"I'm truly touched by what I saw," remarked an elderly gentleman as he watched and listened to the fifth graders welcome the fourth graders next to Thunderbird Pond. With words of appreciation and wishes for the year, each fifth grader read from a note they had written to their "buddy" a few days earlier then gave him/her a warm embrace and a flower.
We started our first morning with our first grade buddies from Wendy's class. Before we left, we talked about their role in the Horizons community and how many younger students look up to them and observe their words and actions.
Once we arrived, Wendy paired up the children and together they asked questions of one another and figured out what they had in common. They'll use what they found out for a poem the next time they meet.
A chant of "Eat it, eat it" echoed through the classroom followed by an "Ewww" as I ate a sewer lice (dark raisin) to launch our study of life sciences. This activity focused on sharpening our observation skills and questioning what we observe.
On Friday, we debriefed the activity and then class brainstormed a list of characteristics living organisms share. With this list each child explored 14 stations that displayed objects that are living, non-living, or dead. Lively scientific debates arose about some of the items and whether they exhibited the characteristics they had established earlier or not.
The 4/5 team has created a study of life sciences that is inquiry-based and experiential. We have planned at least three field trips with naturalists through the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks and Thorne Ecological Center. Graduate students from the University of Colorado's Biological Sciences Initiative plan to visit our classrooms as well. The main questions we'll explore this fall are:
What is science and what do scientists do?
What distinguishes something that is living from something that is not?
How do the structures and functions of plants allow them to meet their needs?
How do the structures and functions of animals allow them to meet their needs?
How do cells carry out the functions of life?
How does variation among individuals affect the survival of species?
How do living things in an environment affect each other’s chances for survival?
How do humans affect their ecosystem?
We celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech and March on Washington today. After viewing excerpts from his famous speech, the children talked about what they heard and specifically about what his vision and dream for America was. I gave the class an overview of our history and social studies curriculum which we will begin in January.
Next, we spoke about how important to have intentions because they help you focus on the present and provide a guide to live mindfully moment-to-moment. Each child then chose an intention and created a small watercolor painting to place by the classroom door to remind them and others how they intend to be this year. Next time you are in the school, stop by and take a look.
Rebecca was born and bred in Seattle, WA, and pursued her career in education starting in New York City, then El Salvador, and finally in Boulder, CO where she was lucky to be on the founding team at The Watershed School. While her formal training is in Health Education, she discovered a love for school administration and the tasks of starting and running a school, and made Watershed her second home for several years. After taking three years off to raise her twin boys, she is thrilled to be back in the classroom at Horizons. Outside of school, Rebecca tries to run in the mountains and play with her boys as much as possible.
We learned this morning that she was the lead in her fourth and fifth grade play, a parody of "Return of Jedi," "Return of the Turkeys."
Welcome to Horizons and thank you for being with our children!
So much has happened already in our first two days together. My focus has been creating a homeroom community. Students shared their puzzle pieces in dyads where one child talked and the other listened deeply without comment or interruption. We played games and sang songs to confuse our classmates.
In upcoming days, I will introduce activities from Jeff and Traci Bushnell's Heart Talk curriculum as well as Passageworks.
Heart Talk (based on Marshall Rosenberg's practice of Non-Violent Communication):
Other activities include:
Children walked in with excitement on their faces and hands full of backpacks, lunch boxes, and supplies. After settling down, I read The Dot aloud. Many students commented on the wonderful illustrations, use of color, positive and negative space, but many were struck by the comment the teacher makes to the main character, "...just make a mark."
I hope that some of the themes of "honoring effort, how to make your own mark in the world, overcoming conventions, the ability and willingness to encourage and embolden others" carries on through the year.