documentation

Oct
23

The Importance of Documentation and Reflection in Building Community

In the Cottonwood community, one of our main focuses in the beginning of the school year is community building – which is foundational to all of our other curricular work. With each new group of children, we try to make visible to them our complex process of becoming a “we”. As teachers, we know that […]

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Sep
28

Looking for Invention

With generous funding from The Lemelson Foundation, Opal School is embarking on an exciting journey this fall to research Invention Education alongside our friends and colleagues at Project Zero of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Ben Mardell and Mara Krechevsky. The task in front of us right now is to frame our research questions. […]

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Jun
17

On the edge of Symposium, thinking without bannisters

Opal School’s Summer Symposium begins Wednesday.  It’s a frenetic time around the building: having said goodbye to students last week, teachers are setting up their classrooms for visitors, creating documentation panels, and writing presentations (not to mention annual academic reports).  It’s a time of long days and nights consumed by deep reflection and meaning-making – of […]

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Mar
31

Materials as Metaphors

My recent post, Say What You Mean, began as this post — but I got so tangled up in thinking about the relationship between knowledge and meaning and learning and relationship and power and vulnerability that I realized I’d better split these posts in two. In this post, I’ll share the experience I had recently […]

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Mar
20

How might cardboard foster connections?

In the start of the school year, it is my practice to offer experiences that might build relationships between children and materials in order to build relationship between children. Knowing that, I need to both be open to the inevitable surprises and the unexpected, while being intentional about what materials I offer. This year, I thought about materials that might demonstrate […]

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Jan
18

The Secrets of Wire: Play, Reflection and Relationships with Risk

As my colleagues and I continued to think together about our big idea of transformation and some of our research questions, we wondered what materials might lend themselves to playing with this big idea. Wire came to mind as a material to explore together: it is easily transformed, offering these young children a concrete experience […]

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Sep
22

Speaking in Tongues

Who are these children? How can we bring their voices to the world? At our staff gathering to begin the school year, we read and discussed Zadie Smith’s essay “Speaking in Tongues.”  While a 2008 lecture delivered by the author of White Teeth might seem an unusual choice to launch into a year of working with […]

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Sep
10

Focusing our intentions

Don’t for heaven’s sake, be afraid of talking nonsense! But you must pay attention to your nonsense. -Ludwig Wittgenstein As Opal School staff reconvened last week to launch the new school year, we were inspired by and found connections in two essays.  In Zadie Smith’s Speaking in Tongues, we saw our drive to support children […]

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Sep
10

Setting Intentions for Our Year Together – Intermediate Team

Opal School has two intermediate classrooms, Opal 3 & 4, which include third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders.  In many ways, the teachers from the two classrooms function as a team.  As a first collaborative effort, the Intermediate Team composed and sent this letter to parents before the first day of the 2016-2017 school year.  We’d love to hear the reflections of Opal […]

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Sep
10

Articulating our intentions

Opal School has two primary classrooms, Maple and Magnolia, which include kindergartners, first graders, and second graders.  The teachers from the two classrooms function as a team.  As a first collaborative effort, the Primary Team composed and sent this letter to parents before the first day of the 2016-2017 school year.  We’d love to hear the reflections of Opal […]

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