It has been such a long time since I have blogged with my usual frequency and fervor. Quite incredible how much time and energy a learning curve needs. My reading pace has slipped. Time runs away from me. I seem to wok constantly and not complete much. I am in full fledged learner mode while tasked with the important role of helping a learning community grow.
New everything – school, grade levels, community and students – after twenty-one years in another position, it’s a lot. I am trying to find my rhythm. Figuring it out step by step. Observing closely. Messing up. Deeply learning even if I don’t have the time to sit and reflect on what exactly feels new and right. This need to reflect – to figure it out word by word- has lured me back to this blog. On the page is where my thinking often happens best.
I have collected what I need on this Saturday morning: a second cup of coffee, a set of photos, some samples of student work and some quiet time. And of course this important question: What needs to be celebrated?
Some simple things that mean a lot as we build a community together of learning, thinking and doing.
Students bring their siblings into our room in the morning and read to them. Literacy matters here.
In Writer’s Workshop, some of our best writing happens gathered together – we talk, we write, we think and then we share. The enthusiasm for writing becomes contagious.
Learning does not have to be solitary. When we discover things together, the learning is deeper. We are all teachers for each other.
Learning to listen and share in a group takes time. All of our voices matter.
When we have to persevere through challenging tasks, the struggle feels exciting as we work through it together.
Math teams are a bonus. We learn a lot from listening to someone else reason. Noticing patterns and solving problems is effective as a social process.
When we learn how to do something amazing and get practice time to create and explore . . .
We make beautiful things. And . . .
We learn skills to teach others. Even adults!
Note: The art pictures above are taken in the Art and Discovery studio at my school. Every 3 weeks we get to work with Maggie, our amazing Artist in Residence. My students shine during the activities Maggie sets up for us and they love to share what they learn with others. In the photo above they are teaching another teacher about print making with gelatin.
Getting outside when we learn and reason things through is always amazing! Our classroom should extend into our community.
*Here we are figuring out how far 360 meters is and how long it would take to walk on the ice and in the cold of Antarctic waters. We are learning about the Shackleton Expedition and that when the Endurance got stuck in the pack ice, open water was only 400 yards (360 m. away). The crew had to set up winter camp and wait for improved conditions.
Later we came inside and wrote in the role of a crew member stranded on the ice.
Samples of student writing:
I am sorry to say but I may not make it back home. Shackleton has said that we are stuck and going to set up for winter camp. From here, I can see the open ocean – just 365 meters (a ten minute walk) away.
I hope our family is doing well. I hope that you get this letter. Oh how I wish I could be sitting with you by the warm fire at home.
Every day when I go to the edge of the ice, I think of you. I think of how much I miss you. I even think of you when I am working.
We’ve seen humpback whales, crab eater seals and many types of seabirds. Even ringed penguins! In my spare time, I sometimes go fishing.
And this one:
I miss you so so much!! Shackleton said we must stay and put up a winter camp. The Endurance is stuck in the pack ice. I wish I were home with you right now. Open water is 365 meters away. Everyday I go to the edge of the water and look in. It’s really, really cold here. I wish you were all here with me. I am really scared we might not make it. I want the Endurace to become unstuck. The animals are really cool. Today I did a cartwheel. Everybody laughed really hard. Love to you all.
Aren’t these powerful? The students wrote these in 15 minutes after our discussion and excursion outside.
Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!
Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.