bit and take more of our learning and experience to the great outdoors.
Best wishes for a happy spring,
-Scott and Kathy