We've Past the Six-Week Mark at Our New Campus!

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School has been in session for six weeks now at 100 Bedford Road. Lettering for the entrance arrived recently and was put in place. (Please scroll down to the blog entry for September 4 to see what a difference this lettering makes!)

Some of our students assembled to wave to you and to invite you to visit us. There will be an Admissions Open House on Saturday, November 17, 2018 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Please mark that date on your calendars!

Joyful Learning in the K/1 Classroom!

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This week the kindergartners and first graders continued many projects, including exploring sunflowers. We looked closely at different sunflowers, created observational paintings, used tweezers to pick out seeds, and felt the different textures of the flowers. We even made sunflower seed butter, which everyone was welcome to try at snack time.

The K/1 classroom includes the out of doors. Despite the rainy weather, we walked to a nearby pond and enjoyed boat races with twigs and leaves in the stream that feeds the pond. We go out in many kinds of weather, properly dressed, of course!

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Middle Schoolers Inside and Out!

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In the photograph above, middle schoolers work indoors on research projects related to their current book The Outsiders. Students also reflect and write out of doors. Shortly after school began, they went into the woods and were asked to find an approximately 3 x 3 foot plot to call their own, a private space where they could not see each other but where they were within earshot of teachers should they need assistance. Below you can see two photographs of middle schoolers quietly at work. Students return to their chosen plots once a week: This is part of our mindful education.

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Fourth and Fifth Graders Do Math Indoors and Out!

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This photograph shows fourth and fifth graders working on the following theoretical problem: Assume that scientists are going to try to count all ~100 billion neurons in the human brain, at a rate of 1 cell per second (it would take longer than a second but let’s just use one second as an estimate). How many cells would they count in an hour, day, week, and year?

In the picture below, you can see students measuring various parts of our play area including tree stump heights, bench lengths, and much more.

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Second and Third Graders Inside and Out!

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Second and third graders easily settled into their first week of school. Here some students are reading their "just right" books while the classroom pet, a bearded dragon named Argyle, loafs in his terrarium. We are outside a lot during the day, sometimes playing, sometimes exploring, sometimes having discussions in our outdoor classrooms, as you can see below. At Birches, students raise their thumbs when they want to make a comment or answer a question.

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First Day of School at 100 Bedford Road!

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We opened our doors at 100 Bedford Road today after a year and a half of renovation and new construction. It was a joyful day, spent getting used to new classrooms and exploring the play spaces and woods surrounding our school. This is a dream come true!  Kindergartners and first graders were wide-eyed and both serious and excited as they began their year getting to know each other, their teachers and their classroom, as you can see in the photograph below. Our year is off to a marvelous start!

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Birches Receives a Grant from the Asia Center at Harvard University

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Birches has received a grant from Harvard's Asia Center to develop an interdisciplinary middle school curriculum on immigration from China and Japan (1790-present day). We were inspired to develop this unit because in a few weeks we will move to 100 Bedford Road, the former home of Dr. An Wang, a famous computer pioneer. We will study Dr. Wang and also other immigrants from China and Japan, both known and unknown. Our older students will grapple with issues having to do with immigration, including topics such as exclusion and inclusion.

Today is the last day of school. We wish you a wonderful summer and look forward to resuming blog posts in the fall.

Our Changing Forest

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In collaboration with scientists from Harvard Forest, fourth through seventh grade students will contribute to the long-term research project entitled: Our Changing Forest.

This week students identified and marked trees within a 10 x 10 meter study plot (at 100 Bedford Road). We will continue tracking of our survey plot for years to come; activities will include data collection and analysis of tree diameter, plant identification, and wildlife sightings. We are excited to be collaborating with Harvard Forest as citizen scientists!

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Cambridge Science Festival!

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For the third April in a row, Birches School participated in the Cambridge Science Festival. Eighteen of our students (the largest number ever) blended science and technology curriculum by leading visitors through three exhibitions. By utilizing a range sensor and a vibrating motor, hardwear provided by Boston Embedded, students designed The Code Cracker : a gesture lock for opening electronic doors; The Portable Personal Alarm : a device for protecting personal belongings; and The Maze Navigator : a blindfolded sensor-and-vibration game. Congratulations to our Science Specialist Katherine Parisky and to our Engineering and Software Specialist Andrea Krajewska for their guidance in this curriculum.

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Bon Appetit!

Last week we gathered to celebrate the end of our world storytelling unit with a whole school international cooking extravaganza. Five groups representing five continents set out in the morning to make several dishes typical of each continent. Led by parent volunteers and staff, the groups whipped up quite a feast by lunchtime! The meal included everything from sushi, dumplings, and homemade pasta, to salsas, meat pies, a Moroccan tagine, and much more. We then sampled these new flavors from around the world. Thank you to all who made this wonderful meal possible. We're looking forward to more culinary adventures in the future! 

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Visiting the Vernal Pools

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Although there was a little snow on the ground this past week, second through fourth graders had lots to observe and record in their science notebooks when they visited vernal pools in the woods near school. We will be returning here often as spring blooms and more and more creatures emerge. Here is one friendly fellow who braved the chilly weather to say hello.

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Rumpelstiltskin--Traditional and Modern Versions!

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The sixth and seventh graders wrote their own version of the traditional Rumpelstiltskin story to precede the modern musical version performed by the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. Here the scheming Rumpelstiltskin offers to "help" the miller's daughter spin straw into gold so that he can claim her first-born child. Look at that amazing spinning wheel. It was made by a sixth grader and her father! Now we move on to the modern musical.

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In the modern version, Rumpelstiltskin and his friends refuse to help the young woman spin straw into gold. They say she has to persevere with confidence and learn how to do this seemingly impossible job herself. She must embrace failure along the path and remain steadfast. The rollicking musical ends on a high note as our heroine finally achieves her goal!

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And thanks to a Birches grandfather for these wonderful photographs!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

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Over the past several weeks, fifth through seventh graders have been examining myths, legends, and fairytales peopled with heroes and villains (and monsters). The class has explored the meanings behind stories and the cultures from which the stories come. Now each student has chosen a specific tale and begun the process of learning more about the culture informing that tale. After answering pointed research questions, they will write an analysis, explaining how their story is a reflection of its culture.

One fifth-grader chose to research the Irish legend of Fionn Mac Cumhail, the hunter-warrior who, with his band of followers, is imagined to have built the Giant's Causeway. This is a good story for today--Saint Patrick's Day! Here is a picture of the Giant's Causeway in northern Ireland.

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Progress at 100 Bedford Road!

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Things are moving right along at 100 Bedford Road. Siding is being added to the exterior walls of the new and renovated buildings. A caretaker apartment is being installed above one of the classrooms. Skilled carpenters have just added a handsome staircase leading to the caretaker apartment. As spring approaches, the photographs of our new school will get more and more vivid.  We are almost there!  

Kindergartners and 1st Graders Make a Quilt!

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Every year the creative teachers in the combined Kindergarten and 1st Grade classroom work with their students to make a quilt reflecting some aspect of the curriculum. This year the youngest students in our school studied tide pools as part of the autumn all-school Oceans Unit. The children designed and appliqued images onto their quilt, practicing sewing and embroidering skills. They are rightly proud of their work. We now have a collection of quilts from the last years which we expect to hang in the large multi-purpose room at our new school at 100 Bedford Road. This will be an exciting display! 

 

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