This blog post was written by Myla Haan, the Inspired Teaching Residency’s 2019 Summer Intern.
The Summer Teaching Practicum for the Inspired Teaching Residency, at Capital City Public Charter School has concluded! Over these past few weeks, all of the students attending summer school have been learning about a variety of captivating topics that culminated into a final day of presentations for the community to come see and enjoy.
Each teaching pair of 2018 Inspired Teaching Fellows was given the opportunity to select a theme that would shape the work their class would be doing this summer. In Ms. Holt and Ms. Z’s class, their Kindergarteners learned about the wonderful world of Environmental Sustainability. These new environmentalists started off by creating a colorful Earth mural with handwritten ideas about how to keep the Earth clean, such as “don’t litter,” “no fires,” “don’t throw away cigarettes,” and many others. As the weeks went by, these forward- thinking students ended their time in class by building their own structures out of recycled materials. From castles and office buildings, to telescopes and even more castles (specifically one without a bathroom, that was made very clear when asking about the structure), it was clear that these students were willing and overwhelmingly excited to reuse these materials and create something in such an imaginative way. Visitors to this class were impressed by the amount of autonomy that each student was given, both the freedom to develop their own ideas and the trust given to students to use materials in any way they would like. Let this be the very beginning of many more recycled material structures to come from these kids!
Next up in the combined 1st and 2nd Grade class, Ms. Sapio and Ms. Barrett decided to base their class work around the theme of Animals as Superheroes. No, I’m not talking about dogs that can fly or cows that can turn invisible. This theme was their innovative way of teaching students about animal adaptations. Students were asked to pick an animal to research and to learn specifically about that animal’s “superpower.” Then with this new knowledge in mind, everyone was asked to take that superpower they had been learning about and imagine a brand-new superhero that they could create and write a comic book about. The end result was a whole slew of characters that I would happily read more about if any of these authors get around to continuing their stories. A few standouts included a vividly detailed story about a hero named Liz, as well as a colorful green character who has all the skills of a frog. And of course, one could not forget about the wonderful creation that is “Super Sloppy Kid,” whose boisterous illustrations could almost match the pure excitement the author had for his comic. Beyond these final stories, the students in this class continually showed an interest in Pokémon cards during their time in class. Thus, in addition to the large amount of work that these students were doing, some also decided to design a personalized Pokémon card for the superhero they had created; an imaginative way that both Ms. Sapio and Ms. Barrett decided to incorporate their students interests into their class.
The 2nd and 3rd Graders in Ms. Diggs and Ms. Fasciano’s class transformed into engineers these past few weeks as they learned about the complexities of Simple Machines. The weeks started off by collectively brainstorming what it means to be an engineer and discussing what a design process for a machine looks like. These initial steps led to small groups brainstorming, designing, and building simple machines that, in a wide variety of ways, could benefit the lives of others in some capacity. There was a ramp that could slingshot any item to someone with ease (water bottles were mainly flying down this ramp, but these inventors were anxious to see how far other objects could be launched). Another group incorporated their humanitarian interests into the project by creating a pulley system that could save animals that might have fallen into trash cans. Overall, the creativity and out of the box thinking was endless in that room! I commend Ms. Diggs and Ms. Fasciano for creating a space where their students could discover the interdisciplinary nature of engineering and the sciences. It was evident that these students concluded that simple machines and inventions can benefit the people and community around them in a plethora of ways.
Finally, in Mr. Morris and Mr. Palmer’s 3rd and 4th Grade class, everyone was learning about Natural Disasters and the dangerous effects that the aftermath of these events could have on communities. Students started off by selecting natural disasters they wanted to learn more in depth about, whether that be volcano eruptions, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc., and continued by learning about prevention/relief methods that could bring ease to a community if they ever were to experience one of these events. From that point forward, students wrote persuasive essays that could be sent to State Representatives or Government Officials that explain why these methods should be included in a city’s disaster plan and created models of those said methods to share with the community during the Celebration of Learning. Visitors could not stop gushing about how determined and vocal all of these new disaster planners were to be asked challenging questions about the work they had done. It was clear that Mr. Morris and Mr. Palmer had created a space where students felt like experts on their topic. They were able to preach to the crowds that their method for prevention or relief was absolutely necessary. This skill of persuasive talking and discussion was absolutely encouraged in the class and will take these outgoing thinkers far in life.
Though each class was invested in vastly different topics, one common theme was evident in each room. Pride in your work. Every recycled material structure, every comic, every invention, every natural disaster model, each student was BEYOND proud of what they had accomplished. That is not something that can easily be picked up on by a student alone. That much pride and care for your work comes from teachers who believe in their students and what they can accomplish. All 8 of these teachers have created memories for these students that will stick with them throughout their academic career. These past few weeks have been a fantastic example of what a teacher who cares about a student’s self-worth looks like. Bravo!