‘Cracking Open’ the word Community

We have been using the word community as in 'Opal 1 Community' since the first week of school. We, the teachers, have been wondering what, if any, understanding different students have of that word. It is so important for us to create shared understanding around the words we use together and especially the words we use to define ourselves. If we want children to care about their community and believe they are an integral part of the community they need to understand what it means to us all as a group.
Teacher: What do you know about the word community? What does that mean?
RP: It means working together as a group.
JK: If you work together you can clean things up faster.
SR: Find a lot of friends and play with them a lot then the friends can become a community.
TY: Community means that were just friendship and we're all like together always.
SM:Community means making friends.
SD: I don't know what that (word) even means.
SR: Care.
MW: Community is sharing.
JK: I disagree from the other peoples because we were just on a big hike and I'm tired.
GS: I agree.
MD: Community means like loving and caring your friends.
SR: There is no question that is not right.
Teacher: What do you mean by that?
SR: Because everybody has different ideas. If everybody shares an idea of what a word means. People have so many ideas of what something means.
Teacher: Are oopsies a part of a community?
YES!
Teacher: When an oopsie happens, what else happens in a community?
SR: Fixing.
Teacher: Oh, so fixing is part of a community too.
Teacher: You said cleaning up fast is part of a community, what about cleaning up slow? 
NO!
Why not?
SR: Because you need to clean up fast
Teacher: Why do we always have to clean up fast?
RP: So we have time for other things.
Teacher: What is the important thing about clean up? How do you want clean up to feel?
Good.
What makes it feel good?
RP: By working together.
SM: Doing teamwork.
Teacher: A word that come to me when I think about cleanup is careful. Does it feel like a good community if people are cleaning up fast in the community and people are getting hit with blocks?
NO!
Teacher: So, fast is important, but do you think fast is the most important thing?
NO!
Teacher: Then what is?
S.R. Safety.
Teacher: Hmmm. One last question, is sluggy part of our community?
YES!!!! 
No…
GR: Well, I think sluggy is because we're taking care of him, like everybody in the class.
JK: Sluggy is part of our community because if we have food and we don't eat all of it, we can just give it to sluggy and not waste it.
GR: That is a great idea.
AD: He (sluggy) is so kind.

It was exciting to hear so many voices in this conversation, but we still did not hear them all. When we engage in conversation around big topics like this, we will often follow it up with time to reflect on one's thoughts while working with a material. We talk about how a material can help us to think sometimes, (and SR says, 'All the time!"). Every student has a chance then to synthesize the ideas they have heard and of course their own internal ideas while they are using materials to help aid and formulate their thinking.

Today we chose the language of collage…

We invited the students to investigate the question, "How can these materials help us show community?"

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M.G. These are the colors that mean a lot to me, and community work means a lot to me. I thought I could use the colors to show that community work means a lot to me.

 

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T.Y. There’s butterflies and they are playing together and these two are working it out and this is me and I was flipped over and someone helped me.

 

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A.D. Community is laughter, honesty and loyalty. The purple things are laughter, the birds are honesty and the coins and gems. Community is also baby slugs.

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O.R. – School and laughing. Everybody is laughing at something this one caterpillar is making funny jokes.

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S.M. I’m pretending these are little bugs and they’re helping this bug get up and fall in a leaf pile. Falling in a leaf pile [is community] because they are holding hands, running and falling together.

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M.W. It’s camping with flashlights and making shadow puppets. It’s community because we’re doing it together.

 
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A.S. Community looks like cleaning up and helping each other.

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G.S. It’s a community of rocks. 

What makes them a community?

Because they’re together.

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O.C. Lots of things are on light blue. Lots of people being together in one place a lot of the time.

Sharing these ideas help us know about other people's understanding and support us to grow a common understanding together as the Opal 1 Community.

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