In the Classroom: Building Community
Each year, a new group of students comes together for another school year. There are new faces, new routines and new friendships to be formed among students.
Breck Second Graders in Alice Wright and Annalisa Strohschein’s classroom decided to take this “newness” to another level by integrating these experiences into their social studies curriculum where they are learning about communities.
“We started with building community in our classroom,” says Strohschein. “In order to set up our classroom expectations, we talked about how we are all going to work together. It was the whole class deciding and brainstorming ways to build our classroom community.”
After the students set up their classroom, Wright and Strohschein guided students through the difference in communities in our nation.
“We are breaking it apart into urban, suburban and rural areas,” Strohschein adds. “Then we are going to talk about how communities have changed over time as a part of our history curriculum. We will also look at important Americans in history and discuss how they’ve made a difference. The students will see that people can change history.”
Strohschein and Wright also hosted a visit from the Children’s Museum of Minnesota, where students were able to build and discuss community from an even bigger perspective.
“We talked about what we need to build a community,” adds Strohschein. “When the museum came to visit, we talked about community helpers, volunteerism, good citizenship, and what communities need to help citizens live happy and healthy lives. We learned communities are busy and complex!"
Students worked in teams and were able to build a 3D community with the assistance of the Science Museum staff, adding buildings, shops, parking, entertainment and parks and recreation.
Utilizing the Lower School’s CARE (Character Always, Respect Everyday) curriculum, the teachers were also able to incorporate instruction under the current theme of Citizenship, talking about what it means to be a good citizen in their classrooms, communities and the world.
“The students were sharing great insights, ‘Our table is a community, Breck is a community, our classroom is a community, we can be global citizens!’” says Strohschein.
Lower School art instructor Carol Grams also used the theme for her classroom, where second-graders are recreating communities in clay.
“Students get to see all these ideas and things they are talking about in class become a reality through something they can make,” says Grams. “Instead of getting information in, they can recreate it. It’s a whole new level of learning.”
This new level of learning reinforces the concepts they are taught in class, providing opportunity for growth.
“Children learn in many different ways,” adds Strohschein. “It is important to offer them different facets and styles of learning to allow them to make more meaningful connections.”
All second graders in Lower School are participating in the community theme and will have their clay communities on display in the art gallery outside the chapel for Grandparents’ Day on Nov. 23. Be sure to stop by and explore the communities at your next visit.