When you are 7 or 8 years old, the school-year journey between September and June can feel as long as a generation.
With this in mind, children at Savannah Primary School planted a “time capsule” – an undertaking generally reserved for much longer periods – in the schoolyard on Sept. 8 with their beginning of the year essays encased within.
At the end of the school year in June, they will open it up, find their works and see how much they have improved during the past nine months.
For teachers like school literacy coordinator Mary Callaghan, it can sometimes feel as though the children have improved enough for several years’ worth, if they put their minds to it.
“This is our first year we’ve come up with the idea of a writing ‘time capsule’,” Ms. Callaghan said. “We’ll dig it up again on June 8, 2018, and we’ll compare.”
Before the unearthing, the students, from Year 1 to Year 6, will all have written another essay and will be able to see how they have progressed.
“The most important thing for us this year is that we are enabling students to take full accountability and ownership of their learning,” she said.
There has been some concern about public schoolchildren’s achievement, particularly in writing, based on statements made at a recent education conference held in Cayman. Many of the local schools have been taking up the Literacy Month banner, holding events to encourage improved reading and writing.
Carol Nyack, Savannah Primary principal, said the teachers have set certain goals for each student, based on the writing level they are currently in. Even the students with accomplished writing skills can still learn such things as style and technique, Ms. Nyack said, while the younger ones learning the basics focus on such things as complete sentences and proper punctuation.
“They’re going to work towards achieving those targets, by June 8,” Ms. Nyack said.
Before the time capsule was put “in the ground” for the school year, several selected students from Year 3 to Year 6 at Savannah Primary read out their essays and told their classmates what they will be working on during the year.
“I am beginning to make some links between my paragraphs and sentences,” said Jessica Brown, a Year 4 student, describing some of her writing goals for the upcoming year. ”I use appropriate vocabulary.”
Year 5 student Jahnelle Wood described a recent trip to Disney World in her essay (this seemed to be a favorite topic with several of the kids): “As we got there I was very excited, I could not wait until we came out of the bus. When we got out, we rubbed sunscreen on our bodies because it was, like, burning out there. We walked all the way to the boat that takes you to the Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom has everything that you want to do.”
Once the essays were read, they were placed into the capsule and school groundsman Terence Timoll covered them up for unveiling next spring.