The Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy (BCHA), located in Stamford, appreciates innovative initiatives that benefit its students. In that vein, fourth grade teacher Beth Fritz and fifth grade teacher Adrianne Robinson are spending the summer planning and creating the Lawn Chair Literacy Project.
Fritz has been teaching at BCHA for 25 years and has been instrumental in countless initiatives. Her talents and expertise in literacy, along with her background in educating the gifted and talented, are evident in everything she does.
Robinson has been at BCHA for 21 years. She has spent most of that time teaching fifth grade and middle school math. Currently, Robinson runs the BCHA Middle School student council, campus store and the Choose Kind initiative.
During their tenure at the school, the teachers have collaborated on projects such as Literary Lane, a hallway of middle school lockers painted to look like book spines reflecting classic literature. They also conceptualized, built and opened two Makerspaces, one for the elementary and middle schools and the other, Makerspace Jr., for the early childhood division. Their first-ever Makerfaire was held a few years ago, which saw vendors from BCHA’s local area invited to demonstrate their STEM innovations. ASML, Home Depot, A Local Sculpture and even BCHA’s high school students participated. Currently, Fritz and Robinson are working to get their new initiative, the Lawn Chair Literacy Project, off the ground.
The Lawn Chair Literacy Project at BCHA will launch this fall. The project will provide multi-functional outdoor learning opportunities for students of all ages. “Our purpose is to create an environment that allows our students to engage in thoughtful discussions of literary elements. The space itself will invite small group literature circles and poetry readings in a comfortable outdoor setting where students can engage in sophisticated discussions and critical thinking,” said Robinson.
Robinson explained that the concept itself came about in a very organic way, as both teachers are constantly looking for ways to elevate what they do at BCHA. The duo are always seeking creative and unique approaches that transmit to their students their enthusiasm for learning. “After teaching 18 months through a pandemic, we recognize the importance of maximizing outdoor learning spaces—not only for the safety of our students, but also to increase academic engagement,” she said.
Fritz pointed out that “learning comfortably outside is just as important as sitting at a desk inside the classroom. Not only will the teachers use these chairs as an outdoor learning space, but students may choose to sit comfortably and read a book instead of engaging in physical play at recess.”
The pair want their project to be purposeful and meaningful for their students. Adirondack chairs were invented in 1903 by Thomas Lee as means to create a comfortable way for his family to gather together outside. Critical to the successful launch of the Lawn Chair Literacy Project is the procurement of dozens of these chairs, to provide clean and safe outdoor seating for thoughtful and purposeful discussions.
To help Fritz and Robinson with their endeavor, please click below to make your contribution. https://www.bcha-ct.org/donations/index.html?source=chair
Susan R. Eisenstein is a longtime Jewish educator, passionate about creating special, innovative activities for her students. She is also passionate about writing about Jewish topics and about Israel. Susan has two master’s degrees and a doctorate in education from Columbia University.