So Proud.

Today, my second graders had their second of three integrated studies culminations of the year. For the past three and a half months, we have been intensely studying transportation. In this study, I had the privilege of teaching my kids about urban and rural areas, needs and wants, taxes, strikes, and the history of the NYC subway system. A few weeks ago, we talked a lot as a class about how we wanted to present all that we learned to our families. The kids brainstormed a list of ways to present information (songs, charts, games, skits, etc.) and then submitted requested for the topics they wanted to present most and why. After getting into their culmination groups based on interest, the kids got down to business and planned out their presentations. 

My needs and wants group decided to write poetry, create sculptures, and design a card game that families could take home to play. My urban and rural friends wrote pen pal letters to each other describing their communities and transportation needs. They read the letters aloud as they sat in front of murals created with oil pastels and placed them in mailboxes that were carefully drawn and painted on pieces of cardboard. My subway history group selected important events they had learned about, such as the Malbone Street subway crash or the introduction of Metrocards, researched the technology available at the time of the event, and then wrote newspaper articles and talk show scripts to present the information to their families. Similarly, the taxes and strike groups wrote informative scripts together. With encouragement and support along the way from my co-teacher and myself, each group worked together throughout the process and produced amazing work that truly demonstrated their understanding of the topics we had learned about. As a teacher there is nothing better than watching your children solidify their understanding and be able to communicate their learning to others in fun and creative ways. In addition to the presentations, the kids also each read a non-fiction book they wrote about a mode of transportation they researched in writing and showed their screen prints, paintings, and flip books of different modes of transportation created in art. 

As I walked around my classroom and watched the kids page through their research notebooks with their families and reflect on the trips we had taken and the work we completed, I could not stop smiling. I felt so incredibly proud of the kids' work and loved to see the their faced light up as they excitedly showed their families their research and writing. I beamed as I watched my groups take the stage and perform their presentations that they worked so hard on. They remembered their lines, made the families laugh, taught them new things, and most importantly, looked so happy and proud of themselves while doing it. After a toast had been given, plastic cups of apple juice had been clinked, and the families said goodbye, we sat in a circle and reflected about our celebration. I asked the kids to think about what they were proud of, and in response heard many of them share that they were proud of trying something new, getting in front of a group and performing, and working well together as a group. I could not stop telling the class how incredibly proud I was of all of them for all that they had accomplished. Today made me really think about how much I love what I do and how lucky I am to be an educator. I am so fortunate to have a profession that is a passion and that inspires me each and every day. 

Today also made me feel especially grateful to be able to work in a school that not only teaches social studies, but also integrates the social studies curriculum into all other subjects in meaningful ways that help the children connect their learning inside of school to their communities and world around them. I am so in love (obsessed really) with the curriculum in second grade and feel that there is no better place to learn about transportation than in New York City. It is amazing to get to hop on the subway with my class and travel to different places to experience the things we are talking about inside the classroom. The interviews with MTA employees, the observations in subway stations and Grand Central, the trip to the Transit Museum, and the day trip to Cold Spring, NY to interview community members about their rural transportation needs make the content so much more real and rich for the kids. And best of all, the experiences make the learning exciting and fun. 

Today was a great day. I am so proud, so lucky, and so in love with what I do. Thank you to my second grade friends for being so wonderful. 

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