One day in the middle of our Landform, PNW Studies, we started talking about the Native Tribes in the Puget Sound. This really peaked Jake’s interest and he started reading all the books I brought in on the topic. We had discussed totems and what they mean. Then Jake started asking everyone what they thought their “Spirit Animals” were. And just like when we talked about our “Tree Spirits” earlier in the year, everyone knew in an instant what animal they connected with the most. And ah, a whole new direction in curriculum. I love these kids and all the places they take me. I now know more than I ever thought about the Himalayas, Snow Leopards, Gorillas, Chipmunk Folklore, Cobras, Red Pandas, Clouded Leopards, Tigers, Komodo Dragons, Octopus, Penguins, Deinonychus, Cheetahs, Snails, Dragon Flies, Owls and Dragons “you know, not Komodo Dragons, real Dragons”).
I reset the classroom so that everyone had a wall space to put up their animal information, gallery style. I set tables under their wall space, so they could work on their individual projects and then tour each others. It’s always amazing when you set a space up for “individual” work, how territorial we can be. It was a great experience for us all but in the end I was happy to get back to our communal work, sitting where we like, with others who are working on similar projects.
I told everyone that “morning focus time” was theirs to do as they like as long as it was focused around their Spirit Animal.” Having so many options is sometimes highly challenging. A giant step in the direction of our goals for self-directed learning. The kids wrote reports, folktales, used clay, created habitats through dioramas, created paints and drawings, information hunting, reading, reading, reading and on. Then I had this idea one night that we surely needed a play with all of our characters. I split the class in half, and created a writer’s story group and a design group. The writers group worked with me and the design group worked with Jaala. Then the two groups would meet and discuss what we were working on. We are still working on this collaboration. It’s an amazing story and I suspect is going to be a huge production. We are so excited about this project. We have a goal of June 28th, 2:00pm!
The really cool thing is that the kids are coming in and telling us what “Spirit Animal” every one of their family members is. We will continue to work on our Spirit Animals and our play. It will most likely fill most of our days for the next couple of weeks…
P.S. Don’t forget about the other two blogs happening in connection with our class: