The Oak Leaf Post Office Project 11-20-15
As many of you know the Multi-Age operates a school wide post office from February to June every year. For the last seven years the Oak Leaf Post Office has been a focal point for letter writing for the whole school. The Multi-Age designs their own stamps, sells them, and sorts and delivers the mail each week to all the classes.
One of the big projects the Multi-Age is taking on this semester is building a new Oak Leaf Post Office. Over the last few weeks we have asked kids to imagine and design a post office structure on paper, a blueprint if you will. Their designs are displayed in class. After looking closely at their creations the students and teachers were able to see many projects around the Post Office that students could work on to enhance the post office project as well as building the structure itself.
This week we asked them to sign up for a committee. The committees range from designing the outside of the structure to designing a uniform to wear during deliveries around the school. As always we are amazed and informed by your children’s creativity. We would love to ask for your support in the next coming months to help with building, sewing, designing. Take a look at all the possibilities they came up with and what your child has signed up for. Let us know if you can help.
The Post Office frame and structure
Stools or Chairs
Sewing committee (uniform, bag, hat)
Mascot and Flag
Roof and Door Committee
Accessories (stamp holder, letter sorter, money drawer)
(painting, oak leaves, staining)
On another note, please make sure you read the Twig this week. There are some helpful ways to think through the current events in our world with your child and tips about language to use to support them feeling safe. Click here to read Ted's article. Our students have not talked about it in class but it is always good to be prepared when they do.
Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving Holiday. School will be closed Wednesday Nov.25 until we see you again on Monday, November 30th!
See… Think… Wonder…
After asking the children to consider how they use water on a daily basis and how other living things use water, their discussions and wonderings sparked more awareness about water and the world around them.
So we decided to ask the children to consider their community and to look around our school and find three different ways The Oaks uses water. We encouraged the children to make careful observations. We asked the question: Where Do You See Water at The Oaks? The children recorded their findings on a data collection sheet that left room for observational drawings and any questions, notes, or other writing the children wanted to do about what they saw. Please feel free to come in and look closely at the documentation of this great work.
Wonderings That Emerged From Our Walk
“How much water does the toilet use?”
“Where does the water from the sink go?”
“Why doesn’t the fountain in the Big Yard drain?”
“How much does water weigh?”
“How does water move through a hose?”
“How does the sink get water?”
And finally a few photo highlights from our first assembly!
As you know, this Monday, the Multi-Age visit to Long Beach Aquarium concluded with a journey home that took on the proportions of a coming of age drama. During the field trip, the majority of the day offered a chance for the children to happily continue their work on water. The day was full of activity, and yet there was still more to see as the day came to an end. Highlights included petting the creatures in the rock pools, watching the sharks being fed, talking to the scuba divers, and stroking the Manta-Rays (As Neva said, “those fish feel nice… slimy nice”).
As we explored the Northern Pacific, the Southern Pacific, and the Tropical Pacific, it was the job of the teachers and the chaperones to try and resist the temptation to provide too much information, and instead let the children come to their own conclusions through observation. Here’s just one moment, at the rock pool, that helped us to observe their busy brains at work:
Ava- “Do they like being touched?”
Frisco- “well they do kind of stick to you.”
Bells- “But the shells they have are for protection.”
Julien- “and those things might clamp you”
Ava- “oh yeah, like snap at us”
There were so many other "ah-ha" moments during the day, and we will certainly take these discussions further, in the next few weeks. Thank you to all the chaperones for your much-appreciated help, and we thank the children for their keen, observation skills.
This Monday there will be food bins in every classroom to collect food for the homeless. Food can be dropped off any day of the week, and the student council will collect it on Fridays. Please make sure it is only food from the list (no tins, no perishables).
This week was filled with some wonderful opportunities for parent volunteers!
We began our unit about poetry with North's mom, Colleen. The children learned about different ways we can use words and our imaginations to describe anything we want. Take a look at some notes from the conversation between Colleen and the children:
Colleen: What Does It Mean to Observe? It means to really pay attention to only one thing. Poetry lets us use our imagination to tell a story. Words are free! They don't cost anything. We can access them at any time, anywhere. What are some of your favorite words?
Obi: My name is Jeff
Colleen: What are some words that you just don’t like?
Una: I hate you
Colleen: Poetry is taking what’s most important and putting it on the page. It’s the most meaningful. It’s more concentrated than a story.
Poetry doesn’t have to be real. It can be from your imagination. Do poems have to be sad, silly, serious?
Stella: No they can be anything
Colleen: What is a poem?
Cameron: A poem is like your thoughts but down on a piece of paper. They don’t have to rhyme but they can.
Colleen: Are poems right or wrong?
Chloe: I think poetry is a sentence that rhymes.
After our discussion, Colleen read the children the poem "Bear Song" by Kay Ryan.
Viggo: I liked that poem.
Thank you to Colleen for sharing this wonderful gift with us and we're excited to have you back to begin writing our own poems with you.
Poems and Buddies:
This week for Buddy Time with the 4th and 5th graders, we decided to take some inspiration from the 3rd grade assembly about haikus as well as our new found knowledge about poetry and write poems with our buddies out at the big yard. This experience was so heartwarming and a wonderful use of this special time together. Take a look at what the children came up with:
Thanks to Avery's parents, Blumes' mom, Chloe's mom and William's mom for coming to carve and decorate pumpkins with the children. We had an awesome time and became super excited for this weekend's fun activities!!
PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU ARRIVE TO SCHOOL BY 8:15AM ON MONDAY! OUR BUS TO THE LONG BEACH AQUARIUM LEAVES AT 8:30AM SHARP! THANKS!
The singular novelty of a whole-school Campout is not at all lost on our Multi-Age children. From the first week of school it has been in their thoughts, and this week the classroom has been alive with deep discussion about the trip. From the difficulties of whittling, to the deliciousness of cinnamon rolls, it is clear that the children are aware of how special it is.
One project that the children pursued, which raised their collective anticipation even further, was creating a Kapla campout. It was a joy to watch as a forest grew, and every element of a campsite was constructed around it. Bike and walking trails spread all over the classroom floor, tents were set up close to restrooms (but not too close), and play structures were built for the kids along with cooking areas for the adults. The students’ were so engaged in the collective task that there was no time for disagreements, and the only upset came when the day was over.
However, if adult trepidation is creeping in, and a weekend in the mountains isn’t everyone’s first choice getaway, then we have some insights into how much fun you are all going to have:
We asked, one morning meeting, “what part of the camp out are you most looking forward to?”
- “Being cool, but cosy, in my tent”
- “Playing with everyone, even though I’m in a secret society”
- “My dad is a really good cook, so I look forward to lots of people coming to our camp”
- “Playing cards”
- “Being 6000 ft. up in the clouds”
- “Riding my bike in the rain”
- “Sleeping in the top bunk of my van”
- “Sleeping in a tent because I’ve never been in a tent”
- “One, camping because I’ve never been camping. Two, chilli… because I like chilli”
- “Sleeping in my sleeping bag which wraps around my body, and around my head”
and of course…
- “Being with my friends and having fun”
We are sure it will be a wonderful experience, and we cannot wait to hear all about it when you return from the wild!
Big Questions About Water!
The beginning of project work is filled with lots of information-gathering. The teachers need to find out what the children already know about the subject we are studying.
Last week we asked the children to get in groups of four to generate questions about water. The children came up with some really thoughtful wonderings, some of which included ideas about animals, humans, plumbing, plant-life, the water cycle and even space.
Once the teachers met and reflected about the children’s questions, they noticed that one particular group generated a question big enough to prompt further discussion:
What would the earth be like without water?
The Cycle of Inquiry:
How We Reflect and Wonder With Children
As teachers, we are constantly finding ways to reflect back to the children what they are discovering. Whether it’s through the simple act of hanging photographs of their experiences for them to notice or having students share with classmates their different theories collected in their science journals, the children have many opportunities throughout the day to make connections to their own work as well as the work of their peers.
Earlier this week, the teachers asked the children to begin to write and draw in their new Science Journals. They framed their work by asking them the question: “What are four ways that you use water on a daily basis?” The children’s answers ranged from hot tubs to watering plants. Take a look at a few examples:
The children watch a slide show of their interactions with water here at school and reflect on their experience.
Teachers put the children in groups of 12 and asked them to think about ways that all living things use water.
This week we broke into small groups of four to consider the question, what do you wonder about water? Some of the questions that arose were: How does water travel through pipes? What is water made of? How many gallons of water are in the ocean? How does water get into the rivers? These questions are just the beginning of thinking about water in our world and in our lives.
The day after this small group work, we asked the children to reflect on their experiences.
What Was It Like Working in a Small Learning Group?
“It’s not my favorite because you have to agree on everything you do. It’s hard to work together. But I like it because it’s fun to work as a team too because you can work together and you can learn from your teammates. You can learn new strategies. It’s also fun to work with you friends.” ~ Nora
“It was easier to think because there were less people” ~Paloma
I felt awesome because I really like working with fewer people ~Julien
“It went well because we all have ideas and we didn’t fight about anything. If one person had an idea and other person started talking, we would help each other wait their turn” ~Rocco
Camp Out is coming!! - Oct. 16
No classes - Oct. 19-20, parent teacher conferences
We are going on a field trip! On Nov. 2 we are going to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. If you would like to chaperone please touch base with one of us for details.
A Most Joyful Week
Meeting your buddy for the first time is a big highlight for students in the Multi-Age classroom. This year we’ve included the 4th and 5th grade on our buddy list, and the result is more buddies to go around! We all met this Wednesday to get to know each other a bit and to try on our new seating arrangement in the chapel.* Each Friday, our buddies come down to MA to bring us to the weekly assembly and after assembly buddies will spend some quality time together reading, writing, playing math games, building with blocks, playing board games, participating in science experiments and enjoying art experiences together. Sometimes buddies are asked to be a part of each other’s birthday celebrations and playdates may be requested throughout the year. It is a wonderful experience to have an older friend, and to show caring for a younger one.
At our first meeting on Wednesday 4th, 5th, and Multi-Age students expressed some of their hopes for a great buddy year:
-To have fun!
-Kapla building together.
-To build a strong relationship with my buddy.
-To have great days.
-A buddy field trip.
-To spend more than just once a week with my buddy.
-To play lots of games together.
Student council started this week too. Every child at The Oaks will get a chance to participate on the student council by the time they graduate from our school. In Multi-Age we asked last year’s representatives to describe what happens on the student council. Then each child was asked if they would like to have a chance to be picked to serve. If the answer was yes, then we added their name to the hat. Two names were picked out of the hat to serve. Rocco, Princeton, North and Logan are our proud council members this fall. We do this again in January and again in April. After the student council meeting our representatives gave an overview to their homeroom class. This week the meeting was all about the food drive and helping feed the hungry. Children were offered the opportunity to sign up to help bag lunches for the church to give out on Tuesdays.
*We will now all sit on the left side of the chapel instead of the right during assembly. This arrangement will help facilitate leaving the chapel after Kindergarten and 6th grade to avoid crowding in the doorway.
Back To School Night
Thank you to all who were able to make it to back to school night. For those of you who couldn't make it, below are a few highlights
After a brief conversation of how we work together as an entire multi-age; we shared how we are preparing for our year long study of WATER! One of the ways we as teachers begin thinking about a topic is to web all possibilities. Through this activity when we start to see children's interest emerge around a particular topic we are able to dive right in, grab the moment and establish a learning experience that will ask the children to think, puzzle and then explore a given topic. Last night we asked our multi-age parents to try out the same activity. The ideas were varied and as conversation continued, connections between isolated topics began to emerge.
Thank you multi-age parents for "trying this on" with us last night!
Volunteers Volunteers Volunteers
We want to welcome everyone to be a part of our multi-age classroom. We set up a large piece of paper in the multi-age room that we invite you to sign and let us know how you would like to be involved. Would you like to go on a field trip, share a special talent or make a connection to something the children are learning? We can't make any promises but having the information will help us work out a plan to bring you into the classroom. Please do not feel obligated to sign up.
An Introduction to Documentation: Making Thinking Visible
All around the multi-age room, documentation of learning has been popping up on the walls. If you have a chance, take some time at drop off and begin to read our walls and see how learning is uncovered in multi-age. Below is a picture of math documentation.
This year in multiage some of the work in the classroom will be built around essential questions. These questions are a jumping off point for curriculum development and learning about what we as a class already know and what path we may follow as we build our knowledge this year. This week we introduced the question:
What Do You Know About Letters?
The children split into small groups and thought about this question. Below are a few responses that were collected:
They make sounds
There's upper case and lower case letters
You can spell with letters instead of talking
26 letters in the alphabet and some letters can make different sounds like y
After looking at the children's responses, the children began to explore alphabet books to see what else they noticed about this genre. The children have spent some time this week listening to alphabet book read-a-louds and reading alphabet books independently as well as in small groups. Next Week the children will start thinking about writing their own ABC books.
After a Thursday morning down-pour we decided to take a walk outside with some clipboards and pencils to record what we noticed.What changed after the rain? The children excitedly called one another over as they found bugs, fallen leaves, and giant puddles.Its Raining Outside! The Water Study Begins!Making Connections to Everyday Events
“Isaac, do you think the rain knocked off all the leaves?” –Noah
“Stuart! Sam found a slug!” –Olympia
“Dew drops on trees!” –Ruby Fern
“Look! Snail! William!!” –Julien
“I want to jump in the puddle but my rain boots are in the classroom.” –Paloma
“That does not look like a plant. It looks like a bone or something that’s filled with water.” –Ollie
“Oh guys! There’s a big stream of water! C’mon guys!” -Olympia
What Do We Notice About Water?
“The water clumps up on the flowers. “Trees carry water after it rains.” “The earth is better.”
“The plants grew bigger.” “The rain makes the trees red.”
After this walk the multi-age is excited to consider where will our water study take us?
This week we've spent time establishing routines, asking big questions, making important connections and sharing hopes and dreams for the year.
First Day of School
On Tuesday, we asked the children, new and returning, what they noticed about the classroom. Here's what that had to say:
Obi- "The floor is wood!"
Cameron- "We have new teachers."
Noah- "You moved the white board."
Asher- "First we had green journals last year and now we have black journals."
Ava- "The cubbies are gone."
Stella- "There's air conditioners!"
Overall, the children were excited and eager to explore their new environment.
What Are YOU An Expert At?
This week the entire Multi-Age group sat together to discuss and share their ideas of what it means to be an expert.
We heard many different types of answers including:
“I can teach people how to read!” –Una
“I’m great at picking people up.” –Kate
“I have high intelligence.” –Alfie
The teachers challenged the children to think of something they are experts at in school, then write their answers and draw themselves in action.
The focus of our conversation was to highlight the idea around looking to each other for advice or support in specific areas. Rather than offer an opportunity to be competitive, the children are realizing that it’s okay to still be learning how to do something and use not only their teachers, but their peers to help as well!
Hopes and Dreams
As part of a beginning of the school year ritual, the teachers and children held a discussion about their hopes and dreams for the year as a multi-age student. The children were full of goals and objectives ranging from the desire to become a better reader to wanting to be a better friend.
Throughout the year, the teachers and children will reflect back to their hopes from the first week of school to see if they are closer to accomplishing them.
At the end of each day this week, we sat in our homerooms to reflect on one subject: kindness. The children shared examples of acts of kindness they noticed throughout the day. Here are a few we'd like to share with you:
What does kindness mean to you?
Oscar: "When people are kind, the day gets better and better."
Cameron: "You share or someone is hurt and you help them."
Princeton: "Saying excuse me or god bless you when someone sneezes."
Today I saw:
Obi: "I got hurt and Hudson brought me an ice pack."
Corvin: "Lennon played with me a lot."
Kate: "Alfie helped me play with Kapla today."
Nora: "I saw Ava being kind by just being."
We hope you have a wonderful weekend and thatnk you for an awesome first week of school!
The Multi-Age Team
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