Berkshire Elementary is alive with excitement of global proportion as it prepares for its first school wide “World’s Fair” this Friday, May 24, beginning at 9:00 A.M. A yearlong mission has taken students and teachers at the large, culturally diverse, dual language elementary school to new and fascinating places while bringing them closer together as a community.
On Friday Berkshire’s large outdoor courtyard will be transformed into a global marketplace buzzing with students “selling” and “buying” goods, products, and services that represent cultures from around the world. Each grade level was assigned a continent and each classroom chose a country within their continent to represent. They have spent the year exploring the many facets of their country and its culture through the lenses of different academic subjects and will now take all that they have learned and share it with their school community. There will be colorful booths, music and dancing, handmade goods, food and beverage tastings, and more. Students will practice basic economic and social principles as they travel freely through the marketplace exploring the world.
Events and projects leading up to this culminating event have been plentiful. In September all 64 K-6 classes kicked off the collective journey by participating in a flag challenge, creating a large replica of their country’s flag using innovative materials and artistic ideas. These colorful and eclectic masterpieces have hung as a gallery in the school’s main hallway all year. In October Berkshire students took the stage to host “One World,” an evening performance for their peers, teachers, parents and the larger community that highlighted cultural dances, songs, stories, and more. As an arts integrated school many of the explorations and experiences of this project have engaged students in creative thinking and expression through various art forms.
The deeper goal of the World’s Fair project and arts integration alike is to bring previously compartmentalized ideas together and make strong connections across the entire spectrum of the curriculum. In that vein this journey has led to science experiments about African water filtration systems, read alouds comparing and contrasting ancient South American legends, and math lessons identifying the geometric shapes in famous European paintings. According to Kari Ratka, Berkshire Elementary teacher, “The project has reached far beyond what would normally be contained to social studies curriculum and Berkshire teachers believe their students have had an unforgettable year of the most meaningful kind of learning because of it.”
Friday’s bright, flavorful courtyard marketplace will be filled with nearly 1200 students and teachers who have a deeper appreciation of many unique corners of the globe, and an understanding of just how interconnected we really are: our school and our world.