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Monday, October 26, 2015

Mission Statement

Our school is working on a new mission statement. The staff decided that we should ask the students for their input and ideas. We also wanted them to know that we have a mission statement and to know what we are working towards and what we hope for them by the time they graduate from Renaissance.

Renaissance Mission Statement
To empower students to explore, discover and understand the world around them and the passions within them.

Who are...
  • creative, reflective, fulfilled individuals
  • active, compassionate citizens
  • courageous builders of a harmonious and sustainable world.

After several days of discussing this during our morning meeting, we finally broke down all of the language into our own version that is more easily understood by a first grader. It was a wonderful discussion that led to many great things in our classroom (more on that below).

Ms. Jill's Crew's Version of the Mission Statement

Explore and look at everything around you in the world and figure out what you love.
We will be creative, caring, loving and kind to everything and everyone.

We will think hard every day.

At first the crew tried hard to figure out what I might want them to say. They said things like "parts and wholes are in the world" and "our family, crew and world are all together" and so on. These things are coming from our learning in our current Expedition about families and from our essential understanding of parts and wholes. I did love that they could relate those things to the mission statement but I wanted them to go deeper and talk more about what those ideas (once we broke down the language) meant to them. They did not disappoint. They dived right in and we had some wonderful discussions. My favorite comment was when Halle said, "Oh my gosh, we are thinking about thinking! Isn't that funny?" We spent a whole morning discussing what "explore" meant. We started out thinking that it meant that you had to go on a big adventure to someplace far away like Africa. We finally agreed that we can explore in smaller ways in our own backyards, classrooms, on computers and in books.

The next morning to help them tie all of their thoughts together, I read them the book, Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell. This book tells the story of Jane Goodall as a child and how she studied the chickens in her chicken coop, ants, trees and other living things in her own yard by watching them closely, reading books and keeping a notebook about them. The books ends by explaining how Jane ended up becoming a scientist who studied chimpanzees in Africa by observing them, living among them and keeping a notebook with her observations.

I was prepared to launch the crew on studies of their own the next day about taking notes in a notebook about things you are passionate about. Ms. Michelle, a 6th grade teacher at our school, just happened to drop by and mention a video clip she used with her 6th graders about keeping a notebook. It is from a Disney film about fairies. The story is about a little girl whose father is a scientist and he keeps trying to get her interested in keeping a science notebook like he does. She never becomes interested until she becomes fascinated by fairies. Then she finally starts her own notebook containing all the things she learns about fairies. Click here to watch the short clip.

The next morning, however, Lily got to share during our sharing time and she told us about how she and Ali had a play date and how they researched cool facts about animals and wrote them down. They had some great facts to share about crabs and other animals. So I used them to launch our research idea and the crew was very excited about researching any topic that they choose. We watched the video clip to get ideas of things that might go in a science notebook and then we jumped right in. Kids are researching dance, eggs, Minecraft, birds, snakes, turtles, wolves, bluebirds, lions, princesses, fairies, chickens and much, much more. They couldn't wait to get into our classroom library and go to the school library to get started. Later in the day we looked at ways to research using our iPads and computers. You will probably be hearing many interesting facts in the weeks to come and they research and learn. They can change topics at any time. The goal is to learn about what they love and are really interested in, we don't have an assignment to complete. However they are reading, writing and learning to find information so many skills are being practiced along the way. I love when many ideas converge to launch a great project!

Below are some photos and one video of us doing our research. If you get this post by email, you will need to go directly to the blog to watch the video.

As you can see, the crew was very engaged and facts were flying around the room. "Did you know that a roadrunner can run 60 miles an hour?" "I think this lion has 13 teeth on the bottom of his mouth."

Homework ~ Read a good book or two.

Important Dates
10/30 Halloween Costume Parade and Breakfast - parade starts at 9 am
11/3 No School - Professional Development Day for Teachers
11/16-11/20 Book Fair Week

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