Lifestyle

It's 'way cool' to stay after school

A bunch of second graders are willingly staying after school at Brigadoon elementary to attend a way cool class.

Brigadoon teacher Judy Blake has set up a series of after school enrichment classes for a small group of students who are doing particularly well in school and want to learn a little more. She is attracting her young students by combining a study of the exploits of two early twentieth century explorers with sophisticated computer usage.

“Judy does such an excellent job of combining reading, geography and history to motivate her students to take a close look into other people’s lives,” said Donna Montgomery, whose son Trevor, age 8, is in the study group. “She is expanding the boundaries of what Trevor can do and is increasing his confidence and knowledge base.”

The students are studying Ernest Shackleton, who led a group of explorers into Antarctic in 1914 in an attempt to cross the continent. Although their ship was lost, the entire crew of 28 survived to find their way back home.

“In one day, they captured 600 penguins that they stored on their ship to use as food,” 8-year-old student Nicholas Mulloy said. “One of the men was attacked by a leopard seal, but he wasn’t hurt.”

In addition to reading a book about Shackleton’s expedition and listening to other materials that Blake read to them, each student has put together a Power Point presentation, which includes graphics and text, about the adventure.

“It’s way cool to learn how to do the slide show, and to learn stuff we didn’t know,” Trevor Montgomery said.

Nine Brigadoon fourth graders, former students of Blake, have volunteered as teaching assistants in the class, to help the second graders learn what they already know about computers.

“I’m using the fourth graders because they learn more when they teach others, and develop a higher level of understanding,” Blake said. “It helps their self esteem, also, because the second graders look up to them.” This study group met seven times after school during January — for an hour each time — and was expected to do outside work as well.

“There are enrichment activities available for older students in the district but nothing for children this young — there is no money to fund it,” Blake said. “The after-school class can work at a faster pace and engage higher level thinking skills.”

A second study unit began this month, with most of the same students. They will study the life of George Mallory, who disappeared while climbing Mt. Everest in 1924.

“The woman always has new ideas,” Donna Montgomery said. “She’s very dynamic and has lots of enthusiasm, and passes this enthusiasm on to her students.”

Mallory’s body was just discovered two years ago, along with evidence that persuades some that he, and not Edmund Hillary, was the first climber to reach the summit.

“This time the students will be learning to use a word processor,” Blake said. “They learned the basic computer skills so well during the first unit that we won’t need the fourth grade teaching assistants this time.”

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