We are settling in happily after Spring Break. It's been several weeks since I filled you on all that's going on in this vibrant and irrepressible community of children. The students are in art with Ms. Michelle right now, learning about artist Jacob Lawrence and creating their own story paintings, so I have a few minutes to write to you.
Every day we have a Choices lesson that focuses on social skills. Recently, we've been investigating self-discipline and its relationship with courage. We define courage as "feeling brave in the face of fear." I've been sharing stories of courageous people. Before Spring Break everyone was fascinated by the story of the recent "Miracle on the Hudson" when Captain Sullenberger and his crew landed an airliner on the Hudson. There are so many examples of personal courage in the world around us!
This week for Choices, we began to read and pull apart the book "Through My Eyes," a personal autobiographical account of Ruby Bridges. Ruby's experience in 1960 with desegragation proves that even very young children can show tremendous courage. With the book, we have been working with important words like segregation, integration, injustice, and bias. Human rights and civil rights are helping us wrap our conversation about courage in a very personal peace education perspective.
One of the things I love the most about teaching Upper Elementary is our ability to have passionate, investigative, personal conversations about important topics like racism. At this age, children are open and inquisitive while simultaneously believing deeply in justice, equality and fairness. They are growing up in a world, in a culture and in an educational methodology that welcomes differences and encourages questions. Sometimes, inequality seems like a place we visit as tourists, and I am working hard to help the children get inside of the experiences of people in different times and places. I am inspired by their outrage that things could ever have been, or might ever be, any different. I am so hopeful about the future of humanity after a Choices lesson involving Ruby Bridges or a history lesson about the role of women in Ancient Greece. I hope that your child is bringing home our conversations, and that you have the opportunity to share your feelings, experiences and perspectives because this will help your child make sense of the world and his or her place in it.
This week in the classroom, we are also working feverishly to complete history biographies in order to make sure they are ready to present on Friday morning. I ask that you make sure your child is ready with a speech, a costume and a prop. All of these things will come to school on Friday morning in a closed bag. Students will be presenting their speech to the gathered citizenry of the MCH Elementary city-state in the agora (third room) on Friday morning after chorus!
Students may also be bringing home final editting on their biographies and might need your support in making sure this happens. Today it came to my attention that several students still had their flash drives (containing biographies, thus leaving them unable to finish their work at school with the support of teacher/peers) and their formal writing folders (containing project guidelines and research) at home this week! Please, please make sure that these things are in your child's backpack tomorrow morning so that they can be at school!
In closing, here are a few dates I'd like you to keep in mind for the coming months:
April 21-26: Scholastic Book Fair (more information is coming home on Friday - check your Friday folder)
May 7: Turquesa Library Trip
May 22: Field Trip to the Washington Park Arboretum
May 23 & 26: School Closed
May 28: Turquesa Library Trip
June 14: End of the Year Party
June 16: Upper Elementary Roman Feast (6-8 pm)
June 20: Last Day of School
As always, I appreciate your support. Please let me know if you have any questions.