Friday, April 29, 2016

Advice for One Another for the 3rd Grade Overnight

This week, amidst the hectic and fun of rehearsing our now finished script, we have also been planning ahead for next week's Oregon Trail Overnight. In addition to having Mrs. Clark visit to help us talk through our feelings about camp, we watched the same powerpoint I shared with all of you, we had a time to write down our questions and get some answers about what to expect.

While Mrs. Clark was with us, we continued to think through our outside and inside emotions about camp.The following is the conversation the children had with one another.  They were invited to share one thing that they were worried about or to offer advice to a concern someone else had voiced.

As you read their words, you will hear all the wisdom they need to find the courage to head off to camp next week. They were full of encouragement, understanding, willingness to share their worries, and the strong connection that exists between them! Please remember I could only type so fast and that I might have missed some comments by a few of the children. Also, some of the children's comments occurred in the morning and I didn't capture those. I share this dialogue with you to give you a window into the type of community your child is supported in, whether or not your child's voice is particularly strong in this example.

Conversation about Camp with Mrs. Clark:  4-28-16

Charlotte:  I’m worried about not being able to sleep because, after my sleep away camp for a week, I couldn’t sleep there very well. It was hard for me.

Leoni: It is hard for me to fall asleep at night too.  I would ask my parents for strategies. The one that really helped me was closing my eyes and just waiting there to fall asleep.

Lily: Thinking about something you like to do or want to.

Uma: Something that helps me is thinking I’m at home.

Ada: That happened to me once and I actually thought I was home when I woke up.

Catherine: I try to think about how good it feels to be in bed and all the exhausting things I did that day.  I also picture myself sleeping and that helps. One thing I worry about is that I have never been somewhere I don’t know without my parents. I am afraid there might be some surprises that I am not sure I will feel good about.

Quinny: I have a suggestion for Charlotte, I bring my stuffed animal and snuggle it and that makes me feel better.

Aaren: I don’t like to go to bed, but my parents will tell me that I have something to look forward to the next day, and then I will go to sleep sooner so the better things will come faster.

Ben: In order for me to go to bed, it’s not like I can just go to bed. I have to think about something, that turns into a dream and then I know I am sleeping, then I don’t want to wake up because I like the dream and then I am sleeping.

Ada: Mine is similar to Ben’s, I think of something random and it turns into a dream and then I realize I’m dreaming and wake up. It’s annoying.

Flynn: If you are missing your parents, during cabin time I am thinking I could draw my parents. I have a concern that my stuffy might get wrecked.

James: I have something like Ben, I can control my dreams. I go to sleep a little bit, I can control my dreams because I’m just a little bit asleep.  I can control my dreams and it is super cool.

Charlotte: I have a strategy for Catherine, my cousin went with me and that helped me. If you have a friend in your cabin, that will help you feel better.

Quinny: I have a strategy for Flynn about losing your stuff animal, I know I am going to bring a soft white stuff animal and it is easy for it to get dirty so I am planning to leave it in my backpack.  

Leoni: I am worried if I forget to write my name on things I’ll lose it. Or if my clothes get all dirty I won’t have a change.

Lily: I worried if the tape will fall off the labels for my clothes.

Catherine: I have a strategy where I pack far in advance, like a couple months in advance. Everyday I check and make sure I have everything. I get it in my system to make sure I have everything. That works for me.

James: My mom is exactly like that! It is still possible to forget something. My mom did!

Uma: Sometimes, when I am scared, it helps me to pack early and double check.

Ben: I have also had a bunch of experiences staying away from my family. I go to a camp called, Camp Nor’wester. It is really long, a month. You are with people you hardly know at all.  There are counselors, a bunch of really nice people, I think it is a good place.

Theo: It helps me to go to the bathroom as soon as I wake up and right before I go to sleep. Then I can just relax.

Jia:  One thing about not losing your clothes is that you might want to keep them in your bag, and search for what you need.  If your friend accidentally picked up something that was yours, you can ask for it politely, for them to give it back to you. Just in case you mix things up.

Lily: Are there bunkbeds? I worried about sleeping on the top bunk because I might sleep walk.

Ben: When I was in Kindergarten I had a bunk bed. My brother and I slept together and it was awful.  I liked the top more than the bottom.  I fell off the top and broke my finger. Then my mom decided we needed our own rooms.

Soren: I am really excited about being with friends.

Peter: Me too! I am excited about being away from my sister.

Quinny: I am looking forward to being with friends.

Ben: I can't wait for cooking on hobo stoves.

Jia: New experience, new things!

Catherine: I am really excited about being independent ,not depend on my family.

Lily: I can't wait to be away from my brother.

Ada: I am excited about being with friends.

Flynn: I think I'll like having cabin time so I can pour out my ideas.

Uma- I am looking forward to seeing who's in my cabin and my mom being there.

Charlotte- I am excited to have space from my brother and sister.

Leoni- Can't wait to hang out with friends.

Aaren- Me too!

James- I like being away at camp, I've done sleep aways a ton!

Just to remind you camp is next Tuesday through Wednesday.  Please arrive to school at the regular time on Tuesday morning, there is no need to arrive early.  Please deposit your child's labeled duffle bag/backpack, sleeping bag, and pillow on the tables in the 1/2 wing.  The chaperones and any available adults can help load it once the bus arrives to depart around 8:10am from the covered walkway.  

You can pick your child up on Wednesday behind the gym around 2pm.  We will notify the school if we will be late and they will send out an email to 3rd Grade parents. Please do not contact them.  Your child is welcome to stay at school until the end of the day and go on to EC or after school classes.  Remember, they will be tired! Currently, the weather looks good sunny/ cloudy and highs of 70's, please still send your child with a raincoat just in case.  

Please make sure your child's medications have been sent to school if the school does not already have them on file. Let me know by Monday if you have any questions.

Friday, April 22, 2016

How do you make pickles?

Earlier this week, I mentioned that I would share with all of you more about the conference I attended entitled, Reading the World. Peter Johnston, the keynote speaker who wrote the book, Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives, had said the following quote... 

“Sometimes a single word changes everything… Because of our embodied histories, much of the time our own responses to children are automatic. We open our mouths and our parents or previous teachers come out. Changing our talk requires gaining a sense of what we are doing, our options, their consequences, and why we make the choices we make… the language we choose in our teaching changes the worlds children inhabit now and those they will build in the future.”  
This quote led me to reflect more on my own teaching, (as well as parenting) and I returned to school with a greater intention of how to choose my words carefully with the children. I want to support them to work with one another, and particularly with how to help them understand and digest these larger complicated concepts about thinking like a historian and considering multiple perspectives.

While visiting a 4th and 5th grade classroom at the Opal School, where the conference was being held, and where I taught for 11 years before coming to OES, I stumbled on a quote on the wall from one of my former 1st grade students, now a 5th grader. 

He said, "Making pickles is like making a culture. It's like the brine that you soak the pickles in determines the flavor of the pickles, it's just like that with people. Whatever you grow up in shapes how you believe."   -Devin age 10

I asked Devin if I could borrow his metaphor of the pickle making to share with my 3rd Graders. He said yes,
-I wondered if this metaphor might help them understand more about the different cultures of Pioneer, Fur Trapper, Native American, and African American Pioneers.
- I wondered if using this powerful image of pickling would help me, to help the children to open up to new possibilities, encourage creativity, and then build connections between one another and the learning we are engaged in. 

I want to remind you as you read the children's conversation to remember that not everyone is a verbal processor and that some of the children share their thinking around this issue through their writings, drawings, and in the acting and script writing we have been doing in class. I share this conversation to share with you how the children build off of one another's ideas, to illustrate how this metaphor allowed them to make amazing connections that not all of them had made before. I want you to notice how the power of a joyful, compelling metaphor was able to open up thinking, and how it represents the "brine" we are creating in our community. This way of talking and listening is a part of our classroom culture. We have conversations like this on a regular basis and everyone is honored in our "brine" to think and process these ideas in their own way. I'll be curious to see what you all notice too!

We started the conversation by talking about our own jar, our own brine. Here is what the children said it was filled with...
Wonder, friendship, loving, working together, difference, history, questions, emotion, character, stories, fun, friends, imagination, helpfulness, hope, playful, ideas....

Jia said: "What's in the jar represents what we've learned, our friendship, how we came into a community.

Then I asked them: How do  you make pickles?   What is a brine?  How might making pickles be like creating a community?   

How is making pickles and the brine, like making a community?

Leoni: Instead of pickles I am thinking more of people. At the beginning of the year people were shy and not really willing to make friends. As you stay in this classroom and eventually you get happiness, kindness, friendship, kindheartedness, wonderful and you turn into this person who is kind of different than the beginning.Will: I think it is like a life cycle, you start the beginning of the year as a cucumber. It takes a while to get into the groove and know where everything is and make new friends and that’s when you go into the jar, no spices no sweetness. By the the middle of the year you’ve gotten into the groove, you’re good and that’s when you get cooked. Then it’s toward the end of the year and you’ve had spicy and sweetness and you turn into a new person. By the end of the year you turn into a pickle, you are a completely different person and you know new things and have new friends and know new experiences.

Ben: Just like in my drawing, just like Will said, at the beginning of the year you start out as a cucumber, you don’t know that much, you have friends and people you know and you want to stay with them and so I called them Cucumbers from the Island of Garden and then there are other people who have already been at this school and already know where everything is and know everyone here and so they are already pickles from the Island of Learning and I drew a machine and so when the cucumbers go through it it is kind of like the year and at the end of the year of being in the brine you come out at pickles, and those kids that were new are a new kind of pickle.

Cat: What happened to the other people that were already there?

Ben: The cucumbers are like the new people.

Uma: So what do you guys think would happen if every year they became a pickle because every year you go to school, so when would you become a different kind of pickle?

Ms. B: Wait, there are different kinds of pickles? Would every pickle in the jar taste the same?

All: (A resounding- NO!)

Will: Every other single person is different and has different knowings and different experiences.

Ms. B: What are the things that are going in the jar that make different kinds of pickles? I heard experiences, feelings… differences, wonder..

Peter: More than one kind of cucumber can come from the same plant, like your brothers and sisters.

Lily: It’s like your family puts stuff in the jar too!

Ben: Soren and Uma just gave me an idea, the Jar of Learning, it’s the brine and you need that to work the machine because you can’t make a pickle with no brine, each different jar has a different personality and you learn something new every year and so every year there is a new jar of learning for you so  you keep getting new personalities as you learn things.

Uma: Wouldn’t it be your entire time you are in school you are in the brine and then when you graduate is when you actually become a pickle, you have to be there for a long time to actually become one.  

Ms. B: When  you make pickles how long does it take for them to be ready to eat?

Uma/ Ada:  A long time! Like 2 months.

Ada: I thought about the spices and sugar and salt all those things are the personalities of all these different people and they get mixed into you and when you come out you are completely changed.

Victoria: I thought of it as like a family, like every single person in it has a different job. Every different cucumber has different ingredients added to it in the community. Without every single one of those people or jobs in the community, it wouldn’t be what it is.

Catherine: Our class is full of wonderful things, and it is also full of things we need to work on. I don’t think any class if full of pure perfect. Every class has it’s things it needs to work, every class has its problems.

Will: Every class has its’ own jar.

Catherine: Yeah, and we can fix those problems but you know all these things in the jar are good things that we need to learn.  I think we need to add some of those things to our jar.

Flynn: It reminds me of that video we watched about empathy with the fox and the bear. I felt like the brine was the empathy you are giving to someone else, the friends you are giving to them and the feelings you are giving to them and then they become a part of your community and they are getting help from the brine.  What’s the stuff in between the pickles? I thought of that there might be a few problems in there, might not always be happy stuff, you might meet someone really spicy and you are really suite and then you might have a fight.

Lily: Every class has it flaws and there is no where to hide things, they will all come out.

Catherine: That’s ok.

Lily: It’s definitely okay.

Catherine: As long as you try..

Ms. B: So as you are listening to this conversation, what is this pickling thing all about, what are we talking about?

Soren: If I have someone else in my class or my grade that was my sister or brother, well the teachers are a part of the brine too and they can change how you look at things and so depending on your teacher, it’s not just your classmates who put stuff in the jar, your teacher does too.

Ms. B: Do I put a lot of stuff in that jar?

All: Yes!!!

Ben: I think there are always 2-3 pickles that don’t exactly… they were originally meant to be bossy or something like that, so there are 2-3 pickles that always think there own thing no matter what.

Will: Maybe they had different amounts of sweetness or salty.

Ms. B: So what I am wondering now is if we think about what goes into our community jar, what goes into some of these other jars….

Lots of voices: Wow! Oh cool!

Ms. B: What goes into the brine for these different groups of people?

Victoria: For every single one, difference! They think different ways they have different things that are important to them.  They all have the desire to survive and get more beaver.

Theo: I know something else, they all have different cultures.

Flynn: They all have different DNA or RNA.

James: What is RNA?

Will: They all come from different backgrounds, they have different schemas.

Many voices: They all have different brines!

James: The Hudson’s Bay Company told them what to do if they were fur trappers.

Soren: The brine that goes into the Chinook and the Kalapuyaa, they never thought that you could buy the land and keep it. They thought that if you got there that other people would come too but you just had to share it.  The brine of the Pioneers was that if I buy the land then I get to keep it and it is my land.

Victoria: They didn’t buy it they claimed it.

Lily: They just took it.

Aaren: All of them needed courage in their jar.

Ms. B: What went into their jar that gave them courage?

Will: There are different spices that give courage?

Catherine: If they have a problem they use courage to fix it.

Leoni: People who face their fears.

Soren: They have nothing to lose.

Peter: It depends on what plant they came from.

Charlotte: They could be people who try something new.

Victoria: Are you sure that all of these groups are different and come from different jars?

Ms. B: Hmm… interesting idea.

Victoria: Because we all know that Pomp came from two different plants, not just one kind of plant.  

Ms. B: That’s right, that’s what we have been writing about in our play about what happens when all of these cultures spill into each other.

Lily: Pomp, even if he chose to be a fur trapper, he would still have a part of him that is Native American.

Jonathan: Your genes go into the jar.

Flynn: Yes, your genetics definitely go into the jar. DNA, RNA!

Ms. B: Yes and, what does that tell people in the jar to do then, what to believe, how to behave…

Leoni: Creation stories, you would have grown up hearing them.

Flynn: Culture

Will: That we have a different creation story than you.

Victoria: They all believed differently.

Ada: The Chinook believed they came from Thunderbird.

Leoni: The Kalapuuya had different creation story that they came from coyote or from the wolf.

Peter: They would have had knowledge.

Quinny: They all have different sayings. Languages.

Ada: Everyone spoke Chinook wa wa, but they didn’t all have the same first language.

Ms. B: So would your language have helped determine what kind of pickle you would be?

Please check under parent resources on the righthand side of the blog to see a link to the slideshow with information about the 3rd Grade Overnight.

Photos of the Week

Friday, April 8, 2016

Conditions for Rebirth

I was gifted a poem by Parker J. Palmer this week, with a passage in it that reminded me of the journey our learning community has been on. It connects to the metaphor that spring gifts us each year of starting fresh, emerging as something new, and unexpected.

"There is a hard truth to be told: before spring becomes beautiful, it is plug ugly, nothing but mud and muck. I have walked in the early spring through fields that will suck your boots off, a world so wet and woeful it makes you yearn for the return of ice. But in that muddy mess, the conditions for rebirth are being created."    -Parker J. Palmer

Getting outside has been a must this week. The energy of the spring and the warm weather have captured the energy in the children. Their ideas and enthusiasm have coming pouring out of them. As they arrived back from Spring Break, they greeted one another with genuine hugs all around. They bubbled out stories of adventures near and far, and found comfort in being reunited.

As we near the end of 3rd Grade, the children are building off all the hard work they have put in to building a loving, effervescent community. They are finding that all this effort has created strength and security in one another that allows them to dig into producing high quality, thought provoking work that they couldn't have imagined doing when entering 3rd Grade. They are growing, changing, right before our very eyes into more mature, thoughtful and interesting people everyday.  Because of the shared learning community they have diligently created together, they are now able to take big risks to share, write, and synthesis our learning about Oregon History. It is beautiful to witness.  

Photos of the Week