We have been so happy with the levels of curiosity, engagement, motivation, respect, and kindness that kids have brought to this incredible opportunity we call, Blueprint. The classroom culture they are helping us create is quite amazing. Thank you for being a part of this journey with us, and helping us have such an incredible start to the school year.
Trusting the Process
You may be wondering what your child is talking about when they mention words like goals, targets, scheme time and seminars. This language is part of the cycle of inquiry they are involved in. The simplexity of their work begins with a passion, something they really want to know more about. Then they write goals that tie Colorado Content Standards and higher level outcomes to the passion or topic they have chosen. Next, they develop actionable targets; steps needed to reach those lofty goals. From here the work is a complicated and exciting web of research, small group instruction, interviews, and one on one advisement with a facilitator. Students are learning to trust this process. They are learning that with every answered question comes another more critical one, in its wake. To illustrate this process: a student who initially begins to study human body systems with an emphasis on the brain, may begin by reading about the brain and the nervous system. Once they have a clear understanding of this system, he/she may spark a curiosity when reading about concussions and how they affect the brain. Thus launches he/she into a study of the intricacies of concussions and ALS. From there the student will begin to search for people who have been affected by ALS or concussions and the inquiry continues. This work is authentic to real life and creates many opportunities for critical thinking and purposeful reading and writing, not to mention provides valuable opportunities for our students to make connections beyond the walls of Sage Canyon. Students are constantly reflecting and revising as they build each step on their on their own pathway to learning.
How to Help Your child
Your child needs help processing and solidifying everything he or she is learning in this process of inquiry. It is no longer about memorizing dates or facts for a test or responding to a reading prompt. The easiest way to help at home with this is to provide opportunities for your child to talk about many topics. We put a lot of emphasis on the importance of looking at multiple perspectives of things. You bring a special and trusted perspective to everything your child thinks about. You may have a personal story to share that will spark a new curiosity or question for your child. You have life-rich experiences with topics that he/she is just beginning to understand in science, history, civics, or geography. Another thing you can do to help, is to routinely watch the news together. Linking present day issues with past events helps students make sense of the world and all of its complexities. It also gives relevance to studying history, science, geography, and civics. You can also check in on his or her project design document to see how he/she is building their day, how well he/she is using class time and to discuss notes from research. Your child will help you view work through our Google Classroom. Also, feel free to call or email us, anytime and we can update you too.
Consider asking kiddos one of these “Dinner Table Topics” to kick-start the conversation:
Tell me about one of your targets today.
Did you attend any seminars today? What did you learn? How will it help you in your project?
What was Pillars about today?
What did you take away from pillars this morning? How did you make this a part of your day?
Did you discover anything interesting in your research today? What else are you wondering about?
What evidence were you able to add to your Project Design today?
Can you show me your Project Design? I'd love to see your learning!
What experts do you think you’ll reach out to? What will you ask them?
What skills did you practice in literacy today? Math?
What problems or people do you think you will want to solve for in your project?
Because this is Blueprints’ second year, we wanted to leverage second year students as mentors, both to solidify previously learned skills for them, but also to encourage a positive classroom climate and collaborative environment among the two groups. Second year Blueprinters proved to be incredible mentors to our first year kids. Many of the relationships formed are lasting beyond the mentor “requirements” and have fostered dynamic learning circles. Now that our first year students have completed most of their foundational training and have either moved away from or continued with their demo project, the job of our second year Blueprinters as official mentors has waned. Second year students have now begun their own projects with great enthusiasm. Congratulations to a job well started, mentors!
As part of Pillars each day, we take time to publicly celebrate students who are doing the right thing and working hard. This week, we would like to celebrate our entire student body of blueprinters. Many classes were able to reserve time to enjoy some rewards that had been incentives for fundraising during the FunRun. On Friday, Blueprinters were outside for recess a bit later than usual due to picture day scheduling. After only a few minutes of being outside, we were joined by all four classes of first graders. Unfortunately, in the past, the upper grades have been notorious for establishing territorial rights on the playground whether unintentionally or not. However, yesterday, our Blueprinters seamlessly engaged with any and all first graders. No one was left out, unwanted or defeated. It was an ageless recess to remember! The dynamic created on the blacktop and field on Friday is one worth celebrating, and we hope to have opportunities to play together again and again. Please tell your student how proud we were of their actions.
Literacy and Math
Students are working so hard to refine and grow foundational skills in literacy and mathematics. These skills are essential building blocks to the success of their project work as the ability to communicate professionally, understand the research we are reading, and apply mathematical skills in the real world help support the lofty goals they have set for themselves in their content based projects. Students are working on applying decimals and fractions to our Montana Wildfire project. We are also exploring this topic in literacy to help us develop our first Expository Writing piece.