Relational Thinking and Equality

Today in math we started exploring relational thinking with some simple true and false problems. From that discussion we began to explore the equal sign and what it really means. The words value and equality came up to explore in our discussions. Then we explored how equality works without specific number values assigned. The learners were so engaged, they actually moaned when it was time for recess.

Coat of Arms

This week the learners began to study the first explorers that settled in New Spain and up the coast of California. The learned that sailing was no easy task and that it required a great deal of bravery and confidence. We studied the Coat of Arms given to Christopher Columbus by the Queen of Spain and then created our own personal Coat of Arms. It was a great way for them to think about the traits that define them.

Skeptics and Convincers

<p><a href=”″>WIM 2 Day 3</a> from <a href=”″>YouCubed</a&gt; on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Today in math, the learners watched the short video above talking about believing in themselves and growing their brains.  Then learners worked together using square paper to fold into different shapes (for example, fold your paper so that you create a new square with an area that is 1/4 of the original square). Then the teacher plays the role of the skeptic and asks students to justify how they know their shape satisfies its defined characteristics. Students had to provide a convincing argument.  Then learners tried playing these roles with a series of different defined characteristics.  It was really exciting to see them develop strong arguments with characteristics that would prove their thinking.

Book clubs

Today the learners participated in their first book club. It was truly amazing to hear them talk deeply about characters, themes and the authors message. It was really hard to imagine this was only the third week of school! Learners are now working in groups to create a project to share the things they think are most important about the book. Take a moment tonight to ask your learner more about it.







This year, our year long unit of study is “It Takes Many Voices to Tell the Story of California.”  Starting with early exploration, it is important for the learners to try and feel empathy and compassion for the native people that called the land of California their home for thousands of years prior to the first European explorers arrival.  This is such a challenging concept for adults to wrap their heads around, so obviously challenging yet important for young learners to start to grabble with.

Today, the 3/4 team worked with the 5/6 team to stage a surprise “invasion.”  During conventions workshop, our classroom was invaded by Ben’s homeroom class. Ben and his class stormed into the classroom and began gathering resources, scribing data on our community, and putting members of our community to work sharpening pencils, all under the watchful eye of his generals.  We had no warning and we had no real understanding as to where they had come from and why they had chosen our room to invade.   When they found something they liked and wanted to take, they gathered them up and did so.  They ransacked our classroom, taking pencils, chairs, glue sticks, books and really anything they decided was valuable.  No one stopped to answer our questions, hear our concerns or express any interest in the feelings of confusion we were having.     It was very upsetting and overwhelming for many of the learners who were struggling with what was happening. As a class, we talked about how it felt to be invaded.  The room was charged with emotion. The learners were having so many mixed emotions.  It was difficult to even have a class discussion because everyone wanted to share at once. The class shared that they felt confused, scared, frustrated, overwhelmed, nervous, angry, upset, sad, jealous, and unsafe. Many said they were needing respect, compassion, comfort, reassurance, inclusion, and respect for their belongings and their community.  At that point, I shared a book that I thought might help them make some connections to what had just happened.  We listened to the book Encounter by Jane Yolen.  Encounter is a fictional account of Columbus’s arrival in the Americas, written from the perspective of a Taino Native American boy.  As we read the book I will ask the class to imagine what it would have been like to be a Native American boy or girl, encountering European explorers for the first time.We talked about connections we were making to this text and what had happened that morning.  Learners connected with the native people that were confused by the arrival for giant white birds and pale men from the sky just like we felt confused by the 5/6 learners earlier.
Over the coming weeks, we will look at exploration through the eyes of the European explorers to gain understanding of their perspectives as well. The learners realized that this was just a simulation, not a real invasion.  After some reflection, they started connecting the invasion to how the natives might have felt when explorers arrived in the new world.  They were able to develop empathy for the fact that many of their needs were not valued or considered by the explorers, yet most of the needs of the explorers were.  This was a very powerful discussion.  Please take a few minutes to talk with your learner about their feelings, and how there are often many sides/voices to a story.

Class Mission Statement

This week we started to think of what we wanted our class mission statement to say about us. We looked at several different mission statements as part of the process. After reading several books focusing on values we think are important in our classroom, learners made posters and reflected on what those values meant to them. We then thought about how those values defined our entire community. Learners started by writing statements that defined our community, told who we were and what we wanted to accomplish together. Then we took everyone’s ideas and came up with a mission statement that we all agreed on. We think it defines us really well and also sets clear goals for what we want to accomplish together.

Growing Patterns

This week the learners built and explored growing patterns using a t-chart for the first five stages of the pattern. Then they looked for a pattern in order to figure out figure 10. The challenge was to create an algebraic equation for any number. At first learners noticed the patterns going down the t-chart, but looking at the relationship between the figure number and the pattern proved to be much more challenging. Most learners easily discovered patterns to figure out stage 1-5, but learners quickly realized that without knowing how many tiles it took to build the previous stage, they couldn’t figure out stage 10 and often got stumped. After re-looking at the problems some learners noticed that are other ways to look at the figure and what always stayed the same. After noticing this, many were successful in predicting figure 10 and some even began writing algebraic expressions that would work for any number.