Remember back in those hazy lazy last days of August 2008? A letter arrived for your child, complete with a bag of sand. I’m sure some of you who haven’t had me before were wondering, “what kind of crazy teacher sends my kid a bag of sand”? In September, I greeted 20 individuals into my class. As a teacher, the first few days of any school year are tough. You are mourning the kids you sent up to 5th grade who were so independent, and who could do so many things. Now, I had 20 new individuals, 20 bags of sand, to try and mold into some type of cohesive unit where individuality is appreciated and celebrated, while at the same time, you need to learn to work with one another. And work with one another they did. These are all 21st century learning skills. Problem solve, we learned to do. No longer were all their questions going to be answered. “Think about it, what do you think I want you to do?” I would start to gently say to them. Slowly, they started to grow their wings. Confidence began to flow, and we could do more difficult tasks than I ever dreamed possible in September. Immigration was as key turning point, where I saw their knowledge really become introspective. In Open Circle, during our Problem Solving Lessons, the students were beginning to talk about, let’s look at the other side of the problem. No longer were problems just one-sided. Why did Americans treat immigrants so badly? Why is it still happening, as we are all descendants from immigrants, the kids would insist. And then came robotics. Wow! There were some really tough moments were partners really had to negotiate. Robots that didn’t always run consistently. Real life problems, real life skills.
This morning’s robotics demonstration was simply incredible. After you all left, we gathered in somewhat of a circle and I gave them back the bags of sand that we started with on Day 1. Now on Day 179, it was time. Each child poured their individual bag into a jar I had selected. Very quickly, all our individual sands became one beach, one class.
And then it was back to work. Our next challenge, race the robot across the basketball court. Laptops were quickly obtained from the tutorial. Wheels were replaced with larger wheels, speeds were adjusted, and wires “tied” up. Engaged totally, excited learners. I sit here, exhaling, sad again to lose these highly independent, motivated learners. Thanks for your support this year in making this possible. Have a great summer! Susan