About Andrea Patel

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So far Andrea Patel has created 116 blog entries.

“Keep fighting!” said the teacher.

Odd words, indeed, for me to say, but I meant them. I needed more fighting! Now, before you think I’ve lost my mind, let me put this into context. Last week, we were in the middle of a rehearsal for our play, The Land of Many Colors.  In this story, purple people, blue people, and green people live separate, happy lives until one day things fall apart, and WAR begins among them.  How do we act this out realistically, but safely? Well, at first the children play-fought with lots of smiles and laughter. But it didn’t really look like war. What they needed to learn was to “fight” without smiling, to fight without actually hurting anyone, and also  to fight without making a sound, so that the story’s narration could continue.  The play, performed last Thursday at the PS-LS Cooperation Assembly, was a success.  The children had learned admirable self-control that they used while “fighting.” And then, what fabulous cooperation they displayed as they rebuilt the ruined world they had made. The class had a lot of fun practicing and performing this play, and did a great job!

You can see for yourself in the link below to the video. It’s in a folder called “Cooperation Assembly 12-6-2018.”

Site: https://photos.google.com/

Login as bcdphoto@berkshirecountryday.org

Password: Penguin1!

Big thanks to all who send in blue and purple and green clothes, food, and stuffed animals. And extra thanks to Alex, who videotaped it!

In addition to our play, we’ve learned how to write the numerals 0-9, and have begun learning lowercase letters (now up to j). We’ve been talking about the idea of peace – what’s happening when you feel peaceful? And what does it mean to be a peacemaker? Writings and drawings now accompany both of these ideas, so come and see our bulletin boards. Some special gifts are being made in the classroom, and they will come home next week. I hope you enjoy them.

Have a wonderful winter break!

Andrea

By |2018-12-14T12:18:45+00:00December 14th, 2018|

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and boy, am I thankful!

This class couldn’t be any more fun to teach – really! They’re inquisitive, smart, thoughtful, caring, argumentative (on occasion!), chatty, and kind. They love to learn. They love to play. They like pretty much everything that we do in school. And October sped by so quickly. Highlights: our trip to Ioka Valley Farm was super fun. Although the weather was a bit raw, all had a great time!

We also had a wonderful Halloween:

We’ve lately been doing an author study on Karma Wilson, who wrote the Bear Snores On  series, and also enjoying many books by Cynthia Rylant. Wilson’s books are written with terrific rhyme and rhythm and humor, and they offer a great contrast to Rylant’s, as her style is softer and her content more reflective. In addition, we’ve read books about Thanksgiving and listened to Native American stories at rest time. Each child has written and illustrated something for which they are thankful – these will be displayed starting next week, so come and see.

The children’s Halloween, Who Do You See? books have gone home, and their completed math Pattern Books are in today’s backpacks. This class continually surprised and delighted me with their ability to create complex patterns of all sorts, using unifix cubes, dots, and beads, as well as their ability to draw lively ghouls, ghosts, and goblins!

Cooperation has been our overarching theme this fall. In a few weeks, we’ll gather at a small assembly with B2-Grade 3 and present a class project. In the meantime, we practice sharing and working together daily, as evidenced by our Friendship Lunch last week!

 

This year we had 30 (!) children seated around the table – it was so great to see so many little faces together.

All enjoyed spaghetti, meatballs, cornbread, homemade butter, and chocolate-covered pretzels.

 

 

A HUGE thank you to all the parents, from all the grades, who came in to help!

October also held our Parent-Teacher conferences. These are always a valuable time to talk in depth about each student. Thank you all for making time to come and meet with me. I offer my thanks for your support this year, and I’m grateful for all the joy your children bring to each other and to me. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Andrea

By |2018-11-19T14:18:37+00:00November 19th, 2018|

18 days into the year!

It’s just turned from September to October, and our class has spent a total of 18 days together. Not very much time, really, and yet, what a lot we’ve accomplished! We are a class now; no longer a collection of individuals. What bonds us, what is that magic glue?  That’s easy to answer. Talking, singing, and playing games together. Learning to look one another in the eye and listen. Helping each other. Showing compassion when a classmate is sad. Taking our first trip together to Magic Wings (more on that later!). Sharing. This “coming-together” in these early weeks is so vital, and sets the stage for happy and productive learning for the rest of the year. Its importance cannot be understated.

Meanwhile, our classroom has been full of activity. Everyone has come up with a school “Hope & Dream,” and from these we’ll develop our classroom rules over the next few weeks. In addition, everyone has completed September portfolio art, Four-Square, and Weekend News. Each has made a self-portrait – these will be hanging up shortly – come and take a look!

 

 

 

Our focus in math is on shapes and patterns, and work with pattern blocks, pegboards, and beads continue to be popular choices.Here are some of their creations!

 

 

 

More: we’ve also written class books together and had “Mixer” with Grade 1-2. We’ve gone to the Library and shared stories with the 5th grade. Dr. Segar came to our room and taught us some fun songs. Our twice-monthly Community Circle, with two-year-olds through third grade, have been a great time to gather as a larger community, to play games, to sing, and to hear what’s going on in other classrooms.

 

Caterpillar update: our 25 healthy, fat caterpillars have each gone into a chrysalis! The children were able to witness several caterpillars actually forming their chrysalis – a rare sighting in the classroom. The class has documented the egg, caterpillar and chrysalis stages. We expect our first butterflies to hatch next week. This too, we’ll document by careful naturalistic observation. Our trip to Magic Wings was great fun, and I send out thanks to Alex, Rachel, and Jennie, who were our parent drivers and chaperones. We had a wonderful time there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m having a great time with this class, and they are, too, with each other. Earlier last week, during Inside Choice, play spontaneously arose where all nine decided to create an airplane. With great enthusiasm, they made choices: “Let’s fly to Paris!” “I’ll be a pilot!” “Me, too!” Others chose to be flight attendants or passengers. They used their rest mats to form seats and brought in food from the dramatic play area to serve to each other. It was so much fun that I promised to make time for some more “airplane time” soon. Who knows next where their imaginations will take them? I, for one, am eager to see!

Andrea

By |2018-10-01T22:31:11+00:00October 1st, 2018|

This Bittersweet Time of Year…

How this year flew by! Looking at the children today, I can vividly recall classroom life back in September and am so delighted with what I see in front of me now. So much of their growth can be seen tangibly: there’s a whole raft of independent writers, most everyone has learned to zip their jackets, scribblers now make detailed representational drawings, and everyone’s counting skills have improved dramatically. Less visible, but no less impressive, is their emotional growth and maturity. We have had many discussions on surprisingly deep topics. They have twenty or more poems solidly memorized – beautiful and elegant words that now live inside them. They ask to hear Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at lunch, and never tire of listening. They celebrate each other’s achievements and offer each other support in sad times. These children care for one another, and they’ve learned to take care of each other as well – a truly compassionate group.

Here are photos of some recent classroom highlights: Mme. Daire brought her 8thgrade French students over to read stories they had written. Especially fun for me was to see former Kindergartners Anje, Aurora, Chase, and Keely reading to this current class!

We make number sentences all sorts of different ways. These are interlocking tiles.

We’ve practiced cutting with scissors all year. Look at those fancy mustaches!

Rainbow Day was fun too!

Writing continues to be a popular activity. Lately the children have been writing books together, and then sharing them aloud with the class.

Can this really be the last blog?? I’ve had such a fabulous year with your children. I wish all a wonderful and restful summer, and look forward to seeing you again in the fall!

Andrea

By |2018-06-02T09:32:34+00:00June 1st, 2018|

Spring has sprung! (Somewhat. Kinda. Maybe…..)

Though there are still occasional forecasts of snow, we, as a class, have thoroughly embraced spring. Preparing for recess, I am asked daily, “Ms. Patel, do I have to wear my jacket?” and there are groans of dismay, when, unfortunately, my answer is often yes. But once we’re outside and the children start running around, jackets, sweatshirts, and long-sleeved shirts get peeled off, and the children run and play with abandon. Inside the classroom, we can create spring no matter what the weather is doing. Come see our walls – the children have made beautiful artwork, using tissue paper collage, that depict spring happenings. We learned two new poems this month, which you’ll hear at our assembly: Ode to Spring by Walter R. Brooks, and April Rain Song by Langston Hughes. We were very fortunate last week when Lisa Smyle, parent of a BCD eighth grader, came to our classroom. Lisa is an interpreter for the deaf community, and she taught us the ASL signs for the Langston Hughes poem. By the way, the class is working hard and enthusiastically for their assembly; you will be so proud of them!

What else tells me spring is here? The children are taller, more capable, and more independent. They are confident in the classroom and on the playground. The connections between them remain strong, even when there are disagreements, and they have skills now to negotiate those times. Classroom routines are internalized; they know what to do and when to do it. Spring is a good season in the classroom – the children’s curiosity, caring, and competence is evident everywhere I look.

Other signs of spring: we will go on a trip this week to Hancock Shaker Village to see the baby animal exhibit. And in two weeks, we’ll hike in Kennedy Park for our annual Mountain Day. On both of these events, we’ll be joined by PK-3rdgrade. More information about these trips will come home in lunch boxes.

I look forward to seeing you all on May 11 for the Poetry Assembly, and hope that all of you can stay for the Class Potluck Lunch immediately afterwards. All grandparents and special friends are invited as well.

Some recent photos. Sorry that there are only two – I tried to upload three more, but this page wouldn’t let me!

 

 

Andrea

By |2018-04-30T13:07:00+00:00April 29th, 2018|

Heading south!

Antarctica – that frozen continent – what a wonder! Our class has been thoroughly entranced by all that there is to learn about this remarkable land. One question has led to another, as we’ve read about some of the explorers, learned about icebergs, and talked about which animals can survive there. With a focus on the specific penguins that live there (Emperor, King, Adelie, and Rockhopper), the children have learned each one’s identifying characteristics, their relative size, the different kinds of nests they make or the unusual way they care for their eggs. (On that note – ask your child to tell you how the Emperor penguins care for their eggs and chicks!) The children know that there are 17 different kinds of penguins worldwide, and that all but one live south of the equator (the Galapagos penguin is the exception). Ever wondered which animals eat penguins? Or why their backs are black and their stomachs white? Ask your children – they have the answers!

We had a real treat today when award-winning photographer Sally Eagle came to the classroom to share her slides of Antarctica with the class. Her photographs are vibrant and exciting and the children had lots and lots of questions for her about them. If you’d like to see some yourself, Sally, along with her husband Dan Mead, another award-winning photographer, currently have over 70 images on display at Kimball Farms in Lenox. It’s called “Focus on our World” and runs through April 10. Try to go!

In other classroom news – Valentine’s Day was great fun! Alaska Day was great fun! And next Wednesday will be the 100th Day of School – more great fun! February is filled with wonderful events!

Making valentine cards for our families!

Have a good weekend!

Andrea

By |2018-02-23T15:10:45+00:00February 23rd, 2018|

C-O-U-R-A-G-E spells COURAGE!

Courage! What is it? When do you need it? Who has it? These questions have sparked lots of conversations this month. Drawing from historical examples of the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ruby Bridges, and Rosa Parks, children quickly made connections to times in their own lives when they’ve had to be courageous. We discovered that, depending on the situation, courage can look differently for us. Sometimes you need it for big things, like getting a shot at the doctor’s office or learning to swim in deep water, but sometimes you need it in the smaller moments, like admitting you knocked the plant over, or saying, “I’m sorry,” when an apology would smooth things out. Today, during the PS-LS Courage Assembly, the class recited a poem that we wrote together. The photo above shows them performing these words (photo credit: Jessica Provenz):

C for Caring about all living things

O for “Oops, I’m sorry!” when a mean word stings

U for Understanding when things have been unfair

R for Righting wrongs to help the world repair

A for Always choosing to do what is right

G for Good choices like, “Be nice” and “Don’t fight”

E for Examples so everyone can see

That COURAGE makes the world a better place to be!

Based on the book Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rapport, the children also thought about some of their own ideas to make the world a better place. These writings and drawing are hanging in the classroom.  They are wise words from our little ones:  “Stop fighting and get along together!”   “Keep people warm!”   “Help people who are hurt!”  “People should stop fighting. Try to be nice to each other.”  “Do not be mean to animals!”   “I want people to make other people blankets.”  “Say, ‘You are my best friend, and I love you.'”   Now, if only they could get the world to listen….

We begin our study of BCD’s mascot, the Penguin, next week. Stay tuned – this is always an exciting unit!

Andrea

PS – Thank you all for my birthday wishes. “Mrs. Mootel” had a great day, and here’s that adorable photo, as promised! (Note their self-portraits on the wall behind them – these were also made during our study of courage, and each child individually blended their own skin tone to create their painting.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By |2018-01-26T19:01:21+00:00January 26th, 2018|

Patterns everywhere!

Have you seen the freestanding table loom in our classroom? This weaving was begun six or seven years ago by the then-current class of kindergartners. Moving the shuttle over one string, under the next, over, under, and over again perfectly echoes the rhythm of the simplest of patterns we’ve been studying in math, an AB pattern. Over the years, every student in every class has added an inch or two to the woven piece on this loom. When completed (and we’re nearly there!), this could become a small table mat, or perhaps a blanket for the dolls in the cradle.

At this time of year, children are busy making gifts for their families. One of their holiday gifts is a woven potholder. The rhythm to make it is the same – over, under, over, under. Add a color pattern to that, and the potholders begin to look quite striking. Sometimes those color patterns get complex – for example, AABB – while still maintaining the AB pattern of construction.

We like to talk about patterns, and there are patterns everywhere we look. Sometimes the children discover that they’re sitting in a pattern – “Look, Ms. Patel! We’re sitting girl, girl, boy, girl, girl, boy. That’s an AAB pattern!” Or they notice that their shirts make a pattern with long sleeves and short sleeves arranged just so. Sometimes our conversations veer in unexpected ways, and we end up talking about patterns of behavior. And sometimes patterns lead into discussions about symmetry and asymmetry. Another of our holiday gifts might incorporate a symmetrical design (or it might not – you’ll have to wait and see what your child decides!)

Patterns, symmetry, and balance are mathematical terms that also belong in art. It’s exciting to see where the children’s imaginations take these concepts!

By |2017-12-13T10:35:34+00:00December 13th, 2017|

Something Told the Wild Geese…

We’ve moved the clocks back and the days are noticeably shorter. The air is crisp and heavier clothes are worn outside (reluctantly, I might add). Loudly honking geese fly over the playground. A new season is making itself known, and the children are quick to pick up on the changes. Inside, our learning shifts too. Now two months into the school year, the children are well acquainted with one another. They swap stories and snacks and are gentle with each other when a classmate gets upset. They’ve learned that our classroom is a safe place to try new things and that mistakes along the way are part of the package. Everyone is five now, and there’s a unity, an ease, that wasn’t there before. Just as the geese know when it’s time to start their journey south, things now happen organically in the classroom, too. At rest time, one student takes a clipboard and pens and writes his own version of a Frog and Toad story. At the end of rest, he asks, “Can I read it to the class, Ms. Patel?” “Of course,” I answer, and as he reads, the children listen, enthralled. The next day at rest, three take clipboards and make up stories. Some do their own writing, while others draw pictures and ask me to put down their words. These, too, are excitedly read to the class. Then on the third day – magic! All seven have chosen clipboards and create stories that demand to be shared right away. I scrap the afternoon activity I had planned and we sit and listen to seven budding authors. Shy compliments abound at the end of each reading: “I liked your story. It was funny!” “I liked the colors you used.” “I liked how you wrote The End at the end.” As the children get more comfortable with the different skills of creating, sharing, asking for feedback, listening, I begin to ask questions of my own: “Do you want to give names to your characters? And what is a character, exactly? What do you think makes a story good? What makes it interesting? Do you have an idea for your next story?” The students’ excitement is contagious and the seeds of ownership of their own literacy are sown. It’s been extraordinary to watch this process, and it’s no lie when I say that never, ever before have I had an entire class writing stories so early in the school year. When learning unfolds like this, each child has the confidence to try out their ideas, knowing their efforts are fully supported. They are willing to be gently encouraged to reach towards the next level. They respond with their characteristic positivity. And so they grow. They are thrilled. So am I.

By |2017-11-08T17:47:25+00:00November 8th, 2017|

SL?? Yes, SL!

I’m a list maker. And I tend to abbreviate a lot. Over the summer I found myself writing “SL” over and over. That made sense; I had just completed an online course offered by Nellie Edge that incorporated phonics, handwriting, and sign language. The SL on my lists was a reminder to me to practice the sign language alphabet before school started. This past month, however, a new “SL” started creeping in. This time it stood for Service Learning. Interestingly, the two SL’s have considerable overlap with one another this year.

Let me give a little background. Under the direction of history teacher Sarah Pitcher, eighth-grade students participate in a national project called the IWitness video challenge. According to Sarah, this challenge was “inspired by the 20th anniversary of the movie Schindler’s List and is presented jointly by the SHOAH foundations and the University of Southern California. This project allows for introspection, proactive work in the community, as well as gaining a deeper understanding of the Holocaust and its far-reaching effects on world history.” Last year Shayna, an eighth-grader (and one that I had taught in Kindergarten!), asked if she could come weekly with her ASL tutor and teach the kindergartners sign language. I was delighted with her offer, and the students loved learning with her. Shayna also asked if she could film the class and use it in her iWitness video. To make a long story short, her video placed third nationally – a huge achievement and honor!

Fast forward to this year: Shayna’s video caught the eye of the director of Riverbrook, which is a home for developmentally-disabled women in Stockbridge. Riverbrook contacted BCD to see if one of their residents, a young woman both deaf and developmentally-disabled, could meet with Shayna and her tutor. As Shayna had graduated, the tutor no longer came to BCD, so the contact was passed to me. Over the summer I met the young woman, Carlina, who now comes twice monthly to our classroom, along with her interpreter, to teach us signs, sing stories, and sign/read books to us. It’s a learning experience for all of us, starting with bigger questions like, “What is communication? How do people communicate with each other? What are challenges that some people face?” And then more specific questions: “How do we “talk” to Carlina? How do we make her feel comfortable with us? How do we become friends?”

I wish you could see the class: the children have been so welcoming to her, and they’re so enthusiastic to learn new signs. I’m feeling my way through this very unusual project, but one thing is certain – in our classroom, SL and SL go hand in hand!

Andrea

By |2017-10-15T18:28:09+00:00October 15th, 2017|