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Project Palooza!

December 2, 2020 | Melissa McCallihan

I joked with the sixth grade on their first day back from Thanksgiving break that they have now entered “project palooza.” Mini term is a time for collaboration. Teachers and students share in the telling of the Advent stories. Students are in blended groups for mini term electives. And their work in class reflects that collaborative spirit.

The seventh and eighth grade teachers and I have planned an integrated study of the 19th century for this time in December. In language arts students have been researching the Brothers Grimm and their take on fairy tales. Next students will read fairy tales from other countries and cultures discussing together how this type of story is told to prepare them for the last step in this process which is to write their own fairy tale. Students will work in multi grade collaborative groupings to perform and record a fairy tale written by the group.

In social studies and science students are focusing on 19th century scientists and historical events. They will research, prepare timelines and slideshows on their topics of choice. This is also an opportunity to work collaboratively within their sixth grade learning community.

While researching the 19th century, I learned there were many mathematical discoveries, particularly in the field of geometry. So in math students are working together on various projects that have leaning towards the math strand of geometry.

Collaboration has always been a part of our learning at Mustard Seed, and even in COVID times we continue the tradition. So many habits of the mind, learning and heart are utilized as students navigate other people’s ideas, feelings and learning styles. It’s the most wonderful time of the year for many reasons, but for me “project palooza” also makes it more joyful, exciting and adventurous!

Melissa McCallihan

Teacher, Grade 6; Science Grades 6-8

Teaching children to take risks and fail well is important to Melissa McCallihan, who has taught for over 30 years. She believes children learn as much through their failures as they do through their successes. She celebrates both in her classroom. In collaboration with the middle school director, art teacher, and other fourth and fifth grade teachers, Mrs. McCallihan has been instrumental in developing the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) program, an extension of the Lower School’s Shared Space model. “STEAM is where students solve problems and sometimes get it wrong,” says Mrs. McCallihan when asked about risks and failing well. “Students need to learn how to do that with grace, and to try again with grit and determination.” Mrs. McCallihan currently teaches sixth through eighth grade science.

Mrs. McCallihan cares deeply about relationships with her colleagues, students, and families. She works hard to make and maintain connections on a personal and professional level. And follows the mantra “Worship God, Love All.”

When not at school, you can find Mrs. McCallihan searching out a fantastic restaurant or hidden sight to see in New York City.

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