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What's Happening at BHMS

Life Size Self Portraits in Preschool

Students in the Preschool are learning about self-identity through creating life size portraits of themselves.  Once their body outline is traced, this work asks them to name, distinguish, and represent different parts of themselves. 

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What do you like about this work?

There are so many reasons this activity is special. For the three-year-olds, they are gaining fine motor control and learning the placement parts of their body. As children become four and five years old, they begin to notice more details like eyelashes, dots or stripes on their clothing, or the nail polish on their nails. I specifically love having time to work one-on-one with each child. After they get traced they look at their body shape and think, "Wow ,I'm that long!" or "My head was sideways" - all observations about themselves.

How does this work connect to the study of self-identity in the Preschool?

In Room 4, we have many conversations about the things which are the same about us and the things that are different. We talk about how some families have one parent or two parents, if you're an only child or have siblings. We also talk about our skin tone and melanin, hair color, and texture, and eye color.

What are some important skills this work teaches?

I feel like this study helps children to become more aware of themselves and their friends. It gives them the opportunity to see each other's process and share their observations. For the three year olds, we rely on using a mirror a lot so they can reference back to what they see. Recently, we made a graph titled, "What color is your hair?" the children were able to choose and see on the graph how many other children had hair that was the same color as theirs. We use  many books to supplement our learning on not only our external body but also our internal organs.

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Shari Lee Cancel

Preschool Teacher 

Different Approaches to the Racks and Tubes Work in Lower Elementary 

Racks and Tubes is a concrete, sensorial way to learn long division. Here a student uses the tubes and a unit board, indicated by the green stripe at the top, to solve a division problem with a two digit dividend and one digit divisor. The dividend, say 25, is placed into two cups: two blue beads into the blue cup, indicating the 10s category, and 5 unit beads into the green cup, indicating the 5 units. The child places a number of “skittles” across the top of the board to indicate the divisor, and shares out the dividend to the divisor, starting with the tens category! 


Once the children have gained facility with the materials it is time to add some writing. As they use the material they record their steps, not only writing the answer (how many rows they have made) but also counting how many beads they used to make their rows.  They then subtract the number of beads used from how many they started with. The next step is to bring down the next category of beads. They also bring down the number on their paper by drawing an arrow and writing the amount they will share out from the next category.  Now the children are recording the algorithm to long division while they are supported through the use of the materials.

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What do you like about this work?

Racks and tubes is my favorite material. I love the moment when a child has internalized the lesson so deeply that they step away from it and do division completely abstractly, with either a simple explanation or they figure it out on their own and one day ask if they can stop using the material.

How does this work connect to other aspects of the curriculum in Lower Elementary?

The material has the same hierarchical colors (green for units, blue for tens, red for hundreds) as the stamp game, bead frame, and checkerboard. It also allows children to see exchanges between categories (you can put away a blue ten and get out ten green units) just as the checkerboard does going the other direction for multiplication.

What are some important skills this work teaches?

Racks and Tubes explores the idea of division in terms of sharing a number out to the divisor. As children move into working with the algorithm they also need to know their multiplication and subtraction facts.

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Tracy Gruver

Lower Elementary Teacher 

Different Approaches to Racks and Tubes

Middle School Science Expo

Our 7th and 8th grade students just completed the Science Expo, which is a hallmark project in the Middle School where students showcase their long-form research projects in presentations to the school community.

This year, students focused on six areas of the students’ Biology of Brooklyn study -- trees, water, insects, birds, waste management and green building. By investigating everything from the trees and soil to waste disposal and urban development, students engaged in discussions and independent research to find connections between human activity and the sustainability of our natural surroundings. They also took a closer look at how environmental issues impact different populations and they shared some of their own ideas for possible solutions. 

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Ask a Teacher


What do you like about this work?

I love the freedom that students have to dive deeper into their topic of study. They each have their own interpretation of the project, they each focus on aspects that they feel interested in learning more about, and the finished product is always uniquely theirs. They are true scientists investigating an issue and finding creative ways to solve a problem.

How does this work connect to other aspects of the middle school curriculum?

This year, students used data analysis and statistics skills from math, writing and citation skills from English and incorporated the knowledge they gained from visiting historic sites and monuments in humanities classes to enrich their study of Brooklyn. Our diversity and social justice curriculum is woven into our whole program, including the Science Expo. Students heard from author and environmentalist Ibrahim Abdul-Matin to gain a greater perspective on sustainability of our planet and investigated the ways in which environmental issues impact communities of color.

What are some important skills this work teaches?

Team work and presentation skills! Besides the research, working as a team and presenting to an audience is tough work!! The students put a big effort into practicing both collaboration and presentation skills so that they feel confident and ready on the day of the Expo!

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Sophie Lam

Middle School Math and Science Teacher 

Science Expo

Freedom Zines in Upper Elementary

Recently in Upper Elementary, students created their own Freedom Zines. Stemming from work with educator, ki gross, and using resources from Mariame Kaba and adrienne maree brown, these Zines explore the question, "If we abolished the police, what else can we do to keep people in this world safe?" With the 13 principles of the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action as a guide, students used text and illustration to explore what makes them and others feel safe, investigating different types of justice, and imagining what public services could look like in the future. Drawing on what they have learned in humanities, English, art, and science, creating these Zines is one example of integrated learning in Upper Elementary, when projects often overlap many subject areas.

Freedom Zines
Outdoor Work Periods

In-Person Students Enjoy Work Period Outdoors

We feel grateful that we have been able to offer families a choice of in-person/hybrid or remote learning throughout the 2020-21 school year. This year, students in the building are learning to use many of our spaces in new ways to allow for distancing and keeping cohorts of students together. Classes are taking advantage of our three outdoor spaces more than ever, often using the outdoor classroom and turf field to spread out during work periods, physical education, advisory meetings, lunch, and recess. 

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