Both first and eighth graders charted some somewhat unfamiliar territory on Tuesday as they teamed up to learn about the science of sound through a local mentorship program.
Wendy Todd’s first grade class from Paul Banks Elementary made the trek up to Homer Middle School on Tuesday morning, and were guided through a hands-on science lesson with five different stations by members of Jennifer Bozz’s eight grade class.
“We just finished a unit on light and sound, so these guys are teaching us about decibels and pitch and vibrations, and doing some hands-on experiments to learn more about sound,” Todd said.
Todd has been taking her students to learn from their older peers for years, but the practice became more of a formalized program at the beginning of the last school year.
“Last year Jennifer and I teamed up … with some other teachers here at the middle school and we started doing an ongoing thing throughout the year where we did three or four different visits, and did things across the curriculum,” Todd said.
After that meeting, the teachers created a peer mentoring database to work off of. The Paul Banks students get to learn their lessons from older students, and often times remember them and look forward to their next visit to the middle school, Todd said. Some students have told her when they see their “buddy” out in town, like at a basketball game.
The students participating in Tuesday’s mentorship lesson also taught and learned from each other last year as seventh graders and kindergartners, Booz said. For her middle schoolers, the program is a great way to get them engaged in the curriculum, she said,
“The older kids really learn how to teach skills,” Todd said.
Another aspect of the program is that it teaches the mentors to show compassion and understanding to the younger kids. Additionally, Booz said it emboldens them with a sense of responsibility for their young peers, a feeling they might not always get as young teenagers. Teaching in and of itself is also a great way to learn, she said.
For the younger students, the program provides an opportunity to interact with slightly older peers and to make connections with them, Todd said.
“The younger kids learn, I think, also what is ahead of them,” she said. “And it gets them excited about the whole community.”
Since the first graders making the rounds from station to station had already been through the mentoring process as kindergartners, Todd said they were excited to come back. She has also noticed some social growth since the last time.
“What I’m noticing is they’re way more comfortable this year than they were last year,” she said.