This week’s article features Beecher’s outstanding MAG program. ‘MAG (multi-age group) is a unique and award-winning program that includes 80 students in grades 1-4.
MAG Transfers its Energy from Classroom to Home
Energy was the Multi-age Group’s Umbrella Theme for this year. How we get our energy and how we use our energy are vital components of our lives and of a healthy environment and climate. This project-based study included a series of four intensive and engaging six-day workshops designed by the MAG adults with the children’s interests and curricula in mind: Combustion, Electricity, Renewable Energy, and Chemical Energy. Multi-aged groups of children rotated through these workshops. As a culminating activity, they worked together to design and curate a MAG Energy Museum to educate their families (see photo).
As we all moved to Distance Learning, MAG children conducted weekly energy experiments with their families and shared their observations and conclusions with the whole community. In addition to continuing the energy study at home, storytelling took place daily, with many children recording the stories. Fourth Years filmed themselves presenting the biographies they researched. They later shared these videos with the younger children and with each other. Nature Journal pages, original stories, artwork and poems were collected and shared in an ever-growing digital anthology of MAG works. Announcements, sharing of projects completed at home, and mini-workshops taught by children and parents were all virtually a part of our MAG Weekly Learning Plan. While working and learning from home brought new challenges, our multi-age community worked to keep our traditions going and our spirit strong.
As the weeks passed and we worked to maintain consistent contact and learn together, it became increasingly apparent that the children needed more opportunities to connect with each other. The power of being together and learning together cannot be overstated. At the start of Distance Learning, children typed comments about the Meeting agenda in the MAG daily Meeting notes. MAG then moved to holding some of our meetings on Google Meet so children could see each other. That was quite a feat for eighty children to accomplish. They were very patient. Other ways children stayed connected daily were through small group lessons, informal gatherings, and committee work on Google Meet. Multi-age committees planned important MAG traditions such as the MAG t-shirt design, recipes for the cooking program, the “Secret Good-Bye Song” for the Fourth Years, and farewell celebrations for classmates that are moving away.
Fourth Year students were still able to run the two final Entertainment Shows of the year from home. Their introductions and acts were digitally created and compiled into iMovies for all to enjoy. Our 9th Annual Poetry Slam was also presented as a movie of kids’ and adult teachers’ original poetry performances. All of the components of our End-Of-Year Celebration were virtually created to produce what we know will be a treasured memory. This celebration included songs recorded by every child and synthesized into a choral concert. Each base group had a special role in the celebration. First Years made virtual introductions. Second Years performed an air-guitar Rock ‘n Roll act with the 3-D shape guitars they built from kits. Third Years assembled, painted, and gave gifts to our “graduating elders”. Fourth Year Elders recited a poem and performed skits. None of this could have been accomplished without children rising to the many challenges of distance learning and without the parents actively supporting them at home.
- Children review the activities for the Electromagnetism Display.
- A fourth and second year child preparing a display about wind energy for the MAG Energy Museum.