The Breakwater Way: Showcase Days 2017

What do food systems, buoyancy, inventors, rivers, biomes and tape dispensers all have in common? Showcase Days!

See the Breakwater Way at work:

During our three Showcase Days - December 13, 14 and 15 - students, families and extended community are invited to visit classrooms for a glimpse of the magic behind our doors. 

Showcase Days are an annual opportunity for students to share with each other and the school community some of the learning experienced during the first months of the school year 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.  

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 student group.

Toddlers with Erica and Katie:  This fall the toddlers’ interest has been in real and pretend vehicles both indoors and out.  Children listen closely to the sounds vehicle's make, such as beeping of the Breakwater buses backing up. They practice the names of vehicles they already know and add new names to their vocabulary while watching different types on the road. Within play children build roads, maneuver vehicles around obstacles and send vehicles through tunnels. During tinkering time with Sari, children have built their own cars with a chassis, axle and wheels, which they drive up and down ramps. Children have also been inspired by books about vehicles, as well as their own travel, which has informed their collaborative dramatic play as they take their own trips or work together to pull out a truck that is stuck.  We are continuing our study of vehicles and are eager to see where the toddlers’ curiosity will take us.  

Toddlers with Danielle and Callie:  Toddlers have had an ongoing fascination with tape and tape dispensers this fall. They have explored its many uses using their fine and gross motor skills to break off pieces and to move it around the entire classroom. A favorite discovery was that a tape dispenser can continuously provide a long piece of tape that can then wrap around the classroom, toddlers, and furniture. It has provided roads for cars, opportunities for toddler parades, it adheres family pictures to the walls, and toddler friends and teachers are still investigating what else it can do.

Kindergarten has been a busy environment with buoyancy experiments, inventions from our Maker Corner, mapping geography concepts of our town, state, country, and continents, and the growing interest in wire designs. For Showcase Week, the children are developing a timeline of their learning with photos and writing to present in the main lobby hallway. The Timeline Museum will be displayed and kindergartners will describe the learning to visiting classes.

Since October, first and second grade has been immersed in an integrated unit on Inventors and Inventions. Over the past two months, students have been learning why people invent (to solve a problem or make the world a better place), planning and designing their own invention, and breaking into small groups to complete research projects on a variety of inventions. These include Child Inventors, Inventions that Changed the World, Food, Toys/Games, Communication and Transportation. 

What enables plants and animals to survive and thrive in certain environments but not in others? How have living things adapted over time and how do temperature and precipitation play a critical role in every corner of our planet?  Learn the answers to these questions and many more by visiting third and fourth grade! Students have brought the scorching desert, lush rainforest, frozen tundra, coniferous taiga, salty marine and swaying grassland biomes to life! You'll go ice fishing in the taiga, learn about giraffes in the savannah, feel the chill of the tundra, listen to the sounds of the rainforest at night, and explore beneath the waves of the ocean. You don't want to miss this experience!    

This fall fifth and sixth grade teachers offered a series of provocations to pique students' interest in several topics related to “Citizen Science”. Students learned about honeybees from Phil Gaven of The Honey Exchange and spent time exploring local rivers and birds and their habitats. After hearing descriptions of three different project/learning paths - birds, honeybees, and rivers - students chose which topic they were most interested in studying and formed inquiry groups. Fifth and sixth graders are excited about sharing both what they've learned and how we all can get involved in helping our earth.

Seventh and eighth graders are investigating the interconnectedness of food in our daily lives. They are researching questions about food's impact on our culture, the environment, and our health. Topics range widely in order to illustrate the overarching influence of food in all aspects of humanity. Visitors to the seventh and eighth grade classrooms can expect to see the students' hard work in the form of research paragraphs and carefully crafted interactive activities for the school's younger students.

Please note: 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.

Email classroom teachers directly for a schedule of their classroom's visiting hours. Email addresses are available on our faculty webpage.