We have been picking apart the themes for the year, which are Identity, Sustainability & Systems, and Innovation. We knocked them out in verb and noun form, discussed the difference in usage and tone, and embarked on the early stages of brainstorming project ideas. The kids have also been assigned books that engage the theme of Identity, and are reading those on their own. Here's the list of books (each student is reading one of these six):
- The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Sherman Alexie
- City of Silver, Annemarie Alfieri
- Mockingbird, Kathryn Erskine
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon
- When the Emperor Was Divine, Julie Otsuka
- Boy Snow Bird, Helen Oyeyemi
There has been a great mix in these first few days of directed and open reading. We've been reading George Orwell's Animal Farm aloud together, just today making it through the Battle of the Cowshed. Next week, as we near the end of the novel, the kids will be invited to research the bewildering range of commentary on this classic text. In pairs, they'll identify a particular line of inquiry, write it up, and report back to the class on the various analyses: as metaphor for the USSR, neocolonial Africa, and, for sure, many interpretations of which we are as yet unaware. Projects will grow from these.
We engaged the theme of Identity two years ago, when the current 7-8s were 5-6s. We're revisiting some ideas, but there's no question of simply dusting off the old work. Kids are reading different novels and will write on new interpretations of the theme. Ultimately, the projects they design will be the subject of Exhibitions, in which the students teach lessons to an audience of peers and adults on the work they have created. The initial quarterly round of Exhibitions will occur in the week after Thanksgiving. These Exhibitions will be reported on this very blog--each report written and edited, for public consumption, by members of this class.