Celebrate this week @ #clebratelu : January 25, 2014

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Celebrate with Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes  …. because, we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get!

This Saturday, I celebrate the gift of  another birthday day (yesterday!) in which I enjoyed a poem from my husband, funny birthday songs from my students, a lovely dinner out, and a concert tonight. The older I get, the more I appreciate this sentiment, posted on Patricia Polacco’s FB page:

birthday inspiration

Something else to celebrate is the presence of project based learning in my classroom.  On any given day, my students fan out across the classroom and spill out into the hallway to discuss, share, confer, and create.  A teacher passing by once asked my kids, “Do you guys ever work?”  Yes, we work. We don’t sit quietly in rows facing the teacher desk –  we spread our wings all over the place and engage – learning this way is often messy and noisy, but we are working!

 I think in today’s standardized test driven environment, our kids are too often asked to focus on one way of responding, one answer that has to be right, one methodology to create that persuasive essay or frame the equation.  I think our kids need places in their learning day when they are asked to collaborate, discuss, experiment, and arrive at answers for themselves.  So, our classroom often looks like a hurricane just swept through, and an administrator walking in might rarely find me at or behind my “teaching desk”…but that’s okay by me.  Learning is definitely going on in 202 – awesome learning.

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Lastly, I celebrate the creativity of my kiddos as they dive into their projects and make the most of these learning opportunities.  Take our just completed Lewis and Clark project, for instance.  We spent weeks  investigating the expedition’s historical significance, and each student was asked to compile a field journal, just as Meriwether Lewis did, of some of the species of plants and animals discovered, some of the Native American tribes they encountered, the supplies they packed and why.

I asked my kids to design and devise their own field journals, and was met with some righteous indignation: aren’t you going to give us the field journals, they asked, the other classes didn’t have to make their own journals.  “I bet you can make beautiful journals yourselves – your own uniquely you journals.” And so they did:

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…sixth graders can do awesome things!

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12 thoughts on “Celebrate this week @ #clebratelu : January 25, 2014

  1. Sixth graders do awesome things when led by an awesome teacher. You inspire me every day when I read about your creative learning classroom. As a gifted teacher, I use PBL often. For the most part other teachers are envious of our freedom while they are stuck with curriculum constraints. When will the higher ups realize that PBL is one of the best ways for all students to learn?

  2. Love, love the field journals, Tara. Good for you and the students creating! We often have visiting parents who ask when the classes are going to start! I was reminded of this when you shared the question “don’t you ever work?” People just have a tough time seeing that that IS the work! Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Happy belated Birthday! You almost make me want to be a sixth grader again (okay, that moment passed). I love reading about all you do in your class. Those kids are a community of learners and that was missing in the classes I worked in this week. So sad for the kids I saw, so lucky for the kids you see.

  4. Happy Birthday! The learning in your classroom is rigorous and engaging. Inquiry is much more demanding than traditional lessons, even if it looks chaotic to others.

  5. I want to hang out in your classroom! You inspire me to think about journals for our Silk Road journey. The Patricia Polacco picture and quote reminds me of your OLW – it’s pause, right? Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. The engagement of your students with their learning is wonderful and inspiring. SO many teachers are worried about “keeping to the plans” in this era of high accountability. You are an inspiration that we CANNOT forget about motivation and engagement. I too would LOVE To hang out and LEARN in your classroom!. Happy Birthday!

  7. I love how you are celebrating communication and collaboration and how “work” doesn’t need to look one way. Your students are so obviously engaged. That is indeed something to celebrate!

  8. Happy Birthday! Those Field Journals are beautiful. It is so important for students to figure it out on their own. They are learning a lot – and I don’t just mean about Lewis & Clark. I want to be a kid in your room.

  9. Happy Birthday Tara! Once again, amazing things are happening in your classroom! Students are engaged! Isn’t that what we all want for our classrooms?

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