How will you be a hummingbird?
We launch our Social Studies curriculum with the South American indigenous story The Little Hummingbird. The story tells the tale of a little hummingbird who, when faced with a roaring forest fire, as well as scared, inactive forest community members, decides to do the best she can by putting out the forest fire one drop at a time. Throughout the school year we will study forests literally and metaphorically as we ask the children, “How will you be a hummingbird? What is the best you can do to help your community?”
Knowing yourself well is an important first step in being able to do the best you can do. Thus, we begin our school year by developing an awareness of our strengths and how we can capitalize on our strengths to both help others and improve our own growth areas. Our neuroscience unit helps children develop an understanding of how their brain works and how they can foster optimal conditions for their own learning. During the unit we ask: How can you prevent downshifting when you are learning?
How can you create strong neural pathways in your brain? What can you do to become smarter?
Building upon the neuroscience unit, we discuss ten brain strengths each of us possess in unique combinations. We explore our individual brain strengths and develop methods for capitalizing on our own strengths. Throughout the unit we ask: What brain strengths do I currently have? How can I use my brain strengths to improve brain stretches? How can I use my brain strengths to improve my learning?
Relishing in the trees that make up the landscape of our school campus and our city, we transition to a study of Portland through the lens of how trees have been used and protected as a natural resource. As we contemplate how we can work for the protection our natural resources here in Portland, we will look for inspiration in the life work of Wangari Maathai and the Greenbelt Movement in Kenya. As a culmination of the year’s studies, students will design and implement their own forest-based service learning projects. During the unit we ask: How have people in Oregon used and protected trees as a natural resource in the past? How do people in Oregon (and Kenya) use and protect trees as a natural resource now? As we develop plans to protect Oregon’s trees, how can we be inspired by the work being done in Kenya’s forests? How will we impact the use and protection of Oregon’s trees in the future?