Saturday, September 8, 2012


The pulse of any given week is best taken by looking at our journals. These are tiny notebooks that are essentially sewn to the kids as they move through the SK day. Every Thursday, I'll look over the week's journals, and every Friday or Monday I'll check in with the students about them.

This week's versions included about a half-dozen entries:

1) Books borrowed from the classroom library, with a few annotations. These choices ranged from young adult fiction (Letters to Julia) to educational philosophy (Punished by Rewards) to amazing miscellany (The Cartoon History of the United States).

2) Eight questions, at a minimum, on our first two themes, Farm-to-Table and Ancient Civilizations. These also carried fantastic range, and many were posted up on the whiteboard, including such winners as 'What were the first crops?', 'What is the trade-off between quantity and quality in factory farms' and 'What does organic really mean?'

3) Two questions, at a minimum, for me. Some of these were personal, some professional, some political; I answered most of them. A handful of them were hilarious, of course.

4) A write-up from our work with Dr. George, who helped the students understand the make-up of food by exploring the definition of 'calorie'. This was illustrated by setting fire to a Dorito. Better ask the kids about that one. It won't be forgotten anytime soon.

5) Some reflections on math work, as we take the measure of our students' arithmetical status and plan the year's program accordingly. One activity was to spend some time at www.khanacademy.org and then to reflect upon what that work was like. Another was to determine which state's name would take the longest to text on a numbered keypad; the winners got breakfast on Friday. Another task engaged touring the school, gathering information, and rendering that in various mathematical forms.

6) Why did Roxanne, my three-year-old, stop by class? So that I could illustrate what I consider to be the greatest challenge of human existence: keep tiny children alive. The Neolithic Revolution, in which people began to domesticate animals and to farm, transformed the calculus on that problem.

You may not want to poke around in your child's journal--but it should act as a useful prompt for them to use when you want to know what happened in school today.

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