For students at Berkwood Hedge School the third grade is a year of growth and change. Third graders are becoming more aware of themselves and how they appear to others. They are eager for independence and are beginning to move from concrete to more abstract thinking. AIR class members are fluid like air. They move easily among the younger and older students at Berkwood Hedge. They start to develop their leadership skills as they take responsibility for their place in the community as older student role models.
Third graders are active learners; cooperative group work, large collaborative projects, classroom discussions, and role-playing activities engage students as they develop critical thinking and listening skills.
Third graders enjoy real life problems and challenges. The theme of the AIR class is Values and it fits well with the age developmentally. They are concerned with equity and fairness and use class meetings to resolve issues and build conflict resolution strategies. Frequent class trips outdoors helps build social bonds and an appreciation for the outdoors. Projects focus on how individual and group values develop, are shared, and change.
The major AIR Class projects are:
- Values and Culture: How does where we live affect how we live? How does culture reflect values? (& vice versa) How do stories reflect our cultural values? Why are stories valuable? What is our community culture at Berkwood Hedge? (and our values)
- Values and Conservation: What makes a bird a bird? Why value birds? How do we value birds?
- Values and Food Systems: What is the value of food? How do our values impact: the production and sharing of food, how people who grow our food are treated, who has access to food, the impact of farms on the environment?
Project-Based Learning Spotlight: Values and Culture
In our Values and Culture project, AIR students dive deep into the relationship between the values a group holds and the way those values manifest through artifacts, stories, and traditions. Students create their own culture inspired by climate and defined by its values. In small groups, they design the culture and create artifacts reflecting those values and the traditions they inform. The project culminates in The Big Dig, where groups bury their artifacts on the beach and their classmates excavate them and study the artifacts to learn about the values of that culture.
To further explore the links between values and culture, AIR students study folklore and fables and how values are transmitted through story, adapting fables into shadow puppet presentations.