Seven Ways We Learn and Work Together at Brandeis Provides Framework for Fifth Grade Social-emotional Learning Curriculum

As Jenny Rinn, director of lower school, explained at the beginning of the year, our community came together to design a guide “to forming a community that is open and inclusive to all,” the Seven Ways We Learn and Work Together at Brandeis. In the fifth grade, students and teachers are working their way through this guide, discussing the importance of each principle and participating in activities that highlight this importance. To punctuate the fourth principle, “Listen,” fifth graders paired up last Friday and both students in the pairings were given an identical set of LEGO pieces. One partner used the LEGO pieces to create a structure and then, sitting back to back, the partner who built a structure described it verbally so that the other partner could duplicate the structure. “After trying one time, we reconvened as a class and discussed what seemed to work and how our communication could improve,” explains teacher Eitam Kohen. “The second round was particularly successful, as the students were able to learn from each other and improve their communication.”
Activities for each principle have varied. For the first principle, “Act with Kindness,” the class read the book Chrysanthemum and discussed the main lesson of the book “about celebrating differences and being kind to one another when we notice differences,” adds Mr. Kohen. For the second principle, “Ask Questions,” the class focused on optical illusions, the idea that things are not always what they appear to be, and that it is best to ask questions before coming to a conclusion. “We’re doing these activities so the students learn to take ownership over their community. Our goal as teachers is to help students develop the tools they need to regulate themselves and for us to step back and have them solve their own issues in a kind and respectful way. This guide provides a perfect framework for this work.” MORE PHOTOS