Opal School Blog

Oct
05

Finding stories; finding each other

About once a week in the Alder community of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds, we split the group in two, carefully considering friendships we want to support or stretch. We affectionately call this structure “half-sies.” The smaller groups  give each person (children and adults) a chance to see, hear, and know one another in new ways. […]

By Tara Papandrew | Teaching and Learning
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Oct
04

A call for truth and reconciliation

Yesterday, we held one of our monthly Online Subscriber meet-ups.  Susan and I were joined by Monica Martens, a teacher from Manitoba. She described how she finds the big ideas in Opal School’s resources to be in sync with the way in which Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation work has demanded whole-hearted learning between and amongst children […]

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Sep
29

The Space Between Us

I couldn’t sleep Tuesday night, and when I compared notes the next morning with my colleague Mary Gage, she said she couldn’t sleep either. We were both replaying that night’s Back to School Night over and over again, dwelling on missed opportunities and missed connections. At 2am, my mind was looping the things I wish […]

By Tara Papandrew | Teaching and Learning
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Sep
24

Finding our focus

We are eager to discover capabilities in ourselves and in children that we have not yet imagined. We accept the challenge to shape a new world. Ann Pelo and Margie Carter, Reimagining Our Work: What Story Do you Want to be Known For? Opal School’s six classrooms are organized into three learning communities. Each year, the […]

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Sep
22

Why “Story Workshop” is not “Retelling-Someone-Else’s-Story Workshop”

A lot of things happen during Story Workshop at Opal School: Finding stories which may develop into writing pieces in many different genres Writing stories, poems, various kinds of non-fiction, songs, and other genres Playing with materials and languages of the arts to develop oral language, vocabulary, and poetic language and imagery for writing Playing […]

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Sep
20

The Courage to Show Up and Be Seen

Connection is the energy that is created between people when they are seen, heard, and valued — when they can give and receive without judgement. – Brené Brown At Opal School, we see all children as curious and competent citizens with rights. We see them driven to connect and eager to be understood. We know […]

By Tara Papandrew | Teaching and Learning
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Sep
16

A Place for Practice

The beginning of a new school year is an exciting time.  The newness, the fresh start, and the anticipation are always with me as I enter the school for the first time after summer’s end.  Personally, it means that I can bring all that I’ve been thinking about, reading about, and chewing on into reality. […]

By Nicole Simpson-Tanner | Teaching and Learning
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Sep
13

What do you rely on?

In her last post, Susan shared stories about getting started with Story Workshop. She wrote that educators interested in Story Workshop often ask us, How do you get started? She told you that we often answer, It depends. Which is true. It depends on many things – on our intentions for individuals and for the group, our relationship […]

By Kerry Salazar | Teaching and Learning
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Sep
11

Getting Started with Story Workshop

Story Workshop is an approach supporting young children’s literacy built upon on four pillars: the sharing of stories; immersion in the arts; time for play; and a focus on meaning-making.  The approach – which has since flowered in schools and districts around the world – started at Opal School with a simple question embraced by […]

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Sep
08

What Happens After the Mistake?

I made a mistake the other day. It’s probably true that I made more than one. But the one I’m thinking about, the one that kept me up that night, is the one I know I made for sure. I know because people have told me not to do the very thing I did. And […]

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