Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thanks for the Memories!

This is a beam, a piece of steel that weighs over 500 pounds. It's painted white so it looks nice and clean, but not for long....

"This is the last beam that is going to go up onto the building," explains Principal Brawer. "The construction workers paint it white so they can all sign their names on it. As a special favor to us, because they have loved working near us, they are letting us sign it too."

And so we did. For two days, in groups of fives and sevens, all the kids in the school came out to sign the beam.

Kids from every grade--kindergarten through fifth. Teachers signed too, and some parents, and the school bus drivers!

Don't worry, the construction workers will sign the other side of the beam, which is painted white too.

When they put beam in place, it will be completely covered over by inside walls and outside walls. But we will all still know that we are part of this building forever.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Three Timelines, Three History Lessons

Ms. Leverett-King's first grade class studied timelines. They made this timeline of prominent African-Americans that started with the people you can see above and stretched all the way around the corner to include people like Oprah Winfrey, President Obama and Michael Jordan.

Since they were timeline experts, Susan E. Goodman, the Perkins School author-in-residence, came to their classroom to share a timeline she wrote about in her book, On This Spot. In this book, Ms. Goodman took the kids on a journey back through time. Using one bustling spot in New York City, she showed them how it was once home to a great forest, then earlier, glaciers that were miles thick, even earlier, dinosaurs, then mountains, then a tropical sea.

After reading them the book, Ms. Goodman had the kids figure out another timeline. She picked objects out of a big yellow bag--everything from a T. Rex (a plastic one!) to a picture of a Pilgrim to a telephone. The kids had to arrange them on a timeline that started "A Long Time Ago" to "Now."

They did a good job, didn't they?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Name that Crane: And the Adventure Continues...

Okay, we're got the name for our beautiful orange crane that is working so hard at the construction site across the street.

The kindergarteners voted and the winning name was The Big Giraffe!

The adventure is not over. On April 1st (April Fools' Day, and we're not fooling), there will be a naming ceremony. Wait until you see the sign that will go on the crane and how the kindergarteners will celebrate. That's just the beginning...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Name that Crane: And the Winner is...

Friday was the big day. Election Day. The nominations and campaigning were over. It was time for the kindergarteners in Ms. Breneus's class (Ward B) and Ms. Smith's class (Ward S) to cast their votes for the name of the 400-ton crane on the construction site across the street.

Clifford the Crane or The Big Giraffe--which would win?

Turnout was strong. And once the kids understood the process, they lined up to take take their turns BEHIND the green line...

...because when you vote, it's secret. You can choose whatever you want, or whoever you want, without feeling any pressure. You can tell who you voted for--or not--that's how it works.

To keep it secret, voters folded their ballots one, twice...

...and dropped them in the ballot bag.

After both classes had finished voting, Principal Brawer showed them that he stapled the Ballot Bag shut--all the way across. "I'm going to lock this in the office during lunch and recess," he said. "No one can tamper (that means 'mess with') your votes or your choice."

Finally it was time to find out who won. The two classes came together.

"Did everyone have a chance to vote?" an adult asked.

All hands shot up.

"Did you vote for the name that you really wanted?"

All heads nodded.

"Then no matter what happens, no matter what name wins, this is what we call a fair election. Everyone was able to say what they wanted and--may the best name win!"

The Ballot Bag was opened. The ballots were taken out one at a time and announced and tallied. One vote, one check mark. By the middle of the count, it seemed as if The Big Giraffe was ahead, but the grownups reminded the kids that you never know what will win until the very end.

It turns out that The Big Giraffe was the winner after all!

The kindergarteners had chosen with a vote of 22 to 14.

Most of them were happy, but some kids were sad.

A teacher reminded them that the Red Sox don't win all the time either!

They say that "time heals all wounds." On April 5th, we will be having our Crane Naming Ceremony, where that big orange beauty will get a new name right on its door. We bet everyone will be happy then.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

See How They Run: The Crane Campaign

Our last post chronicled our two kindergarten classes each selecting their nominee for the name of the 400-ton crane across the street that is dominating the construction site. And now the campaign begins.

"We have a big job to do," says Ms. Breneus to her class (Ward B!). "We want to convince people to vote for our name. So think, think, think why Clifford is a good name."

"Clifford the Dog is really big."

"And so is the crane!"

These sounded like good reasons. So, one by one, the students came up to write their campaign poster until it was done and ready to post in the wall.

One question the kids came up with is: What will happen if we end up with a tie? Lilah suggested that one student from each class compete in a game--maybe cards--and whoever won would determine the winning name. Hmmm, we will have to check the rules on this one.

Here's the poster that Ward S, Ms. Smith's classroom came up with to convince us that Big Giraffe is the best name for the crane. They also added some pictures to the mix.

The kids will be thinking about their choices over their day off on Thursday and ready to vote when they return. Friday is Voting Day! And, Pizza Day, someone from Ward B added. So it will be a great day all around.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

And the Nominees are...

"Who is the president of the United States right now?" asks Ms. Smith.
"BARACK OBAMA!!" yells out her kindergarten class.
"And how did he become president? What do the people have to do to get a new president?" asks Ms. Smith.
"They vote," the kids replied.

For the last week the kids in Ms. Smith's classroom (now known as Ward S), have been learning about voting--and the process that leads up to it. They are going to vote on the best name for the huge crane that's putting up the steel for the brand new buildings of Old Colony. Each student has come up with his or her idea of what the crane should be called.

There are so many: Long Neck and Santa Maria, Abby and Big Guy.

The kids of Ward S narrow down the nominees to six so they can vote on their candidate for the crane's new name.

The voting begins.

Each kindergartener comes up and puts a check by his or her choice.

It's hard to get the checks up so high to vote for Dinosaur Machine! And that makes it a little tough to count up the votes afterwards.

It's very close.

But Big Giraffe is the winner in Ward S!

Meanwhile in Ms Breneus's classroom (now known as Ward B) the same process is going on.

It's Circle Time and the kids each suggest their favorite crane names.

Some of them want names of people they know.

Daud has known his idea for over a week. It's Lifty!

Here are all the nominees.

The kids work together to pick the six names they will vote on for THEIR candidate.

They decide to pick the ones that make the most "sense."

At first it looks like Dyna-Mike is going to have a landslide victory!

But that's the thing about democracy, when all the people can vote for what they want, you never know what will happen!

Lifty gets a lot of votes...

Then Clifford pulls through and wins!

So now we know the two candidates.

Will the crane be named Big Giraffe?

Or will it be Clifford the Crane?

Who knows--for now, at least. Tomorrow the campaign begins. And on Friday, using secret ballots, the voters will choose!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Name That Crane--The Election Process Begins!

Today our kindergarteners are caucussing, gathering their nominations for the name of the 400-ton crane on the construction site next door. The suggestions are flying hot and heavy.


Big Red

Beautiful One

Luckily this isn't a backroom operation. It's an open democratic process where the kids are suggesting candidates and then narrowing the field to three possible names from each class. It will all happen today and you'll learn about it tomorrow. Then the campaign begins, culminating in the vote on Friday.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We've Got Some Fans!

We've waved at construction workers and talked to them. We like to watch them work.

And now it looks like they like us too!

Look at the top left part of this steel frame--right across the highest beam.

It's hard to see, even if you click on the photo to make it larger. You'll just have to trust us.

It says--Michael J. Perkins School is No. 1


Monday, March 7, 2011

Ask the Experts: What's a Crosby Clip?

The last few posts have been describing the kindergarteners' adventure visiting the huge 400-ton crane on our construction site that they are going to be able to name. If you scroll down a post or two, you'll see that they all got a Crosby clip to take home with them.

But what's a Crosby clip besides a funny looking piece of metal with two nuts on it? And why do they have so many of them on the construction site?

The kids couldn't guess. Their teachers didn't know. It was time to...


So we did.

This time our expert is Mike Moore. He is the superintendent of the construction project. That means he watches over everything that is happening across the street. He makes sure work is running smoothly. He solves the problems that come up--which can include explaining how Crosby clips are used on the site.

So what is that little thing called a Crosby clip? Turns out it is a lifesaver!

Look carefully at the picture above and you will see a wire rope that goes all around the perimeter of the steel. Crosby clips help keep that rope tight and strong. (If you click on the picture to make it bigger, you may actually be able to see these clips in action!)

That wire rope saves lives. It can keep an ironworker from accidentally walking off the building. It also lets the ironworkers have something to clip their safety harness onto when they are working near the edge. If a worker is "tied on" and accidently slips, he or she can not fall to the ground. Phew!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kindergarten Adventure: Name that Crane, Part 3

Our last post reported on the kindergarteners' trip to visit the new crane, the one they will name by voting in a democratic election within the next few weeks.

Today's post will tell you what happened after the kids returned from their outing.

First, lunch.
Then, in Ms. Breneus's classroom, the kids had some free time to play. Over on the rug, lots of kids started a construction site of their own. When asked what he was working on, Daud said, "A crane, of course." Then he stretched its boom up high.

The kids started talking about possible names for the crane on the construction site.
"I want to call it Super Crane," said one boy.
"I want to call it Beautiful," a girl replied.
"Me," said Daud, "I like the name Lifty."


Later that afternoon, the kids turned to writing about their day.

Here is a description from Ms. Breneus's class:

Here's what the kids in Ms. Smith's class had to say. They wrote it as a class, using the interactive writing method described in a past blog.