The Sixth Graders Create a Museum
Last week, our sixth grade students turned Founders’ Hall into a historical museum. Their parents, teachers, and fellow students dropped in to see models of items from early Central and South American civilizations, including temples constructed from clay and cardboard, a grass-filled Inca farming terrace, miniature versions of Maya weapons and tools, and a detailed replica of an Aztec calendar.
These models originated in the sixth graders’ Humanities class. During their unit on Aztec, Inca, and Maya civilizations, Humanities Teacher Laura Wolfram split the students into groups and assigned each team to brainstorm a question. (Some of the results: What was daily life like for the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayas? What food did they eat, and how did they produce it? What were the similarities and differences between their religions? How did they adapt to their surroundings? What types of technology did they create?) Next, they turned to books, magazines, and the internet to see if they could find the answers. They learned some surprising information: for example, the Inca performed successful brain surgeries and blood transfusions, while the Aztecs created chinampas, floating gardens which allowed them to grow crops in swampy areas. Finally, they created the models that they displayed in Founders’ Hall and put together a presentation which they showed to the whole school at our Friday Assembly.
This project was a great example of the atmosphere prioritized in our Learning Beliefs: collaborative and inquiry-based learning in an environment which provides students with support while allowing them to take a few risks. “We learned to research and inquire, practiced collaboration, and worked on being resilient and persistent when things went wrong,” said one student. “We also learned how to be self-directed, managing our time and asking for help when we needed it.”