Topic of Exploration a.k.a. T.O.E.

    Many of you have already heard about the T.O.E.concept that has been introduced this year as part of the way that curriculum is structured in the Lower School. Essentially, the T.O.E., or Topic of Exploration, is a way for students to apply the skills and concepts they have learned in a way that speaks to their passions and learning styles. Mr. Glavin's fifth graders recently finished  a T.O.E. about the novel, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. It was exciting to observe the projects the students completed, and I decided to ask them to share with me their thoughts about completing their first T.O.E. 
    George Godfrey enjoyed learning how to play "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" on the piano. He explained that his older brother videotaped his "recital" using an Ipad. George then was able to show his recital on the classroom Smartboard for the whole class to see. (As George was explaining this process to me, I realized what a difference technology is making in the lives of our children.) For his second project, George drew a picture of Jackie Robinson.
    Jean-Paul Klem constructed the Brooklyn Bridge out of cardboard and string. Although he didn't make it to scale, he used Google to search pictures of the bridge so that his design would be accurate. He also created and posted a You Tube video about why some people supported Jackie Robinson and some people did not.
    Synthia Marino painted a picture of Jackie Robinson's jersey using tempura paint, but also learned and sang all verses of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." (Did you know there was more than one verse?)
    Tristan Nicosia painted a portrait of Jackie Robinson that I'm posting on this blog. It's quite remarkable.
    Jailene Arroyo and her grandfather made a map of Brooklyn. What was so cool about this project for Jailene was that her grandfather and her mom shared a similar activity when her mom was a girl. 
    Band instructor, Gabe Costanzo, commented that the T.O.E. gave students a greater purpose for learning to play instruments. Students in his class learned to play "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" on instruments that included the trombone, the trumpet, the flute, and the guitar. 
    Fifth grade teacher, Matt Glavin, summed up the advantage of using a T.O.E. by commenting, "It allows students to work in a way that they enjoy the most." He went on to explain that since one normally reticent student's presentation was received so well by her classmates, she has participated with more confidence in subsequent class discussions.