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Classroom Spotlight: Breaking Down Barriers

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It may not have been quite as momentous as the Berlin Wall falling, but this week a large portion of the long wall that bisected Mackintosh Academy-Boulder’s playground was taken down. The wall removal creates a more open play space, allowing students to spread out during their outside time; it also signifies the school’s intention to use more of its beautiful 23 acres.

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So, with an eye towards the future use of Mack’s farm-like setting, fifth grade teacher Lesly Leach created a real world mathematics unit for her students that challenged them to kick-start the next phase of development. Using their measuring and graphing skills, Lesly’s students set out to design new plots for sustainable gardening.

Once the students finished their initial designs, they shared them with their classmates. Lesly was impressed by the way they inspired each other, pushed each other’s thinking and even incorporated each other’s ideas into their own designs.

In the next phase, many students decided to collaborate and combine their designs. They made decisions about which crops they wanted to plant and where. They even researched costs and created spreadsheets for their garden items. The students then worked on written proposals to present to the class. The final step was to deliver the proposals to Head of School JJ Morrow. Once one or more of the proposed plans gets approved, the students will then continue the project by developing fundraising plans.

Cross-disciplinary, real world problem-solving is central to IB education at Mackintosh Academy. The fewer the barriers that exist between what students are doing in class and the world around them, the more engaged they become. Come harvest time, we’ll have a whole new crop to be thankful for – both in terms of vegetables as well as the bounty of student learning.

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