The kindergarten students at Glen Hills Elementary School, along with their teachers, Maria Santonastaso and Kelly Walton, had the opportunity to show off what they have been learning over the past six weeks with an official “Showcase of Learning: Animals and Habitats.”
In addition to their teachers, the students also had many of their biggest fans present, from Glen Hills Principal Jay DeCristofaro to Colleen Callahan and Mary Ann Snider from the Rhode Island Department of Education, to Cranston Public Schools Elementary Literacy Coordinator, Stephanie DiChiro and Science Program Supervisor, Steve Scappaticci and Director of Education Programs Roxanne Gustafson.
The event Friday night began with a Powerpoint presentation in the school’s all-purpose room, where Santonastaso and Walton explained the hands-on, integrated Boston Kindergarten curriculum program which is called “Focus on K2: An Integrated Approach to Teaching and Learning.
Specifically, they focused on the Animals and Habitats unit that the students had worked on, which took them on a learning adventure focused on living things such as frogs, wolves, salmon and owls, and included an in-depth exploration and investigation of topics such as the animals’ habitats, life cycles, adaptations and migration. There were photos in the slideshow which documented the students’ learning from the beginning of the unit, and chronicled some of the special activities, such as investigating owl pellets, and daily activities such as read alouds, blocks and STEM center time, through to the culminating activity: a visit from the Audubon Society with a live owl.
“The Audubon Society is always surprised by how much our students already know about owls and their body parts,” Santonastaso said.
Once the overview portion of the evening ended, guests were brought down to the two kindergarten classrooms where the students could show off all that they had created and all of the learning that had taken place. The project spans all curriculum areas, from art and drama to science, mathematics and literacy, with the students researching and investigating and working together to share what they have learned. Not only were the students encouraged to share their projects and what they had learned through their observations and investigations, but parents and special guests were encouraged to ask leading questions as well.
According to Gustafson, the piloting of the Boston kindergarten project was so successful last year that Cranston Public Schools is in the process of training all kindergarten teachers across the district, and implementing the program district-wide.
Moving forward, the students will be starting the next unit of study in the program, “Construction.”