If you’re near the downstairs island, look for a bulletin board titled “Science Hopes and Dreams.” It’s filled with quotes from our 1st-through-5th grade science students, articulating what they’d like to achieve or try in science this year. You’ll see “study the human body and go to Bridgewalk Pond more often,” “make chain reactions and potions,” “do a lot of partner work,” or “catch a bug and study it.” Like most years, “explosions” are a common theme.

img_4827Gathering students’ hopes and dreams at the start of the year is a key part of the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching—an approach which Bixby embraces because it so thoroughly mirrors our mission and values. By asking students to think about their hopes and dreams for the year, we invite them to take ownership of their learning. We make clear that individual’s wants and needs are important in the classroom. We give students something special to work toward. I know from my own experience how motivating it can be to aim for something I specifically want to achieve.

In science, students’ hopes and dreams help me meet a teaching goal that’s dear to me: encouraging students to explore their own scientific interests. Hopes and dreams lead to some of our most engaging experiments and discussions, because the topics come from the students themselves. The ideas also help us establish classroom rules. If we want to “fold and fly paper airplanes” in class, how do we establish and maintain a learning environment that will allow us to do that safely and respectfully?

img_4826So far this year, we’ve met a few of the hopes and dreams on the list. We made potions and got an early start on our trips to Bridgewalk Pond.img_4838 We began examining supercells, at one student’s request. Partner work has started in the upper grades. We’ll continue trying to realize all the hopes and dreams in class in one way or another, except for one: “see Yellowstone erupt.” It may be best to put that one on hold for now.

Kathy Trauner

1st–5th Grades: Science; Student Council Advisor