Tuesday, March 26, 2013

At this Moment: Our Work in Math

 At the beginning of the year, we would ask the children to "show their work" at the Counting Jar, a weekly experience

The children did not understand why this was necessary. "We counted ten jewels....there just are ten jewels."

As time passed, the children began to see that the questions we asked during our math workshop were similar to the  questions asked throughout the day.

 "What do you think?"

 "How did you discover that theory or strategy?" 

"Would you explain that theory or strategy to others?"

"Would you draw your thoughts?"

Our world is a collage of shapes. The children deconstructed our environment  using shapes. 
What are the shapes that surround us?  This study is fluid, open and relevant to the children. There is always a social exchange and collaboration which in return heightens the learning and the complexity of the finished pieces. 

Geoboards have come along way and can still captivate. Shapes snugly fit next to other shapes. Several shapes overlap to form a new shape unexpectedly.

The game, Blockus, uses 21 shapes based on free polyominoes from one to five squares ( monomino, domino,  trominoes/triominoes,  tetrominoes, and pentominoes). The rules are simple but it does require much strategizing and consideration of spatial relations.

The Kindergarten is telling, writing, acting out and solving word problems using numbers. We realized that this is sometimes a different process than story writing (however a true writer cannot pass up the opportunity to insert some detail and suspense).

Story Workshop: The Wisdom of Ninjago

Tanner, Jericho, and Ian worked together at the collage table during Story Workshop. They created and recreated the setting for the story and then negotiated the characters and the plot.  Later when I sat with them to listen to the story the conversation unfolded in an unexpected way. 

The bad guy ship is trying to get the gem (hidden under the basket). The sea monsters and the good ships are standing guard and protecting the gem. All of a sudden, the Great Chomper, a giant clam that chomps, jumps on the bad guy boat and began to eat it. 

The ending for the story however was under debate. 

Jericho: The sea monsters attack the bad guy ship and then it sinks.

Ian: When the Great Chomper dies,the ships make a decision to stop the violence. 

Tanner was dissatisfied with the endings. He offered the idea that the violence should stop AND they should all become friends.

Jericho considered this proposal. 

Jericho: The best way to defeat our enemies is to become friends with them. If they survive an attack they might attack again. 

Ian: Did you hear that on Ninjago? I heard that too and know that is true. 

All Leaders of Nations Throughout the World, please listen to the wisdom of Ninjago (and the  advice of young children!!!)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Finding the Perfect Words

Katherine Brakman, a Kindergarten parent took these pictures after sharing a morning in the forest with her daughter. I sat with the images for a long time and knew that they did not need a narrative but rather reflection. I sought words that are almost as powerful as the images and  capture the enormity of  a morning spent under a cathedral of trees, amongst blooming daffodils and waking creatures.

If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, "the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core and I think the same is true of human beings."

David Sobel (at Sabot today!!)

We are by nature observers, and thereby learners. That is our

permanent state." 

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn't need to be reformed -- it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions." 
— Ken Robinson (The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything)

Teach your scholar to observe the phenomena of nature; you will soon rouse his curiosity, but if you would have it grow, do not be in too great a hurry to satisfy this curiosity. Put the problems before him and let him solve them himself. Let him know nothing because you have told him, but because he has learnt it for himself. Let him not be taught science, let him discover it. If ever you substitute authority for reason he will cease to reason; he will be a mere plaything of other people's thoughts." 
— Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing." 
— A.A. Milne

We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it." 
— Wendell Berry (The Long-Legged House)

“You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” 
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

The forest is beautiful but it is profound when shared with others.