documentation

Sep
10

A Sneak-Peek Into Our Intentions

The Beginning School Team sent this letter to parents before the first day of the 2016-2017 school year.  We’d love to hear the reflections of Opal School Online members: What do you notice?  What do you wonder about? How do you imagine the process of composing this letter will influence the work of this group of teachers? […]

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Jun
10

Sharing Strawberries

In the spring, because our third graders had become so engaged with statistics of our global population, we decided to share some of the Material World photography collection with them. This powerful project documents the disparity in material possessions around the world. Here is a sampling: COPYRIGHT:© 1994 Peter Menzel www.menzelphoto.com Material World Photograph © 2004 […]

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Mar
13

Living in Questions

Visitors to Opal School are oftentimes struck by the quantity and quality of the questions they encounter here. At Opal School, we aim to live in inquiry.  As the panel above reveals, questions allow us to remain alongside children in genuine curiosity and wonder.  We immerse our questions whose answers point to the unknown, rather […]

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Feb
27

Constructing new ideas through dialog and the arts

During a recent Opal School Mentorship Program gathering, a group was discussing the quality of conversation they hear in Opal School classrooms. They were intrigued by the ways in which children see each other as “brain buddies”, creating ideas together – a discursive environment where, in order for someone to be “right”, others didn’t need to be […]

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Feb
24

Expanding empathy; making change

Last week, I represented Opal School at Ashoka Changemaker Schools Network Summit in Oracle, Arizona. The Changemaker Schools Network is a global community of elementary, middle, and high schools whose approaches to developing empathy and agency have the potential to inspire a new educational framework. Over an intense three-and-a-half days, sixty representatives from 27 schools explored […]

By Nicole Simpson-Tanner | Teaching and Learning
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Jan
25

It Starts with a Seed

As teacher-researchers, we feel strongly about nurturing children’s connection to nature through playing, making, and sharing. Stories are one way we play and share with one another, seeking understanding and connection, and further developing empathy.  How might we, through playful inquiry, consider the stories that nature has to tell?  What stories might we uncover within […]

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Jan
06

Seeing By Feels

 “When I did turn to untangle my curls, I saw a silken cradle in a hazel branch. I have thinks that the wind did just tangle my curls so I would have seeing of that cradle. It was cream, with a hazel leaf halfway round it. I put it to my ear, and I did […]

By Nicole Simpson-Tanner | Primary
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Dec
08

Schooling for a better world

My heart is heavy looking back on a violent year.  In the past year, we’ve watched so many individuals gunned down, white supremacy viscerally stamped on their crumbling bodies; the revolving door of mass shootings, reminding us on an almost daily basis of our feeble inability to enact arms restrictions; we’re forced to listen to […]

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Oct
21

Children and Teachers as Researchers

Researchers pay attention to their questions, theories and ideas by listening for what provokes, inspires, challenges and engages them.  At Opal School, the teachers see themselves as researchers alongside the children with much to learn from them.  As Loris Malaguzzi, founder of Reggio Schools, states, “The things for children and about children are best learned […]

By Kimie Fukuda | Beginning
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Oct
20

Guest Post: Becoming a Teacher-Researcher

Today’s guest post comes from Sandra Patton, a teacher at Maple Ridge School in Alberta and member of last year’s Opal School Mentorship Program. A year ago I was introduced to Opal School through a small workshop in Calgary, AB. Shortly after hearing about the school I applied for and received admission to their Mentorship Program; […]

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