by Mr. Borden, St. John School Grade 5 Teacher
The 5th grade is definitely an exciting place to be. On September 29th, Russ, who heads the environmental programs at Meigs Point Nature Center, brought the Three Ecosystem field trip into our classroom via Zoom. For an hour the students learned about the salt marsh, the rocky shore, and the sandy beach. I asked Russ if he would focus mostly on the salt mash as it was the ecosystem the class knew the least about. The kids learned how we determine the age of a salt marsh and why they are so incredibly important. He explained that the marsh acts a giant filter, that it serves as a grocery store for all of the animals, and is a giant nursery. He also explained how the salt marsh protects us during a storm surge brought on by tropical storms and hurricanes. We saw an egret, a fiddler crab, and the osprey nests that the nature center built. Russ went next to the rocky shore. There, in the tidal pools, he shared a lot of the animals who call this ecosystem home, including clams, oysters, mussels, and whelks. He also shared a lion's mane jellyfish, the world’s largest! I know the class was very impressed with all that Russ shared.
The Meology program is something I have been doing with my students for over 30 years. I got the name from a drug awareness program when I was teaching in inner city Bridgeport. Everything we do in Meology revolves around building a healthy self-image. Some of the topics covered include, peer pressure and decision making, smoking, bullying, and social media and safe internet use. Listening to their peers is every bit as important as expressing themselves. Through Meology kids feel good about themselves and their peers. We focus on kindness, compassion, respect, honesty, and empathy. I ask them questions to which they all must respond. Last week I asked them to name one thing they would want to do, but they can’t because they are too young. Someone said going to movies that are rated PG 13 and beyond. It led to a great discussion as to why there are ratings for movies. We always finish by going around the circle and saying something positive to one another. The last 15 minutes is spent singing with the 4th grade. Meology is as important as any academic subject because all children need to feel good about who they are if they want to achieve as learners.