Monthly Archives: April 2018

Earth Hour with 21 Third Graders

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#sol18 April 17, 2018

 

This week is Earth Week at our school and today we started with an “Earth Hour” where we were all encouraged to turn off the lights and AC and appreciate Earth (read as a subtle hint to get your butts outside). All of that sounds great, but a few realities soon set in…

  1. Without the lights on in our classroom even on a sunny day it is too dark to do much of anything.
  2. It is hot, hot, hot this week (real feel over 100 and humid), so without the room really heats up the room quickly.
  3. There is not much shaded outdoor space at our school so we would have to be flexible.

We headed outside a few minutes early and held our Morning Meeting at the covered play area. It was hard to hear their voices, but we did the best we could. Next we split up into groups to practice storytelling/reading the stories that we would share with our Prep Senior buddies (kindergarten at our school). The students had written these, so a practice beforehand was essential and worked out well out there.

By then the area started to get more crowded, so we looked for another outdoor space- sadly the peace garden was taken, as was the other garden area, so we ended up settled on a low wall near the front of the school. Here all the students had a chance to write or sketch what they wanted and enjoy the outdoor time (I wrote a poem with the last line being “and some are never quiet”, which tells you it may not have been as peaceful as I had imagined beforehand.

For our final few minutes, we went inside to a new space, the Community Room. The room is usually used for meetings, but the door had been left open, so we ventured in- it was hot! We read Brendan Wenzel’s Hello Hello, which seemed appropriate for Earth Week, as it focuses on the wonder of animals in our world and calls us to advocate for animals that are threatened.

We then headed back to our classroom and spent a few minutes cooling down (and started our next chapter book read aloud The Creature of the Pines, book 1 in the Unicorn Rescue Society series). We enjoyed the change of scenery but appreciated the air conditioning for sure!

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The Wonder of Wonder

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#sol18- April 10, 2018

We have just started our “Earth and Space” science unit and one of the big ideas is how day and night work. Rather than watching a video, reading a book, or resorting to another way of “teaching” the students we are trying to help them figure it out through observations. The pre assessment revealed few (if any) students had any clear understanding of this, so we are starting to explore. Yesterday and today we went outside at various times to photograph our shadows. We went out at 8:30 AM, 10AM, and noon yesterday. Then I asked the students to post their three pictures on their blog and write about what they thought was happening.

One student wrote that earlier in the day there are fewer clouds and later in the day when there are more clouds the sun gets covered so your shadow is shorter. Other students just posted their pictures without any speculation as yet. Some even “knew” that it had something to do with the location of the sun. Today when we went outside for another photo shoot at 2PM there were some excited squeals of delight when they saw their shadow behind them, some students shouted out “I knew that would happen!”, while others were truly surprised.

Our discussions over the next few days will be interesting as we begin the process of making individual models, then partnering up to share ideas, then attempt to come up with a class version. This wonder of wonder is one of the things I love best about inquiry! I am annoyed that my pictures are on my school ipad, because even though I am a jaded adult, the shadows were intriguing!

 

Hiraeth

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#sol18 April 3, 2018

Most mornings (I would like to say every morning, but I have to be honest, it is most mornings) after I poke off my alarm and turn on the water heater I next switch on Calm (a mindfulness/meditation app) while I wait for the water to heat up. Tamara Levitt‘s soothing voice guides me for 10 minutes as I try to practice mindfulness. Today she introduced the word “hiraeth”, a Welsh word, meaning nostalgia or homesickness for the lost places of your past. This struck a chord with me this morning on so many levels. It could be my transition back to school after a great (and very relaxing) break, but there was more. As I prepare to move on from my school this June I am spending more time reflecting on what I will miss about here and what I hope to find in the next place, so kind of a preemptive nostalgia. Couple that with the knowledge that two of my very best friends recently spent a few days together (we live in three different countries, so time together is not easy). I do not make friends easily (I am an introverted hermit at heart), so really treasure the friends I do have. While I think back to these friendships I am ever hopeful that I will make some good friends in the next place too. Tamara ended the session by reminding us that it is important to make room for the present since life is an exercise of constant change. So while hiraeth may really focus on a place, for me, today, it brought to mind the people of my past and my hope for the future (without shutting off the present).

 

Former students still slicing- Zhi Hong and Juliet.