A weekly update on the learning and creativity happening at Portfolio from Dr. Shira Leibowitz, Founding Director of Lower School and Nancy Otero, Founding Director of Research and Learning Design.

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What an exciting week!

What does it mean to be human?

We have launched into the next segment of our unit, focusing on identity. Thinking about the grand human effort to settle on Mars offers us a platform to think far more intimately about essential questions considering what it means to be human.

What does it mean to be me?

What am I good at? Where do I live? Where do I come from? Who is special to me? And, so much more. Our students will be presenting their identity treasures, developing our presentation skills as we speak to one another about ourselves. They can create an identity box full of objects that represent them, a mood board about themselves, a video, a slideshow of their favorite pictures - the possibilities are endless and we are so enthusiastic about witnessing our students’ creativity.

Space Math!

While looking inward, reflecting on ourselves, we are also looking outward - to space! We’ve substantially integrated math into our learning, investigating how planetary orbits are represented as mathematical drawings. Do planets orbit the sun as a perfect circle? What is an elliptical shape? How can prove what the shape of a planet’s orbit is? We then represented our own orbits using Turtle Art and drawing circles and ellipses with Spirograph.

Making noise for Google

We went to work for Google, developing content for their science app! Applying science and social skills, we learned about sound. We playfully considered how sound waves work through a game about waves, scientific learning about sound vibrations and the ear, making noise at different decibels with instruments we created and with our voices, and then measuring the sound. We then discussed the importance of monitoring our noise volume, and applied our learning to consideration of what makes it easy and what makes it hard to listen.

Personal Projects continue...

During personal project time, we developed our reflection skills - presenting to one another our learning from the week. We split into groups exploring making with a range of tools - 3-D printers, laser cutters, drills, glue, video, computers, crayons, and pencils! We then put our creativity to work, applying skills in our own imaginative projects. Some of our students are using Python to program drawings, and have designed and colorful robots made of several shapes. Some continue to work on the design of our own unique laser cut pianos. Others are playfully exploring a range of creative tools, imagining the possible for future projects.

Literacy and Math

Our literacy and math skills continue to improve. Our early readers made as many words as they could out of the “ai” and “ay” digraphs. They wrote sentences using those words, and drew pictures that described the words. We’ve all explored different writing genres and the purposeful impact of our words. We each continue to progress in math at our own levels, and have been enjoying practicing our learning with math games in groups of two and three. Skills we have worked on, depending on our level, including counting backwards, adding two numbers to make ten, and applied multiplication and division challenges. In addition to developing our numeracy skills, our math games have supported our social skills, as we are  practicing how to take turns, be patient as other players take their turns, and practicing kindness and good humour whether we win or lose.


Field Trip to New York Hall of Science

...allowed us to explore the possibility of life beyond Earth and space travel, enabling us to reflect on what we have already learned and prepare us for further learning about the solar system. We also thoroughly enjoyed active play and learning in the museum’s science playground.

Water play at New York Hall of Science! Exploring the mechanics of Archimedes Screw to lift the water (in the background)

Self-reflection & Review

As we look forward to new learning, we have taken time to look back on what we have so far accomplished. We’ve reviewed our drawings, writing and experiments about gravity, the laws of motion, orbits. We took pictures of the work so we can keep a digital diary of our learning trajectories in our learners’ portfolios.