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Matt Karlsen
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Some of you may have noticed that this blog has been quiet for a while. Behind the scenes, we've been working hard to deliver a new website - one that will house this blog, of course, but also offer our community a whole new way to access resources and interact... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2016 at Opal School Blog
I'm just beginning to put my thoughts together after the whirlwind of Opal School Summer Symposium. It was a provocative, transformative three days together: 250 people coming together to pursue third doors that offer greater possibilities for all of our schools. Tweets from participants, posted below, give you just a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2016 at Opal School Blog
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With the 2015-2016 school year completed, our attention has turned to Summer Symposium. Next week, 250 educators from around the world will gather at Opal School to consider together what it might mean to construct a pedagogy of play. We'll analyze documentation of children engaged in learning, reflect, and form... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2016 at Opal School Blog
To readers of the Opal School Blog, it might be easy to forget that Opal School is a project of the Portland Children's Museum. To Portland Children's Museum visitors, it's not always visible that Opal School lives within it. It's an unusual organization, doing so much under one roof -... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2016 at Opal School Blog
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Last week, a post from Erin Dunn Baker showed how one teacher's experience at Opal School influenced inquiry with the third graders she works with. Here, Susie Morice describes how her study of Opal School is shaping her thinking. Susie's post first appeared on the blog of the Santa Fe... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2016 at Opal School Blog
It occurs to me that AS's question at the close of the post is precisely the demonstration of critical thinking that bell hooks says is characteristic of childhood - and which she argues we need to strive to not drum out. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/10/bell-hooks-buddhism-the-beats-and-loving-blackness/?_r=0
Toggle Commented Apr 5, 2016 on The Power of Illusion at Opal School Blog
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During a recent Opal School Mentorship Program gathering, a group was discussing the quality of conversation they hear in Opal School classrooms. They were intrigued by the ways in which children see each other as “brain buddies”, creating ideas together - a discursive environment where, in order for someone to... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2016 at Opal School Blog
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Two weeks ago, teachers and administrators from more than thirty schools across North America gathered at Opal School for our annual Visitation Days, dedicated to investigating conditions that support a "playful inquiry" approach to learning. Over two-and-a-half days, this diverse group of participants investigated classroom environments, observed class in session,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2016 at Opal School Blog
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This morning, Opal School students, families, teachers and friends gathered in the theater for the weekly gathering. Opal 3 shared poems they've written, each revealing aspects of friendship. After reading several entries, members of the class stood at the door with baskets filled with their poems - gifts for each... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2016 at Opal School Blog
After I wrote this post, I came across this passage in Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me: "Why, precisely, was I sitting in this classroom? The question was never answered. I was a curious boy, bu the schools were not concerned with curiosity. They were concerned with compliance." Let's commit our schools to fostering curiosity - not compliance - in children and adults alike.
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Magnolia Room (Grades 1-2) whole class doodle. "It's like an idea seed..." The question comes up, at some point, during almost every study tour. A visiting educator will ask: Where do Opal School teachers get their professional development? I understand why the question is asked with such regularity. The question... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2015 at Opal School Blog
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Sure, it's been raining in Portland - but we're still getting out, because it's good for our health. Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2015 at Opal School Blog
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Today, Opal School gathered for our annual Gratitude Celebration. One of the students in Magnolia, Oliver, says that gratitude isn't saying thanks for a gift that you are given - it's giving thanks for what you already have. Each classroom expressed that appreciation to each other through gifts. Cedar's words... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2015 at Opal School Blog
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Investigating conditions that support playful inquiry at Opal School Visitation Days 2015 Periodically, it feels valuable to update blog readers regarding opportunities to connect with Opal School. In that spirit, I'm hoping that the following information might be helpful. Opal School Workshops: Update This year, we offer three professional development... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2015 at Opal School Blog
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Since "retiring", Opal School Founder Judy Graves has been busy continuing her efforts to inspire greater educational opportunity for all children. Here's her report on her latest breakthroughs, exploring the implications of Opal School's research with new communities: Teaching Preschools Offer Opportunities at Two Sites Two teaching preschools opened this... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2015 at Opal School Blog
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One of Opal School's values is A powerful image of the young child as intelligent, creative, and capable with gifts and abilities that the world needs. Loris Malaguzzi writes that your image of children is where teaching begins. At our session in Vancouver last week, a participant spoke of how... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2015 at Opal School Blog
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We love hearing from colleagues beyond Opal School's walls regarding how Opal School is provoking fresh thinking. Today's post comes from Sarah-Luella Baker, who presented at our 2014 Summer Symposium. It is co-posted from the Tulip Tree Preschool blog. Matters of Opportunity. Does opportunity matter? Journals from the Atelier -... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2015 at Opal School Blog
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Tomorrow, Heinemann publishes a new book. The Teacher You Want to Be: Essays about Children, Learning, and Teaching, is filled with essays by thinkers whose work has inspired ours at Opal School. With contributions from people like Sir Ken Robinson, Vicki Vinton, Heidi Mills, Peter Johnston, Ellin Oliver Keene, Katie... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2015 at Opal School Blog
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There were nests, everywhere. Giant nests made of branches; smaller ones built of tinsel and string; tiny ones of clay and sticks. It started when one of the children discovered a nest outside and brought it into the classroom. One of the teachers was terrified - it played right into... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2015 at Opal School Blog
Hi, Diana - These are questions that the primary grade teachers at Opal School posed - ones that they're paying close attention to as they engage in Story Workshop. Story Workshop is an approach being developed at Opal School that takes many of the tenets of Writers Workshop and considers the roles of play and the arts in supporting literacy. If you'd like to learn more about Story Workshop, you could search this blog for that term, order our study guide, Geography of Story Workshop (http://www.portlandcm.org/teaching-and-learning/educational-materials), or see our videos and read our text focus on how Story Workshop supports diverse learners (http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1102801309613-636/StoryWorkshop_VSAPublication_FINAL_Compressed.pdf & https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJVtbFRTqqS-JGHIMRo3RB7v0jQNtUB72). I'm curious: What do you see as the role of play in supporting writers? Matt
Toggle Commented Oct 13, 2015 on Play and Writing at Opal School Blog