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Cycles of Learning

Hello families!

It's the end of the year - wow!

I am so very happy with how we have done all this. A group of interested educators and parents started hatching the idea for this school over two years ago, and now we are finishing up our first year with this pioneer class. I get all mushy inside and feel my heart swell each time I about it. Thank you for all that you have done to make it happen, for entrusting your children to me each day, and for being patient as we figure out all the details that make a school run.

Cycles of Learning

I believe in what some educators call "spiral curriculum." The idea is that you come back to big ideas in regular intervals and deepen your understanding each time. Children do this on their own, and it's fascinating for me in my role of observer and facilitator to be along for the journey. No one has been particularly excited about painting in the art center for a few weeks, but this last week, it suddenly exploded again. I hadn't introduced new paint or a new way of painting (like with toothbrushes or sponges). The children were just really excited about painting again, and we talked about their paintings as they mixed and layered colors. They told me about how colors blend and what different brush strokes do. I noticed that their paintings have a different level of complexity than they did at the beginning of the year. For some children who were only doing abstract pieces, they are now attempting representational art, and I can see they shapes they describe in their work. For other children, they are working on more complex and layered approaches to their painting.

We did some work with seeds and germination earlier in the year, but we are revisiting them as well. Two children had discovered an experiment in one of our books during "Relax and Read" time. "Can we do this Tracy?" "Sure!" Their interest carried them through the experiment and prompts them to check on their seeds multiple times a day. "Can I make a book to draw how they change?" "Sure! That's one way to keep track of how they change." Suddenly other children are drawing their seeds, and again, it's not because I dictated it but because they want to do it.

Our Theme: Simple Machines

I could say we finished up our work on marble runs this week, but I don't think the children were really done. I did encourage them to continue the work at home and reminded them that all they need are masking tape and paper tubes. Before this last round of work, I asked them to help me list everything they had discovered so far. "When the tubes are steeper, the marbles go faster. The marbles can go up a little hill if they are going fast enough. When you make a turn, you need to build the walls up higher or the marbles fly out. You have to be careful where the tubes come together to use lots of tape." Their list was extensive and included some things that might seem obvious to us as adults, but they were proud of their learning and managed to translate their physical learning into descriptive words.

This week we are going to be doing a series of simple machine centers with nails, screws, hammers, rock bars, block and tackle, and other fun tools. If anyone would like to come in between 1:15 and 2 pm to help, let me know!

I look forward to seeing everyone on Monday and to our last week of the school year!

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