The old saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun”, has such potential for being true in a classroom! I know it has certainly been the case in ours! We managed to find the fun that is embedded in deep thinking and discussions, hands on inquiry learning, thoughtful written reflections, and pulling pieces of evidence together like pieces of a puzzle. We all gained confidence in our ability to make sense of new information and in doing so, built a stronger foundation for future learning.
We had a classroom in which we were each free to be ourselves … free to be who we are without ridicule … free to explore our senses … senses of humor, creativity, intellect, imagination, and compassion. Sure, there were times when one or another needed reminding that such a place takes conscience effort, but, all in all we had such a place!
So here we are. During our last week we spent our time wisely. The students wrote letters to themselves. In the first few paragraphs they each told about their life right now. In the next paragraph(s) they predicted what their life will be like when they graduate high school. They I tucked those letters safely away in my file cabinet and retrieved letters written seven years ago by the then fifth graders who will be graduating this year!
We watched slides and videos of our year together and relived Homecoming, Halloween, Christmas, collecting data on the Koshkonong Creek, our field trips, building watershed models, celebrating Pi Day, learning about grammar, and so much more! On the very last day, I gave the students a final exam. They worked in groups recalling trivial facts about our year together. As we shared responses, we recalled so much! … When did we celebrate the Boston Tea Party? How did we celebrate our 1000th Day of School? Who fell in the creek during our data collection? What is our room number? How many live frogs are in our room? Who wrote A Christmas Carol? Who was Hank’s sidekick in Hank the Cowdog? Name some explorers we learned about. Who brought live animals to our Science Fair? Where did we go on our longest bus ride? Which authors did we Skype with? Who referred to himself as having a bald head, a beard, and a bow tie?
We talked about how starting a classroom blog changed our lives! Because of the ability to peek into classrooms all over the world, we met Dan Allen and discovered orthography! Since then we have met many amazing people who have encouraged us in our new quest to make sense of words. An old topic is suddenly fascinating and exhilarating! We have regularly read both Dan Allen’s and Ann Whiting’s blog out loud and had our thinking challenged! We learned about places we never heard of! We became blog pals with a classroom in Virginia.
And then? We danced!