Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Movin' On!

It's Fifth Grade Graduation Day!

As the time grew near, more and more parents, siblings, and relatives poured into Perkins' 5th grade classroom. It got so full that some began sitting on the floor until a teacher came to the rescue with more folding chairs. They all waited excitedly until the kids filed in, met with a burst of applause and camera flashes.

Principal Brawer started by saying that this was a Big Day, but not THE Big Day, because those would come when the kids graduate high school and college. "This is not the Class of 2011," he said, "it is the Class of 2018!"

Then the certificates started coming--a select number of students were given awards for excellence in conduct, reading, and the Principal's award and Ms. Daniels, the science teacher, gave an award that she started last year.

Mr. Brawer handed out the completion certificates...

and Ms. Muenkel gave each of her fifth graders a beautiful handmade memory stone as a goodbye gift.

Many students got up in front of their families to share things they wanted to say. Here are some examples:

I would like to dedicate my hard work to my friends and family.

I love being here and will miss the school so much.

MJP helped me to push my potential so I can get into a good school.

This is a day of achievement for us 5th graders.

I feel like I belong.

God bless the Michael J. Perkins School.

After that, the students turned the tables by presenting handmade cards for teachers and programs that had helped them this year. Then ceremony ended with the song, "We Are the World," and very fitting beautiful lyrics:

We are the world,
We are the children,
We are the ones who make a brighter day,
So let's start giving.
There's a choice we're making,
We're saving our own lives,
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me.

Reported by Sadye Sagov

Monday, June 27, 2011

The World of Work

The end of the school year is coming. The fifth graders are soon moving on. The four graders will soon be the oldest kids in the school. They aren't quite ready to plan their career paths--they have many more years of school to go--but it never hurts to hear about the choices others have made.

That's one reason Fatima Oliveira came to visit our fourth and fifth graders. She is a property manager for Beacon Development, the company that is helping plan, build and run Phase One of the Old Colony renovation.

Ms. Oliveira doesn't work with Old Colony. She manages an apartment complex called Baker Chocolate Apartments. The building used to be an old chocolate factory that has been renovated into homes for people to live. And no, it doesn't still smell like chocolate--which was one of the first question someone asked her.

But it certainly wasn't the last question. The kids were really interested in what it was like to rent apartments to people, keep a big building running smoothly, make sure that contractors fixing up the apartments did the work just right. "I am very, very picky," said Ms. Oliveira.

That led to more questions. Some of the people who work for Ms. Oliveira are men much older than her. Someone asked if that was a problem. If it ever was a problem, she answered, it certainly isn't one now. We all have a part in making our property work and mine is to make sure everyone does their job. Everyone has learned to respect that.

A lot of kids thought it would be fun to help people find and move into nice home. Ms. Hardin asked what subjects in school were especially important to do her work. Math is really important, Ms. Oliveira answered. English too, because she often has to write letters and reports very clearly. She also said that, at her company, property managers needed a college education.

It sounded like a lot of work to prepare, but it also sounded like a fun, well paying job. A good idea to keep in mind.

But first there's summer vacation--and sixth grade!

A Publishing Party!

It's done! Ms. Murphy's second grade class has finished its book. And it's a beaut! It's got a dedication page, a table of contents, and lots of clearly written information inside. It's just like a real book. Do you know why? It IS a real book!

Just check out this sample page in Chapter 4.

Two of the people the kids dedicated the book to were Mr. O'Toole and Mr. Moore, construction experts who helped them with their research. So Ms. Murphy invited them to the classroom to get copies of the book. (This photo is so dark because the reflecting tape on their safety vests messed up the flash. That's sort of interesting, isn't it?)

Since Mr. O'Toole and Mr. Moore had shared information about how they did their jobs, the kids returned the favor. They explained the whole bookmaking process. Each one of them explained one of the words you see on this board and how it related to making their book.

Brainstorm, for example, was what they did to come up with all the ideas they thought should be in the book.

Observed was what they did everyday for a week and a half, going down and watching the workers at the site. This inspired many of their questions.

Inquired was their asking Mr. O'Toole and Mr. Moore lots and lots of questions, such as whether they work in the rain and in the summer and if they have first aid kits on site.

Teamwork was what happens on the construction site and also what happened in the classroom when the kids worked together to write their sections and edit each others' work by "making the works better."

And results were their reward, what they got by asking good questions and working hard. The best results? The book itself.

Mr. O'Toole and Mr. Moore both said that they were very proud to have a copy. In fact, Mr. Moore said that everyone else on the construction site would be jealous! We hope that he'll share.

Then Mr. O'Toole and Mr. Moore asked the kids if they would autograph the books. Yes, every single student in the whole class. And they did.

That day, every kid felt like an author!

NOTICE!!! This is a busy week, so we're going to have posts every day for a while. Make sure you keep checking in!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kindergarten Graduation Day

June 21st was a lovely day. It was the Solstice, the longest day of the year, and even better, our kindergarteners had their graduation ceremony. The event was recorded in words and pictures by our education intern Ms. Sagov with additional photos by Ms. Balaconis.

The kindergarteners all sat on the stone steps by the basketball courts in lovely 80 degree weather with an audience full to the brim--parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, and the first and second grade classes from Perkins cheering them on.

The graduation started with the pledge of allegiance.

Then the kindergarteners sang, "He's got the whole world in his hands," loud and proud!

This was followed by each child reading about their favorite activity from kindergarten into a (much lowered) microphone. The audience couldn't see the papers they were reading from, but the kids drew some wonderful illustrations too!

Some of their favorites including learning subtraction, visiting the aquarium, running, dancing, reading to the teachers, making paper mache globes, and playing with friends. Then there was "getting an education," which pretty much summed it all up!

Mr. Brawer gave out awards for students who excelled in reading, math, and conduct. Then the kids all got their kindergarten diplomas, and Mr. Brawer made sure they all gave him firm handshakes. The kids were grinning from ear to ear as they walked back to their seats.

The grand finale? Our students finished with a poem called...

Kindergarten Kids

We’re Kindergarten Kids. That’s who we are!
Keep your eyes on us. We’re going far!
We try our best to get along.
We’re a kindergarten family and we are strong.
There’s a lot we do. There’s a lot we know.
Keep your eyes on us. Watch us go, go, go!

And then after cake, cupcakes, music, most kids got to leave early. Another special treat for this special day!

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's the Culture Alert, Part 3

Perhaps you remember that Ms. Alert's third grade class is studying different cultures. When the kids realized that so many of their parents or grandparents came from a different culture, they decided to interview them about some of the differences in habits and attitudes found in their home countries. Then our author-in-residence, Ms. Goodman, showed them how to conduct an interview by doing one with Ms. Alert, who was born in Guyana.

Well, the first reports are in--

Here is Shakira's interview about life in Belize:

Looks like their houses were on stilts; they didn't really celebrate birthdays; and, they had huge breakfasts. Also sounds like people are a bit less polite here. Click on the papers, to make it easy to read the details.

And here is what Hibaq learned about living in Somalia:

When you come from Somalia to the United States, the cold is really hard to get used to. And kids there wear uniforms when they go to school.

Well, some things are very different. What will some of the rest of the kids find out from interviewing their families?
And what kind of things will they discover are the same--all over the world?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Learning is great--sometimes, ice cream is better! No offense teachers, but that was what a lot of kids were thinking last Friday at the Second Annual Scooper Bowl at the Perkins.

Ms. Correa, Family Coordinator for the school, called J.P. Licks, who generously donated the ice cream for the event. Then the Parent Council spent part of the money they've raised this year to provide enough toppings for everyone's idea of The Ultimate Sundae: marshmallows, chocolate chips, gummy bears, Oreo cookies, mini chocolate cookies, sprinkles, chocolate syrup and whipped cream!

Flavio said that this was the best day he had in school. We don't know if he meant this week, this year, or ever!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Our Visitors Map is Done!

As you know, Ms. Meadows' third grade class has been tracking the foreign countries that our blog visitors come from. They have learned so much about geography and foreign cultures as a result.

And, now our map is done--for this year, at least. So far, people from 38 countries (not including the United States) have visited us: Canada, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, Mexico, Germany, India, Iran, Australia, Malaysia, Ukraine, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Thailand, Norway, Lithuania, Slovenia, Lebanon, Serbia, Aruba, Columbia, Egypt, Turkey, Singapore, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Philippines, Slovakia, Netherlands, Bangladesh, and Mongolia.

The kids have located every one and learned fascinating facts about them.

Nomar, for example, learned that Norway was called the "Land of the Midnight Sun." It is so far up North, near the Arctic Circle, that the sun never sets during the summer.

Gisselle discovered that the people of Japan practiced a very interesting type of gardening called bonsai. They grow miniature trees! As the years go on, these trees take on very interesting shapes.

We don't have room to list all the facts the kids learned but here are a few more cards they made on some of the countries.

Serbia, the raspberry capital of the world? Who knew!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Construction Book's Next Chapter

Wow, it sure takes a long time to write and illustrate a book. That's what Ms. Murphy's second graders are learning.

If you remember from past posts, the class is collaborating on a book about what construction workers do and how they stay safe. The kids did the same kind of research that grownup writers do. They observed the workers doing their jobs and took notes. Then they interviewed two experts--Mike Moore and John O'Toole--who came to their classroom.

Before that visit, the students thought about important things they should know about the topic. They each asked a question and did their best to write down the information they heard. Later Ms. Murphy put them in teams of two, to work together writing up the answers. Then they handing in their papers and Ms. Murphy typed them up.

But now the kids are learning that just because something looks neat and tidy doesn't mean that it is done. They call it a "rough draft" for good reason.

Professional writers hand in their manuscripts to editors at publishing companies. These editors are sort of like teachers. They read the text and give suggestions about how to make it better. Ms. Murphy did this too. Here is an example of a page of the book and Ms. Murphy's ideas (IN CAPITAL LETTERS) of what needs to be done. Hey kids, it happens to every writer--improving your work is just part of the job.

Of course, books need pictures and unlike some professional writers the kids are illustrating their book themselves. Printing in color is expensive for any publishing company so the kids are doing line drawings. Here is a preview of some of their work:

This picture shows an iron worker "tying off," attaching a safety strap onto the steel. That way, if they slip off the building they don't fall all the way to the ground.

This drawing compares the construction workers to a colony of ants. For one thing, both are always very busy. For another, they both have members who all work at different jobs to make one thing a success.

Cool idea, kids!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Culture Alert, Part 2: Learning to Interview

On May 10th, the PerkinsBlog reported on the new project started by Ms. Alert's class. These third graders were looking at cultures around the world, and how diverse customs, beliefs, and habits make people act and live differently. Yet in many ways, all people are the same.

Many of the kids in Ms. Alert's class had parents and grandparents that came from different countries. They decided to talk to their families to discover the ways life was different there.

But how do you conduct an interview? Ms. Goodman, Perkins' author in residence, has done a lot of interviews to research her books. She knows a lot of good tips. She came to class to interview Ms. Alert, who was born and raised in British Guyana.

Ms Goodman had her questions ready. In fact, they were the same questions the class is going to use when talking to members of their own family. She used those questions, but she didn't just ask them, write down an answer and move on. She used them to start a conversation with Ms. Alert. This got Ms. Alert thinking and talking about her life in British Guyana so she came up with lots more examples than she might have with just one question.

Ms. Goodman wrote down the answers but she didn't try to write down every word. If she had, it would have taken her too long and she wouldn't have been able to hear what Ms. Alert said next. She put down the most important words of each answer. These words would help her remember what Ms. Alert said for when she wrote it up as a report later. (You can read her notes if you click on the image to make it larger.)

Also, once Ms. Alert started talking something she'd often mention a detail that was part of an answer to a question she had already been asked. Then Ms. Goodman went back and jotted it down where it belonged. For example, when Ms. Alert said that she came to the United States in 1996, Ms. Goodman added to the section about where she had lived before.

If Ms. Goodman didn't have enough room to write down the answers, she used the margins--or drew a line to where the rest of the answer would be.

The kids weren't just learning about how to interview. They were also learning about British Guyana, its culture, AND their teacher. In British Guyana, for example, people ate their big meal of the day at lunchtime and everyone flew kites on Easter Monday! Furthermore Ms. Alert's middle name is Cleoretta!!! Soon their hands were up all the time with questions and all Ms. Goodman had to do was take notes.

If we found out so much about Ms. Alert and her culture in just one hour, what are the kids going to learn about THEIR families?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How Big a Check Was It?

On May 25th, we reported that Hope 6, a program of the federal government, is supplying enough money to do Phase 2 of the Old Colony renovation. How much money? A lot of money. If you can't read the fine print on that huge check above, it says 22 million dollars!

Ms. Leverett-King's first grade class got a good look at that big, big check at the end of the ceremony. It sure had a lot of digits and place values. It became an opportunity for a math lesson AND a writing lesson.


(Sorry, Senator Kerry, but you really can't blame Emani's judgment call!)