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Friday, September 2, 2016

Learning is Messy

Learning is messy! I don't necessarily mean a physical mess although it can be that. I mean that everything your child learns is connected to every other thing that he or she learns. Learning really can't be completely compartmentalized into math, reading, writing, etc. It is easy to see how reading and writing are related and how learning something about writing can improve your reading and vice versa. Other contents seem to separate more easily but are actually all connected, too. That is one of the basic tenets of Expeditionary Learning - we embrace the fact that learning is messy and all tangled up and not neatly segmented into discrete areas. Below are a just a couple of examples of messy learning in first grade.

We recently created graphs using name cards during a word work lesson. One day we created a graph by the number of letters in our names and one day we created a graph based on the number of syllables in our name. How is this messy? Well, while we were thinking about letters within words and length of names, we were also learning to physically create a graphical way to organize information to understand it better. When we created the graph of syllables in our names we began to think deeply about why this graph looked different from the previous graph. We thought a lot about how names might have lots of letters but not as many syllables. We wondered what a name with 10 syllables would sound like. We related this to our morning drum circles and thought about the beats in each name and how you would drum them. In first grade we casually introduce new learning mixed in with other/older learning and after a while we begin to notice that we know about a lot of things like: graphs, letters, words, syllables, music, naming conventions and more.
Number of Letters in Our Names Graph

Number of Syllables in Our Names Graph

We are also slipping in more graph/chart making while practicing making tally marks. We have created two charts using tally marks - one about pets we own and one about our favorite season. While creating these charts, we are practicing making tally marks, counting by 5s, counting by 5s and switching to counting by 1s, organizing data in a way that makes it easier to understand, preparing to count the value of a collection of nickels and pennies and preparing to tell time on an analog (with hands) clock in 5 minute and 1 minute increments. What looks like a simple way to practice making and counting tally marks actually has many more purposes. Yes, learning is messy but learning this way of learning works so well.

Arts and PE
Our Arts and PE class next week is PE. Please help your child remember to wear appropriate footwear.

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