Eighth grade Spanish class with Señor Yepes.
What We Miss the Most
By Minna Ham, Lower School Head
Post Date: May 1, 2020
As we finish up week six of our offsite learning program, I am amazed at how much has changed since mid-March. As educators learn more about teaching and learning offsite, we continue to grow and refine our online teaching practice. The list of skills and competencies teachers need to quickly acquire while simultaneously teaching online is long. You would think that learning new teaching systems and methodologies would be the most difficult aspect of teaching right now. However, when I ask teachers what is the most difficult thing they are dealing with right now, teachers will all say they miss their students.
Being with their students, in the schoolhouse or in the barn is what brings them joy and makes our faculty’s work meaningful and rewarding. They miss seeing the “a-ha” moments, the partnerships and friendships, the occasional frustration that leads to comprehension. They even miss seeing the teachable moments that come from poor choices that can ultimately lead to understanding, empathy, remorse, and a commitment to try better. Content acquisition, skill practice and mastery, and concept application can be accomplished through videos, worksheets, computer programs, and independent work. But the backdrop to all of this is a community of learners. More than ever we are seeing that the power of school is the social context it provides for learning.
Over and over again, I hear parents lament that their children miss the BDS community. For children, especially young children, community equals care, support, fun, companionship, togetherness. They are surrounded by friends and classmates. There is a sense of camaraderie when all of your peers are doing similar tasks at the same time and in the same space. This common experience is what builds your sense of community. This is what bonds a class together.
Regardless of the fact we are all sharing a common life event, our individual situations and physical separateness are an immense challenge to realizing a meaningful shared experience. This physical distancing is creating a social distancing, an isolation that is the antithesis of community. We try to overcome this void with technology. Video conferencing allows us to hear and see one another. However, as we learn more about Zoom fatigue we realize the great shortcomings of technology. We can feel the burden of trying to connect while distant.
It is vital to keep in mind–as I tell myself repeatedly–what we are tasked with is not to replicate the school community we had. Instead, we have had to create what a community is while physically apart. How do we take our knowledge of child development and education and everything we know about each individual child and re-apply it to a new context? How do we recreate moments of connection? That is a moving target, that like all teaching takes cautious and informed leaps of innovation and experimentation. Some teachers have used unstructured Zoom meetings as an open space to connect, like a lunch bunch or free choice time or even recess. Teachers have offered times to check-in individually with children, making sure that each student feels seen and heard. Some teachers have used assignments to bring student voices and experiences to the forefront. Others have used traditional class routines like Morning Meeting as a familiar platform to see and hear one another. Both written and video journals have also given children ways to connect with adults and peers. A journal can serve as a witness and give children a place to give their testimony and account of these times and feelings. Sharing these accounts give children opportunities to connect and see the common links in experiences.
We continue to look for innovative ways to stay connected. We are all eager to be together again. I miss all the small moments that I took for granted. Parents waving and saying I love you to their children at drop off. Children spontaneously giving hugs to each other. Lunch conversations that led to laughter. And the tradition I am most looking forward to returning to: welcoming students to the Barn on Tuesday mornings with a handshake and a smile. For now, it’s just a big smile and wave from my screen to yours.
Third grade science is in the kitchen this week!
News & Updates
Next Schools for the Class of 2020
We’d like to congratulate our eighth grade class on their recent decisions on which high schools they will be attending in the fall. We’re proud of every student in the journey they’ve taken to reach this milestone in their educations. While the decision may be that of the individual students, getting successfully to this moment is always an achievement for all involved—parents, families, friends, faculty members, mentors, and coaches. We look forward to celebrating the Class of 2020 and all who guided them in the days ahead. Congratulations! Click here to see the full list of high schools.
First Grade Studies & Creates Snowflakes
The first grade students have been busy writers, mathematicians, and scientists this week! They have been making final edits to their small moment stories in anticipation of a digital author share next week. In math, they are working on adding two-digit numbers using different kinds of manipulatives found in their homes. Their study of weather has continued with a lesson about how snowflakes (or snow crystals) are formed. They got a chance to try “creating” a snowflake at home using paper, water, and salt. It has been fascinating to see what kinds of snow crystals formed after the salty water evaporated!
– Cicely Gibson and Beth Krebs, grade 1 teachers
Mixing Science and Creative Writing in Seventh Grade
In grade 7 science, students have been exploring ecosystems. This week, we learned about different cycles that exist within ecosystems, including the water cycle. As a creative assignment, students were tasked with taking on the persona of a droplet of water and describing their path through the water cycle. Students wrote so many fun and creative stories! Click here to read a few of their stories.
– Leal Carter, grades 7 & 8 science teacher
Scoring a GOOOOOOAL in Eighth Grade Spanish
Eighth grade Spanish class has been working on a unit based on sports. The students have learned vocabulary related to the topic as well as very specific grammar rules around verb conjugation and the past tense. Spanish-speaking soccer commentators are well known for their speed and passion when narrating a game. Students took on a challenge to make a short audio recording of themselves announcing the play-by-play of a soccer game. The students were as descriptive as possible about what was happening on the field so the listeners can get the picture and excitement of a soccer match. Check out this example of one soccer call that we posted on Facebook.
– William Yepes, middle school Spanish teacher
Arts Update: Choruses Combine To Share Song
In the lower and middle school choruses, students have been working on the song, “Give Us Hope” by Jim Papoulis. Lower school students have been working with Ms. Kitamura on developing tone, and working on open vowels. Middle school students have been working with Ms. Dempsey on dynamics, diction, and vocal technique. With the two choirs combined, students submitted a video in place of the previously planned performances at the Community Service Concert and the Moving Up Assembly. Click here to see and hear their collaborative effort!
– Yui Kitamura, music teacher
Fourth Graders Showcase Their Work on ‘Grecian Medley’ Website
This year’s Greek Storytelling Festival was held right before spring break, on Friday, April 17. To commemorate the big day, we all met online for a celebration of the students’ creativity and hard work. There were corny jokes, an opportunity to show off costumes, and an unveiling of our website, The Grecian Medley. Similar to what you would see at the in-person festival, the website allowed students and families to view the life-size gods, admire Greek pottery projects, and listen to Greek myths retold by the fourth grade storytelling teams. This week students are editing and putting finishing touches on their Greek magazines which will then be added to The Grecian Medley for all to see and enjoy. While bittersweet, it was wonderful to see all of the hard work we began in February come together. The fourth graders have so much to be proud of!
– Lana Holman and Mary Norman, grade 4 teachers
Kindergarten’s Caterpillars Provide Lesson in Transformation
Every spring, the kindergarten class raises painted lady caterpillars. Since we are away from our classroom this year, Mrs. Pryor had ten caterpillars shipped to her house and she has been caring for them there. It has been just over two weeks and the caterpillars are starting to prepare for their transformation into chrysalises. Check out this slideshow journal that the teachers have put together to document and teach the students about the caterpillars’ lives and growth. We are hopeful that we will have some butterflies emerge in a few weeks so keep visiting the slideshow for daily updates!
– Betty Pryor, kindergarten teacher
Time to Order Your 2019-2020 Yearbooks!
The 2019-2020 yearbook includes photos and candids of each grade, as well as pictures of theatrical productions, sports teams, teachers, special events (Halloween parade, middle school class trips, etc.), cross-graded partners, and, of course, pages celebrating this year’s eighth grade. This year, we’ve also included a special section with photos of families’ offsite learning activities.
Please use this form to order your yearbook. Copies are $10 each and will be available for pick up at the end of the school year (details for pick-up will be forthcoming). Parents will be billed for their order by the school.
A couple of things to note:
- Each eighth grade student receives a copy of the yearbook free-of-charge. Some eighth grade families may choose to order additional copies.
- Last year, families in every grade ordered copies of the yearbook. If your family wants a yearbook this year you must place an order using this online form. Unlike previous years when we were able to have copies available for purchase at school, we do not anticipate selling copies at any other time.
Celebrating Founders’ Day: Today, Friday, May 1
Each year we set aside a special day in the spring to celebrate Founders’ Day. During today’s celebration, we remember our school’s founders, a committed group of parents and others whose vision established our school. We also celebrate our amazing parent volunteers who devote their time and expertise to making Belmont Day even stronger, each and every day.
If you do not happen to follow us on social media, here is a recap of some of today’s highlights. Videos from:
- Mary Norman, Sunny Lee, Cecily Gibson, Yui Kitamura, and Beth Krebs
- Dean Spencer and Kaleen Moriarty
- William Yepes
- Brendan Largay
You should also soon receive a special gift in the mail that we hope will brighten your day—it is our way of thanking you for making it all possible at BDS!
Middle Schools Clubs Are Back!
After a brief hiatus, a number of our middle school clubs—plus a couple of new additions—started meeting again before the spring vacation week. Each Friday from 11 a.m. to noon, students have the option to drop in on their favorite club or try a new one. Yearbook is working hard these days wrapping this year’s edition (see ordering information above). Model UN reports that they’re discussing world affairs and specifically doing research on the Democratic Republic of Congo. The new trivia club is anything but trivial with plenty of fun facts and competition.
Literary magazine members are quietly spending time together working on writing and drawing—they are still accepting submissions from middle school artists, writers, and poets on the theme of “Consciousness and Dreams.” And knitting club has been using the time to not only knit and sew but also color, draw, tell tales, swap jokes, or do anything else that seems fun!
Students are also invited to check out book club, Dungeons & Dragons, and dance!
Webinar Series: Let’s Talk! Supporting Asian and Asian American Students Through COVID-19
This series of webinars for parents has been organized through a collaboration between the MGH Institute of Health Professions, the MGH Center for Cross-Cultural Emotional Student Wellness, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education Let’s Talk! Conference. While the series has already started, there are three remaining sessions and registration is currently open. For more information on each webinar and for registration, please click here.
Parent Conversations: Navigating Uncertain Times: Helping Families Cope
As follow up to the recent school-wide parent Q&A forums, we are hosting a series of peer-to-peer conversations to continue coping with COVID-19-related changes and challenges at home. The sessions are grouped by the child(ren)’s grade and will be held this next week, Monday, May 4 through Thursday, May 7. In efforts to allow more parent conversation and reflection, we will be limiting the group size. The list of session dates and times is below. If needed more sessions will be added. To register, please click here.
- Monday, May 4 from 1 to 2:15 p.m. – Grades 6 through 8
- Wednesday, May 6 from 1 to 2:15 p.m. – Grades 3 through 5
- Thursday, May 7 from 1 to 2:15 p.m. – Grades 1 and 2
- Thursday, May 7 from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. – Grades Pre-k and K
Braiding Different Strands
Tuesday, May 5, 3:30 to 5 p.m.
We hope you’ll consider joining us to affirm our unity as one Belmont Day community and create opportunities for communities within it to experience the safety and solidarity that can come from being with those who share common experiences, perspectives, challenges, and strengths. For more information on the schedule and content of the meeting, please click here.
Save-the-Date for Capstone 2020
Eighth grade students, with the help of their advisors and mentors, have been diligently working through the final phases of the Capstone experience and are excited to begin sharing their work with our community. This year, the presentations of each student’s project will be done virtually via Zoom between Monday, May 18 and Friday, May 22. Keep an eye out for next week’s Scoop when we will share the entire list of student projects and the times that they will be presented.
Thank You, Teachers!
Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week, and we would like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the faculty at Belmont Day. Your hard work, dedication, and commitment to instilling the six core values of BDS—respect, honesty, responsibility, caring, joy, and excellence—is evident in all you do for our students. We thank you abundantly for continuing to provide thoughtful lessons, feedback, structure, and fun for our children even during this unprecedented time. The parents’ association appreciates you and all you do. Thank you!
Virtual Peace March
Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10
Join Team Belmont for a virtual Mother’s Day Walk online www.mothersdaywalk4peace.org. Belmont Against Racism members have been participating in this walk the past 12 years in honor of Herman Taylor III, Belmont High School student and Roxbury resident, who was tragically murdered on his way home from visiting a friend in 2006. He was a young man with a bright future who decried violence. Members of the First Church in Belmont, Unitarian Universalist, have formed Team Belmont and we encourage you join them in their fundraising goals.
Online Herb Sale for Habitat
Now Through May 8
We may not be able to support our neighbors at Mass Audubon’s Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary this spring on our annual service day, but we can support them during their online plant sale. Their organization’s 18th Annual Spring Plant Sale has gone completely online and they are taking orders until Friday, May 8. Habitat will host a curbside pickup of orders on Saturday, May 9 or you can arrange for delivery. For more information, click here.
Let’s Say Hello to Spring!
Ok, the weather so far this spring has been frightful. But this weekend and the beginning of next week are looking somewhat delightful. So let’s see those signs of spring! If the flowers at your home are beginning to bloom or you’re able to sit outside or play in the yard on a warm, sunny day, get a photo and share it! Send to Jim Walker, associate director of communications and marketing, and he’ll share it for the community to enjoy!
Fun at Home
FROM THE KITCHEN
Yum! More Recipes to Enjoy At Home
After School at Home
Our after school team has put together a website chock full of wonderful activities for students when school time has ended for the day. These activities continue our program’s mission of fun with the intention of enhancing skills, spurring creativity, and building community. Each week the team will update the site with new options. Click here to visit the site.