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Space for Conversations

Our kids are busy playing, creating, experimenting, and building each day at school. It's a priority for us. But we also try really hard to make space for real and important conversations. Many of these happen at recess when a student has a few minutes of a teacher's uninterrupted attention or over snack as they talk about the challenges in their lives. Our read-a-loud's also serve as jumping off points for some key discussions. This week when I asked our PK-2nd graders why we didn't have school on Monday, many of them knew it was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. When I asked why he was important, they had some answers, "He worked to make the world more fair." "He wanted everyone to have opportunities." I brought it to the specifics of race, talking explicitly about his work as a black man during the Civil Rights Movement. Suddenly the kids had a whole lot to say about race and skin color, our differences and our similarities. One question by a student gave me a chance to mention "white privilege." I don't expect them to have a clear understanding of all of these complex issues, but we are starting the conversation and making a safe space to talk about some really big ideas.

Science Explorations

All of our kids are busy at work on science experiments. This last week during choice time everyone had the opportunity to visit our science stations where they could see what happened when they mixed different white powders (flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar) with various liquids (water, vinegar, oil). They used straws as droppers and stirring sticks and made all sorts of observations. Meanwhile, we've been starting many of our experiments. What liquid melts ice the fastest vinegar, soda, juice, or water? If we put small pieces of steak, apples, bananas, oranges, and nuts in the woods, what animals will come and what will they eat? A number of students discovered some challenges in their procedures and had to modify their original plans. We've been talking about tallies, charts, and other ways to gather results. This week we'll work to make some conclusions and figure out what questions we want to ask next.

Theresa's 3rd-6th Grade Reflections

How much action can we fit into two days?

The older class at Country Classroom is trying to find out.

Last week, the kids were busy making the ocean! Students created life sized models of their favorite sea creatures. We have an Angler Fish, an electric eel, and so many other sea creatures. (Tracy's Note: I tried to get pictures of these but none of what I took did them justice - look for some shots in next week's post. They did spark some great discussions amongst the younger cohort when they saw them.) The kids are writing research papers about the ocean. Some of them are even doing Science experiments that incorporate salt water and ocean-y ideas! Tomorrow we are going to measure the depths of the sea and make a scale model of the various sea levels.

We have also been busy schlepping into the woods to collect the trail cameras that the Echtner family have left. Our woods contain so much life! We've seen lots of tracks and scat over the years, but it's truly exciting to have pictures to pair with all of the other signs.


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