Fifth & Sixth Grades

Introduction

The Harmony 5th & 6th grade provides students with the opportunity to further develop leadership, academic, social, and mediation skills in preparation for the culminating experience of their elementary education, the graduation project, and toward the greater goal of developing lifelong learners. Course work is often designed as a path to practice the skills of real work that they will do in the world.

What We’re Currently Learning

Harmony 5th & 6th graders investigated Brain Science this semester as the core hub of our integrated life skills curriculum. Through this lens, our class explored a wide variety of topics including: the nervous system, the basic anatomy of the brain, functional areas of the brain, the emotional center of the brain and the amygdala, strategies for managing negative emotional responses, the neurological and anatomical changes in the teenage brain, autism and Asperger’s Spectrum Disorder, and neurological and brain injuries and disorders.

We watched a variety of videos, TED talks, documentaries, and hosted guest speakers, such as Mr. Steve Volan, Bloomington City Council member and current IU graduate student, who spoke about living with Asperger’s. We were also fascinated by IU Brain Science Department’s, Dale Sengelaub. Dale gifted our class much time. He brought in his brain collection, gave a captivating presentation, sent thoughtful email answers to student inquiries, and fielded student questions for over one and a half hours! Additionally, he will join our students at our annual Harmony School Open House, including his brain collection in our student exhibition of their brain science research projects.

Our ultimate goal, besides learning science and the various life skills topics, is to provide students with practical strategies for dealing with the specific issues in our personal lives and to employ in our relationships as citizens in diverse communities. This is where our mindfulness training comes into practice. We’ve learned and practiced mindful breathing and meditation, and talked about other mindfulness practices as well.

All in all, this has been an illuminating unit of study! Below we have several pictures of this wonderful experience.