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Prairie Creek
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Another wonderful day (funny how any day after a first afternoon of rain is a "wonderful day"). Tomorrow night we'll have our closing campfire so we won't be posting a video. We can't share our adventures with you upon our return on Friday. Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Rookery
Day two dawned sunny and dry. We had too many highlights to list, but here are thirty: Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Rookery
We had a great first day. Yes, it rained. But the kids were in high spirits. They persevered and even had fun. It even looks like we're going to get to cross country ski! Best of all, they've upgraded the internet so I was able to upload the video in record time -- ten minutes! The sun'll come out tomorrow - and we'll continue the adventure a little less damp. Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Rookery
Wolf Ridge and Fourth Grade Week are central in our calendar - often it feels like we are doing a lot "before Wolf Ridge" and a lot "after Wolf Ridge." Fourth grade week and Wolf Ridge stand alone - busy, to be sure, but a different kind of busy. It's lovely to have a single focus for a while. The lead up to this week has been very busy. Cities We began a new theme - Engineering Cities. Students brainstormed a giant list of what made a city a city. We then "reverse engineered" the list, uncovering the human needs... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2017 at The Rookery
The Robins have been fortunate to have two visitors this week who have come to help us extend our understanding of photography. The first was a retired St. Olaf professor named Gerry. He looked at some of the photos that the Robins have taken and helped them to think about them and talk about them with a critical eye. He also showed us some of his photos. He was a music professor, but he has a passion for photography, and he has done some professional photography work. He really helped us to extend our vocabulary and our understanding of how... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2017 at Robin's Egg Blue
Some recent conversations with students have gotten me thinking. One shared that a video they'd watched in spanish was 2 1/2 minutes long. "So I started doing the math and figured out that 8.3% of our class was the video...I think," she said. Another shared that he'd been bored on a car drive the past weekend and had been trying to figure out how many ounces were in a gallon. I shared with the students that I often pass time when I'm at stop lights behind people with 26.2 or 13.1 stickers (the lengths marathons and half marathons, respectively). What's... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2017 at The Rookery
Our new theme is photography, and the Robins are loving it! It is really fun. I am using this MCV article as inspiration. We read it together and are taking the author's suggestion to set ourselves a daily challenge. After reading this article, looking at and discussing some professional photographs, and learning to use the iPad camera and move photos to Google Drive, we are now shooting photos. Our first day of shooting was experimenting with the camera, and students set their own challenge. The second day, we voted on "bird's eye view" as our challenge. Each session, students shoot... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2017 at Robin's Egg Blue
In their recently published book, Students at the Center, Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda explore the concept of student-centered learning through the lens of the Habits of Mind. When describing what a child-centered learning environment looks like, on a day-to-day basis, the authors attest that it manifests itself as "...... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2017 at News from the Director
Our whole school is deep in an opera residency with St. Olaf college. We are working with one of their J-Term classes to create an entirely original opera (story, songs, movement) that includes 180 students from K-5 in about three weeks. When I stop to think about that, I am always in awe of this school, and our collaborators, and our children. We have done this once before. This time, our story centers on the theme of immigration. We are working in bird buddy class groups, and each group is creating one act. Some of the grades 3-5 students auditioned... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2017 at Robin's Egg Blue
January is off to a great and very busy start. We are reflecting on the year so far, launching the opera, learning cursive, coding, starting our personal projects, and braving the cold. January's schedule lends itself to shorter work blocks than the more expansive theme blocks of fall and early winter. The Herons have been enjoying the variety and pace of our days - the year definitely has its rhythms. Opera The Herons and their bird buddies, the Egrets and Doves, have been working on the first act of our opera with a crew of students from St. Olaf. The... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2017 at The Rookery
Working on a pattern of modified Truchet tiles. This break was short. Very short. I'm taking a deep breath as I write this, preparing myself for re-entry tomorrow morning. The one thing that is easing that transition a bit is the warm glow I get thinking about the Herons' work the last day before break. They didn't want to stop. In fact, when I told them it was time to put away their work to go to recess, they began a chant (normally I abhor chanting but this time, I'll admit, I found it charming.) "What do we want?" "Work!"... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2017 at The Rookery
Sometimes you just have to get far enough away, and far enough removed from your usual context, to really appreciate what you've left behind. I'm certainly a fair distance away from Prairie Creek right now and my experience working with the teachers of Lumbini Academy in Yangon, Myanmar was a... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2016 at News from the Director
It's becoming an annual event that I blog about sledding. The Robins look forward to it every year, as do all Minnesota children, I'd guess. It's great exercise, and it's great to be outside and active in the winter. But the thing that I love most about watching the Robins sled is the way that they have fun together and build community. There is truly nothing like piling three kids on a sled, then linking that sled up with several other sleds and trying to travel down a hill to bring children together, laughing and sprawling and red-cheeked. Today, I... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2016 at Robin's Egg Blue
I stepped away from the Robin's culminating event for a few moments toward the end and, when I came around the corner on my return I was greeted by ten Herons and Kestrels who had finished up in the gym and were entering their Greek theme work. "THERE you are! We've been looking for you. We need you." They didn't need me per se, they needed an adult to go down to the basement to look for costumes, permission to get paint from the art room, someone to help them look for the missing book on Greek gods, an opinion... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2016 at The Rookery
Today, the Robins took some time to reflect on our latest theme and yesterday's culminating event. We began by meeting again in our working groups, talking about what went well and what we would do differently if we were to do it again. Then, we shared these thoughts in the large group and had a conversation. Finally, I gave the Robins a written reflection that they will add to their blue books and share with parents at January conferences. Here are some of their reflections: Things that went well: cooking!, the WWII map, the Navajo stations (people learned about their... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2016 at Robin's Egg Blue
Today, the Robins had a very successful culminating event. Thank you to all the parents who could come and visit us, and for those who couldn't, we missed you! I did my best to get a lot of photos. I tried a video, but it was too loud to hear any particular conversation. After the event, the Herons came down to help us with clean up, and then we invited them to share some food with us. Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2016 at Robin's Egg Blue
We cannot decide the future for the children...we can only provide the path. - Ashin Sandar Wara - Headmaster of the Sanda Ra Ma Monastic School Yesterday, I visited a monastery school located west of Yangon, Myanmar. I was given a tour of the school and spent time discussing educational... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2016 at News from the Director
Greece Our joint theme with the Kestrels is in full swing. On Wednesday, we read a paper from 444 BCE, the height of Athenian arts and culture. Some of the Spartans grumbled that all of the news was about Athens. We pushed them to think about it, was Athens getting too much attention? Were they, maybe, a little jealous? It came as no surprise to those Spartans that by Friday (14 years later) Sparta was attacking Athens. The Athenians were horrified, the Spartans cheered and many of the slaves were hoping that the chaos might afford them a chance to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2016 at The Rookery
Time just seems to speed up at this point in the year. The class has built a community, we have settled into routines, and we are ready to take on big challenges. Our theme (time travel to different places/times of world history) is rolling along, and the Robins are preparing what looks to be an ambitious and fun culminating event for next week. We are inviting the whole school, plus parents, so it will be busy. There are many things that go into a successful theme. Some themes don't have big, involved culminating events. Sometimes, we share our learning with... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2016 at Robin's Egg Blue
The Outreach section of our school strategic plan has over-arching vision statement language: We have a rich tradition, and a vibrant present, that we will share with our school community, our region, and the broader progressive education movement. It continues...We will establish partnerships with educators to deepen our understanding of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2016 at News from the Director
A quick update on the last post: The Robins were much happier and more productive today in theme. We thrive with structure. Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2016 at Robin's Egg Blue
Our time travel theme got off to an exciting start. Having chosen and planned our first theme without much student input, I knew I wanted to make this new theme one that the students had chosen and guided. One student suggested that we study time travel, and we all took that seed of an idea and connected it to history. We discussed traveling back in time to early America, to connect with our gourd theme, but the Robins agreed that they wanted to study world history, not U.S. history. Through a couple of brainstorming and discussion sessions, we settled on... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2016 at Robin's Egg Blue
The Herons after sharing our tree research with Michael Viola, one of our landlords. He said that our research had matched the work of the arborist he'd talked too -- and we even had some information the arborist didn't have! It seems that about once a month, my "to write" list gets overwhelmingly long. I want to take the time to dig deeply in this blog and enable you to get a sense of the reasoning that goes behind our work and how the pieces fit together...but I also want you to know what's going on in a timely manner.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2016 at The Rookery
The Robins have begun a new theme! One student had the idea that we study time travel, so we had a series of conversations during which we discussed what time periods we wanted to learn about. We came out of that process with four groups, each with a different focus: Medieval times, the Vikings, the Navajo people in the 16th century, and World War II. Because I had basically done all the decision-making around our first theme, I wanted to give the students as much choice and control as possible. Students are thus placed in groups based on their own... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2016 at Robin's Egg Blue