The Breakwater Way: Student Showcase

 Toddlers investigate construction and building and our 7th and 8th graders dig deep into systems and system thinking.

Toddlers investigate construction and building and our 7th and 8th graders dig deep into systems and system thinking.

The Breakwater Way: Student Showcase
See the Breakwater Way at Work

During the final three days of Showcase Week - December 14, 15 and 16 - students, families and extended community are invited to travel between classrooms for a glimpse of the magic behind our doors. 

Students at all grade levels, toddler through 8, will share with each other and the school community some of the learning experienced over the last few months in interactive, curated “Showcases”. At scheduled times, visitors can view projects and presentations inspired by a guiding or essential question.

Documenting the process of student work benefits children, engages parents, and guides teachers. Making that classroom work visible to a broader audience lets children know that their efforts are noticed, their thoughts and ideas are of interest, and that they, as learners, are valued by their community. 

During Showcase Week both the process and product are on display. We do so because we recognize the high value in the process of learning, not just in the products. Students learn that not only is it okay to mess about and make mistakes, but that this is work worthy of display in and of itself! It is interesting, informative, and, when presented alongside the product, makes the product all the more compelling.  

Families are encouraged to visit other classrooms as well as their child’s. Viewing multiple Showcase presentations will give valuable insight into Breakwater’s educational continuum. Parents with students “stepping up” next year may wish to make a special effort to see the work of the grade level above. A complete schedule of Showcase times and locations will be made available through your child’s classroom teacher.

Highlights through the grades:

Each grade level has been involved in an integrated study unit spanning many weeks. The content, depth and duration of inquiry is responsive to the developmental needs and interests of each students group.

The toddler showcase will explore the children's recent investigation into construction. Children were intrigued by the construction happening right outside our classroom and channeled that curiosity into three-dimensional constructions, work with tools, and play with construction vehicles alongside a video of the real construction happening at Breakwater.  We will share photos of children's work, samples of work, and invite preschool and kindergarten students into our classroom to interact with our construction zone.

Preschool is exploring the theme of kindness. They have created classroom rules, peaceful lofts, and activities to build community. The preschoolers have written stories and are storytelling through the year. They have told stories throughout their kindness investigation. Preschool will invite kindergarteners into their classroom for a storytelling circle where they will read and act out plays regarding kindness. When the toddlers visit the preschool classroom they will do interactive plays. 

The kindergarten will be showcasing their work this year in a Collections Museum. It will be open to the school for Admission by Appointment. Stay tuned for information on how to schedule your appointment with kindergarteners so they can put it in their very own Showcase Calendar!

First and second grade students have engaged in a longterm study of Casco Bay, Maine and the sea. Their investigation began with a kick off field trip to Ft. Williams where they discovered the forts and Portland Head Light. During the weeks to come students traveled to the Portland waterfront, climbed aboard the Lucky Catch to go lobstering in Portland harbor, visited Harbor Fish and Brown Trading Company where they interviewed the people who work on the water, paid a visit to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, ventured up to Bath to visit the Maine Maritime Museum, and welcomed the Portland Harbor Master to their classroom, among many other wild and watery adventures! Student inquiry groups are researching the Portland waterfront, lighthouses, islands, forts, lobstering and boat building. Each small group is digging in deeper to these subjects and their learning will be on display for all to see. 

In third and fourth grade classrooms students embraced the celebration of the National Park Service's centennial by visiting the Boston Museum of Science for the documentary National Parks Adventure, followed by the overnight to Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire, for a hike along the historic Appalachian Trail. They took many treks to the Fore River Sanctuary as naturalists to explore plant identification and observe human impact on the environment and the presence of wildlife. The students have formed inquiry groups that are researching the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Hawaii Volcanoes, Redwood and Everglades National Parks. During Showcase week, you can visit these "parks" and earn stamps from the park rangers, who are experts in sharing their knowledge of park history, geographic features, animals, and much more.   

Fifth and sixth grade students have been studying the concept of health this fall by considering the question "What does it mean to be healthy?" Students arrived at this question by examining the School's mission statement and putting into their own words what they think it means to "live well on the planet”. Earth Week launched their study, with students offering their ideas about how they could have a healthy Earth Week. Students examined health from a physical perspective, learning about the effect exercise, nutrition, and an active brain have on the body. They have also looked at healthy relationships, doing interviews and writing stories to better understand what is true of healthy relationships between people, and what is true of unhealthy relationships. Throughout this study students have been learning techniques for both surfacing questions and doing research so they can focus on an area or question of genuine interest, create a project, and share what they've learned with our community.  Fifth and sixth graders will continue their study in January, as they consider what it means to have a healthy relationship with oneself and as they learn more about changes one experiences during puberty.

In seventh and eighth grade students are studying Systems and Systems Thinking. Each student has chosen a system to research in depth. They have created a model, informational text, a display, and an activity to teach the community how their system works. Investigated systems include wolf packs, the human brain, mechanisms of a pottery wheel, mushroom ecology, skeletal systems, and … how does a car work? In addition to the school day exhibits, 7/8 will host a Showcase Evening on Thursday, December 15, from 6 to 7pm.