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What does good learning look like?

Sixth Graders Make Connections at Duncaster

When students take the skills they are working on out into the world, powerful learning happens. At the end of the last school year, under the guidance of English teacher Lisa Roberts, Watkinson’s sixth graders collaborated on a creative writing assignment with residents of Duncaster, a retirement community in Bloomfield, CT, just down the road from our campus. 

Magical. Meaningful. Joyous.

These are just a few of the words to describe what transpired.  Each sixth-grader was assigned a partner at Duncaster. The pairings collaborated on a poem entitled “Where I’m From” which is an exploration of the past, touching upon memories and moments that make one unique and special. Earlier in the year, the 6th graders wrote their own “Where I’m From” poems, based on the original by George Ella Lyon. At Duncaster, the students were each paired with a resident and using a pre-writing exercise and questioning strategies, they gathered information in order to craft a poem with their partner. After returning to campus, finishing touches and artwork were added.

The energy in the room was palpable as the senior/student partners seemed perfectly matched…introverts with introverts, creatives with creatives, live wires with live wires, and so on. Everyone went to work and the results were undeniable. Not only did some great poems get created, but also some wonderful friendships. 

So much so that a follow-up date was set for the duos to read their poems aloud. On that day, the reunions were joyful and heartfelt. Though at the beginning process of developing their poetry skills, students gleefully took the stage to read their creations aloud. At the end of this visit, the students and Ms. Roberts agreed that their new friends should visit Watkinson and see our school. Roberts explained, “”They were all reluctant to say goodbye. It was obvious that these were relationships that were incredibly meaningful for both the students and the residents. There were so many hugs and smiley faces; we just had to keep this going.”

Just before the end of the school year, nearly a dozen Duncaster residents not only joined us for lunch in the Feringa Dining Room, but also enjoyed a tour guided by our youngest students. This meaningful experience and connection created a memorable context for our students to apply their blossoming creative writing skills.

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