6th Grade Service Learning 2017-2018, Animal Rights
The sixth grade has decided upon the theme of animal rights for their yearlong service learning project. Yesterday, we wrapped up our second guest speaker presentation with a visit from Jody Chiquoine, owner and operator of Fitter Critters ‘Aqua Paws.’ Fitter Critters is a physical rehabilitation and indoor aquatic center with programs for dogs, located in Lee. Jody also volunteers for the rescue organization Northeast Pyr Rescue, an all-volunteer non-profit dedicated to providing compassionate, coordinated and comprehensive rescue services for Great Pyrenees dogs throughout the Northeast.
Jody spoke to the class for over an hour about the work she does, explaining how and, most importantly, why she has dedicated so much time and energy to the well-being of dogs in need. She not only informed us of the day-to-day reality of what she and the Northeast Pyr Rescue organization do, but she also spoke to greater life-lessons, such as the importance of making responsible choices when it comes to adopting a pet, the importance of spaying and neutering, as well as the different types of breeders. Her take-home message was this: Remember that every breed of dog was bred do something specific, whether it is herding animals, hunting, etc. It is our responsibility to be educated and select the right kind of dog for our lifestyle and our interests. The adoption of a dog is the choice of a new family member for the entire life of that animal, so it should not be done lightly. It’s a different kind of homework than what the sixth grade is used to!
I think I can speak for Mr. Oakes and the students when I say that we all learned a lot from Jody. It was a great full-circle tie-in to our theme of animal rights, brought home to us with photos of Oscar, Mr. and Mrs. Oakes’ Great Pyrenees, who was rescued by Jody and Northeast Pyr Rescue.
In December, we hosted our first guest speaker, Jerry, a local horse rescuer from Rocking R Farm in Pittsfield. I made Jerry’s acquaintance, as my parents live just up the street from Rocking R Farm. I love to walk down to the farm with my children and visit the horses. Jerry spoke to the class about her lifelong mission to rescue and care for horses. She has loved horses since she was a little girl, and now, 60 years later, she has many inspiring stories that she shared with the students. It was an eye-opening presentation from a passionate and lively, self-proclaimed ‘horse warrior.’ To date, Jerry has saved dozens of horses from slaughter. Her mission has been focused on wild mustangs from the Midwest that are being rounded up and taken off of government lands and shipped to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada. She spoke to us of the nationwide rescue group, of which she is a member, and how she has come to save the lives of these horses that were destined for slaughter. Not only did she speak of her role in rescuing these wild horses, she also told us about how she has helped neglected and abused horses and race horses, as well. Jerry works full-time as a local healthcare provider, on the overnight shift, so that she can care for her horses during the day. Jerry is a great example of the real change one person can make through dedication and passion. We hope to visit Rocking R Farm this spring to see Jerry in action and meet her family of mustang horses.
Our two guest speakers helped to provide inspiration and real-life examples of people who dedicate their lives to the well-being of animals. They showed us the difference that one individual can make when she puts her mind to it.
Stay tuned for more information about the project our class has been planning!
Madame Daire & Mr. Oakes
By Mary Daire| 2018-02-06T09:18:25+00:00 February 5th, 2018|Categories: Grade 6|Comments Off on 6th Grade Service Learning 2017-2018, Animal Rights
How We Celebrate ‘National French Week’ at BCD!
National French Week is a country-wide celebration of all things French, organized by the AATF (American Association of Teachers of French). This year marks the 17th year that this tradition has been celebrated with activities and projects taking place in schools, communities, and AATF chapters across the U.S.
Here are some of the themes that the AATF has identified that can be highlighted during the celebration of all things Francais:
This year it spanned from the 1st – 7th of November, and here at BCD we celebrated in our own unique way!
Each class level was assigned a different theme to focus on from French art, to music, geography to literature, with French cuisine peppered in…bien sur!
In our 4th grade classroom, students created their very own ‘Mon Restaurant à Moi’ menu, geared towards and highlighting classical French dishes. It was a great exercise to promote students creativity, as well as learn what makes French cuisine unique.
In 5th grade, the students were each assigned a famous French artist, such as Monet, Renoir and Cézanne. They each excelled in their research and understanding of the artist to whom they were assigned and came out of the project knowing more clearly why these artists and their works are still revered today.
Our 6th graders focused individually on a quote from the novel Le Petit Prince which we have begun to read in class. They took their quotes home to delve into the meaning of the quote and asked themselves whether or not they agreed with the message the author was trying to convey. They then presented their project to the class, in French, including a drawing or painting which they felt helps depict the meaning of the quote.
In the 7th grade, these young music-lovers chose a favorite contemporary or classic French musician to present to the class. The artists ranged from Debussy to Zaz, Vanessa Paradis to Satie. It was a wonderful overview of the richness of French musical history, showing firsthand the diversity and range of the genre.
Our 8th graders just wrapped up their first trial-run of being a ‘guide de tourisme’ and presented in pairs on a particular region of France. Each pair created a 3-fold brochure with which they highlighted the cultural attractions and historical relevance to the area, as well as regional culinary specialties. They all did a great job in ‘selling’ their regions to potential travelers/classmates.
Each class, no matter the content, learned something new and pertinent to the country whose language we are immersing ourselves in this year!
Learning a language is not an approach through which books and resource materials are the only useful tools. Being familiar with cultural specifics of a country plays a major role in the second language immersion experience, and will come into play throughout our curriculum at each grade level throughout the school year.
S’il vous plait, come by our French room to see the students work!
About a third of the MS has been engaged in a book club with me centered around the novel George by Alex Gino. This book tells the brave story of a transgender 4th grader and her experience navigating her own realization, as well as her friends’ and parents’, that she is trans. For the past 2 months, we have meet weekly to read and discuss the book. Last Friday, upon the conclusion of the novel, we read an interview with the author, who shared their own perspective on being trans. We also watched two short video clips.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA5n9YW4MVk, a second video which is an interview with Jazz Jennings, a transgender teen who has been an advocate for the right for trans students to use school restrooms of their choosing. After each video, the students engaged in a discussion with me and had the opportunity to ask questions and share their thoughts. We also decided to visit the restrooms so that the boys could see the girls’ and vice-versa. In both instances, I entered the bathroom with the students who wanted to take a look.
Throughout the reading and discussion of George, we have talked at length about the importance of inclusion and tolerance. I was impressed by the insight and compassion demonstrated by the participants in my book club. Some of the students were initially confused by the distinctions among the different LGBTQ identities. It is my hope that this is only the beginning of a dialogue that will continue about diversity and acceptance.
Our next literary share will be Ali Benjamin’s critically acclaimed novel, The Thing about Jellyfish. This novel won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, as well as the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Middle Grade Literature.
By jlederman| 2017-10-24T14:04:03+00:00 October 24th, 2017|Categories: Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6|Comments Off on Teaching Tolerance: Middle School Bookclub Reads