inquiry

Mar
24

Materials In All Phases of The Writing Process

The kindergarten and first grade children in Cottonwood have been preparing to publish stories about characters that they invented and developed over time. These characters include hummingbirds, snapping turtles, crabs, ladybugs, deer, a peach, many different kinds of owls, and even a hiker named “Mikey Hikey.” In the early stages of writing, the children were […]

By Sarah MacPherson | Teaching and Learning
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Dec
26

Developing a reflective practice

Story Workshop began at Opal School many years ago with teachers and children working together to research the question, What is the relationship between literacy and the arts? Over a decade later, this question continues to guide the work we do during Story Workshop. When I was first learning about Story Workshop, I remember how […]

By Kerry Salazar | Teaching and Learning
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Oct
23

Unpacking Compassion

“Empathy is a gateway to compassion. It’s understanding how someone feels, and trying to imagine how that might feel for you — it’s a mode of relating. Compassion takes it further. It’s feeling what that person is feeling, holding it, accepting it, and taking some kind of action.” – Lori Chandler My colleagues and I […]

By Kerry Salazar | Teaching and Learning
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Mar
23

Love, Play, and Mail

“In play, children begin with their own set of premises and learn to follow through, step-by-step, scene by scene in the complex process of creating a logical and literary dramatic project of their own.” – Vivian Paley, The Importance of Fantasy, Fairness, and Friendship in Children’s Play The Cottonwood community of kindergarteners and first-graders has […]

By Sarah MacPherson | Teaching and Learning
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Feb
19

Reworking Scary Experiences Through Play

A child’s play is not simply a reproduction of what they have experienced, but a creative reworking of the impressions they have acquired. – Lev Vygotsky Each week, the Cottonwood community of kindergarteners and first-graders hikes in Hoyt Arboretum. Last Tuesday, we hiked to the Upper Meadow, where the children had time to free play. They […]

By Sarah MacPherson | Primary
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Dec
10

Valuing differences through Brain Buddy work

As a primary team, we have organized our intentions for the school year around the idea of the “We that I am.” One of our big questions within this frame is: What does it mean to belong to a community that recognizes and values differences?  Recently, first grade math paused from the counting work we […]

By Sarah MacPherson | Primary
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Nov
21

Serendipity, distraction, and meaningful metaphor

In her research on serendipity, Pagan Kennedy describes three different groups of people by the way they respond to unexpected moments. The group that she describes as the most open to such moments are the “super-encounterers.” She writes that this group, “reports that happy surprises pop up wherever they look” and that they “count on […]

By Sarah MacPherson | Primary
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Nov
03

Collaboration and Community

One of the goals and expectations that the primary team pinpointed in our intention letter this year was, “to develop strategies that contribute to the quality of the community by collaborating with others to construct ideas and create new knowledge.”  This has remained at the forefront of my mind in first grade math, as the first […]

By Sarah MacPherson | Primary
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Oct
15

An Oopsidental Moment

Right now, as teachers, we are working to find ways to explore the intentions we set at the beginning of the year in a way that builds upon what this particular group of children already know and what they are interested in and curious about. This is a delicate dance that Loris Malaguzzi has referred […]

By Heather Scerba | Primary
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Sep
12

Focusing Our Intentions for a New Year

It’s a time of reconnection at Opal School.  A little more than two weeks ago, Opal School staff reconvened.  Last week, students returned.  Tonight, we welcome parents for Back to School Night. Back to School Night holds different schema for all of us.  As a parent, I’ve felt inspired and connected by some – and […]

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