Weeks of 1/4 and 1/11
-Black Journals: We reentered school by writing an entry about what we did over the winter break—it sounds like a lot of fun was had by all!
-Hopes and Dreams: students picked a new hope to post on our wall for the second half of the year. We were thoughtful about this process, choosing a hope focused on themself, the classroom, or something they are excited about doing this Spring!
-Small Moments: We are finishing these up to publish and share!
-Project Time “Who We Are”: We have begun a new unit for Project Time. For this unit we are anthropologists, studying something we already know a lot about: ourselves!
We began with a conversation about what a student might need to feel safe studying themselves. Here is what we came up with:
Students are grappling with the questions: “What makes us, us?”, “What makes me, me and you, you?” Students had many interesting ideas:
At home, engage in conversations about your family’s identity– what makes your family unique? What things did your family inherit from your ancestors– birth or chosen? What are traditions, celebrations or ways of treating each other that are special to you?
-Math: We’ve jumped right into the measurement unit sea—literally! We began our own classroom fishery, measuring mackerel, alewife, and perch to decide if the fish we caught were “keepers” or were too small and needed to be tossed back into the ocean.
-Project Time: A huge week, with a lot of important topics covered. I describe them in detail below, because many of the conversations are ones that may be worthwhile to continue at home, or that your child might have additional questions about!
This week we continued thinking about identity, focusing on our outsides– what you can tell about us just from looking at us. We started by looking closely at our skin color. Inspired by the books “The Colors of Us” by Karen Katz and “All the Colors We Are” by Katie Kissinger, we mixed our unique skin shade using powders that represent the different pigments present in our skin.
Students followed a skin “recipe”– white cornmeal for our tissue, yellow cornmeal for the carotene in our skin, chili powder for our hemoglobin, and cocoa powder for our melanin.
Color testing: There’s no way to make a color that is exactly ours, so we just tried to get close.
We then thought about our skin– what is its function? (Answers: to protect us; hold us in; keep us safe.) How did we get our color? (Answers: the sun; our parents; how warm or cold a place our birth ancestors came from; how active the melanin in our skin is.) What do we know about ourselves because of our skin color? (Answers: it gives us a good idea of where our birth ancestors came from; it can tell us about our race.) What are some names we use based on skin color? (Answers: White– which usually means ancestors that came from Europe, so another name is European American; Black– which usually means ancestors that came from Africa, so another name is African American; and many, many other names that identify where our ancestors traveled from– Asian American, Hispanic American, Indian American, and Native American were all mentioned.) And finally, students wrote about their own skin, using “Shades of Black” by Sandra Pinkney, and the world around us, to help think of a special name for ourselves.
Then we looked closely at our other outside features, stopping at our eyes to make paper mosaics.
Next, we thought about our bodies– how different body types are helpful. We also talked about how sometimes even grown-ups think it is okay to criticize the size and shape of someone’s body, and kids can use the word “fat” as a teasing word. When this happens, we have forgotten that all bodies are made differently, are unique, and have things they are especially good at because of the way they are made.
We also talked about how there has been a history of unfairness in the world, and in our country about people’s outsides– particularly their skin color. We talked a bit about the Civil Rights movement, thought about ways we can fight for fairness and equality, and practiced reading Langston Hughes’ poem “My People”. We will be continuing this conversation over the coming weeks, leading up to Dr. Clarence Jones’ visit.
Next week, we move to our insides– what are the things that make us who we are that you can’t know by looking at us?
-MLK Assembly: Friday ended with the Elementary and Middle School MLK Assembly. The 1st Grade, 4th Grade and 8th Grade each shared, and it was moving to see how each age level is able to grapple with these big ideas at an appropriate level.
-Math: More measurement, exploring non-standard units like “kid steps” and “baby steps”!
-Project Time: We will continue exploring our insides!
-Math: Wrapping up measurement with some animal jumps.
Posted January 16, 2016