On September 20th, Back to School Night, parents visited our classroom, starting their visit with a tour of the spots selected for noticing by the young people in the group. The visitors then wondered about those locations, leaving us questions. In the spirit of this year’s school-wide theme, Notice and Wonder, here are our answers to some of those questions:
What Do the “Zones” Mean?
In our classroom we have a piece of paper that has a yellow circle, a green circle, a red circle, and a blue circle. We use it in the morning on Monday for check in. During check-in we say what we did over the weekend and what zone we are in.
When you are in the green zone, you are having a good day and nothing’s bothering you. You’re ready to learn and you are ready to have fun and you’re just having a good day. When you are in the yellow zone, you are having a good day, but you have a little bit too much energy. You’re not ready to learn, you’re talking too much to your friends, or you’re not paying attention. You’re having a good day, but your teachers are not.
When you are having a blue day, you are usually tired or something is bothering you. Maybe one of your siblings was bothering you, or you had a fight with a friend the day before that, or you just woke up too early in the morning. When you are feeling red, you are not having a good day. You are angry or you don’t want to talk to anybody. Those are the zones.
What are Some of the Favorite Jobs?
In Diane and Sarah’s group, we have a job chart. We have some jobs people like, and some people don’t like as much. Some of the more favored jobs are: boards, wild card, IT ( information technology), and attendance. IT is a job where you check if the computers are plugged in. You also have to put the mouses (mice?) back in place.The reason a lot of people like wiping the board is because of the satisfaction. Some of the least favorite jobs are: floors, table cleaner, lunch set up/clean up, dishwasher, and snack set up/clean up.
Here is how we use the job chart. In the first week of school, we decided the jobs we will have and then everybody was assigned a job. Every week we rotate to the left on the chart.
Who Plays the Piano? When?
Anyone who’s in the class and wants to play the piano can play the piano. The piano is near the entrance of the breakout room, and is actually an electric piano.The only time that you’re allowed to play it is if you come early in the morning before school starts or if it’s an indoor choice, or a choice when you can be indoors, like lunch choice. You can look at the piano books if you want, or sometimes kids can teach one another. I think that we have a piano in our room so kids can play it and enjoy it.
Why are the Computers at Standing Desks?
Last year, the computers in Diane & Mark’s classroom were on the far end of the classroom on a table, and on the right side of the classroom when you walked in. Now, however, in Diane & Sarah’s classroom (same classroom, different teachers), they are on standing desks by the windows at the left wall of the classroom with racks of laptops on either side of them. This change was made because standing while typing is better for your core and proper typing position was harder to achieve in a sitting position.
What Have You Been Doing on the Computers?
We have been designing our portfolio covers and writing this blog, but in the future we will be typing stories. We keep the laptop computers on the shelves by the windows and the desktops on standing desks there. We can use them during choice on some days and when we type during class.
We will also use the computers to learn how to type faster, how to use the internet, and how to use Google Docs and Google Slides. The teachers and friends make sure that we use the internet carefully.
How Do You Use the Amazon Echo, Alexa?
In our 5/6 class, we have an Amazon Echo, called Alexa. It is on the class piano close to our break out room. We use our Amazon Alexa especially at lunch. We use our Amazon Alexa because you can get a lot of music on it. Some of my favorite songs on it are “Sixteen Tons,” “Molly Maguires,” and also “Talkin’ Baseball.” We use it is for songs and we once even used it to play Jeopardy.
What Are The Coins On The Piano Doing There? Where Did They Come From?
The bowl of coins on the piano in Diane and Sarah’s classroom are from different countries, and we (Diane & Sarah’s group and many classes in this room in the past), gather them from the pizza sales that the 5-6 provide! Many coins are from Canada but there are some others — from Europe and Asia, mostly. We have a great time collecting the coins, and if somebody accidentally puts foreign coins in their order, we take them and we let them get their lunch, even though they didn’t quite pay as much as they were supposed to, because Diane and Sarah think that foreign coins are as valuable as American currency, just in a different way!
How Does the Loft Get Used?
In Diane and Sarah’s class, we have a loft. The loft holds a bunch of cool stuff such as: costumes and props for plays and skits, pillows, and little working tables. Sometimes we get to go up in the loft to do some class assignments, but they can not involve computers, because we do not want the computers to fall. Every time I go up in the loft, I always lay on all the pillows (it’s very comfortable). We can also go up in the loft for choice time if it’s a rainy day or an afternoon choice.
When Do Teachers Sit at the Conference Table? What Do They Do?
Anyone who wants to sit at the conference table can, including teachers. The conference table is a black desk with a desk chair on each side and a shelf at the end. You can find the conference table at the left of the entry. You can use the conference table when you are working on something or working with a partner. We use it is because sometimes you need space. You can also pull a chair up so that more people can fit if you are working in bigger groups.
Do You Rotate Responsibilities for Pizza Sales?
Everybody in Diane and Sarah’s group has someone that they are partnered with, called a pizza partner. The partnership is assigned to a specific class to collect orders and to deliver pizza. Each partnership works together to tally up money, count, calculate, and serve! Well, everybody but one partnership. That partnership is called Management. Management writes the final tally chart on the board, and serves out pizza and brownies to give to the partners so they can deliver them to their classroom. Management also makes changes to the order form, if there ever are any. Just to be fair, starting on the fourth pizza sale, the Management group switches out with a different partnership so that they can take over just for that week, and Management can get a chance to try out the regular job. After that, Management goes back to managing. Next time they switch out with another partnership, and then they go back. For the rest of the year, it goes on like that.
During pizza sales, everybody in the school (including Diane and Sarah’s group) has the option to fill out an order form with a pizza menu on it. The person who fills out the order pays for it and hands it in for our class when we collect it. The pizza sales, which usually happen every other week, are used to raise money. At the end of the year, we use the money to take an overnight trip that is linked to our studies that year. We all work together and hard!
Is the Little Library a Lending Library? Can You Pick ANY Book?
Yes! It is a lending library, and you can pick out any book that is available. We have a check out sheet that asks what book title you are checking out, what your name is, and the date. The book nook (as we call it) is located in Diane and Sarah’s room in the ⅚ building. Fifth and sixth graders borrow books from the book nook during choice or available free time during class. We can also bring books home just like a library after being checked out. It’s nice that we can read any day we want.
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Is the Cursive Alphabet Used for Writing in Cursive?
In Diane and Sarah’s classroom, we have a cursive writing chart that has uppercase and lowercase letters.Anyone has access to the chart. It can help us when we need to write or read in cursive. The teachers will be starting to write on the board in cursive, also. The cursive writing chart is on top of the whiteboard, which will help when they start writing in cursive. Later in the year we will be practicing cursive more.
What Do You with the Paper in the Box (on the Conference Table)?
It’s the scrap paper bin.You will find it on the conference table. It’s mostly used for making pizza order forms. You put it under the form while gluing to try not to get the table sticky.You’re not supposed to use the scrap twice if you get glue on it; after you use it once, put it in the recycling bin.
You can also use it during choice in the Make and Play area. All kids can use it when they might need to write down something to remember something as well. Kids will use it to maybe cut out stuff during a project if they don’t want to waste paper. It will also come in handy when trying not to waste paper. When using normal paper, if it stills looks in shape, try to save it for scrap paper.
Does Something Live in the Plastic Bin with the Holes on Top?
Yes! We have some worm friends living in the bin. On the 20th of September, Sarah introduced us to the worms. She went to Kate (our science teacher) and brought them back for us. They will live under the side table in our class. I wonder if they will tie in to our mysterious theme work. We like to feed them wet paper and soon we will be able to feed them kitchen scraps. I don’t know how long they will be staying with us, but I hope it’s for a while!
What is the Blue Bin For?
The blue bin is located on the table near the book display. It contains things the fifth and sixth need for pizza sale, like the money boxes and pizza tally sheets. Our group had its first pizza sale on September 14th. It was very challenging at first, but once the sixth graders showed the fifth graders how it all worked, it was pretty easy.
Diane and Sarah’s class runs the pizza sale and Jeri and Louis’s class runs the hotdog and chicken nugget sale, and the classes alternate each week with the sales. When the school year comes to an end, the fifth and sixth graders of Diane and Sarah’s class sum up all the money from pizza orders and come up with a place or places to go for the big trip. Usually the big trip is based on something related to the theme the class learned about.
When we first start pizza sales, we get our pizza partners and an assigned class to serve. We send pizza orders to other classes on Monday and we get we get them back on Thursday. We record what the other classes ordered and then we buy all the snacks and food we need for Friday. On Friday we divide all the food for each class according to what they ordered and we deliver it to the different classes.
Do You Get Something on Your Birthday in Diane and Sarah’s 5th and 6th?
On anybody’s birthday (or half birthday, if their birthday is in the summer) in Diane and Sarah’s 5th and 6th group, that person can bring in a treat. They can bring it for Diane and Sarah’s 5th and 6th group or for both 5th and 6th groups, or neither. They will also get a treat from the teacher, most likely their favorite treat that they listed at the beginning of the year.
They will get a treat in a bag which will also contain word presents. Word presents are basically nice messages that their classmates write for them. They also sing Happy Birthday, and it is very fun.
Do Any Kids Use the Typewriter? What Do You Like About It (vs a Computer)?
Yes, the students in our group are allowed to use the typewriter, which is located in the back of the classroom. I’ve heard that we also might use the typewriter to type up school work. I don’t know why the typewriter is there, but I’m wondering if it’s for our Sacred Spaces theme. No one has used it, but I’m sure it’s fun to use and I’m excited to use it later on in the school year.
How Do You Decide Between a Healthy Risk and a Dangerous Situation?
Students at Miquon sometimes have trouble deciding if a risk is healthy or a dangerous situation, the young students especially. It is an extremely complex decision. The risk could be fine or bad. Some would rather play it on the safe side, but others want to have fun and take a chance. It all depends on what you think is right, so think carefully.
At school, if you’re doing work and you don’t know the answer to a math problem, you could wing it, or tell a teacher and get help. That is the kind of risk that depends on the person, and if you make the wrong choice, it isn’t the worst thing in the world. There’s also another kind of risk. Let’s say you’re allergic to a specific kind of grass, and you have to cross a grassy field to get to a playground. If you make the wrong choice there, it really matters. From 8:25 (when we come in to class) to 2:55 (dismissal), there will be risks that you might not know whether to take or not, but there’s a simple way to solve this problem. How? You ask, well…
Stop! Sit down. Think. Don’t be hasty to decide. Ask yourself: Is this healthy or dangerous? If you don’t know, then prepare to take the risk and do what your gut tells you to do. If you’re still torn, then ask a teacher or peer if they think it’s a good idea.
That’s really it. It’s really that simple.