This may seem like a strange thing to celebrate – but this week I celebrate an absence of tears. Two days in a row my students worked on some challenging pentominoes activities. Working with new materials and exercising visual spatial skills was not easy for many of us. If we had tried this in the first month of school, yikes . . . Yet, instead of tears of frustration, pleas for help or giving up, the room was full of quiet, calm and determination.
The task? Create rectangles with an area of 20 square units (4 pentominoes) or 15 square units (3 pentominoes) and squares with an area of 25 square units (5 pentominoes).
The strategies? Perseverance. Talk. Trial and error. Time
Day 2 was easier than Day 1.
Slowly we began to get used to how the shapes fit together.
When we made a rectangle or square we recorded our results – listing the letters of the pentominoes. And then, often, we helped some others. Helping is harder than it seems. How exactly do you talk someone through placing these shapes together? Lots of new language and descriptive vocabulary was being shared.
“Flip that one over.”
“Think of it like an “L” in the corner.”
“Remember each side has 5 squares.”
“Think what space you are missing when you look at pieces.”
“Shift it around.”
“Try a different orientation.”
“Can you visualize the pieces you are missing?”
In more than 30 minutes of “work time” each day, some students didn’t once figure out how to successfully make a square or a rectangle without some assistance. Not once. And yet, they kept trying. Continuously. Without complaint. Hopefully. Focussed.
30 minutes and still trying. Still trying when others are shouting, “Got one!” Still trying when you believe you have one too and then you don’t. Still trying when you do get one because you had some hints and then you try a different solution on your own and it just won’t work. Still trying because you believe that eventually you will be able to do it. Still trying because on Monday, you just might be able to . . .
I am celebrating that I feel June in the air. Not June as in warm afternoons, end of the year energy. No. June as in confidence. Risk taking. A learning community that embraces faith as much as skills.
I celebrate this perseverance. The absence of tears. The presence of effort – pure, supported, trusted.
Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.