by Zena Pesta
This season of Eagles has been filled with thoughtful curiosity, discovery, and learning about one another and how we sit in our community at school. I can honestly say all of them are natural problem solvers who can articulate their own needs and who also care about the needs of others. Together as a class we have done some very hard work of navigating a group process in decision making for our Community Class Agreement and designing our Job Chart. Within this discussion we spoke extensively about the definition of needs, wants, boundaries, and expectations. Many might think 4th and 5th graders wouldn't be able to hold space for such a conversation; however, the Eagles at Red Fox are more than willing and able to navigate such topics. The depth these kids have is remarkable! I always view my work as an educator as someone who is facilitating, stewarding, and nurturing growth within a community. I am very proud to say that the Eagles are a group of kids who critically think and question with ease.
During Language Arts we have been leaning into critical thinking by continuously practicing the art/process of brainstorming, outlining, and formatting with all of our projects. This iterative process is extremely useful and can be applied to almost any project. The Eagles have been working on understanding what it takes to create a story through different genres and formatting. These explorations ask the Eagles to use mind maps, story maps, character comparisons, outlines, basic sentence structure, descriptive language and other literary devices to create fiction and nonfiction stories. The Eagles nonfiction writing process focused on our Red Fox newspaper articles which are published online (a link is provided below). They worked really hard to use a journalistic voice to tell stories about our school. Learning about the writing process of drafting, revising, editing, and final drafts took weeks. Each Eagle chose a specific experience of the school as a focus. The formatting of the newspaper was already determined by RFCS so, to satiate their creative appetites, we looked at the formatting differences between newspapers and zines. Currently in the classroom we are using their newspaper articles, drawing skills, photos, and the process of collage to transform the newspaper into a physical zine format that they will hand out to the other teachers and students at Red Fox before the December Break.
For our read aloud, we are reading A Snake that Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger, an Indigenous person of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas. This book is an atmospheric, world-straddling, dual-narrative tale laced with themes of climate change, family, and identity. It weaves a tale of indigenous futurism. While I am reading aloud, the Eagles either watercolor or draw while they listen. We then have reflective reading responses and prompts that each Eagle writes. Although we use computers for some of our writing in the Eagles classroom, our reading responses are handwritten. The Eagles continue to practice writing by hand to strengthen their dexterity and stamina. We also practice cursive in the morning to support this application. Along with our read aloud, each Eagle has been keeping their own reading list for their independent reads. Our Eagles read an array of fantasy, realistic fiction, historical fiction, and historical non-fiction books.
Moving on to Math, we have worked on a Foundational Geometry unit, learning and thinking about foundational Geometry concepts. Through practice sheets, demonstrations and hands-on projects, the Eagles worked to classify angles, triangles and quadrilaterals. For many weeks we have been working on creating and sewing cushions for their use in the classroom utilizing geometry concepts. The Eagles used two sewing machines, different color yardage, numerous quilting books, and physical example quilts (one from the 1930s) as tools and for inspiration! Every Eagle made their very own cushion and learned how to use a sewing machine to piece together different shapes and angles of fabric (a design of their own). Through this exploration, they practiced their dexterity, precision, how to calculate angles, find area and perimeter with rulers, drafting paper patterns of the cushion tops. There’s nothing like linking concepts to application and repetition of practice! Many are able to thread the sewing machine and wind the bobbin. Troubleshooting, problem solving, and perseverance were just some of the tools that the Eagles used during this project.
These Eagles are keenly aware that adults may not have all the answers and are willing to contribute ideas and their problem solving skills. They are helpful, kind, understanding and sometimes patient. Every day I am reminded of the importance of patience, laughter, a dose of self awareness, and how important it is to be in a relationship and connection with kids. Thank you for allowing me to steward these humans for the four months that I am here at Red Fox. It is an honor!
Explore. Discover. Learn
Some of our adventures this fall:
Back to School Picnic
Mountain Day 2023
Harvest Festival 2023