Friday Afternoon Challenge Day #1

On Friday, November 16th the 6th graders and I spent the first of six afternoons focused on building critical collaboration and group work skills.

I believe that students need time exploring leadership and collaborative problem solving in a non academic setting as well as within the classroom.  In the 6th grade, we often work within collaborative groups and spend time talking about the strategies and tools effective collaboration requires.   Students need repeated exposure to these ideas in order to refine and develop these important skills.  Taking a break from academics for these activities removes the academic barriers some students might face in the classroom.   It also builds connections between students in ways that don’t always happen within the structure of a typical academic day.  When we head back to the classroom on Monday, we will have more experiences to reference, relationships to draw upon, and a deeper understanding of the skills required for our day to day work!

Leadership Lunch:

We started our afternoon by eating all together in the Parent Room.  Tables were set with colorful paper and markers were left on the tables.  Students were free to draw as they chatted and ate their lunches.  We talked informally about leadership.  Who do you think of when you think of a leader?  What qualities does an effective leader possess?  What tools or strategies does an effective leader employ?  

Enjoying an all 6th grade lunch!


Helium Hoop Challenge

Our first challenge of the day required excellent communication skills and collaborative leadership.  Students were given a hula hoop at shoulder height and were tasked to lower it to the ground holding it with nothing but the tip of their index finger.  They started in two groups of 8 and then tried as a whole group.  They were extremely successful and completed the challenge within 30 minutes!  They attributed their success to the following:

  • Stay quiet
  • Don’t freak out
  • Give clear directions
  • Build success on success
  • Let others talk
  • Ask nicely


Ready, Aim!

We played a game blindfolded.  Only blindfolded people could pick up nd throw balls.  If anyone was hit, the team was “out” until the blindfolded partner picked up another ball.  This activity built trust and required clear communication.


Lava Pit

Our final challenge of the day was by far the most challenging.  They were to get from one side of a “lava pit” to another using only 5 stepping stones.  This started as a whole group challenge, morphed to two small groups, and then ended as a whole group challenge.  We learned that listening to one another’s ideas and then making a decision is challenging for this group.  However, once they decide on a course of action, they are quickly successful in completing the challenge!

Science Panel Presentations: ER Medical Equipment

The 6th graders presented their original hot pack and cold pack designs to a panel of representatives from ER Medical Supply Company (parents and a former beloved LES teacher, Nancy Gibavic). Each group designed either a hot pack or a cold pack that met the following conditions:

  • Able to be used without electricity
  • Safe
  • Easy to transport
  • Inexpensive

Working in a team of 4 or 5, the students worked independently to test the chemicals and find the perfect combination for their pack, design and test prototypes, and create a marketing plan.  They presented their ideas and showed their prototypes to the panel who then decided whether or not the product would be added to ER Medical Supply’s collection of medical products.


Testing the chemicals for a cold pack:

Testing prototype designs:

Presenting to the panel:

January 2018 Updates

Chocolate Milk at Leverett School

On Thursday, December 21st, 2017, the 6th graders made presentations to a panel regarding whether or not chocolate milk should be served at Leverett School.  The panel consisted of Principal Lacey, Superintendent Haggerty, school committee members Craig Cohen and Tara Acker, school nurse Annie Clarke, and Food Service Director Molly Snedden.  After listening to the carefully crafted presentations which included research from experts as well as survey information from students here at Leverett School, the panel is willing to consider adding chocolate milk as an option at lunch.  They have asked the students to create a parent survey and if the parents agree, they are willing to do a 6 week trial of chocolate milk.  During the trial, the 6th graders will need to keep data and then present a report regarding the outcomes of having chocolate milk at lunch.  Do students drink more milk?  Are more lunches sold?

Endothermic and Exothermic Reactions

We have started a new unit in science exploring chemical reactions. Students have completed two labs where they have combined different chemicals (a liquid and a powdered solid) and recorded how the temperature changes.  The first lab had students testing beef liver and hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice and baking soda, and yeast and hydrogen peroxide.  The second lab was a mix and match using water and acetic acid (vinegar) as the liquids and calcium chloride, magnesium sulfate, and citric acid as the powdered solids.  The students then mixed each of the liquids with each of the solids and recorded their observations about the evidence of a chemical reaction and recorded the temperature change.  After each lab, students created a graph and wrote up their conclusions.


Read-A-Thon 2017

The day before Thanksgiving break, we had a fun day of reading!  Students wore their pajamas and brought lots of blankets and pillows to get comfortable.  In between the sustained silent reading, they spent time in Preschool with their reading buddies, listened to two guest readers (Carol and Deb), and did some reader’s theater.  

Here Ye, Here Ye!

As part of our study of the American Revolution, 6th Graders worked in groups to research one of the causes of the American Revolution. Each group then put together a dramatic “Town Crier Announcement” in which they explained what happened and why. Check out their videos below!

The Boston Massacre
Luka & Veda Ruth

The Stamp Act
Ben & Tanner

The Boston Tea Party
Geir, Griffin & Dara

The Intolerable Acts
Ella & Devon

The Townshend Acts
Come into the classroom if you’d like to see this video!


Art Gallery

On Thursday, March 10th, students presented the original works of art they created based on the novels they read independently this month.  We had a wonderful audience who came to view the art and hear the artists’ presentations.  We also enjoyed cookies and lemonade!

Here is a copy of their assignment:

Project: Art Gallery Opening

The Leverett Elementary School Library is hosting an Art Show and is seeking submissions of art inspired by books.  Any medium of art is acceptable.  Some ideas include a watercolor painting, a sculpture, a 3D collage, a realistic pen and ink sketch, a photo exhibit, or a mixed medium project.  All projects must have a title and must state what book and author inspired the work.  Additionally, each project needs to have an artist’s statement that clearly explains the piece and how the art is related to the book.  Each artist will give a brief (1-2 minute) introduction to his/her work of art before patrons will be allowed to peruse the gallery.


Valentine’s Day Fruit Salad

The 6th grade had a great time creating a fruit salad for our Valentine’s Day celebration on Friday, February 12th.  Students brought in different fruit, prepared the fruit, set all the fruit out on the table and built individual fruit salads!  The room was very colorful and smelled delicious!  What a great celebration of friendship the afternoon before vacation!

Fantasy Reading

This week in sixth grade we are continuing our fantasy reading unit. In class we are reading the fantasy book The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.  The first week in library class we chose our fantasy books to read independently in class.  Some of the books we are reading include the Redwall Series, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Striker, I am Number 4, and many more!

At the beginning of our reading period Ms. Bull tells us to write down thoughts on our reading. We have learned about the different settings in fantasy (medieval, futuristic, or everyday world with fantasy elements) and different plot lines.   We have learned to pay attention when the character is learning about the fantasy world and that sometimes we need to learn alongside the character about the magical elements in our books.

So far this year we have read 13,733 pages and have read for 158 hours and 33 minutes.  That is the equivalent of 6.5 days!

We tallied our individual pages read and then added them up to get a class total!

We tallied our individual pages read and then added them up to get a class total!

By Ethan and Grant

Class Games

By Noah and Ruby

This year we have been playing lots of games in between long hours of working on subjects like math and writing. One game we like to play is Dinner Party.

In Dinner Party, everybody closes their eyes and one person is chosen. That person is

the MURDERER. You go around shaking peoples hands and saying “nice to meet you” in a fancy accent. The murderer tickles peoples hands while shaking them, and that person shakes three other hands before dropping dead! Any person can J’accuse anyone at any time as long as they haven’t been tickled. If the person that they J’accuse is the murderer, then the game ends. But if he/she isn’t, then the person who J’accused him/her is dead, DON, DON, DON…. The game continues untill the murderer kills everybody or someone J’accuses the murderer.


Shaking hands during Dinner Party.  Could it be the murderer?

Shaking hands during Dinner Party. Could it be the murderer?

See the discrete tickle?  That index finger is tickling the other person's hand indicating they have been poisoned!

See the discrete tickle? That index finger is tickling the other person’s hand indicating they have been poisoned!