A Covid Community Fair

A COVID Community Fair
By: Aliza Weinstock, 2nd Grade Teacher
The theme for the year in second grade at Schechter Manhattan is community. One major unit focuses on community directly, and all of our other theme units connect back to the idea of community as well. For example, when our students learn about the water cycle, they look at how water affects a community. When learning about manufacturing, they look at the impact that an industry such as textiles has on a community.

While community has always been the annual theme for second grade, it took on a whole new meaning this pandemic school year. Even though our students may not be able to share a Shabbat meal with friends or spend their afternoons at a karate class, it was wonderful to see that they still feel a strong sense of belonging to a number of communities. During the community theme unit, students learn that a community is a group of people with shared values. Our students reflected on their own families’ values, and shared what is important to their families, as well as to other communities that they are a part of, such as a synagogue community, a camp community, or a soccer team community.

As a culminating project for this unit of study, each student created their own neighborhood map based on two values. Students chose values ranging from learning and teamwork to sports, art, and caring for animals. The students then thought about the needs of the people in their imaginary neighborhood based on those values, and created a neighborhood that would meet the needs of their residents. A community that valued art would need an art studio, art school, and art supply store, whereas a community that valued sports would need soccer fields, gyms, and sporting goods stores. In a normal year, this final project is usually a group project, in which two or three  students create one map together. Due to social distancing constraints, this year, each student got to create their very own map. To maintain the important collaboration element of this project, students shared their ideas and their progress working on their map with their neighboring classmates. Additionally, before filming their presentations, each student gave a first version of their  presentation to a classmate, to get the experience of fielding questions about their map.

Our students showcased their completed maps at our first ever Virtual Community Fair to a Zoom audience composed of their classmates as well as the other elementary school classes. Just as we would do in a normal year, each student had a chance to present their map and then receive warm feedback and questions.  This project is the first formal presentation of the 2nd grade year, and it was so wonderful that they were able to get that full experience of making a presentation to an audience.