Friday, December 17, 2010

Mural, Mural On the Wall

A few months ago Ms. Yazbeck, our art teacher, had her fourth grade class go out and sketch some of the Old Colony buildings to be torn down. Then she had them start a mural. Ms. Yazbeck asked the kids to be inspired by their drawings and work to build a neighborhood. "It's all about neighborhood," she said. "It's all about community. This community, past and present and future."

Some of the kids decided to work in groups; others wanted to work on their own. This is what the mural looks like now (don't forget to click on it so you can see it better):

Like the Old Colony renovation, this mural is a work in progress. Right now, there are only a few nods to the future, for example, the building with the blue roof that represents the soon-to-be-built community center topped with solar panels. Also Ms. Yazbeck noticed that there are buildings in this mural but no people. It should be spaces AND faces, she thought. And sidewalks for the people to get around.

We'll have to report back as the fourth grade artists continue to make their civic improvements.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Our Kindergarteners Can Write

This is the question Ms. Joyce Smith asked her kindergarteners to think about:

And this is the answer they came up with and wrote themselves:

Kindergarteners writing out a complex sentence, kindergarteners printing so clearly is pretty impressive. So is the way this collectively written sentence came about.

First Ms. Smith helps the kids brainstorm to answer the question. Then the writing process begins.

"Our sentence starts with The. Can anyone tell me its first letter? That's right, it's a T. Would you like to write it on our paper?"

"Big. B-b-b-, what's that letter? Do you want to print the "b" in big?"

"Great, now what's next? B-i-i-i-g."

And this is how it goes. Some children screwing up their courage to write a letter. Some ready to print a whole word. Big pieces of correcting type and reassurance allows mistakes to be redone.

In kindergarten, it takes a village to write a sentence. Or better said, the whole village gets to participate!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thank You, Mr. Architect

Ms. Muenkel's fifth grade class managed to put a lot in their letters to Mr. Szymanski, the architect. They thanked him for his visit, of course, but also told him a little about themselves. Then, came more questions! Here are just a few of the letters that he received in the mail. Remember, you can click on the letters to make them larger and easier to read.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How to Draw a Building: Step One

The vanishing point is an artist's tool to create a sense of three dimensions on a two dimensional surface. In other words, this technique helps artists draw something 3-D on a flat surface like a piece of paper. Painters have been using it for over 1,500 years. Before they used computers, architects used vanishing points to create drawings of their buildings.

Perkins' 5th graders just learned how to use vanishing points in art class with Ms. Yazbeck--drawing a building, its side vanishing in the distance. Here are a few students' first steps toward being an artist or an architect.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Architecture: Information Leads to New Questions

Ms. Harden's fourth grade class returned from the architect's visit with a lot of new information--and a lot of questions. (To learn more about the visit, click here.) They decided to write a bit of each down on paper. In class discussion, they volunteered some of the interesting facts they learned so Ms Harden could write them down.

Then all the students sat at their desks and each wrote some notes about the presention and questions it inspired. Here are some examples of their work. Remember, you can click on them to make the pictures larger.

What Do Architects Do?

What do architects do? Our fourth and fifth graders had a chance to find out when Jay Szymanski came to talk to them. Mr. Szymanski works at The Architectural Team, the company that designed the new buildings for Old Colony.

FYI--Mr. Szymanski has appeared on our blog before. When one of our students asked, "What will our new homes look like?" we started our Ask The Experts column. If you'd like to know what Mr. Szymanshi said then, just click here.

Anyway, this time Mr. Szymanski came in and talked about being an architect. He explained that architects draw up plans for buildings and showed us pages and pages of blueprints for Old Colony. But before architects start designing, they must think about what the buildings will be used for, the size the rooms should be, how to make the building safe, and how to make the people who use it feel happy to live or work there.

Mr. Szymanski showed the kids some of the software he used to help design the buildings. Using a computer made it much easier to make the layouts and change the sizes of rooms so everything fit perfectly. Some kids came up and experimented making their own buildings with different shapes. They could even change the colors of the buildings to ones they liked best.

For the Old Colony project, the architects also had to think about ways to use make the buildings green (energy efficient). Computers helped the architects decide how to place the buildings so the sun would shade them in June and shine on them in winter. When someone asked why this matters, Mr. Szymanski explained that the sun moves across the sky at a different angle depending upon the season. Keeping the buildings in shade in summer means using less air conditioning. Letting the sun shine in helps heat the buildings in winter.

Letting the sun do the work means paying less for other kinds of energy!

The kids learned a lot from this visit. But like any good, new information, it also made them more curious. To find out what they were especially interested in, come back tomorrow when the fourth grade will weigh in with their thoughts.

This is Architect Visit Week on the PerkinsBlog!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Our Science Class has Lots of Energy!

If you are a devoted MichaelJPerkins Blog follower, you might remember that the 4th and 5th graders are studying energy in science this semester. At the beginning of the year, they were asked to write and draw their beginning ideas about what energy is and where it comes from. Christian's response show up above. If you'd like to see more of our students' ideas you can click here and see many others.

Well, time has passed and the kids are now learning about different kinds of energy--and experimenting with it. One project they've done is to explore the questions: How will rubber band energy affect the movement of the little cars they built? And how will twisting the rubber bands more and more affect the movement as well?

To do the experiment accurately, the kids had to set up a system of measuring their results. They made tracks outside in the school yard.

Then they marked the distances along the track.

Next they twisted their rubber band a certain number of times.


Of course, the question was: How far did it go? The kids had to measure the distance and record the results.

Then they had to try twisting the rubber bands more and more and record what happened. They found out that more twists = more energy = more distance. They also learned about two specific kinds of energy. You can read what they wrote about it below.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


What a difference a day makes. This was our view from the Perkins School windows. And this is how it changed within 24 hours.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Coming Down!

It doesn't take long for the first graders to be able to have the word excavator roll off their tongues.

Ariana and Rikelmis stared at the scene and gave a play-by-play. "It looks rainy, because he's spraying water on everything. He's spraying water on the tractor. He's spraying water in the windows. The excavator is breaking the windows and breaking the building."

Tommy and Christepher? They kept it simple. "The excavator is picking up stuff. It's cool!!"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Perkins Students Speak Out on Question #12!

If you read our last post, you'd know that many kids at the Perkins took this survey a while ago. And we promised to report some of the opinions they expressed on it.

Today we are listing some of the answers kids gave to Question #12, which asked: How do you feel about all the changes (that are going on with the construction and the renovation)? Here are some of the things our students said. We do not know who said what. These surveys are anonymous. That means that no one put their name on their paper so they could feel comfortable saying whatever they wanted to say.

How do you feel about all the changes (that are going on with the construction and the renovation)?

Some of the fifth graders said:
*I fell happy cause I think I want to move thier.
*I feel great that they finally started to make some improvements where I live.
*I feel that Old Colony is a great place and should not be torn down.
*I feel great about the changes because maybe when they build the houses some of the students will come back.
*I feel sad about the changes because the people won't have anywhere to sleep in. (We want to reassure every student that every family that lived in the buildings being torn down found a new place to live first.)
*A little sad but happy because I'm going to a new place and a new school.
*It does not matter to me. I don't live there.
*I think that the Old Colony Project will look better and be a more safer place to live. I feel pretty good.

Some of the fourth graders:
*sad because I am from South Boston.
*I feel kind of exited.
*I feel sad for the people who lived there and the people who might feel sad.
*I feel happy because people will see new houses.
*I don't like it.
*I feel good about the changes.
*I will miss the old buldings and naborhood
*I feel that this is the right choise because we really need new apartments!
*I know that nothing will be the same again.
*I feel excited, nervous, and sad because I have to meet new friends.
*I feel happy because they are gonna make it better.

The third graders had their opinions too:
*I feel sad because I have to leave my old home.
*I think it will be nice to live in a plas that has been worked on.
*I feel worried about the changes because my mom didn't really dicide what we are going to do during the constructions.
*I feel fine about the changes.
*I feel glad there are going to be changes.
*good because they are going to make it more sptiale.
*little glad
*I fell shoct, because they shouldn't do that.
*I fell happy for the people because they gonna have better apartment.
*It is not going to feel the same.

Many second graders weren't exactly sure how they felt, but here are some who did:
*it makes me sad because I love these buildings.
*good are houses are gonna be clean
*Sad because they are going to dstory the aprments and I live there.
*Im sad. I'm sad because the people are moving.
*I fal sad
*happy and sad
*really really happy!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Perkins Students Speak Out on Question #11!

If you read our last post, you'd know that many kids at the Perkins took this survey a while ago. And we promised to report some of the opinions they expressed on the survey.

Today we are listing some of the answers kids gave to Question #11, which asked: How do you think these changes (construction and all the new buildings) will affect our school? Here are some of the things our students said. We do not know who said what. These surveys are anonymous. That means that no one put their name on their paper so they could feel comfortable saying whatever they wanted to say.

How do you think these changes (construction and all the new buildings) will affect our school?

Here are a range of fifth grade opinions:
*These changes will affect our school because it is going to distract us.
*It will be a nice place and we will meet new people.
*I think it will affect our learning because the loudness will go though the windows and then we won't get to hear directions.
*I don't think it will.
*I don't think it will affect the school because they are just buildings.
*It will make our school a better place and community.
*Well, because there is going to be alot of noise and people have to move out of their houses and they can't come to this school because they are so far away.
*I think it will make our school better probably.

Here are some of the things the fourth graders had to say:
*They will make noises.
*I don't know.
*It will amase us.
*I think it wouldn't effect our school.
*It might chip it!
*The buildings will be dearly missed from students.
*We could make it a better place.

Now some of the third graders give their views:
*It affects our school because some of us have to move.
*I don't know how the changes will affect our school.
*I'm gonna feel happy to meet new friends.
*I think these changes will affect our school because people who walk(ed) will be bussers.
*Because maby some kids in the school lived in them.
*I think there will be more students because there going to be better.
*I fell kind of happy because their gonna be new apartments.
*I think that there will be more trees and the school would look more green.
*That it is going to make it dusty and make it hard to see.
*It makes all of us great.

Lots of second graders answered the question by saying they did not know. Others said:
*all the noise.
*we won't be abal to learn we might feget what it is and the ansaws 2
*it will make nous then we cant here a thing.
*A little bitty exited!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sometimes It Pays to Ask a Few Questions!

Kids in science class have been learning how to make a survey. These are the questions they are using to learn more about who goes to the Michael J. Perkins and some of their ideas about the renovation project. We know the survey is a little hard to read here, just click on it to make it larger.

These fourth and fifth graders discovered that there are many hard things about doing a survey. It's hard to get around to every classroom in the Perkins. Some kids filling out the survey don't answer every question. The students aren't finished working with the survey yet, but here is their report on how it's going so far(remember, clicking on it makes it easier to read):


The kids who wrote the report said that they would like to interview some of "the people in charge." Well, luckily the people who are working on Old Colony's renovation read the blog all the time. Two of them are coming to the Perkins School this Thursday, November 18th, to answer some of the questions.

Then these students will have a lot more to report!

Meanwhile, this week while we're waiting for these fourth and fifth graders to write up what they learned, we'll report a little more about the survey.

Question 11 of the survey asked Perkins' students: How do you think the construction and all the new building will affect our school?

Question 12 asked: How do you feel about these changes?

The next two blog posts will give some examples of the answers. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 12, 2010

HAZMAT? What's That?



A few weeks ago, the second and third graders learned that demolition begins long before excavating machines start taking chunks out of the buildings. Old buildings contain hazardous materials (HAZardous MATerials=HAZMAT). Asbestos isn't dangerous when it's in solid form as a tile on the floor, for example. But when it gets broken up and you can breathe in the dust, it can make you sick. So before the crews can tear down the buildings they have to get rid of these dangerous materials.

When they break up the stuff and get rid of it, they don't want to get sick either. So they wear masks that filter out any dust. They also wear suits so they don't get any of it on their clothes. Goggles and gloves keep their eyes and hands protected. And everyone must always wear a hard hat on the construction site, of course!

Once the hazmat crew is finished, an inspector comes to make sure the area is truly free of dangerous materials. Another step finished on the way to demolition.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Who is Michael J. Perkins?

Yes, we're called the Michael J. Perkins School, but why? Some of the Perkins kids didn't really know who Michael J. Perkins was. Given that Thursday November 11th is Veterans Day, it was time to find out.

Here is a report by fifth graders Selena F. and Sumeya A.:

Michael J. Perkins (1899-1918)
He was a brave man. He captured 25 prisoners by himself. He earned a Medal of Honor. We want to honor him on Veterans' Day, because he helped protect our country.

To find out more about how Mr. Perkins won his medal, you can learn more about him by clicking here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Demo: What They Saw

Back in the classroom, after the kids saw the onset of demolition, Ms. Haney asked her first graders to draw and write something about what they witnessed.

Here are some examples of their work:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ask the Experts: Why hose down the demo?

After watching the start of demolition, Ms. Murphy's second grade class had a question.

They didn't see any sparks or fire. So why did the crew squirt the building with hoses when it was being torn down?

It was time to ASK THE EXPERT.

We turned to John O'Toole at Suffolk Construction Company. Mr. O'Toole is the Senior Project Manager for the Old Colony Project. He makes sure that all the demo and rebuilding keeps moving along smoothly. He knew the answer to the second graders' question.

"Breaking the building apart creates a lot of dust," says Mr. O'Toole, "and dust is so light that it floats on the air. We don't want it to stay up there where people can breathe it in. So we squirt water on it. The water coats the dust and makes it heavier so it will fall to the ground."

Thank you, Mr. O'Toole!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Demolition Begins!

The day has finally come. Demolition is about to begin. The kids didn't quite know what to expect, but they knew they were ready for it. All grades had been learning a song in Mr. Brickey's music class to sing at the big event. At 11:30, the kids start to line up.

It takes a while for 200 kids to walk through Old Colony to get to the rotary at Preble Circle. Then a little while longer to stop traffic so they can cross to the rotary's inner island to be a safe distance from the demo.

Make way for ducklings!

All kids assembled--kindergarteners in front, bigger kids in back--it's time to begin. Some of the 5th graders grab their tambourines and drums. The kindergartners stand so they can do the gestures they learned to go along with the song. The lyrics are perfect, from "Old house, tear it down!" to "New house, build it up!" although the rebuilding of this "house" won't start for months.

The song says one thing needed for tearing a house down is a "wrecking machine." There is a big one right across the street. After the kids finish singing, the excavator revs up. Its bucket slowly moves toward the building, hooks into a window where the glass had been removed, and takes a big bite.
It is an amazing sight!

"It looks like a Transformer is eating the house," says one first grader.

"Maybe the story is that it is trying to get some people out," says her friend.

Most kids hoot and cheer when the excavator keeps tearing chunks from the building. But some have a different reaction.

One fourth grader is upset because her apartment will come down in the next phase of renovation. When asked why he is crying, a second grader says, "It's the only memories my mother has of her birthplace."

"It looks like the building was getting old so they are knocking it down," says a boy nearby.

"That IS why they are doing it," answers another.

Old house, tear it down. New house, build it up.