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Prairie Creek
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Today we took a bit of time out of our regular math routine to celebrate the wonder of math. It was Pi Day (3/14) and we gathered together to wonder at the number that is pi -- it may be an irrational way to spend the morning, but hey. We began in the art room where there's a round carpet. A student measured his steps across the carpet and I "magically" determined the number of steps it would take for him to get around the carpet. And I nailed it (and although I wanted to take all of the credit,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2017 at The Rookery
One of the challenges (and joys) of teaching Forest School has been creating curriculum on the fly (no pun intended) to match the weather. Two weeks ago, I had planned to have the Herons sketch the square foot patches they had chosen last fall - the popsicle stick markers were newly emerged from the melted snow...then we got two inches of snow between one and four in the morning, scratching that plan. Last week, luckily, I had a good twenty four hours notice that it was going to be very windy. On Wednesday morning, we learned about the Beaufort scale,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2017 at The Rookery
On Friday, our fifth graders each took a turn giving a very short speech about one aspect of their experience at Wolf Ridge. These speeches serve a couple of important purposes: they give our younger children a glimpse at the Wolf Ridge experience (to which most students look forward for YEARS!), and they give our fifth graders a chance to share and a chance to practice those important public speaking skills. The fifth graders crafted and practiced their speeches, which were supposed to last between 30 and 60 seconds. They revised, they considered the best lead, they infused humor, they... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2017 at Robin's Egg Blue
"It's useful...actually." these were the words of a fifth grader when talking about our puberty education talks. Someone had erased that part of the day from the schedule and I took that as an opportunity for the class to talk about how challenging it can be to talk about puberty. Everyone (including the teachers) feels some apprehension about talking (for an hour!) about a topic which in our culture is often taboo. I asked the fifth graders to share their opinion about the previous year's discussion. They were very positive. "It was helpful to know about things." "It's not so... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2017 at The Rookery
It’s auction time. I understand that you are being inundated with messages about the importance of supporting our little school with your financial contributions. I have to be honest and say that all these requests have put me in mind of the NPR member drives. I LOVE NPR, but I always get grumpy during their member drives. I don’t like listening to the incessant requests for money. I’m already a sustaining member! I think. I pay already—don’t ask me for more! But, sadly, the reality is that public radio relies on people’s generosity. And even more sadly, what we do... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2017 at Robin's Egg Blue
Heading Home - The Herons, Fall 2016 Our yearly auction is coming up and I know you are inundated right now with reminders and raffle tickets and invitations. Please know, we wouldn't have an auction unless we needed to. We are a public school. Public schools should be truly free. I wish we were funded so well that our class's every need and dream could be met without the support of our families and community. But that goal is not attainable right now - indeed, it seems a little farther away. So I am so glad to be a part... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2017 at The Rookery
The Herons were at the ropes course, looking up at all of the events before we tried them out. Some were excited; some were nervous. Our leader, Emma, asked what we would need. One child volunteered, "Courage!" Emma pressed a little, "What do you mean?" Another Heron, who I knew was worried, yelled, "Pizza!" Before I could step in with a re-direction, Emma went with it. She laughed and said, "I am definitely going to en-pizza you when you are up there on the ropes course." For a few beats, I was puzzled, "En-pizza?" Then it hit me, "En-courage" Somehow,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2017 at The Rookery
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 Feb 22, 2017 at The Rookery
Day two dawned sunny and dry. We had too many highlights to list, but here are thirty: Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2017 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 Feb 20, 2017 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