Critical thinking, empathy and understanding information from multiple perspectives are major focuses of the social studies and language arts curriculum in Wilson’s upper school. The Civil Rights unit, which culminates in a trip to Little Rock, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee provide a capstone experience for Wilson’s sixth grade. “What is read, seen and heard in the classroom, on the bus and on this field trip hopefully has been a meaningful experience that will influence the future lives of our students in a positive manner,” says sixth grade teacher Kevin McGinnis.
Throughout the spring, The Wilson School Class of 2017 learned how the actions of children during the Civil Rights era made a positive and significant difference in the struggle for all people to have equal rights and opportunities. The integration of Little Rock Central High School and The Children’s Crusade are two focal points of study, as well as the contributions of Civil Rights leaders, especially Martin Luther King, Jr. Travelling on a moving classroom, the group read articles and watched movies about Civil Rights on the bus.
When they arrived at their destination, students visited the historic places they learned about in the classroom. While walking the footsteps of history, at places such as Little Rock High School and the Lorraine Motel, students engaged in deep meaningful analysis. Visiting the National Civil Rights Museum offered an opportunity for reflection.
While learning about this important time in American history, sixth graders also enjoyed themselves by swimming at the hotel, eating at Marlowe’s Ribs and Restaurant, shopping at the Elvis gift shop at Graceland and watching the ducks at the Peabody Hotel waddle to the elevator.
Level Up Village is keeping environmentalism and internationalism forefront in the third grade. Participating in the program for the first time this winter, Level up Village facilitates global science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) collaboration between students from around the world. Third grade students collaborated with a class in Nicaragua, sharing project files and exchanging video letters.
The students embarked on this global research project to find out more about water usage and conservation. Students learned about water, how it can be polluted, cleaned, tested, stored and understood at an atomic level. Third grade student Rafe explains, “We found out water drops form a dome because of surface tension. A lot of atoms of oxygen and hydrogen stick together to form the dome.” Focusing on helping the environment, the students brainstormed creative and interesting ways to lessen their usage and conserve.
While the Level Up science curriculum remains strong, the partnership with Nicaraguan students has proven to be a true highlight. Says third grade teacher Carolyn Cady “what our students are most excited about is getting to know the kids in our partner classroom and finding similarities that they share and recognizing differences.”
In learning about Nicaraguan culture, students were shocked to learn that some of their counterparts lack flushing toilets. This discovery allowed students to become more environmentally conscious and globally aware. Third grade teacher Mara Goldschmidt adds, “the experience has given more acceptance of differences of others that we promote here at Wilson.”
Video messages are most exciting to the students. Says Rafe, “we really enjoy sending videos back and forth with our partners in Nicaragua. The program translates them for us, but we get to hear the Spanish, too.” The partners get to know one another by asking questions and communicating about their daily lives. The experience prompted the students to learn rudimentary Spanish, making sure to pronounce their partners names correctly. Creating the videos also provide opportunities to practice communication and technology skills.
Says student Perla, “we love learning about the kids in Nicaragua. That’s what Level Up Village is all about!”
Wilson in the News