From the ancient Celtic harvest festivals to trick-or-treating on Hanby Lane, the end of October has come 'round again!
Celebrate Dome School style at the Halloween Potluck & Children's Party (Tuesday 10/31, 11am-2pm) and the Day of the Dead Fundraiser featuring Brownish Black (Saturday, 11/4, 8pm-late).
Halloween Potluck & Children's Party notes: this isn't a regular school day, so please don't bring children until 11 a.m. (school staff will be busy setting up); bring a potluck dish if you can; please keep costume weapons at home. We're going to dance, play games for prizes, visit the not-so-spooky Haunted House classroom, eat, and have a great time!
Day of the Dead notes: we need volunteers! We need help Friday afternoon to put the school away, help Sunday to put the school back, and help in-between with baking desserts and quiches, working the front door, helping in the kitchen, and more! Sign up at the school.
What does it mean to "discover" a place? Specifically, what does it mean when a light-skinned European claims to have "discovered" a place that has been home to millions of people for thousands of years?
Our 3rd-5th grade students have been considering questions such as these since October 9, which has been the federal holiday called "Columbus Day" since 1937. We received great help from the text, Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, published by Rethinking Schools (with a focus on ideas for the elementary classroom).
We wondered, we sang, and eventually, we put Columbus and his co-defendants on trial.
(1) We wondered ...
- Who was already living here?
- Where did Columbus and his crew land, and where did they believe that they had landed?
- What was he looking for, and who was paying the bill? Why?
- What happened to the Tainos and how did Columbus' voyages play a role in the Transatlantic slave trade?
- In more recent history, what has been the process for some American communities (such as Eugene, Portland, and Seattle) when people there decided to change the name of "Columbus Day" to "Indigenous Peoples Day"? Could we make a similar change here, and if so, what will it take?
(2) We sang ...
...the song "1492" by Nancy Schimmel, from "I Will Be Your Friend: Songs and Activities For Young Peacemakers." If you're curious about the lyrics and tune, take a listen to the song on YouTube (with lyrics)...
(3) Finally, we held a two-day trial ...
...to determine who was responsible for the mistreatment and murder of thousands, and perhaps millions, of the Taino people, who had lived in the Caribbean for approximately 13,000 years. (Fifty years after the arrival of Columbus, only 200 people from the Taino culture remained.)
In our role play, the class formed four groups of defendants: Columbus, Columbus' Men, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and the Taino people. Three students played the role of jury, and the jury and prosecutor (teacher Kaci) asked questions of each group. The groups were allowed to plead guilty ---and all but the Taino group made this plea--- yet those who pleaded guilty needed to name at least one other defendant whom they believed shared the guilt. Every student was allowed to make their own verdict of "percentage guilt," in which they were tasked to determine what percentage of guilt each defendant responsible for, totalling 100%.
Within the teachings, singing, and trial-making, there emerged spontaneous discussions and debates among the children. They held strong opinions about the nature of war and peace, whether the same tragedies would have happened if King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella sent someone other than Christopher Columbus, the role of the "System of Empire," whether we have learned from our past mistakes and, most tenderly, they wanted to share their opinions of forgiveness: if something terrible like this happened to my family, could I forgive?
Our time with 1492 is drawing to a close, yet as we move closer to the next whitewashed American celebration, the day of turkeys and football that we call Thanksgiving, we will both practice the literal act of thanks-giving through practices of gratitude, as well as consider the long history of people who have lived on this land for thousands and thousands of years (and are not gone, but are alive, awake, and fighting for social justice).
Whether traveling by map, instinct, follow-the-sun, or "Let's Get Ourselves Lost 'Til Somebody Finds Us!" ... at Fort Vannoy Farms yesterday, the children of the Dome School became the Children of the Corn (Maze). Maybe not the best reference to make? Hmm....anyway, watch these 15 seconds of noisy emergence!
1. Graded homework (from the Homework Station)
2. New homework (from the Homework Station)
3. Jackets, shoes, sweaters etc (from the coat hooks and cubbies).
Get yourselves hungry this Sunday morning and come on down to the Dome School for a pancake breakfast! Secondary students in grades 6-9 will cook and serve, both in the spirit of community service and also to raise some cold hard cash for the new Secondary Program. Pancakes + fundraising= fun!
Also, a reminder: do not come to school on Monday! We're meeting at Fort Vannoy Farms in Grants Pass at 11 a.m. See the original blog post for more details.
Another page of the website is complete!
Grab 5 minutes to visit the Page for Panicked Parents of Pre-Readers, and do let us know what you think!
If you're a one-click kind of person and just don't feel like clicking again, I copied the text below:
The Page for Panicked Parents of Pre-Readers
We feel compassion for your panic. The author of this website (Kaci) has two children, and she still holds a visceral, cellular memory of the panic when her eldest son wasn't reading at an early age. He wasn't reading, and neither was he showing a strong desire to read. The stress of our competitive winner/loser culture took hold, and she wondered and worried whether her son was falling behind, whether he would make it in life, whether she was a good mom. And then one day ... something "clicked." He was ready. What was it that made him ready? His teacher? His parents? His brain? The weather that day? Who knows; it was a mystery (as is life!). Suddenly her panic was gone, and in its place was trust.
So now ... as the teachers of the elementary program ...
We are asking for your trust.
Trust that there are many ways to teach a human, and many ways that we learn.
Trust that children are magical beings, and each child is ready to read when they are ready to read.
Trust that the age your child learns to read has absolutely no bearing on her or his intelligence.
Trust that more than four decades of a play-based preschool, play-based kindergarten, and thematic elementary program have worked for the children of the Dome School. The formal reading instruction begins in the first grade, yet even then ---even then--- we don't push too hard nor too fast. Our goal is to walk alongside the children, providing a balanced reading program that contains instruction in both the small parts (e.g., phonemic awareness, phonics, and decoding) and the big parts (such as whole language learning, prosody, and comprehension). We will walk alongside the children, and we will be there when their tide comes in, when they are truly ready to read. This is a stroll along the beach, not a race to a finish line. Our way isn't the only way that works -- but it works.
Trust that the more we trust in our children, trust in our school, and trust in ourselves, then we will breathe a little deeper, a little slower, and remember that our fears and panic are only written in sand on the edge of the sea, waiting to washed away by the returning tide.
Trust, too,that the way of our school is supported by research*:
- "The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland." The Atlantic Monthly (October 1, 2015)
- "Academic Play Versus Play-Based Kindergarten." The Cortex Parent (October 9, 2009)
- "Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School." Alliance for Childhood (2009)
- "Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little To Gain and Much to Lose." Alliance for Childhood (2015)
*note: these articles pertain to both kindergarten and elementary reading instruction, despite the titles' singular reference to "kindergarten."
Last year our students made pen-pal friendships with a class of 5th grade students from Accra, the capital of Ghana. We wrote three letters, they wrote three letters. We asked questions, they asked questions. We realized that Ghanaian kids also played video games, they realized that some Takilma kids get to live in school buses! (We also realized that our Ghanaian friends were mostly quite wealthy --swimming pools, servants, chauffeurs --which helped dispel some of our stereotypes about Africans; our Illinois Valley lifestyles also possibly changed our Ghanaian friends' stereotypes about Americans.)
Yet we couldn't have forged these friendships alone.
These friendships were coordinated by Yo Ghana!, a small Portland nonprofit that facilitates pen-pal relationships between children in Ghana and Oregon. Needless to say, about every other Oregon classroom is from the Portland area, providing Ghanaian kids with the perspective of city-dwelling and suburban-dwelling Oregonians. And then came us -- Oregon's only rural representation in Yo Ghana! (to the best of my knowledge).
We had such a fun time that we're doing it again!
Stay tuned for news of our first batch of letters --- our younger children who choose to dictate their letters, or write letters in their own spelling, will need grown-up help to type their letters and/or translate their spelling into conventional spelling. Please consider volunteering :-)
Our community radio station KXCJ has discovered that people around here not only love to bake pies, they love to bid on pies! On the day before Bike-a-Thon, we baked an apple-cinnamon pie to support the 2nd non-annual KXCJ "Pie in the Sky" fundraiser at the Kerby Belt Building. (Little side note: we actually baked FOUR pies! One pie was donated to KXCJ, and the other pies were gobbled up at Bike-a-Thon).
Our new math program is a hands-on hit. This year we switched to Miquon mathematics, developed by the progressive Miquon School in the 1960s. Miquon introduces all four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) in the 1st grade, using Cuisenaire Rods as hands-on manipulatives, and the curriculum continues to challenge students through subsequent grades. You can download the complete Scope & Sequence HERE.
Static art likes to sit there, while kinetic art likes to move! In honor of Bike-a-Thon, the 3rd-5th graders have been building gear-and-pulley systems, a kinetic art-science project that has taken over the classroom! (Come see for yourself!). Thanks to Blick Art for the idea.
On Friday morning, the 1st and 2nd graders were challenged with building a bridge using only two ingredients: (1) plastic cups and (2) popsicle sticks. Then they had to step towards this challenge: How many dinosaurs can walk across your bridge? We enjoyed the waning warmth of early Fall by building our bridges on the front porch!
(Updated information in bold). Our annual field trip to Fort Vannoy Farms returns! Meet at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, October 16 at Fort Vannoy, outside of Grants Pass. Our guided adventure begins at 11:15 a.m. sharp, and includes finding our way through the Corn Maze, riding the Cow Train, and riding to the Pumpkin Patch to pick-yer-own pumpkins. Bring a lunch and $6 per child. Click HERE for directions. We are also organizing a carpooling option from Coffee Heaven in downtown Cave Junction -- check the Bulletin Board next week for "Rides Needed" and "Rides Offered."