making the most of a month

Tiananmen Square
Was that really 25 years ago?

I was teaching third grade at a small private school in Florida. The head master of the school had an idea that the last few weeks of school were a drag. To solve that problem he had a plan. All text books were put away. Testing was accomplished. For the last 3 weeks each class was to concentrate on one project. The high school students planned their annual big trip, or arranged internships or were provided time for a choice of independant study. Middle school kids were sent on field trips around the area studying the ecology of the area. That left the lower school to decide what to do.
Kindergarten took on a study of artists, painting in the style of many of the famous artists of the world. The First grade walled off their class room. They were in outer space, learning about the planets and enjoying the job of checking on our IDs if we entered their space station.
The Second grade studied dinosaurs and rattled off the names of dinosaurs I never knew existed. The Fourth grade saved their last three weeks to take on  learning about the state, taking field trips to various important places in the state’s history.
That left me in grade three. With all that travel, I decided it was time for a trip around the world. We pulled down the map of the world and chose places to visit. A dance group came and told us about their dances, inviting some of us to take part. (after 25 years I don’t remember where they were from.) A gentleman came and played the bag pipes for us (and the whole neighborhood) and we learned about Scotland in his wonderful accent.
We scanned the news daily to see where current events would take us and it was then we saw news of the Tiananmen Square protests. One of our dads had been there and came to speak with us, answering questions and predicting the outcome. It is because of his prediction that I remember it so well. He was wrong about the outcome…. He was optimistic things would change for the better. From my point of view, it didn’t.
Our world travel was limited, but I think we all learned to listen to news of the world and locate where it was happening, and perhaps someday to really travel the world.
I will also add…. it is the best way I have ever ended a school year. We were all apprehensive. It was a lot of work. But we all agreed, it made the last weeks of school go by so fast.

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5 Responses to making the most of a month

  1. What a wonderful way to keep teachers and students engaged in learning at the end of the school year. I wish more schools had such creative head masters.

  2. Dana Murphy says:

    Sounds like a dream school if you ask me! I bet your students from that year remember the end of year as well.

  3. Tara Smith says:

    What a perfect way to end the school year – your kids will always remember their “travels”.

  4. This is real world learning at its best. Today it seems the standards and assessments take up too much time for teachers and students to participate in these kinds of activities. But, just like you, I am sure those students haven’t forgotten that true learning experience!

  5. blkdrama says:

    Leave it to the private schools. You won’t see that happening in the bastions of status quo. Enjoy your last few days and happy summer 🙂

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