Thursday, September 23, 2010

the adventure's begun

Well it's day 11 and we have officially started our curriculum project.  In the days prior, we have been getting to know each other, establishing routines, working out kinks in the schedule, endured interruptions for fire drills and bus evacuation practice, laid some groundwork for beginning our we can get down to business!

The primates wrote poems about autumn today.  I've read three poems to them so far and we've read & reviewed the book: Sky Tree by Thomas Locker several times.  We've shared personal stories and observations about fall, and brainstormed a list of autumn words, which is posted in the classroom.  This is a very brief intro to poetry because I intend for these poems to  serve as a baseline assessment--what can they do with little direction?  what do they know about poetry and how are they able to translate that to performing the task of a poet?  A few days ago they drew pictures of autumn after brainstorming a list of autumn colors.  They used these pictures as a reference as they wrote today.  The class gathered on the rug and those willing shared their work.  We practiced audience etiquette and how to show support for the very brave act of sharing one's work with a group.

This is a time of major observation for me--getting a sense of my new 1st graders and recognizing growth in my 2s.  As a whole, the group seems excited about poetry and about our subject matter--fall, which is a good sign for how engaged they'll be during an extended poetry study.  Plus this is a wonderful opportunity for primates to share stories from their personal lives and make connections with each other.

We also began our first sketching session.  We discussed finding shapes in objects and explored dried gourds, chestnuts, pinecones, acorns, and seed cases.  Each primate chose one object to sketch--starting with basic shapes.  We established the routine of writing name, date, and the name of the item in the upper right corner.  This is important because we will mark our journal entries in this way.

We are also reading The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony Di Terlizzi and Holly Black.  The primates' imaginations are running wild with mysterious, trickster creatures of the natural world.

Off we go!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The new school year is underway and it has been.......interesting to say the least.

Occasionally I attend these collaborative assessment meetings at Harvard where educators from all parts of the world and all facets of the field gather to consider and discuss student work and current issues in teaching and learning.  After 9/11, the facilitator began reserving the last 15 minutes of discussion to ponder what it means to be an educator in a time of war.  This question has evolved in the years since to: "what does it mean to be an educator at this moment in time?"  A very powerful question with complex and multiple answers.

What does it mean to be a parent in this moment in time?  What does it mean to be a child at this moment in time?

Summer is such an amazing season of sunshine, warmth, and outdoor adventures.  But autumn's cool  and colorful days are my favorite, and as we all settle into a different rhythm of work and school and longer nights, I am considering these questions.

I'm also thinking about how to use the blog this year.  I'd like to include podcasts, and I hope people will respond to the surveys and posts with comments.

I'm listening to the gubernatorial debate as I write this...sigh...educating in this moment of time......