This is Prairie Creek's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Prairie Creek's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Prairie Creek
Recent Activity
Culminating events are a longstanding tradition at Prairie Creek. Over the years, we've transformed the gym into a rain forest, built a scale model of the Great Wall of China and built a 25 foot tall mushroom (in a steady 30 mph wind). Culminating events are a lot of fun. They are a lot of work. But what are the deeper reasons we do the work? Reason #1 - Review We have learned a lot about space over the past five weeks. The first step we take to get ready for a culminating event is to list as much as... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2022 at The Rookery
Culminating events are a longstanding tradition at Prairie Creek. Over the years, we've transformed the gym into a rain forest, built a scale model of the Great Wall of China and built a 25 foot tall mushroom (in a steady 30 mph wind). Culminating events are a lot of fun. They are a lot of work. But what are the deeper reasons we do the work? Reason #1 - Review We have learned a lot about space over the past five weeks. The first step we take to get ready for a culminating event is to list as much as... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2022 at The Rookery
Image
A recent exploration of factors There is a lot out there about literacy and the importance of a literature rich classroom and home. There is not nearly the same amount of cultural focus on numeracy - and yet number underlies every aspect of our lives -- even as I type my computer has translated my keystrokes into hexadecimal numbers that correspond to pixels on an xy axis. (Woah!) We do math every day in the Herons. We do math in a lot of different ways. We often do math that the Herons don't realize is math. I hope that students... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2022 at The Rookery
Image
The Herons at work during guided recess. When students travel upstairs and become fourth graders in Prairie Creek, we call them "Big Birds." Their role in the school changes significantly and they are held to very high expectations -- especially when we are with younger classes. These first six weeks we are very directly teaching what it means to be a big kid at Prairie Creek. For the most part, the rules around games (gentle tagging, call yourself out) and the woods (stay 10 feet from the creek) were learned long ago. But now they are the keepers of the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2022 at The Rookery
Image
It is very difficult to write or speak succinctly about progressive education but, when I'm asked to, I talk about authenticity. Teaching progressively means that the students feel that what they are learning is real and means something. There are many ways to create authentic moments in the classroom, but one of the most joyful is serendipitous learning. Serendipity is defined by Oxford as "the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way." Serendipitous learning is learning that happens seemingly by chance (more on that "seemingly" in paragraph 7). We discover and explore something together... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2022 at The Rookery
Image
Friday was gross. It was cold, it was wet. It definitely wasn't the 70 degree day we had enjoyed on Thursday. But Friday was our field trip - the first in two years. I was excited but I was worried the Herons might not be. But each and every one came through the door with a smile. They were psyched and they were ready. Every kid was wearing layers. Every kid had water proof shoes and pants and coats. Every kid had a hood that would keep their head dry. I read off the attendance with a flourish, asking the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2022 at The Rookery
Image
"Is this right?" Way too often that is the main question students ask in a math class. So much of traditional elementary math curriculum is focussed on computation - it can seem as though getting THE RIGHT ANSWER is the whole point of mathematics. Of course, that's not the point of mathematics. I don't claim to have the right answer for what mathematics is - some of the Herons are engaged in an ongoing debate about whether math is invented or discovered, but that's another blog. What I do know is that in the best math lessons, the point of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2022 at The Rookery
At the end of the week, the fourth and fifth graders will be engaging in a series of three lessons on puberty education. Some of the kids call it "The Bad 'PE'" (as opposed to "Physical Education" which is the "good PE") and there is much giggling and groaning when it is brought up in class. However, it's been my experience that the conversations aren't as cringey as they are expecting and, in fact, kids are very curious and have A LOT of questions about the process of growing up. There are times I think we might do well to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2022 at The Rookery
Image
At Prairie Creek, personal projects are authentic, real research. We don't set out the topic for the students and tell them what they must find (although it would be infinitely easier to say that everyone had to do a biography and find the birthdate, birth place, and three significant accomplishments of a famous person.) Instead, we work with students to find good topics. Do you know enough to ask good questions? Do you know too much to be curious about a lot of things? The topics in the Herons are very, very diverse: The Great Lakes, Lego, the platypus, football... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2022 at The Rookery
Image
We missed you today. I love the bustle of culminating events; the urgency of the students as they set up and teach their "customers" about what they've learned. One of the things I most love is the students' opportunity to "wow" their parents with their professionalism and how they're able to communicate what they know. They are so proud when they get to teach you. I hope they'll still have that opportunity at home, perhaps as you peruse the souvenir program they'll bring home tomorrow or perhaps as you look through the photos below. But one of the things I... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2021 at The Rookery
Image
I love teaching math. I was an English major in college and one of the reasons that I became an elementary teacher was because I would get to teach math (and weave all the subjects together and really get to know a single class instead of teaching English to 150 kids...but that's another blog post.). Through our professional development, Prairie Creek teachers have worked for years to hone our understanding of numeracy development. How do kids understand numbers? How do we deepen that understanding in a way that helps students be flexible, competent and joyful users of math. We have... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2021 at The Rookery
Image
As students get older, their social worlds become much more complex and nuanced. Things that were once black and white - teasing, friendships, rules - begin to shade into more gray areas. This is appropriate -- developmentally they are more ready to understand context, tone, nuance and exceptions to the rules. However, it is also confusing, especially since different kids begin to experiment with things like sarcasm at different times. Classmates that were once on the same page socially can suddenly just not get each other. This is hard for everyone and that's why we focus on friendship a lot... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2021 at The Rookery
Image
A picture of dead man's fingers in a kindergartener's journal after going to the Mycology Museum. On Wednesday, the Herons taught the rest of our community about what we had been learning. The event had the excitement and energy that I always love about culminations. There were missing copies to be found and last minute touches to be added. A forty mile an hour wind made the transformation of the Albero into a shaggy mane inky cap much more of a group challenge than I had anticipated (I can't believe they did it!!) The Herons were all business. I didn't... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2021 at The Rookery
Image
It has been way, way too long. On Thursday, I looked across the Herons' room to see students bustling this way and that. Several were headed to the basement to find puffball costumes. Two were climbing the spinning Albero on the playground to figure out how much paper it would take to turn it into a giant inky cap mushroom. Three were mapping the location of dead man's fingers, pheasant backs and turkey tails on the school grounds to create a guided tour of our fungi. They were all on a mission - busy and happy - and I was...unnecessary.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2021 at The Rookery
Image
On our very first day of Forest School we went on a mushroom hunt. I wasn't sure what we'd find - although the week before I'd found at least a few mushrooms around. Within moments, there were squeals of delight. A patch of giant mushrooms were growing under a pine, tiny ruffles attached to a bench, a circle of giant puff balls in our field...everywhere we looked there was something to marvel at. And we were off. Teaching in a progressive school demands a leap of faith every year. There are certain things that we always learn in fourth and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2021 at The Rookery
Image
My "S" Hook This summer, I spent a day - a whole day - learning how to make...a hook. At the end of six hours of hot sweaty work I had something that takes a professional blacksmith four to five minutes to make. And frankly, it's not a great hook.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2021 at Finding our Way
Image
My "S" Hook This summer, I spent a day - a whole day - learning how to make...a hook. At the end of six hours of hot sweaty work I had something that takes a professional blacksmith four to five minutes to make. And frankly, it's not a great hook. But I'm fond of it and humbled by the experience of making it. So often as adults, we do only things that we know how to do well already. Whether at work at home or at a hobby, we may hone skills but we are rarely starting cold. We rarely... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2021 at The Rookery
Image
Yesterday, Governor Walz signed a proclamation encouraging the state to honor the legacy of George Floyd by observing 9 minutes and 29 seconds of silence at 1 pm today. We learned about the proclamation this morning and met before school to discuss how best developmentally to approach the Governor's proclamation.... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2021 at Finding our Way
Image
April is always a month of odd juxtapositions at Prairie Creek. We begin with an intense focus on our personal and honors projects and then move right into MCAs. They're two very different ways to "show what you know." This year, the contrast is thrown into even higher relief by... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2021 at Finding our Way
Image
Pretty sure this wasn't the inspiration... Every Thursday the Prairie Creek student council meets. This is a volunteer group - organized and run by students. They plan events for the school and tackle issues that concern them. Most recently, there was quite a bit of concern voiced about the state... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2021 at Finding our Way
Image
One of the biggest joys of being back in person is spontaneity. Life in the classroom is teeming with moments - comments, questions, and asides that are ephemeral. In the muted world of Zoom, we lost almost all of them but in the live classroom we are afforded the chance... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2021 at Finding our Way
Image
Simon greeting the Herons. Today we welcomed back the 4/5s - and it was wonderful. It was tremendous. It was completely familiar. It was completely new. We spent the day reveling in being with each other and continuing the work from these past months. Simon came by as we settled... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2021 at Finding our Way
Image
This weekend I was going through all of the folders for students' honors projects and 4th grade projects and was surprised to find that some of the fifth graders who should be well into taking notes according to our project timeline didn't seem to have categories for note taking, an... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2021 at Finding our Way
This whole week as I prepare to write narratives, the first lines of William Blake's "Auguries of Innocence" have been on repeat in my head: To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour I'll be honest - I wasn't sure why they were on repeat but it was better than the Bon Jovi song that had been there the week before so I embraced the change. But today, as I sat down to write, Blake's words revealed their relevance.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2021 at The Rookery
Image
“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.” Albert Einstein I write this on December 21, 2020 - the winter solstice. I’ve been thinking about this day ever since I read Michael McCarthy’s memoir, The Moth Snowstorm last spring. It is a defiantly hopeful book. A naturalist and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2020 at Seasons of Childhood