by Ann Kelly, Math Interventionist – Oak Ridge School,
At 10 o’clock on June 23, 2015, the last full day of the 2014-2015 school year, the Oak Ridge School (a.k.a. Windy Ridge School) held a school wide Kite Festival, sponsored by the Cape Cod 5, the Oak Ridge PTA and Aubochon Hardware on Cotuit Road. 560 students in grades K through 6 participated. The Kite Festival was the culminating activity that followed a 6th grade interdisciplinary unit of study about kites that included history, engineering, art and mathematics.
It began with the 6th graders learning about the extensive history of kites across the globe. We then had the pleasure of a guest kite expert (Glenn Davis) who gave the 6th grade students the experience of seeing a variety of kites and styles. These students then were able to create their own kites using kitchen rubbish bags and bamboo sticks. They had a blast flying these prototypes out in front of the school. The conditions were perfect. Students who rarely ran were running with delight. Students who were often reluctant to smile, smiled with enthusiasm!
After their first experimental kite-flying experience, the 6th graders returned to the classroom and learned to make a simple folded kite out of recycled paper. The kite tails were made of crepe paper left over from an earlier school function. Each 6th grader became an “expert in their field” as assembly lines were set up in the two math classes. Some students were paper folders, some taped and punched, some measured string and some helped with the tails.
Other sixth graders were escorts who brought classes of young students up to the sixth grade wing so the K-5 students could make their own kites. After kites were assembled, the escort would bring the young student visitors to an area that contained markers for decorating. As the kites were completed, other sixth graders read kite related stories to the children. All 90 sixth graders had important responsibilities and an active part in the Kite Festival.
The big day, The Oak Ridge (Windy Ridge) Kite Festival, was held on the morning of the last full day of school. We were fortunate to have a perfect day. All 560 students congregated on the baseball field and flew their kites. Some teachers did too. Joy was on every face. It was magnificent.
2014-2015 year was the only year that Oak Ridge was a K-6 school. It was wonderful to include the entire school in this extraordinary project. It was a unique way to cap off a historic year.
With this unit of kites the sixth grade students explored social studies ( history of kites and use of assembly line), community service, and cooperative learning. They also made use of related literature, fiction and non-fiction. By exploring different types of kites and their components the students used math and engineering skills. Art was also used in decorating their kites. Finished kites were a sight of wonder in their variety, as individual as their makers, ranging from geometrical, whimsical, symmetrical, floral and fierce. The highlight of this project remains the teamwork by students and teachers who helped make it possible and the joy on students 560 faces as they flew their very own kites.
Thank you Cape Cod Five, The Oak Ridge PTA, and Aubuchon Hardware, Cotuit Rd., for the donations that helped to make this possible.