Our world is increasingly interconnected and interdependent. Quaker values frame our social studies curriculum, sparking students’ big questions and fostering their sense of social responsibility. We strive to connect our students to the larger world by engaging in service and connecting with students from other classes and schools.
Third graders work with experts from Save the Bay to understand how human activity affects the Narragansett Bay ecosystem. They visit Plimoth Plantation to evaluate how historians figure out what happened long ago, and the multiple perspectives that need to be considered in evaluating history. They immerse themselves in both the Pilgrims’ and Wampanoags’ cultures, and examine primary and secondary sources to discern how these groups got along, and what conflicts they had to resolve. After discussing questions of resource and scarcity, the children coordinate the lower school food drive for Camp Street Ministries as they prepare for Thanksgiving.
Students wrestle with questions of economics, stewardship of the natural world, and ethics as they examine the role of Quakers in the whaling industry in the 19th century. This study brings up interesting issues of social justice when the children discover the role of African Americans in whaling, and the prominence of New Bedford (‘The city that lit the world’) on the Underground Railroad. With research, extensive non-fiction reading, and reporting, the students are able to compare what they’ve learned with the exhibits at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
With research, reporting, and presentation skills tuned up, third graders undertake a study of America’s national parks. Who made them? Why do they matter? What is the history of the program? Educators from Roger Williams National Historic Park bring their “Postcards from the Park” program to class, and Mike Graf, an award-winning author, shares his knowledge and enthusiasm via Skype. Students work in pairs to develop Keynote presentations on iPads, to create pastel drawings of park flowers in Art, and to deliver a persuasive “park ranger” speech using green screen technology in the Y-Lab. They then invite the entire school community to a National Parks Fair in the spring.Inquire