As we settle into the rhymes and rhythms of our geography and science classroom, learning begins to unfold in organic and marvelous ways. The quiet buzz of focused students permeates the classroom as we venture into the new and curious all around us.
This summer I came across an old Cherokee proverb that lit my fire and helped me blaze through serious healing I had needed for some time. The proverb states,
There is a battle of two wolves inside us all.
One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, lies, inferiority, and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope,
humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.
Which wolf wins?
The one you feed.
I thought this was such a clear and approachable message for any kid; something they could really hold onto throughout the year. We developed a system in our classroom that recognizes students for moments they “feed the good wolf.” As students earn check marks for “feeding the good wolf,” they earn “Wolf Stripes” that give them privileges in the classroom. The first privilege they earn is the ability to give checks to other students when they notice them “feeding the good wolf.” The students will help develop more privileges to earn as we proceed. I hope to have them earn the chance to teach the class something as they earn more and more stripes. At the end of each class, we check in to see if anyone noticed himself or herself “feeding the good wolf.”
In geography, we have spent many engrossed moments exploring different maps and getting acquainted with the six elements of a map: 1) Title; 2) Key; 3) Symbols; 4) Scale; 5) Compass Rose; and 6) Labels. After observing the above six elements, we began crafting our own maps. We started with the classroom and moved onto mapping the children’s unique world through their bedroom, house and neighborhoods.
In science, we explored our deep questions and followed student interests. On the first day of class, one student earnestly asked, “when can we making potions?” I simply had to follow the interest. So I brought my passion for essential oils and natural healing remedies into the classroom. We made potions on the second day. At the beginning of the year we develop basic science skills like measuring, recording information and making observations. I have noticed many of the 1st graders drawn to the books about the human body. Thus, our first in-depth unit of study will be the human body. If any readers out there are experts in the brain, circulatory system or emotions, please let me know. I would love to have a guest speaker.