During the week before holiday break, we engaged in one of our most enriching events of our year: Showcase Week. At first glance, this is a time for students to share all of the knowledge they’ve gained throughout the fall. They create artwork, write reports, make movies, design costumes, learn dances and engage their whole minds and bodies in meaningful, authentic learning about a subject of interest. However, when diving deeper, Showcase Week is about so much more. During showcase week, students take enormous risks. They learn resiliency, empathy, and vulnerability. They push against comfort zones and encourage the students around them to do the same. Showcase Week is not only about gaining and sharing knowledge, it is 21st century learning at its finest - a way for students to engage in learning that is hard to quantify yet absolutely crucial for future success as learners, as leaders, as collaborators, and as global citizens. If you would like to read more about 21st century learning, here is a great place to start.
On the Monday of Showcase Week, seventh and eighth grade teachers posted the following on their white board in the auditorium. On it were several words required to create an engaging and thoughtful presentation that students would then present to community members. The challenge: Not only would seventh and eighth grade students have to engage their peers when presenting their work, they would have to find ways to engage younger students, teachers and parents as well. The results were remarkable. Seventh and Eighth Grade students were poised, knowledgable and enthusiastic about their subject matter. They engaged audiences with movies, comic strips, stories, photographs and visual displays. Visiting their museum was an incredibly enriching way to spend a chilly December afternoon.
This was not only prevalent in the middle school. When traveling throughout all of the toddler through 8th grade classrooms at Breakwater, one could expect to hear enthusiastic learners sharing their knowledge with older students, younger students, parents and unfamiliar teachers. You could hear stories and songs - child designed games in one classroom, a museum of paintings, photographs and poetry in another. Children created life-size representations of humpback whales and designed a game about saving seals from oil spills. Students danced the Haka, served mint tea, and led us over mountains, to temples and through beautiful cities. They taught us about working farms, the culture of food in our state, and the history of money. As you might imagine, this took an incredible amount of organization, and preparation as well as equal parts self confidence and bravery, . Our students inspire us during Showcase Week every single year.
If you missed all the varied ideas presented during the week, below is a breakdown of what was studied - an expansive, thought-provoking list! We are so pleased to be able to share this week with you and continue to be in awe of all the ways Breakwater students put their best foot forward always. Their confidence, ability to empathize and collaborate, creativity, and enthusiasm is an astounding testament to the support, guidance, and love they receive from their families, their teachers and their peers. We can’t wait to see where the rest of the year takes them.
Toddler: Maps! Toddlers were very interested in looking at and talking about maps. They hung maps in their classrooms, drew and colored on maps, asked questions about maps and learned so much about where we are in the world!
Preschool: Preschoolers studied winter animals. They built a bear and fox den, talked about hibernation and how animals survive in the winter.
Kindergarten: Farms and Food! Kindergartners learned so much about life on a farm. They exchanged letters back and forth with Molly’s sister: Farmer Amelia. They visited a farm, created a farm stand in their classroom and made soups with food harvested from our garden!
First and Second Grade: Casco Bay. Students went on several field trips to Willard Beach, Peaks Island and The Seacoast Science Center and learned all they could about our incredible resource. They spoke about weather, food, and fisheries and then zeroed in on marine animals - breaking off into groups to study the humpback whale, harbor seals, crabs, and the piping plover.
Third and Fourth Grade: Students broke up into groups to study six countries: New Zealand, Greece, Morocco, Canada, China and Peru. They learned about culture, landscape, and language. They read stories, designed replicas of ruins, temples mountains and buildings. They face-timed with a 9 year old from New Zealand. They explored the world from the heights of the Andes in Macchu Picchu, to the vineyards of Greece, along the Great Wall of China, beneath the Saharan sun in Marrakech’s marketplace. There were haka dances, models of Cusco, Ancient Greek gods in costume, clothing & a mosque from Morocco.
Fifth and Sixth Grade: Fifth and Sixth graders broke up into two groups. One group studied the food of Maine - taking a trip to the Maine Historical Museum in Portland to see an exhibit about Maine and its food, visiting the Portland Farmer’s Market to talk with Farmers about their work and then zeroing in on various subjects regarding food from the history of the potato to healing herbs.
The second group studied how landscape can illicit an emotional response. Students read poetry, looked at artwork and photographs that people have created about being in a certain landscape. They also visited Wolf’s Neck State Park and Mackworth Island to feel the emotion of a place. Students then had to write their own poetry and create their own artwork based on a particular landscape that they felt an emotional connection to.
Seventh and Eighth Grade: Money! Seventh and Eighth grade students studied all aspects of money. They learned about the history of money and how it came to be what it is today. They learned about how money is designed. Several students designed new currency. They spoke of economics and how money impacts the social world. Many students took on service projects around money inequality, and poverty. They ran food drives, asked for donations for needed items and raised awareness.
It was truly an awe-inspiring week. If you’d like a small taste of the magic of Showcase Week, take a look at our slideshow below.