Sixth Grade Caps Yearlong Hudson River Study With Interdisciplinary Presentation

Over the course of the school year, the sixth grade has explored the Hudson River from various angles, from seining in it to canoeing on it.

And, on Thursday, May 23, in front of a packed audience in the Doc Wilson Hall, the students presented original songs, poetry, art and exhibits inspired by what they learned about the iconic river during their yearlong study.

The collaborative presentations drew from English, visual art, the humanities and music: students wrote poems about paintings they had made in art class, created scale models and artist statements for imagined outdoor sculptures, studied and created presentations on Hudson Valley mansions, and wrote songs that took on the voice of fictional characters they had created.

The art displays of students’ paintings and sculptures were the culmination of a significant study of art, Middle School art teacher Bruce Robbins said: students learned about the Hudson River School of Art movement of the mid-to-late 1800s; made color wheels; visited the Hudson River Museum; came up with ideas for a large-scale, outdoor sculpture, and then built scale models of their sculptures; and even considered the process that an artist may go through in order to sell an outdoor sculpture. The poetry students wrote about their paintings, said Chris Mizell, Middle School English teacher, “further hones students ability to communicate their own perspective, and understand the perspectives of others.”

Their study of Hudson Valley mansions, which took place over the course of approximately 20 social studies class periods, allowed students “to do deep research and dig deeply into history,” said Mark Tamucci, Middle School humanities teacher. Students even used New York Times archives to research individuals associated with the mansions.

Lastly, small groups of students presented original songs, based on an imagined, historically plausible Hudson Valley resident they had created. “Throughout the year, we’ve looked at folk music from every angle possible in music class,” Katie Meadows, Middle School music teacher said. “Students learned about, examined, listened to, collaboratively composed and performed original game songs, working songs, lullabies and ballads.” In taking what they learned to craft their own songs, she said, “They had to problem-solve, compromise, model patience and flexibility, improvise at times, navigate conflict, synthesize ideas, demonstrate an openness to listening, and normalize the process of giving and receiving feedback. Their final performance was a testament to that!”

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