What Happens When Recess is Draining?
What can you expect during a brief break in an overly long line of rainy days. The weather was merely spitting rain, the sky overcast, and the playground mostly flooded. At least the key area, that around the basketball hoop was reminiscent of your better quality of lagoons. Hardly the ideal outside recess set-up, or one would think. One of the special things about MWJDS is we strive to offer at least a choice for outside recess whenever plausible, and with the break in the rain, it was. Thus, a small group of Atid students braved the currents and headed outside. (Oh yes, at MWJDS, we hold that recess is vital for all our students, that the need to run around, get fresh air, and have some self-directed time doesn’t get in the way of learning, but enhances it. But more on this in a bit)
Getting outside, it seemed like our new field was now lakefront property. One of the self-chosen few asked “Can we drain it?” pointing to the growing pool. As ever the English teacher in me was ready to swing into the difference between “can” and “may” however, the engineering instructor answered first. “Can you?” With a sparkle in his eye, said student and his rapidly growing cohort replied that they could and got to work on the project.
After surveying the problem, one key issue became known, a clever dam remained from an earlier building project from a recess now past, across the pre-existing drainage path for the backlogged water. However, after clearing the dam, even with efforts to push the water along caused only a meager flow of water. A marked improvement over no drainage, but hardly the success they were after.
Examining the issue once more and a little pacing out of possible paths, brought a new solution together. With a very little clearing of a route needed, the standing water, could start draining away from the new field and down into an unused area of the property. Using discarded items converted into digging tools and some select truly hands on work formed a channel; water started to course down the hill, into the fenced off area. Within minutes the water level dropped, and by the afternoon recess (yes, we also hold that one chance to run around isn’t enough during the school day) drained fully from the playground.
In fifteen minutes, a group of four set themselves a challenge, planned and tested their theory, redesigned their plan based on the results, tested the new plan, and assessed those results. They also demonstrated their collaborative problem solving skills and team work abilities as they carried out the joint task. They consider the ecological impact of the water flow, and adjusted to minimize any potential problems making use of reclaimed materials. And, they also had an amazing time during and doing the work, laughing and teaming with excitement as they performed a mitzvah for their peers who now had a cleared blacktop to play on.
So many of these outcomes are common goals in lessons at MWJDS. One sign of proficiency is when one stops trying to do something and “merely” does it. This crew proved mastery across skill sets and deftly used their background knowledge, such as casually alluding to aqueducts (while someone else shouted out the root and base word) while mapping the run-off for rate of flow and checking the strength of their banks. These exchanges highlighted yet another reason that having recess is so important across the grades. Students fully discover what they can do, when they have the freedom to. Honestly, this could have been a class project in Science, Math, or Humanities, but during the recess block the students blending the separate subjects into a seamless whole, with passion and grace. So, what happens when recess is draining (the blacktop)? Quite a bit as it turns out Thanks Bryce, Ian, Jaron, and Justin for an amazing recess! -Mr. Merlyn