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Prairie Creek
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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 yesterday at The Rookery
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 6 days ago at The Rookery
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
The power of making lies at the heart of progressive education. Adam Savage of Mythbusters said recently in his Tested vlog (which is a bit too salty to link here), "Whenever you set out to make something from nothing are a doesn't require any level of skill past... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2020 at Finding our Way
Zoom. I just got off of our weekly planning Zoom meeting - three hours of brainstorming and dreaming and thinking and considering that has enabled Amber, Gabe, Kelsey, Carley, Cale and I to plan closely and safely for the week ahead. I shudder to think what the past six months... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2020 at Finding our Way
This week we began basic fact fluency work as part of our in school math. Memorizing one's math facts has been a right of passage for children in the US since at least the mid 1800s. It's something that many of us encountered as something you "just do" in elementary... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2020 at Finding our Way
Now that our at-home and in-class routines are getting established, we are ready to expand our math work with the 4/5s. There will be several different elements, dovetailing together for cohesive and engaging instruction. In-School Number Talks - number talks are structured discussions of our number system. Students solve computation... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2020 at Finding our Way
It can be hard to talk about politics...and yet, in a democracy, it's crucial that we learn how to do so. Citizens need to know how to assess candidates and how to wade through political messaging. They also need to know how to ask deep questions of their elected officials... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2020 at Finding our Way
Amber teaching about alien plants (dichotomous keys!) Many Hands When you team teach closely there is a rhythm and a dance. You anticipate your colleague's moves and amplify their work. A shared lesson becomes a give and take. It is playful and has a spontaneity that is exciting - both... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2020 at Finding our Way
We have a shared blog this year - but I realized as I was writing and placing in pictures that there will be moments, many moments, that are the Heron's alone (just as there will be Kestrel and Robin moments that are not duplicated in our classroom.). I'll use this blog to share some of those moments (and pictures!). The Blue Herons were amazing this past week - they truly rose to the moment and met the year with excitement and joy. I can't wait to welcome the Green Herons tomorrow. Here are some more Heron pics from our first... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2020 at The Rookery
The dawn broke cold and foggy...really cold and really foggy. This was not how I envisioned the first day in our outdoor classroom. Would the kids be okay? Should we plan more inside time? But then I remembered our first day of Forest School five years ago. It was about... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2020 at Finding our Way
Summer is often a time to recharge. This summer, however, it was time to re-tool. In June, we were asked by the governor to plan for three different scenarios, three whole different ways of teaching and being with kids. For schools, this means planning on a constantly shifting landscape. One... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2020 at Finding our Way
About two weeks ago, I listened to a remembrance of a front line worker who had died of Covid 19. Yves-Emmanuel Segui was a pharmacist in Yonkers, New York. Originally certified as a pharmacist in the Ivory Coast, Mr. Sequi had worked very hard to both learn English and pass the pharmacy certification test in the U.S. His daughter remembered when he first took the certification test and failed. He took the letter, marked it with a "Number 1" and put it on the refrigerator. When the second failure letter came, he marked that with a 2 and posted it... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2020 at The Rookery
So, we're one week in to summer and I just walked into my living room to find two children sprawled out on the floor, their screen time exhausted and their day stretching before them. What to do? This is an unusual summer (understatement, I know). We are coming off of two and a half months of distance learning and lurching into three months of summer in which most if not all camps have been cancelled or put on-line. Biking to a friends or the pool or the playground - if it was even an option before - is now much... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2020 at The Rookery
It was strange talking to the Herons about George Floyd last Tuesday. We've had hard conversations about race in the past year but we've always been together in the meeting area for them. These faces that are usually so immediate when we are in a conversation were isolated in their own squares. Their looks of confusion or hurt or anger were obscured by the screen pixels. But they asked questions. Some shared what they knew. Some shared historical connections. Many wondered how it could happen...again. I shared factual information (and where I was getting my information) and gently clarified some... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2020 at The Rookery