My colleague and I offered fifth grade students this writing prompt as part of our current unit of inquiry - Who We Are. Our central idea is "Conflicts transform communities," and although I have some hesitation defining "who we are" with an emphasis on conflicts, it does make for an interesting lens as we study the Civil War, food webs and interdependence, and persuasive arguments.
I notice many of the students personalized the writing, rather than connecting it explicitly to the curricular standards, but I love seeing the diversity of students' responses, so with their permission, I'm sharing some of them here.
What's worth fighting for?
I recently created a movie to explain Exhibition to students, teachers, and parents. This was my first time using WeVideo (you may notice the free version tag gracing the upper right hand corner), and I was glad to explore the tool.
I very much wanted to include student interviews and reflections in this film, but access to good sound equipment is still a struggle: our iPads pick up a lot of background noise and can't record soft-spoken students well, even just a few feet away. Next time, I hope to capture student reflection quotes throughout the process.
Have you ever been on a long car trip with an impatient driver? He's only thinking about the destination, and wants to end the trip as soon as possible. He resents it if people ask to stop, is irritated by excess traffic, and complains about the highway conditions, the cleanliness of the car, and the fact that they should have left two hours earlier, as he suggested.
With a broad set of curricular standards, it's easy for teachers to become like an impatient driver on a long trip. There are billboards (benchmarks) and mile markers (units) along the way, and a lot of traffic (educators) moving in the same direction that can make teachers anxious about arriving at the intended destination on time.
With inquiry, it's inherently inefficient. Students aren't climbing into optimized vehicles with perfect road conditions; they're heading toward a point of interest, and this can involve some wandering, some stumbling, and some backtracking. In our travel analogy, inquiry is like when you see a sign that says "Come See the World's Biggest Doughnut," and the driver says, "That sounds fascinating! Let's go check it out!"
I've had the privilege of working with hundreds of students and families in IA, CT, NC, MO, TX, and Canada.