The Baker News is a peek inside our classrooms. Each edition of the Baker News features articles about our Early Childhood, Primary, Intermediate and Middle School divisions, as well as news from the Baker community. We hope you enjoy our stories!
Early Childhood News
Preschoolers Observe Tadpoles, Lifecycle of Frogs
Throughout the school year, preschoolers in Kim Johns and Nichola Roberts-Jones classes are observing tadpoles in the classroom and learning about the lifecycle of frogs.
“Inquiring into life cycles within a context that children will understand and recognize is best done by observing and discussing,” Mrs. Roberts-Jones said. “It allows children to understand that with growth, there is change. Science education activities provide children with opportunities to develop and practice many different skills and attributes.”
By observing the tadpoles, students are participating in experiential lessons in language, math and science, team work, and much more. Mrs. Roberts-Jones noted that learning about life cycles through observation and illustration is important for children to help them respect and care for the living things around them.
“Beginning the frog lifecycle unit in our classroom began as one of my fondest memories of primary school in England — collecting tadpoles from the pond by our school,” Mrs. Roberts-Jones said. “I remember it so vividly. Six-year-old Mrs. Roberts-Jones loved walking into my classroom and seeing the little tadpoles swimming around each morning.”
She added, “When I became a teacher, I knew that I wanted to bring this fond memory to life in our classroom. I hope in years to come; your children remember our tadpoles as fondly as I remember the tadpoles from my childhood classroom.”
Primary School News
Primary School Creates a Friendship Chain
As part of first grade’s inquiry into Personal Identity and Community Connection, first-grade students in Melissa Makagon’s class made a friendship chain.
“This project involved flexibility, perspective taking, and tolerance as students worked cooperatively towards a common goal,” Makagon said. “The students then wanted to extend the activity to the larger community of the Primary Team in order to make a chain of friendship.”
Each Primary student designed five links, each link with a pattern of their own creation, and made a class chain. The three chains came together on the playground when students linked them. The chain stretched across the west playground.
First-graders plan to extend the activity to the entire school, creating a friendship chain with the intermediate and Middle School students as well.
Intermediate School News
Print Shop Up and Running
This academic year, Baker students in kindergarten through fifth-grade are enjoying Baker’s Print Shop under the direction of Beth Sycamore, Baker’s fourth-grade associate teacher.
Ms. Beth, who has over 25 years in the publishing industry and was involved in two successful start-up children’s publishing companies, conceptualized an open-ended workshop space to further an appreciation of books, spark an interest in bookmaking, and inspire kids to write. At Baker’s Print Shop, students are immersed in all aspects of the publishing process.
“I’m bringing the joy of publishing to Baker,” Ms. Beth said.
For older students, there are myriad lessons related to bookmaking— from beginning to end. So far, students have made their own paper for colorful covers and endpapers, explored different book formats, and created storyboards for their own books. They have learned specific bookbinding techniques, such scoring folds, folding signatures, and sewing stab stitches.
For younger students, there are ongoing opportunities to create, write, draw, paint, and more. Baker’s Print Shop is filled with a wide range of materials to promote art and literacy experiences. Students have made (and named) original paint colors, explored the artwork of children’s illustrators, paired original poems with sculptures, and created their own handmade books.
At Baker’s Print shop, interested students will have the opportunity to review original manuscripts for upcoming children’s books that will be released in Uganda. This project is a partnership with Pangea Publishing, a nonprofit organization that creates culturally relevant resources and programs for children across Uganda. This past fall, Pangea’s COVID series was honored by the United Nations. Ms. Beth serves as an advisory board member guiding publishing efforts.
Moving forward, Ms. Beth looks forward to additional collaborations with Baker teachers to support and enrich writing efforts with the entire Baker community.
Middle School News
Eighth-graders Conduct Creepy Halloween Science Labs
To celebrate Halloween, eighth-graders completed a series of creepy, festive labs in Sarah Mohr’s science class. Students followed a series of procedures using compounds only identified by spooky names.
“Their task was to observe the reactions of each mini experiment to determine if it was a chemical or physical reaction,” Mohr said. “Then students had to use prior knowledge of reactions and physical properties of compounds and compound types to try to identify what each ‘spooky’ compound actually was.”
Mohr said students are completing their study of chemical and physical reactions and properties with a mystery powders lab. During the lab, students run a series of reaction tests on several white powders and use the results to identify each substance.
“This lab is one of several upcoming labs that will help students practice lab tests and reactions that will aid them in processing a ‘crime scene’ using forensic science later this year,” Mohr said. “Students took a closer look at what it means for a compound to be an acid or a base and how different indicators work to help us identify acids and bases as well as their strength.”
Please Tell a Friend – Virtual Admissions Event on Dec. 1
Baker will host a virtual admissions event, What Should Parents Look for in a Preschool, on Wednesday, Dec. 1 from 12-12:45 p.m.
This event is all about choosing a preschool that’s a good fit for a child. Attendees can join Dr. Megan Roberts and Head of School Carly Andrews to learn what makes a good preschool experience, myths about what learning looks like, the power of play, the importance of relationships in the preschool setting, and why Baker may be a fit for some families.
Roberts, a Baker parent, is an associate professor in the Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northwestern University. Her work focuses on family-centered early communication interventions for young children with language delays. This clinically based line of research examines different variations of parent-implemented communication interventions tailored specifically for different populations of children with language delays. Her research has been funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the Institute of Education Sciences.
Students of All Ages Enjoy Renovated Makerspace
Walk into Baker’s newly renovated makerspace during the school day and you’ll see a room humming with activity.
Students may be building their names in Legos, laser-cutting an image into wood, 3-D printing their latest creation, or even working on the next edition of the school yearbook. In the makerspace, Baker students are creating and innovating, using a variety of tools to learn about coding, technology and more through hands-on activities.
Becky Crawford, technology integration coordinator, teaches students in grades kindergarten through eighth-grade in the makerspace. She is thrilled with the renovations and feels they give students new space to create and learn.
“I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to open new horizons for students and explore,” Crawford said. “I believe that the world of making is a way of life.”
The makerspace is now equipped with three 3-D printers, a laser cutter, three different Cricut machines, and robotics and coding tools such as Makey Makeys and micro:bits. Students also use circuitry materials, including copper tape and snap circuits.
“Having all this technology just opens up a whole new world,” Crawford said. “There’s way more opportunities for kids to explore, create and see what they’re capable of.”
With younger students, Crawford provides more scaffolding and structure for lessons, such as coding. Students learn in Scratch, an educational programming tool, and apply the lessons to creating. Older students with more experience in the makerspace have the freedom to create with less guidelines.
Crawford incorporates social emotional and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion principles into her curriculum. For example, in second grade, students learned about identity through the website, Seesaw.
Students are encouraged to collaborate as well.
“I promote students working together and encourage them not to be afraid to take risks,” Crawford said.
Halloween at Baker!
The Baker community gathered in late October for the annual Halloween parade! Students in all grades had the opportunity to put their costumes on display and parade around the field. Family, friends, faculty and staff enjoyed a spooky show featuring a wide array of creative, clever costumes.