At The Toronto Heschel School, students engage in an integrated approach to learning that goes beyond the traditional silos of individual subjects. Instead, their lessons revolve around a Generative Topic that brings together language, math, science, and more. For our Grade 1 students, the main focus is on the idea captured by their Generative Topic:

 “שנויים שמלמדים הם ניסים” 

“Miracles happen when we learn from changes we observe”

In Social Environmental Studies (Science) our young students have been delving into the metamorphosis of decomposition. One standout experiment involved a pepper, sliced in half. One half went into a plastic bag, the other onto a plate. Day by day, the students keenly noted the transformations, questioning if nature could indeed do melacha (creative work) to perform metamorphosis. Additionally, the class buried various materials in soil, creating a time capsule of sorts. In two weeks, they will unearth these buried treasures, aiming to understand how these different materials decompose (or don’t!). It’s hands-on science at its best, and the Grade 1 students eagerly await unveiling the results.

Real-world applications met the Generative Topic in waste management education. Sorting items into garbage, recycling, and compost bins wasn’t just a practical task – it was an understanding of the materials and their potential for decomposition. The students have learned about the consequences of contamination, empowering them to make environmentally responsible choices.

To deepen their understanding of decomposition, a Pure Life Soil presenter visited the classroom. Two species of worms, each with its unique characteristics, were showcased to our excited students. They had the opportunity to explore the differences between the bottom feeder and top feeder worms, even getting the chance to hold these slimy creatures. The session provided valuable insights into the worms’ diets, habitats, and their crucial role in the environment and agriculture.

In Language Arts, the focus remains on honing narrative writing skills. The students are practicing with “mini miraculous moments” writing exercises, distinguishing between big ideas, topics, and small moments that occur to help them write detailed narratives. They then continued editing their work to ensure their “Heart Words” and short vowel sounds are used correctly when they write.

In the realm of Mathematics, Grade 1 students were captivated by the miraculous number 10. The Miraculous Match card game continued to be a favorite, where students paired up to create matches that added up to 10. They also introduced making matches that subtract to equal 10 (from numbers 11-19) and added this to their games.

Following this, the students embraced the introduction of Miraculous Matches + 1. They learned how to apply their newfound knowledge to the number 11. The Miraculous Match card game with a partner continued, this time exploring matches to 11. The class dived deeper into the concept, working with various manipulatives such as unifix cubes, multi-colored counters, and marbles.

As Grade 1 continues to navigate the interconnected world of language, math, and science under the guiding influence of their Generative Topic, the students are discovering the seamless integration between these disciplines. Each experiment, writing exercise, and mathematical game adds to their comprehensive understanding of the world, encouraging a holistic approach to learning that goes beyond traditional subject boundaries.

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“Through the Classroom Window” is an opportunity for teachers to share the inspiring learning that takes place in their classrooms, giving others a glimpse into the heartbeat of the school.

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