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Seventh-grade showcase: Pen pals and hands-on learning

Mesopotamian irrigation system by
Nate Mays.
Photo: Ruth Hoogenboom





Fertile Crescent Project

 

“The projects this year have been astounding,” exclaimed seventh-grade social studies teacher Ruth Hoogenboom when asked about the recently completed “Fertile Crescent Mini-Projects.” For about a week, seventh-grade students (and their dedicated parents) lugged hanging gardens of spider plants, Phoenician ships, ziggurats, a mini Tower of Babel, jewelry, weaponry and armor into Mrs. Hoogenboom’s (chock full) classroom. Some of the most creative projects included a gorgeous Queen Shubad headdress, a sword with a metal blade and a wooden hilt (created by Caleb Jones with help from his dad) and a functioning plant irrigation system featuring four compartments and live wheat.

 

The assignment itself was to focus on one of the cultures of the Fertile Crescent, and then to create a visual (model, poster, diorama, mobile, board game, etc.) that would show the viewer what the people of the chosen culture were like, their artifacts, and their societal structure.

 

Students created a handout for the class with information to enhance their visual. Mrs. Hoogenboom introduced the project by saying that “the limit of this project is the limits of your imagination,” and students really took her seriously. “Some of these projects are better than I’ve ever seen,” she admits during a tour of her very lively and overflowing teaching space which looks more like a museum than a classroom. Not only were the projects interesting, but they were created with an accuracy that would make the ancient citizens of the Fertile Crescent proud.

 

Pen Pal Letters

 

HUMS seventh-graders are in the midst of correspondence with their sixth-grade pen pals in a continuing effort to ease students’ transition from elementary to middle school. The process of preparing and matching up pen pals started in January and included learning how to write a friendly letter and taking a look at several “welcome letters” as models for the work. Each sixth- grader (from each of the four sending elementary schools: Warren, Waitsfield, Fayston and Moretown) is matched up with a seventh-grader (who did not attend the same elementary school) from Harwood. Harwood students write to their pen pals two times, and the sixth-graders have a chance to write back to them with questions. Pen pals will have the opportunity to meet each other on Step Up Day in June, when sixth-graders come to Harwood to visit the school, meet the teachers and attend classes. Seventh-grade pen pals become tour guides for the day and are there for incoming students to help them with their lockers, answer any questions and to be their lunch buddies in the Harwood cafeteria.

 

HUMS Celebration of Learning

 

Since 2005, HUMS has held its annual Academic Fair; a celebration of academic work, mental sweat, creative interpretations and sound analysis. This year, the Academic Fair has been reformatted and expanded to include all disciplines represented at Harwood, including performing arts. We have also renamed the event, now called the Celebration of Learning which is more representative of the new format and the diversity of the evening planned. Community members and parents are invited to come see this showcase of student work and performance next Thursday, April 5, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at HUMS.

 

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