School is oftentimes a place where certainty reigns – but it can be a place where people develop comfort with uncertainty. New experiences with the arts can play an important role in building that relationship. In this video, a group of fourth and fifth graders reflect on their first experiences exploring graphite.
Math Congress is a structure that we use often at Opal School in which children are invited to communicate their thinking, their strategies, their solutions, “aha” moments, and proofs to their mathematical community. As teachers, even with the clearest of intentions, Math Congress requires us to embrace uncertainty as we are never completely sure what […]
In the beginning of October, the Willow community embarked on a field trip. We headed to the Bybee-Howell Preserve on Sauvie Island, a beautiful refuge complete with wetlands, meadows, an orchard, and more. Our intention was to spend the day together engaged in various community building activities. As we have mixed age classrooms at Opal, […]
The teacher is the chief learner in the classroom. Donald Graves (quoted in Nonfiction Matters) When I was in my first (and second, third, and fourth!) year at Opal School, I wondered what it meant to be a teacher-researcher. For me, the term evoked images of data collection and analysis, statistics and percentages. […]
As a teacher, I am continuously reflecting upon decisions to nudge students, whether nudging them to try something new, to take a deeper dive into something familiar, or to lift the quality of their work. We’ve been nudging students in the Sitka classroom to grow their writing muscles and stamina as they begin using writer’s […]
“A writer’s notebook is like a ditch – an empty space you dig in your busy life, a space that will fill up with all sorts of fascinating little creatures. If you dig it, they will come. You’ll be amazed by what you catch there.” -Ralph Fletcher, A Writer’s Notebook Receiving a writer’s notebook has […]
Recently in Opal 3, we were sitting together in a circle with our writing notebooks, a not uncommon scene for our third grade community. We had just watched a short video (How Wolves Change Rivers). I had asked the students to write to capture their thinking about the film and, perhaps through writing, to […]