Diversity Makes Us Stronger (Social Studies): Students explore the meaning of the phrase on our national seal: “E pluribus unum” (Out of many, one,”), as they investigate how diversity makes both their classroom community and the city of Boston stronger. In an introductory case study, students share their families’ unique heritages and understand that our school is made up of all kinds of people from diverse racial, religious, and ethnic heritages. Students also explore their individual and collective rights and responsibilities as citizens of the school and dig deeper into the school’s core values: responsibility, cooperation, empathy, perseverance, and reflection. In a second case study, students develop geography, mapping, and graphing skills as they investigate Boston as a “city of neighborhoods” and come to appreciate how our many differences contribute to our strength as an urban community. Fieldwork in a Boston neighborhood gives students the opportunity to work with experts and to observe the interplay of diverse cultures. For a final product, students create a music video that integrates their learning and expresses their interpretation of the expedition theme.
Don’t Be S-s-scared: The Truth About Snakes (Science): Second graders become herpetologists as they discover the truth about snakes by practicing diverse scientific methods and skills including observing, questioning, conducting and analyzing surveys, researching, inferring, taking notes, and drawing scientific sketches. Hands-on fieldwork makes learning come alive as students care for a live corn snake in the classroom, observe snake habitats at a local wildlife sanctuary, and work alongside expert herpetologists at Harvard University’s renowned Museum of Comparative Zoology. After studying the corn snake as a class, students immerse themselves in researching a snake species, learning how to create a bibliography and to cite sources. Each student creates an intricately detailed and scientifically accurate drawing of his or her snake. Students’ writings, drawings, and recordings are featured in final products that range from an interactive snake clue book, to a music video with a conservationist message about snakes, to an audio e-book of nonfiction narratives about snakes and their habitats.
On the Move (Science/Engineering): Second graders learn to look, listen, question, and think like scientists as they investigate how and why things move. Investigation teams design and conduct experiments to explore force, friction, and three types of motion—rolling, spinning, and vibrating. Students record and track their observations, thought processes, and conclusions in science journals. Fieldwork at the Museum of Science gives students the opportunity to apply and extend their understanding. For a final product, students collaborate on a “Rube Goldberg” engineering challenge, demonstrating their knowledge of force and motion and incorporating musical sounds. In a cross-grade collaboration, second graders present their chain-of-events device and their learning to preschoolers, who are investigating principles of force, motion, and balance through the lens of circus performances.