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Expeditionary Thursdays Fieldwork (Upper Grades ELA ET 11/12)

Another great Expeditionary Thursday on 11/12 in the Upper Grades – this week was centered around students’ ELA classes!


Grade 9 students used the fieldwork day as a launch to their Persepolis case study.  Students traveled throughout NYC to gather artifacts on Iranian culture and history.  Students visited the Islamic Cultural Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Main Library.  Back at BCS, students engaged in a Google mapping activity to note geographical features of Iran and hosted a guest speaker on the Iranian Revolution.

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Grade 10 students explored the question: “What do we lose when libraries become extinct?” by visiting a variety of libraries in New York City (American Kennel Club- 260 Madison Ave; New York Society Library- 53 E 79th St; New York Public Library- 5th Ave at 42nd St; Lincoln Center- Library for the Performing Arts- 40 Lincoln Center Plaza; Schomburg Center- 515 Malcolm X Blvd; and Poet’s House- 10 River Terrace) and discussing the different types of libraries that exist, the differences between a lending library and a research/ reference library, and the differences in a public vs. a private library.

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Grade 11 students engaged in a day of fieldwork called “Walking In Your Character’s Shoes: Writing Marathon” where they explored city landmarks to inspire their own writing.  The four sites that students rotated between were:

  1. 9/11 Memorial (scars: internal and external) – What is a scar (physical or emotional) or a difficult memory that shapes this character? This “scar” may be self-inflicted and a reminder of an internal conflict.  This “scar” may be the residue of hurtful words others have left stained on this character.  Perhaps this “scar” is hidden, tied to an identity the character keeps secret.  Describe a time when this character must confront his/her scar;
  2. Federal Hall (power and powerlessness) – In what ways does your character have power?  In what ways is your character powerless?  What are your character’s goals?  What do they hope to be?  Have they accomplished their goals?  What/who has helped them?  What/who has hindered them?  What obstacles have they overcome?  Are they happy where they are?  Do they live with regret? What are the things they truly value in life?;
  3. Staten Island Ferry (navigating multiple identities) – What metaphorical or physical bridge does your character have to walk across in his/her daily life? Think about how this character moves between social groups and how the character changes depending on his/her surroundings.  Is this transition easy or difficult? Capture a moment when this character needs to transition & what this transition looks like or feels like;
  4. and the Native American Museum (culture and solidarity) – Where does your character go to feel solidarity?  Where does your character feel their culture is most evident or represented? Where does your character go to find peace or refuge? What is a place, a hobby, a song, a friend, or a thing that gives this character freedom to unwind and be himself/herself? Describe a character’s experience with this thing or within this place.  How does it offer the character relief?


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Grade 12 students have been using cinematic terms in class to guide students in writing their personal narratives. For example: zooming in a moment, slowing down the camera, using visual imagery, etc.  For today’s fieldwork, students read an article about using cinematic techniques in narrative writing and then traveled to the Museum of Moving Image.  The purpose of the Expeditionary Thursday was to inspire students to consider different ways of telling their stories and to use cinematic techniques to strengthen their writing.  Students explored the exhibits in the museum and compared the art of filmmaking to the art of writing and gathered inspiration to add well­chosen details and effective event sequences to their narratives.

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