Climate Strike September 20th, 2019

The 6th graders organized and led a very successful Climate Strike on Friday, September 20th, 2019.

Pre-March Preparation:

Earlier in the week, the 6th grade students began talking about the Climate Strike and Greta Thunberg’s movement.  Students did some independent research and read an article about the strike.  This inspired them to want to join the movement!  During our class meeting, we discussed how we could join the movement.  Students were enthusiastic about marching out of school– could we march to Amherst? The town hall?  Eventually, we settled on the library and decided to invite other classes to join us.  I sent out some emails, prepared to give the 6th graders some class time to work on it, and waited to see what would unfold.  I was not prepared for the huge community response we would get!

The Cafeteria:

At about 12:55, the cafeteria became a hum of activity.  “Can we get our signs?” “What am I going to do with my lunch box?”  “I forgot my speech in the classroom, can I go get it?”  I was glad to be on lunch duty to help the 4th and 5th grade students do their last minute preparations and calm pre-march anxiety!  I was proud to see that the 6th graders were going about their business independently and without reminders.  Audrey went and borrowed the speaker from Coach Sadie in the gym, Eli grabbed the microphone from the closet, other students grabbed their signs and speeches.

Out the window, we noticed that Natalie Blais, the State Representative for Franklin County, had arrived.  She came into the lunchroom and spoke to a few students, before walking out onto the playground to wait for the march to begin.

The Walk Out:

At 1:05, the 6th graders got up out of their lunch seats, signs in hand, and began chanting, “Hey, hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go!”  Rory and Mojo led the charge, with the rest of the 6th, 5th and 4th graders following.  There was a gathering of community members, parents, and younger students on the playground ready to join the march!
As the students continued to march across the field, more members of the Leverett community came toward us from the library side of the field with signs.  They began cheering and clapping for the young activists. As the students continuted to the library lawn, more community members joined in.  It became quite an intergenerational event from babies and toddlers in strollers to elders using walkers and canes and everyone in between.
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The Rally:
The group assembled on the library lawn to listen to some 5th and 6th graders speak.  I am including the 6th graders speeches below:
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Gael: (Speech written by Mojo, Gael, Caesar)
Fellow students. If you want us, the children to have a livable future, in a world where global warming is at least partially contained, we need to do something.
It would be nice if our government took part in the action by joining the Paris Accords and started cracking down on fossil fuels. But, we are the ones who have to take action. We need to lower our carbon footprint and start to use renewable energy now! Our country is the only country whose government hasn’t started fighting climate change. We use the MOST fossil fuels of any country in the world. We need to lead the way to victory over global warming.
This is our future, and global warming is taking it from us. We need to act now. Thank you.
Caroline and Riana:

This is our future. We need to change now. There is no Planet B.

Climate change is not ignorable. We need to change our actions to prevent climate change. Climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels like driving automobiles, flying planes and using so much electricity. We have a few years to change this.

Why are we here? Why are adults not taking charge?

Even though we are small, we have voices too. If we speak up, maybe the adults will catch on and act!  We demand change now!

Alina:
  • Climate change is threatening our future. This is your future right now. And we need to find a way to protect it and make it better.
  • Why are we here?
    • We are here because of a teen activist named Gretta Thumburg. She is leading people from all over the world in a march to stop climate change. And we are doing our best to help her.
  •  *What is climate change?
    • Climate change is when gasses from buildings and cars and airplanes go into the atmosphere and make the world hotter.  When the climate is hotter, ice caps melt, oceans rise, storms are stronger and more often, and life gets harder on Earth.
  • Why are we here? Why aren’t the adults dealing with it?
    •  The adults have known about this for a while and they have done some things, but they have not done enough. Now it is up to us to do something and demand that they do too!
  • What can we do?
    • We can ride bikes more and use less gases. Go home and talk to your parents and encourage them to join the movement.  do something about it. The more people we get to talk about it, the more likely we will be able to change this.
Sign Planting:
The 6th graders were originally concerned that no one would be there to hear them speak. They were very skeptical about the purpose of a march if the only audience was going to be students from the school.  How surprised and please we were that the community response was so overwhelming!   Not knowing that when they were planning, they wanted a way to pass their message to the greater community.  They decided to “plant” their signs outside the library for all to see.
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What Next?
Students were inspired by the Climate Strike and March, and so was I.  I have asked students what they would like to do next, and it seems like there is interest in pursuing this further.  Perhaps a Climate Committee will get started.  I know we will do some more Fridays for The Future activities and use the time to do teach ins about the climate crisis.  Natalie Blais invited us to the Statehouse to hear the energy committee.  We will see what the 6th graders are interested in pursuing.  This is their movement after all!

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