In partnership with classroom teachers from University of Chicago charter schools, the third grade team at Lab applied for an exploratory grant, and received the funding to support a cross-school project. Many third graders citywide study the history of Chicago, and this project provided a meaningful opportunity for students at Lab to share that experience with students outside of their immediate community.
Students were paired with pen pals from the charter school, and after establishing an initial relationship via handwritten letters, the pen pals met in person for the first time in February. During the spring quarter, all the third graders studied several Chicago neighborhoods, both in their homerooms and in cross-school groups. As a culminating project, private tour buses with Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Company were reserved for an urban tour for the pen pal partnerships. All six third grade classes toured the neighborhoods of Bronzeville, Pilsen, Little Italy and Chinatown. A docent led the tour of neighborhoods, while also sharing the microphone with the third graders. This provided the students a chance to share their research on the neighborhoods they had studied. Parent volunteers came from both Lab and Donoghue. Spirits were high, and fun was had by all.
After the bus tours, third grade parent volunteers served over 300 students with food made by local Chicago neighborhood restaurants including Pearl’s Place (Bronzeville), Taqueria Los Compels (Pilsen), Pompei (Little Italy) and Triple Crown (Chinatown). It was an exciting chance for the third graders to forge connections beyond the classroom. It was a culturally and historically rich cross-curricular partnership.
Special thanks to Cheryl Rudbeck and Brittany Chang for organizing this special luncheon.