zoom in update 2For the past couple weeks the kindergarten, first grade, and third-grade classes have been one question but in a variety of ways.

What do you notice when you slow down?

We have used this idea as a way to look closely at zoomed in photographs and notice shapes and lines. We have used this as a way to find many details in our own eyes. And we have used this as a way to zoom in to music so that we can draw feel music and find both lines and colors to match the mood. In each of these explorations of the past few weeks we have talked about focusing on details and paying close attention.

This idea of slowing down and zooming in came from a few sources.

First, with a couple teachers, we had the explicit goal of helping the students engage
mindfully. Melody and I have been actively trying to find the strategies to help her students be settled and think critically during our time together.

Second, this question is also connected to the goal of zooming in on a small moment for writing in their personal narrative unit. Irene has been trying to translate the idea of zooming in with your eyes to zooming into a moment to write about.

What shapes do you see in your eye when you slow down and look closely?

When I slow down it makes my body calm. In my eye I noticed that there is an orange part that looks like I triangle. I didn’t even know that was there!


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What do you notice when you listen closely to the song

(Waternight by Eric Whitacre)

They had some great, and varied descriptions of the choral pieces Waternight.

It sound like knights going into battle

-Malachi 3rd grade

I think it sounds like the Ninja Turtles movie, like at the end when they are talking about how they think they are going to die. It’s a sad part.

-Antwaun 3rd grade

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What colors do you think would describe the mood of the song?

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I picked these colors because the song was calming and fun

-Lily 3rd grade

The yellow goes with the beat

-Hanifa 3rd grade

 It (the song) sounds like they are looking outside so there is light blue.

–Audrey 1st grade


I picked only light colors because the song is so smooth

-Cormahni 1st grade

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It has been very interesting to see all of the details that these students are noticing and wondering about. I am excited to continue some of these explorations, especially that of connecting color to abstract ideas like moods and music. We have already started with the 1st graders in having them invent new colors and name them from connections they can make to the world.

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Our six graders are working with ancient civilizations. Where previously I was working with small groups, I am now working with the full class so that everyone can be involved in the material. I am learning more and more what that should look like to ensure that these students will be successful.  The question we have been exploring the past few weeks is:

How did ancient civilizations adapt to living in harsh environments?

The students have been taking pieces that they already know about different environments and different cultures they have been studying and connecting them. They have been using those ideas in discussions with peers, in drawing and in clay.

Arctic: warm clothing, place to create fire, strong shelter

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Desert: camel to ride to get water, cave for shelter, water storage, place to make fire, lightweight clothing

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Island: boat for travel, fresh water pools to help with drinking water, shelter under trees

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Mountains: shelter at base of mountain, spear to protect from wild animals, baskets to collect food, wood from trees for fire and shelter


Mountain surrounded by ocean: village of shelters to get people together, use trees as shelter

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One thing that I feel is worth noting for these photos is that some of the students who created the most complex pieces were students with special needs. For a few of these students in particular, clay proved to be a terrific way for them to engage with the topic at hand and have conversations about what they already knew.

Through all of the student’s explorations, I have also been exploring. I have been trying to focus on creating a clear question to think about for the students, which for myself and for the students (I think) has been very positive. I have been researching what strategies for conversation work for each of the individual classes and I have been playing with the balance between fully narrating/scaffolding an experience and allowing for truly open exploration.

I have also been constantly amazed by all the work you all do! These kids have so many good people rooting for them and it is exciting hear everyone’s earnest passion for working with these students.

Other things to check out:

Abby has put together some great photos in the kindergarten sensory studio. The question is clear and inviting and the photos are beautiful.

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Ask Adolfo about his clay fraction exploration. Even when I am working with the other classes I am happy to help source and gather materials. Adolfo was eager to get a new material moving in his class and lead his own clay fraction lesson with his second graders last week.

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