Grade 5 recently did a creative writing exercise based on Ruth Gendler’s Book of Qualities. With a partner, students created a “human personality profile” of a feeling. The collaborative thinking helped girls to better understand the nuances within moods and feelings.
Grade 2 has been doing a deep study of book characters in order to understand outside and inside traits. As part of this investigation, girls did a lesson using food and recipe writing. Ms. Biale brought two kinds of biscuits, sweet and savory. The biscuits looked the same from the outside, but tasted differently on the inside. This hands on experience helped students see that the outside is just a part of the story. Then the girls wrote “recipes” to describe characters in their books. They wrote descriptions like “1 cup of bravery, 1 teaspoon of fear, and a dash of cleverness,” alongside a drawing of the character. Later, students also created recipes to describe themselves. This integrating of food with literature provided a wonderful and profound learning experience.
Grade 3 students are in the process of building their own ukuleles with maker teacher Mr. Louie, but in the meantime they are practicing on our school instruments. As part of this music making experience, students learn how to tune their ukuleles using iPads. There are 4 strings on a ukulele, G, C, E, and A. The Tunefor Ukulele app tells students if the string is too high, too low, or just right. It’s a complex skill, so they work together to figure it out. Part of the process is also training their ears so they can eventually learn to listen for what the instrument is supposed to sound like.
In our class we studied Author Crafts and focused on what an author does to make a book powerful. Some authors we studied were Mo Willems, Jan Brett, John Rocco, Amy Krause, and Scott Magoon. Examples of Author Crafts are BIG and small text in speech bubbles, thinking bubbles, and strong words to paint a clearer picture of the character or what is happening in the book. After we studied these authors, we made Author Craft posters to teach our classmates more about these special crafts. I like Author Crafts because I get to study what an author does to make their books shine! We are adding what we learned to our writing in wordless picture books to make these published books even better! We are now making a class book and next will make our own.
Guest post by Grade 2 student, Maya K.
Grade 5 students recently created writing pieces that share parts of their identity.
Below is a poem by Chloe:
Like flowers blowing on a field with luscious grass.
One name out of three, but most importantly, Chloe.
A Greek origin,
A sweet peach on a tree, sweet and sour with a tart aftertaste.
Smooth and slick like leather.
A sweet ring to my ear every time someone calls out the name
The name that’s only mine, the name I keep close to my heart.
Not a hand-me-down, nor a Great Grandmother’s name, only mine.
The unique, bright, and special name, Chloe.
The name that flows in your mouth like a river.
Number 9 most popular in America in the year 2009.
But no matter how popular it was or still is, it’s mine.
“Clo-Bow” or “Clo” but still truly, Chloe.
A Green Shoot, meaning I’ll bloom in spring
Blooming and Verdant,
For a 3rd year in a row, our Grade 3 students are busy constructing their very own ukuleles. This project has become a class favorite, as girls are guided through the process with Mr. Louie, our dynamic Maker Teacher. This year, Grade 8 students regularly work with our Grade 3 girls, helping with the ukulele construction and strengthening sisterhood along the way.
Our students are doing the following to make the ukuleles:
-Use a band saw to cut wood (plywood for the bodies, oak for the sides and neck, walnut for the bridge)
-Cut the wood for the body
-Paint the body
-Cut the neck
-Sand the edges
-Glue on the neck, drill holes for pegs, nails for frets
-Attach strings to tuners
Later in the school year, Grade 3 students will have the opportunity to perform with these self-created instruments.
At Hamlin, students never hesitate to honor our mission and “meet the challenges of their time.” Last year students in Grade 4 discovered that many of the books in their classroom library were outdated and didn’t truly represent diverse voices. Of the over 1,000 books, not many addressed topics like: non-traditional family structures, sexual orientation, gender identity, or the nuance of cultural identity. For example, one student found that most of the books about African-Americans were about the Civil Rights Movement, and didn’t connect to her life in 2019.
Using the website We Need Diverse Books, our girls were able to find a wider range of titles for their classroom reading pleasure. Working with their teachers, students ordered these new books from Ms. Cardone in our main library and from the San Francisco Public Library. After vetting several books, students then wrote a persuasive essay explaining why a particular book was important to them. Girls also took the opportunity to share their favorite books with each other, doing some wonderful peer-to-peer teaching.
The last component of this 6-week project was an invitation to speak with Hamlin administrators at a SCOPE meeting (our Standing Committee On Program Excellence). A group of girls articulated the importance of adding these 30 books to the Grade 4 library. Impressed, SCOPE members asked for a budget to purchase the new books.
These girls, (now Grade 5 students) came back down to the Lower School and unveiled the more diverse books for their younger peers. Their thoughtful work has created a legacy that future readers will enjoy for many moons.
For the third year, Hamlin teachers delved into reflective learning through inquiry projects that they personally designed. Teachers used data, research, and reflection, to investigate, modify, and improve their teaching practice. Several teachers participated in the Inquiry Project Year, sharing their findings with colleagues at a year-end celebration on June 13. This reflective work serves to make Hamlin a learning institution that continues to grow and strive for excellence in a variety of areas. Below are some of the project descriptions.
For the 2018/2019 school year, I created a student satisfaction survey that was given to 3rd – 8th grade students after their yearly Outdoor Education trips. The survey was created using Google Forms and given to students the week after returning from their Outdoor Ed trip. The survey combined short answer questions and five-point Likert scale questions where respondents could express how much they agreed or disagreed with the particular statement. This data will be used to examine how students feel the Hamlin Outdoor Education program is doing in relation to:
-the Hamlin Creed
-the mission & purpose of Outdoor Education
-student’s lives at home and at school
Lindsay Bothwell & Meagan Andrews
Structured Word Inquiry (SWI) is an instructional approach using the principles of scientific inquiry as a basis of word-level literacy instruction. This word study approach is based off of the idea that the primary function of spelling is to represent meaning instead of phonology. This year, our fourth graders got to experience this type of word study approach.
Maggie Jo Feldman
Drawing as a foundation skill is one way to build a student’s confidence and help them manifest their ideas more fully. I wanted to apply different methods of presenting drawing techniques and creating stronger lesson plans. My focus was on three different areas: observation drawing (5th & 6th grade curriculum), field drawing (for Outdoor Ed projects) and portraiture (Elective class).
Rise To the Challenge (RTC) is the intensive for our Grade 7 students. Intensives are a concentrated period of study where an entire grade is working on a project or projects, with profound research and preparation, followed by a public event. These intensives are designed with Hamlin’s mission in mind, as our students meet the challenges of their time.
RTC really started in autumn when students began going on various field trips where they volunteered and learned about how nonprofits serve a community. In addition to those engaging experiences, throughout the year students listened to many guest speakers who shared their altruistic wisdom and inspiration.
This preliminary work culminated with Grade 7 students choosing their own RTC topics, doing in-depth research, then sharing their findings, providing short and long-term solutions to various problems.
This year’s topics were: Improving Maternal Health, Minimizing Risk of Genetic Diseases in Newborns, Improving Public Access to Quality Food, Creating Environmentally Friendly Packaging and Shipping, Challenges Involved with Autonomous Cars, Opiate Addiction, Technology and Well-being, LBGTQ+ Rights, Oceans and Plastics, Environmental Conservation, Sexual Assault on College Campuses, Reducing Gun Violence, Reproductive Rights for Women, Dangers Facing Various Ecosystems
Many teams used technology to generate awareness, including: videos, websites, and Change.org petitions. Some groups did fundraising through bake sales; others conducted raffles to raise funds. Proceeds went to various organizations, including the Marine Mammal Center, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the World Wildlife Fund.
Symposium is the intensive for our Grade 6 students. Intensives are a concentrated period of study where an entire grade is working on a project or projects, with profound research and preparation, followed by a public event. These intensives are designed with Hamlin’s mission in mind, as our students meet the challenges of their time.
In Ancient Greece, a Symposium was a regular meeting where men discussed problems. Today, our symposium is a formal meeting where multiple specialists deliver short addresses on several topics.
The Grade 6 Symposium took place at the Century Club on Friday, where our students shared information creatively expressed through songs, TED Talks, rap, spoken word, and PSA’s.
Topics for this year included:
Chinese Cultural Revolution, The Effect of Access to Water, Underrepresentation of Women in Hollywood, The Role of Girls’ Education, Danger of the Single Story and Diversity in Africa, World Religions, Partition of India, Chinese Inventions, Apartheid in South Africa, Modern Slavery, Government Systems of Ancient China, and Gender Privilege
Each audience member received a program that provided detailed (student-written) information about each topic.
Ms. Liu shares:
Symposium was 6 weeks of preparation. The girls were able to have fun with all the material that they researched. They are proud of what they accomplished. Symposium is an example of rigor and joyful learning together.