Collaborative sand mandala project.
The Filled In Worksheet
fill in the blanks
of your narrowing minds
confined to an edge
a crying out for real work.
in a monochrome classroom
nearly identical papers
are disposed of with ease
tossed into the melting pot.
temporarily absolved of the tedium
of filled in worksheets
the children breathe
for a moment.
“A pitcher cries for water to carry,
and children for work that is real.”
- Marge Piercy
As part of our investigation into the First Nation peoples of the plains, the children decided that we needed to make a big teepee in our classroom. Here she be!
A Pedagogy of Peace, Wonder & Wisdom is… - imaginative engagement that invites children most fully into the club of knowers; not at some unspecified time in the future, but now and each and every day they spend with us - time for having love, being creative and for living life - making ourselves home in the world together - The movement of bodies and minds not stifled by hard desks and narrow minds and rigid purposes - a curriculum that remembers - like the pitcher, crying for water to carry, and us, for work that is real - it is curriculum as plan waiting at the door for an invitation - becoming one with the dusty world - to ask: is there life here? - learning that is sustained by life itself - creating something beautiful that is worth whiling over - an education of attention - learning how to carry ourselves in a way that the ways of this place might show themselves - together, becoming something through what we know and what we learn - enlivening that which seemed routine, deadened and lethal - living in the belly of a paradox wherein a genuine life together is made possible only in the context of an ongoing conversation which never ends yet which must be sustained for life together to go on at all - learning from place - being mindful, learning to be sustained by life - coming together to be together, not just to go about our own business in the same space - an open sense of time and its gathering - ongoing conversations that never end - experiencing the world together - an abounding hereness - remembering we are in life, squeeze it, cherish the difficult way - it is digging up the wisdom that sits in places - an education of awareness - learning a place by dwelling and traveling in that place - mindful, deliberate improvisation - being at home in a good way, a more creative way, a healthy way, a way tuned to the deepest truth of things - being hungry for a simple love of the world itself as our earthly home - genuine conversation - gaining a sense that the human world is a construction that can be entered and engaged creatively - invitations to walk in places where we have been but never been - a journey…
Using the book “A Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet” each child chose a picture to inspire their artwork. Then each child represented the prairies using chalk pastel on black paper.
I think this poem is so powerful..
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
Another new year with new challenges and excitement begins! Here is our class made alphabet for the year.
We were asked to bring in an artifact to summarize our learning from my graduate class as a final project.
My artifact was this framed lighthouse painting with a poem I wrote. I chose a llighthouse (painted by a student in my class) to represent the hope this course has given me for the future of education and of humanity. Written in gold ink is a poemish story I wrote that summarizes my feelings about what education should consist of, as learned through this course I took. Here is the text:
A Sentinel of Hope
In the darkness of the world, an ancient lighthouse shone.
As the beacon travelled across the sky, it illuminated the night.
“Hope,” said the light. “Hope for a life of creativity and joy. Live with openness and rich imagination. Surround yourself with open discovery of the world around you, embracing rich and living moments.”
“Illuminate,” whispered the beacon. “Illuminate a love for life that remembers it’s obligations to time, that is linked to our pasts, the present and what lies ahead.”
“Guide us,” called the light, “Guide us towards a life of renewal – resisting pressures of a “corporate mind.” Guide us towards a mindful world where our days are made up of many little miracles, like the sound ofbirds in the early morning sun.”
“Believe,” echoed the light. “Believe that each of us can feel home in the world, can wonder every day, and can create our own ways of knowing about life. Believe in our innate connections to the earth, in our individual ties to place, to memory and to the world as a whole. “
The light stopped speaking, but continued to reflect across the water.
In the darkness of the night, in a far away place, a small boy saw the glimmer of light in the distance.
His journey began.
An inquiry into lighthouses We began our inquiry by looking at maps and photos of lighthouses around the world. In the past week, we have listened to a CD of “lighthouse sounds” while we sketched images and wrote words, sentences or poems that came to our minds. We took tours of lighthouses on the internet, and we even managed to find a site that shows a live webcam of the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse, so you can see what’s happening there all day long. We have had it on the SMARTboard every day, all day, and many of the children have been watching it at night at home too. Last week, I led them through a guided meditation where they visited a lighthouse in their minds. We’ve read stories about lighthouses, some fictional and others non-fiction. We also read stories about hurricanes and storms that destroyed ships and even lives. Many of the children had questions about light keepers and became very curious about this role, which we researched together. Last week, we learned that the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse is 15m tall, which seemed like a very abstract measurement to the children, so we went outside and measured a 15m lighthouse on the grass using meter sticks. It turned out to be a wonderful chance to develop some estimation skills in the sunshine. This math led into a rich discussion around the sizes and shapes of lighthouses (one child thought that if the lighthouse is 15m tall it must be 15m wide and another student suggested that that would make it a square lighthouse, which led into a lovely discussion around shapes). After, the children played in our pretend lighthouse on the grass, imagining they were lighthouse keepers saving sailors from storms on the ocean. Yesterday, the children decided to construct a big lighthouse in our classroom, which has created many problem solving based conversations about 3D shapes, good building materials, making democratic decisions around who will do what, etc. I think that next week we will begin the important work of discussing the uncertain future of the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse. I can already see the passion in their eyes about this lighthouse, so I can only imagine their reaction to the possibility of this lighthouse being demolished and where this discussion will lead. Its been a lovely inquiry so far!
Our Grade 2 Wonders..
Today we talked about our most important wonders, wrote some in our sketchbook and each child shared one of their wonders aloud.
I wrote them down on chart paper and we decided our list looked like a poem, so we typed it up as a poem and it’s now posted on our classroom door to inspire others to wonder more.
This idea was inspired by a wonderful book that all early elementary teachers should read, called, “A Place For Wonder.”
Carving Soapstone with Children
As part of our exploration of the arctic, my grade 2 class and I carved soapstone. It was a wonderful experience.
The children chose one piece of soapstone that “spoke to them” and we sat in a circle and talked about our stones. I explained that it had come from the arctic and encouraged them to wonder about where in the arctic their piece of soapstone was found. What happened on your piece? The children imagined the arctic and came up with marvelous ideas about where their soapstone piece came from. One boy decided that his came from the side of a polar bear’s den in the arctic, and that perhaps the red markings on his stone was a blood stain from a polar bear battle. Another child thought her soapstone had been the sleeping grounds of a dinosaur millions of years ago. In our sketchbooks, we told the stories of our rocks.
That afternoon, we took our stones and began our carving project. I encouraged the children to carve their stone and change it into a treasure rock, focusing more on the process than on the product.
The process was relatively simple. First, we sanded our soapstones using coarse sand paper and files. Then, we used wet sand paper and water to smooth our rocks. After, we cooked them in a small toaster oven for 5 minutes at 250 degrees. Finally, we buffed our soapstone pieces with minwax so that they would shine.
At the end of our day, the children each have a special piece of the arctic that they can take home and treasure forever.
Definitely a worthwhile project!
go get to know
as well as you can.
It should be something small.
with a mountain.
with the pacific ocean.
one seed pod
one dry weed
one horned toad
or one handful
- Excerpt from “The Other Way to Listen”