Building Community and Connection
Connection and community were the themes behind the All-Lower School activity on the first day of school. Students in grades three through six worked with the mathematical concepts of tessellation and glyphs to create individual representations of themselves. When finished, these images will fit together to form a large-scale glyph of the Lower School community.
In a fall term when students are separated into smaller cohorts, it was especially important for students to start the year by understanding that they are also part of a larger Lower School community. Head of Lower School Lainie Schuster introduced the activity, and art teacher Jane McGinty explained the project by showing students the work of M.C. Escher, a Dutch graphic artist famed for his use of mathematically-inspired art. Jane pointed out the extraordinary intricacy and precision of Escher’s tesselations and radial designs, marveling that he was able to create his designs without the use of a computer.
To create their piece of the larger Lower School design, each student received an “All About Me” sheet with the abstract shape of a student to personalize. Returning students received a red or white sheet, depending on their color team, and new students received a blue sheet. While the shapes appeared identical at first, each student quickly got to work individualizing their design. Students wrote one word to describes themselves inside the image’s head and then wrote their name around it. Distilling their personality down to a single word was challenging, but students settled on a variety of positive attributes like kind, creative, and funny. They colored the shirt with their favorite color and wrote the name of their favorite book on the front. Birthdates and ages were written on each hand, and the pants were made up of boxes that students colored and filled with their favorite things like dogs, ice cream, playing with friends, and dancing. Students made connections with new and returning students as they realized they shared similar interests. Zoom links into each classroom stayed open while each group worked so that even though students couldn’t be together in one big room, they could listen in to the other classes and appreciate that they were all engaged in the same task. Once everyone had finished personalizing their image, they carefully cut them out so that when the images were put together, they would fit with Escher-like precision.
The completed design will go on the bulletin board in the Lower School hallway, providing a daily visual reminder of the connection that exists within the Lower School community. As Jane noted in her introduction, “whether we are third graders, sixth graders, or teachers, everyone in the Lower School is connected, and we are all in this together.”