School is over, but writing evaluations are not. Instead of grades, each teacher at school writes a yearly summary, but then writes an evaluation of each student, as best we can, highlighting the year's accomplishments and the future needs of each. I'm happy to take a break from that writing so I can share a little bit more about those units that I mention sometimes. At my school, each student chooses a particular topic around which the teacher (with student input) wraps the curricula. There are many other things our students do, but the main part of their schooling is the unit. They choose books, only sometimes related to the units. They do specific assignments related to the unit, but also as a class when the group is studying something particular. It's a little complicated, and differs with each student.
This year, in her first year at the school, my granddaughter Ingrid chose to study manatees. I wrote about it earlier, showing off her first Expo, when all students show their learning "so far" in February. This time, for her spring choice, she chose a relation to the manatee, dugongs, a lesser known species called a sea cow because they graze on sea grasses, and inhabiting parts of the Indian Ocean near Australia. Our school also has teachers who help students go on day trips to learn 'in the field' about their topics. This can range from an interview with a psychologist if a student is studying mental illnesses, a trip to a dam to see how they work, or to the art museum to examine the impressionists. You get the idea. Well, there are no manatees or dugongs in Colorado. Ingrid's trip teacher, Kelly, took her to the Museum of Nature & Science to study a skeleton and that was a wonderful learning trip, but no manatees for real.
When I consider my colleague Kelly's love of learning, she is both persistent and creative. She searched the web for some connection for Ingrid in the "real" world, and found a scientist in Australia who studies dugongs. She e-mailed her that a six year old in the U.S. was studying this species and asked if she would answer some questions. Well, yes she did. They had a lovely back and forth question and answer session, and about a week later Ingrid received a box from Australia, with more information and a stuffed dugong! I imagine she won't forget this for a long time! A thank you is on the way, and her mother posted the picture on the scientist's Facebook page. Learning in the world is the best thing, isn't it? I must add a thanks to Ingrid's core teacher too, who has been my colleague for a long time. Ingrid had a wondrous year with her, and was so fortunate to have her.
We are traveling to Florida this summer, and hope to see some manatees!
|Ingrid's display of her work.|
|Her writing and the e-mails exchanged.|
|Well, you know what this is!|