Sixth-grade students read, I am Malala, as part of their language arts class. They recently shared their thoughts and recap of the book with one another through an app called Explain Everything. Through this app, they are tasked with summarizing books and sharing thoughts, and ideas. The app is digital whiteboard where students can use everything from sketches, through PDFs, to videos, to turn an infinite canvas into a mixed-media playground that captivates and inspires students. One student created all of her own artwork to create the visual story. Check it out here:
Upper school students visited AstroCamp this week in Clover, Va. AstroCamp is a unique STEM-based outdoor science program. The children spent 2 nights and 3 days at the camp which specializes in astronomy and physical science. Where better to learn about the universe than under a clear night sky! Classes included lights and lasers, rocketry, electricity and magnetism, and a sophisticated observational astronomy evening program, among many others.
Check out a short photo recap and check back for more pictures and videos!
Video: Using the Van de Graaf
Video: Students designed and created a crater lander that can protect a water balloon. Students were given a certain amount of “money” to spend on their lander. In this video, two students describe their project.
Today was a day to see the important Civil Rights sites around Birmingham. We visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in the morning (https://www.bcri.org) and had a guided tour by a very articulate 11th grader. The Institute was designed to walk the students through the Civil Rights Movement in chronological order with a brief video that gave an overview of the history of African Americans from slavery to the changes that took place starting in the 1940’s. After the video, the first thing the students saw were two water fountains from this time period-one marked Whites Only and the other Colored Only. These artifacts were familiar to the students since they had used an image of this in their presentations on MLK Day at B’nai this past year. Students saw renditions of what a diner would have looked like, riding on a bus, and going to school during this period. We moved through the March to Montgomery and the Children’s March, as well as the Little Rock Nine. There were videos of people who, as young adults, were part of the demonstrations, and they spoke about their experience. The students found it interesting to hear a first-hand account of what these brave people endured for their freedom.
The end of the tour of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute were about atrocities that have taken place since the 1960’s to today. It also included how far we have come and how far we have yet to go.
Our next stop was to the statue of Vulcan, the Roman g-d of fire and forge, which was created by Italian artist, Giuseppe Moratti. The statue is made out of cast iron and sits high above the city of Birmingham. Students enjoyed a picnic lunch and then climbed the tower to look over the city. It was very similar to climbing a lighthouse.
We then had a guest speaker, the Reverend Gwendolyn Webb, speak to the children about her first hand account during the Children’s March. Rev. Webb was a 15 year old girl when she took part of the march and was arrested for her participation. Please see the link for more information about her. Rev. Webb engaged the students with her enthusiastic retelling of how she participated in the march, from preparing for it to coming home after being in jail for 8 days. She sang songs with the students that the children sang while they were marching and while they were in jail. She talked about the way the disc-jockeys used code to communicate with the young people. It was a wonderful experience and Rev. Webb was truly a woman that lived what she preached-love your brother.
For dinner we went to Chabad and enjoyed a spaghetti dinner and brownies for desert. After dinner the students created posters as a way to share what they had learned and what questions remain. The students really enjoyed doing this and then had a silent gallery walk to look at what everyone had written.
Sunday, May 7th
Sunday was a day of getting to know the students from Rochester and New Haven by playing name games, a lockbox challenge, and playing outdoors. The group of 26 became fast friends. After dinner, Emma and her partner from Ezra presented their project on Selma in preparation for our trip to Selma on Tuesday. Emma and Eli shared what they had learned about Selma’s history including the marches from Selma to Montgomery.
Monday, May 8th
After morning prayers, Dr. Martha Bouyer gave a very informative and moving presentation concerning Birmingham’s history with the Civil Rights Movement. She played music from the time period that reflected the African-Americans’ hopes for a brighter future and how they were not going to wait any longer for equal rights. She showed videos of the abuse the African-Americans and white supporters suffered during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s including the use of dogs and fire hoses. Dr. Bouyer used artifacts and primary sources from this time to help the students gain a better understanding of the climate of the deep South. She also incorporated a tug of war between those who supported Civil Rights and those who opposed them by using a rope very similar to one that would be used for lynchings. Needless to say, the Civil Rights side one without a single tug.
Next the N. E. Miles Day School’s eighth graders shared a documentary they made when they were in sixth grade called, Names, not Numbers. In the documentary the students interviewed survivors of the Holocaust who lived in the Birmingham area. It was a very well documentary in which the survivors spoke of their life before, during, and after the Holocaust. During lunch, the students had table conversations around what they had learned and what their feelings were based on the topics covered in the documentary.
After lunch, we went to the Holocaust Education Center where the students viewed an exhibit of art work and photographs of the same survivors from the documentary. After looking at the art work and reading the stories about the survivors, the students also engaged in a very deep conversation and debate on the definition of Holocaust as seen by Yad Vashem and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Our next stop was the Kelly Ingram Park (formerly West Park) which is the memorial park to the first mass beatings of the Freedom Riders. There were many statues throughout the park that depicted this what the African-Americans went through to gain their rights in Birmingham. This was very powerful for the students to see since they had just heard Dr. Bouyers speak. They were able to connect what they had learned to the actual place where it all happened.
The students also met Joel Rotenstreich who worked to have a horse chestnut tree planted in the Kelly Ingram Park to commemorate Anne Frank as a dedication to the victims of intolerance and discrimination.
We then returned to N.E. Miles Day School for some down time. The kids played soccer, basketball and chess as a way to unwind. They then spent 20 minutes reflecting on their day by writing in their journals.
After a wonderful dinner of hotdogs and chips, we were off to the baseball game! The students really enjoyed spending time with their new friends at the game. This provided a great platform for the students to really relax and laugh.
Now we are all back with our host families, settling down for a good night’s sleep before going to Selma tomorrow.
The 8th grade trip of a lifetime continues with a trip to Masada and a swim in the Dead Sea. Over the weekend, students tried their hand at farming and digging at the Archeological Seminary at Beit Guvrin, and then picked and tasted their way through Shvil Hasalat.