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A Whitby School Newsletter Connecting Parents, Teachers and Students in Learning

ME F a l l / w i n t e r 2010-2011 middle elementary



on the move

IB Units: Where We Are in Place and Time..... 1 Who We Are.......... 3 Music, Art, Theatre.... 4 World Language......... 5

IB Unit

Central Idea

Where We Are in Place and Time

Immigration changes people and events in the past and present.

Title On the Move ME students enacted immgrant experiences in the ME Arts Production.

Curriculum Connection is a publication of Whitby School connecting parents, teachers and students in learning. Thank you to all the faculty, administration and staff who contributed to this issue. Editor: Bob Horne Contributing Writer: Polly Tafrate Design and Production: CP Design


s a way to introduce the unit on Immigration, students brought in photos of themselves and their families to represent their countries of origin. They pinned these onto a world map. This visual representation illustrated the diversity in our classes and reinforced the idea that the United States is a country of immigrants. To explore this idea with more depth, the students interviewed a family member or friend who had immigrated to the United States to gather more information

about their journey to America and the adjustments that followed. Through these interviews students learned when and why people immigrated, about their jobs and how they were treated when they came to this country. They also learned about the challenges in learning to speak English and adjust to a new culture. As an impressionistic lesson, the students explored the metaphor of America as a melting pot or a salad bowl by making a chef’s salad and melted-cheese Queso

fall/winter 2010-2011

ME curriculum connection


on the move

ME students discovered their own families’ immigration stories dip. They noticed the difference between the two—the salad ingredients remained intact while those of the Queso blended together. The following are two of the comparative thoughts they wrote: “America is like snowflakes because every snowflake is different even in a big pile of snow,” and “I think America is like a book, because all the words come together in one place to make a story.” Throughout this unit, students learned about the social, political and economic reasons people immigrate. Using this information, they created their own Immigrant Journals and stories. In these they synthesized the information they had learned throughout the unit. Some students wrote historical-fiction pieces from the perspective of an immigrant while others used factual information they had gathered.

As a cross-curricular tie to the Immigration Unit, students focused on historical fiction in Language Arts, reading novels such as In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, by Betty Bao Lord, Orphan of Ellis Island by Elvira Woodruff, and Lily and Miss Liberty by Carla Stevens. As a culminating activity and to further impress upon the students what immigration in the past was like, the classes traveled to NYC to The Lower East Side Tenement Museum where they took a guided tour through a tenement. They were divided into two groups—one toured the apartment of the Confino family and met their daughter, Victoria, a fourteen-year old Greek Sephardic immigrant played by a costumed interpreter; the other group visited the apartments of a German-Jewish family surviving the Panic of 1873 and a SicilianCatholic family living during the Great Depression. This experience gave the students a first hand glimpse into the life of an immigrant in the early 1900’s. At the end of the unit, students were asked to reflect on what they had learned about immigration as a result of creating their journals and stories. Using the writing process to take on the imaginary role of an immigrant, students wrote the following: “I left my home county because of the government and I wanted a better life. It was very hard crossing the ocean because we almost got blown off-course. The boat was so expensive that my Mom and Dad could not come. It was hard to adjust because of the language, people, room and the place I lived.” “It helped me a lot because before I wrote this story I only knew that immigrants came from across the sea to Ellis Island. Now I know more about immigration.” “I improved as a writer by really trying to tell the reader how Zara, (the immigrant) felt, and what she saw during her journey.”

Left: Students wrote about their families’ immigration experiences (far left) and then wrote fictional or factual journals (left) based on the immigrant experiences they studied. They then played the part of some of these fictional characters in their drama production (see Theatre, p.4). Above: Students posed questions to consider as they began to explore the reasons people immigrate.

fall/winter 2010-2011

ME curriculum connection

the human body IB Unit

Central Idea

Who We Are

The human body is composed of complex interdependent systems that perform specific functions.

Title The Human Body


uring this unit, the students studied the Musculoskeletal, Nervous, Digestive and Cardiopulmonary systems of the human body with a focus on how they interact and function for growth and survival. Throughout the unit students explored how different parts of the body work together to carry out specific functions. Some of the questions/provocations that were used to drive the inquiries were: What makes up a system? What will happen if a system fails and how will this affect other systems? Is there a system that is more important than the others? As a way to introduce the unit on the human body, students worked in small groups to take apart clocks and sort the parts into categories such as movement and protection. This activity helped to get the students thinking about how systems work together to make a clock or our bodies run. In science, students observed live animals to explore how humans and animals have distinct body systems that provide form, movement and protection. The students worked in small groups or with partners to formulate an inquiry, write a hypothesis, list materials, follow procedures, make observations and write a conclusion. Science and technology were integrated when students conducted virtual dissections of a salmon and frog. To illustrate how the respiratory and circulatory systems work together (cardiopulmonary), a life-size outline of the human-body was placed on the floor and students were able to learn about how oxygenated and deoxygenated blood flows through the veins and arteries, by walking the path of a red blood cell along blue and red yarn lines. Two doctors who are parents of children in Middle Elementary, Dr. Lana Bernstein and Dr. Alisa Savetamal, visited the classes as guest speakers to share their expertise and answer the students’ questions. Drawing the body’s systems helps students to become familiar with how the human body functions.

Exploring Non-Fiction To link non-fiction writing to non-fiction reading each student chose a non-fiction topic to research and write about. In the publishing phase of the project, students learned techniques to create a magazine-type layout by using MS Word with TIME FOR KIDS as a model. Students incorporated text elements such as headings, sub-headings, captions and glossaries and downloaded photographs, maps and charts. A range of topics was covered from tigers to The NY Yankees.

Unit Resources on the Whitby Website Home > Academic Programs > Lower School Grades 1-4 > Middle Elementary > PYP Units of Inquiry ’10-’11


fall/winter 2010-2011

ME curriculum connection


music, art, theatre

Music As part of the Recorder Karate unit, Middle Elementary third grade students used their rhythm and melodic skills as they learned to play this instrument. They were proud to earn recorder belts for every song they mastered. Students were challenged with difficult instrumental fingerings and were also able to learn the patterns of conducting. For the Creative Arts Exhibition, a culminating display of all three arts, students performed pieces on their recorders connecting to their IB Unit, “The Human Body.” Middle Elementary fourth graders focus on songs with beginner harmony parts as they sing rounds and partner songs, often with syncopated rhythms. They’re encouraged to increase their vocal range when singing and to hone their performance skills such as stage presence and projection. For the Creative Arts Exhibition, students sang patriotic songs about the first colonies connecting to their IB Unit on Immigration.

Art Middle Elementary students began the first semester identifying and applying art skills and expanding their vocabulary pertaining to color theory, photography, positive and negative space and elements of perspective drawing. They learned about the artistic styles of Paul

Klee and created a group project based upon his painting “Castle and Sun.” They communicated through visual art to express their ideas and feelings and recognize aesthetic choices influenced by their environment and experience.

Theatre The students studied acting, directing, playwriting and character creation this semester. They used their IB academic material on Immigration to create original theatrical content as they worked on developing monologues and scenes. The students cultivated good theatrical habits and understanding of theatrical conventions through warming-up their bodies and voices, facing the audience and projecting their physical presence and voices. As part of the Creative Arts Exhibition, the third-graders presented original monologues and the fourth graders presented original scenes related to the fictional autobiographies on Immigration they had written.

fall/winter 2010-2011

ME curriculum connection


world languages French

Spanish Middle Elementary students started the year by studying “School Life,” where they learned about classes, school materials, and how to greet their teachers and one another in Spanish. They read picture books and magazines, wrote new words and phrases, worked with flash cards, developed skits, read dialogues and practiced their listening skills with multimedia. In conjunction with the IB unit, “The Human Body”, students learned the Spanish words for parts of the body before diagramming and labeling an outline. They also used flash cards, read short dialogues and had fun playing “Simon Says,” in Spanish.

All of the activities for the Middle Elementary French students are geared towards listening, speaking and learning about French grammar and acquiring new vocabulary words to add to their word cards. Classes always start by listening to a seasonal poem. In these poems the students identify new vocabulary words and verb forms before reading and reciting the poems themselves. Bits of French culture enrich the program. The students get to look at French books and artist’s works, but especially enjoy tasting the native foods. For example, French bread rubbed with oil and/or garlic help the students learn adjectives to describe different tastes and sizes such as sweet and sour, big and little. The students build on their acquired knowledge of basic grammar. They learn regular verbs ending in /er/ as they begin to conjugate them as well as use prepositions within short sentences. They know how to greet one another and have short conversations which are often about the weather. They enjoy acting out short parts of the monthly thematic dialogues: “J’aime cuisinier” (“I like to cook”), “J’aime voyager”(“I like to travel”), “J’aime manger” (“I like to eat”).

Chinese Middle Elementary students have focused on learning about locations in particular countries and cities. Utilizing the Smartboard, they’ve also been introduced to the evolution of Chinese characters and the flexible nature of Chinese sentence structures. In preparation for the Spring Festival in February, students have learned to sing festive songs, such as Gongxi, Gongxi, Gongxi Ni.

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ME Curriculum Connections  
ME Curriculum Connections  

Whitby publishes for each level a curriculum newsletter. The Curriculum Connections aim to provide a summary of recent learning experiences...