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Prairie Creek
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Hello Robin parents! I hope you are enjoying these last sweet days of summer! In my online reading, I have come across this article that I want to share with you. It is written by a teacher, and it addresses many of the issues that we teachers at Prairie Creek talk about regarding the term "bullying". This is a powerful term with a very specific meaning, and it can be harmful when the term is applied too often or too quickly. I encourage you to read this article, and I welcome your thoughts and reactions. You can post them in... Continue reading
Posted 6 hours ago at Robin's Egg Blue
Happy Summer! I often find that August is a good time to reboot my summer intentions -- the basement is still not cleaned out, ditto that back corner of the yard. It's also a good time to set up routines that will flow into the school year. I don't mean chore routines (although those are great, too) but routines that will set the stage for successful learning. "Curiosity" is a thread that's run through my summer reading and listening. So often, we hear about how important it is for folks to have a "passion" or to be "passionate learners." It's... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2018 at The Rookery
Prairie Creek Community School is hosting an all-day conference on November 5, 2018 for educators, pre-service teachers, and administrators who are seeking innovative child-centered practices for their classrooms and schools. Do you ever get back from a conference and feel that no one gets what it means to be truly... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2018 at Imagine: Starting with the Child
I don't think I would ever go back to teaching children for just a year...but it does make the last day of school very hard. These kids have been a part of my daily life for the past two years - we've joked and laughed and learned and sometimes just sat in silent, sad wonder at some meanness in the world. Students always come back to visit but it's never quite the same. The ease we have today will never completely return. So, to help with the leave taking, we have a lot of traditions (I had a chance to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2018 at The Rookery
Tomorrow will be our last phenology pod-cast of the year. Sharing our observations with folks in the Northland has become part of our routine. Seeing and noticing the world around us has also become part of our routine - in ways I had not fully anticipated when I agreed to be a part of the project this past summer. Phenology is derived from the latin phainein (to show) and ology (to study). Phenologists study when different things occur (or show) in nature. Humans have been collecting phenological data for hundreds of years (longer if you count things like recording floods... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2018 at The Rookery
One of the hardest things to capture about life in a progressive classroom - but one of its most crucial elements - is the sense that learning is everywhere and we have but to uncover it. The adventure of learning together instead of the teacher setting the course along a well trodden path is a vital part of progressive education. But being ready and open to those serendipitous opportunities to learn together isn't easy. As the teacher, I need to be comfortable with a large map of learning, not just a linear way through material. I also have to have... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2018 at The Rookery
We are always struck by the irony of MCA timing and Honoring Week. Both the MCAs and personal projects are ways for students to show what they know. Through projects, students demonstrate who they are as learners - how they ask questions and seek answers; how they synthesize information and communicate it. When we talk about the MCAs we frame them as another way for students to show what they know. We share that projects and observations are a much richer way but that it would be way too expensive for people from the state to come and watch our... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2018 at The Rookery
The project checklist students used to keep track of their work. So often we hear about "process" vs. "product." But the Honors Project and 4th grade project are truly about both. These kids have been working since December and January to wonder about something, learn about it and then teach us about it. It takes a long time. There are a lot of steps along the way. And, importantly, there is a lot of struggle along the way. Each of the kids in the Herons hit a wall at some point in this process - often multiple points. There was... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2018 at The Rookery
This week is called Honoring Week. All fourth and fifth grade students give a presentation. They also are audience members for each other's presentations. We have high expectations of our students in their role as audience members. They are expected to listen attentively, to ask thoughtful, specific questions, to write comments on post-it notes, and to participate actively in the activity offered by the presenter. After the presentations are over, students are each assigned to a fifth grader and asked to write that fifth grader a letter. In order to do that, they use a yellow planning sheet to make... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2018 at Robin's Egg Blue
Whew! The Robins are all ready for their presentations next week! Many of the Robins stuck carefully to the deadlines and were really gratified to find themselves feeling relaxed and ready this week. I can still picture one fifth grader, someone who had found the fourth grade project a bit overwhelming, come up on Wednesday with a big smile to report that they were all finished: "I just need to keep practicing my presentation!" Many of those who were ready offered to help peers who still had tasks to finish. Those who were finishing up worked with a sense of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2018 at Robin's Egg Blue
We had a great conversation this afternoon about a phenomena that Simon observed while out on a hike. He saw that there were places where a leaf had sunk into the snow in a perfectly leaf shaped hole. I took the Herons out to take a look at this and then we had a great conversation about what might have caused this to happen. One of the things that we've been looking at in professional development is how important it is to identify what kids are currently thinking about science. Kids (well, humans in general) are constantly making observations and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2018 at The Rookery
Pi Champion, 2018 Our annual Pi Day was a lot of fun. Students got to discover pi for themselves and learn about the history of pi as well as have fun with a variety of pi activities. It's a chance for students to have fun with numbers and experience awe in math. They won't use pi for calculations "officially" for a year or two -- but the sense of a wider world of math that is full of wonder is an important thing for us to impart. Our pi recitation celebration was a big success. My favorite moment was when... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2018 at The Rookery
I was proud of the students who left classes today to honor the seventeen Florida students who were killed a month ago. These kids are using their voice to affect change - something I hope that our students are learning to do in their own way during their time at Prairie Creek. We need kids who speak up and speak out when they see an injustice. I was struck by a grim Fermi problem when I heard about this protest. How long would they have to walk out to honor everyone who had been killed in a school since Columbine... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2018 at The Rookery
It's fundraising season again at Prairie Creek. Our annual auction is this Friday. As always, I am bowled over by the work that our community puts in to plan and carry out this major event (this year, led by Robin parent Jodi Doeden). It is an amazing gift to work at a school that is so well supported by its parent community. I wish we lived in a country that made educating its children a top priority. I wish that parents and teachers didn't need to put all that time and energy into planning auctions. But given that schools are... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2018 at Robin's Egg Blue
It seems hard to believe that I've been at Prairie Creek for fifteen years - and harder to believe that, in many ways, not much has changed in that time. Why do so many teachers stay (and stay and stay?) Simply put, we are so supported by our leadership, our board, and our families. When I was at the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies conference on Monday, I got a chance to meet a lot of other teachers and was, once again, reminded of how Prairie Creek is different. So many of the teachers I met lamented that they... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2018 at The Rookery
Night - The Herons wrapped up their night theme by creating constellation blackboards for the rest of the school to enjoy. When we reflected on the theme we were surprised by how much had done but we also decided we were ready to move on to a new theme. It's the first time that we've used the panels as part of a theme culmination and we were excited about their potential. Constellation Panels Fire and Ice Forest school has been a lot of fun these past two weeks. Special thanks to Tom who came in and made fire starters with... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2018 at The Rookery
STEM day was last week. We were so lucky to have so many scientists, mathematicians, and engineers visit our school and teach our children. Not only were they willing to do that, but they also taught our children in multi-age groups. Each group had children from ages 5-11 in it. Imagine the challenge of engaging that range of children in learning about science! Our presenters did that beautifully, and in doing so, they helped us to reinforce the power of multi-age learning. If you think about it, separating people out by their age is a pretty unusual thing to do,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2018 at Robin's Egg Blue
"What does music sound like to a fish?" Children gathered in gym early on Thursday to launch STEM Day 2018. Organizers Sarah Sword and Michelle Martin set the scene for a morning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math activities led by a cohort of local professors, doctors, mathematician and community... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2018 at News from the Director
A trip to Menards always means mischief for me and this weekend was no exception. I found squarish plastics pails like Tidy Cat cat litter containers. I was reminded of some ice blocks I'd seen made for a winter celebration by Leondardo's Basement. I'd always meant to make some for school but getting a cat and buying it Tidy Cat litter seemed like a lot of work to make ice blocks. $2.50 per bucket however seemed I grabbed them. The Herons asked about the new green buckets right away and I shared my plan. Off they went to fill... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2018 at The Rookery
Wolf Ridge isn't easy. It isn't easy physically for the kids. It isn't easy for the chaperones to take a week away from work and family. It isn't easy to raise money for the bus and scholarships. It isn't easy for families to get gear and save money for the tuition. It isn't easy emotionally for many kids to be away from home for a week. It isn't easy emotionally for many parents to watch their kids take this leap toward independence. It isn't easy as a teacher to be on twenty-four-seven - taking care of teaching as well as... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2018 at The Rookery
Here's what we think the fourth graders will love next year: Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2018 at The Rookery
Another fantastic day! Frozen lake study and winter survival --- spoiler alert: we all survived. Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2018 at The Rookery
We had a tremendous day. We had birds this afternoon and we saw pine grosbeaks on the bird feeders. We tracked a ruffed grouse and found its frozen scat. The chickadees flocked to our heads and hands at chickadee landing - it was amazing. I've never seen them so eager. Every kid had multiple chickadees land on them. We got to band a chickadee, too. From there, we saw a presentation on raptors, and split into our night groups where some of us rock climbed, others dissected owl pellets and some went on a night hike. (That was my group... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2018 at The Rookery
Our latest arts residency has focused on poetry and book making, and it has been a rich experience for our students. The residency was made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Let's hear it for Minnesota voters! We got to work with a professional poet named Rachel. The Robins have each written poems and chosen one to include in their book. We took a field trip to the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, where we got to do paper... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2018 at Robin's Egg Blue
All 20 Herons sledding together! The Herons have fully embraced our snowy January during Forest School (and during PE, too!) We began with a rousing bucket brigade to make wood piles in sub-zero temperatures (thanks, Roehls, for the wood!) We also got all of the cross country ski stuff organized for the season and were rewarded by being the first on the slopes to the North of school (thanks, Mr. Dilly, for permission to use your field!) We've been trying to find mink tracks in the creek - but no luck! The creek is iced completely over and the drifts... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2018 at The Rookery