• Tate Alvarez

Week 4 in the books!

Week four was short and sweet for the 1/2s this week.

We had a couple of ups and downs with our monarch friends. Over the weekend, I came to check on Doughnut, and its injured wing was causing it to become exhausted. On Monday morning it was barely moving and unfortunately died at around lunchtime. The students were so tender and we had a little memorial. Some of the students spoke some lovely words and we buried it near our outdoor classroom space. Popcorn, however, is showing her (we found out today) gold flecks and is doing really well.

We also began to explore our personal projects. We've been thinking all week about how we can create something with all the information we have been gathering about Monarch caterpillars, both in our fieldwork and in our readings. I posed the question, Why do people create? They generated a list that boiled down to the following: to make people laugh or have fun, to teach people, or to (in their words) convince people to spend money (lol) or to do something. Afterward, students brainstormed on what they wanted to create with their newfound knowledge and why. Some examples are a poster that teaches people about the monarch life cycle, a comic that teaches the life cycle, a poster that teaches people how to raise a monarch in a classroom, and a sign that is trying to convince people to "Save the Monarchs." They'll continue to smooth out these ideas and brainstorms, and then they'll each make their own big poster. Below are pictures of them hard at work:

For our Identity Unit, we have been focused on Gender identity and expression this week. As with the last couple of weeks, we have followed the following sequence when having these discussions: affirming one's own identity, focusing and celebrating the identities of others, and then discussing marginalized folks within this umbrella of identity.

We read the books They He She Me: Free to Be, They He She: Easy as ABC, It Feels Good to be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity and Julian is a Mermaid.

When reading They She He Me: Free to Be, They She He: Easy as ABC, and It Feels Good to be Yourself we discussed our own gender and identities and learned about pronouns. The books explicitly state that as children, we might not know or care at this moment in our lives and that's okay, too. We also learned that sometimes these feelings change, or we grow to understand ourselves more as we get older, and we do not have to be anything but true to ourselves. It spurred a lot of lovely conversations and the children took deep thought before deciding what felt right to them. After these stories, students made ABC posters based on their names and pronouns. Here is an example of one (these were posted on Seesaw):

The next book we read, Call me Tree, is a lovely book about a child that is never referenced by gender or pronoun. Instead, Tree is referred to as Tree throughout the entirety of the story. We discussed the author's purpose in doing this - children should just be free to be themselves, without the thought or pressure of how to express themselves. Students were able to recall the word non-binary when discussing Tree. After we read this book, students thought of something they would love to feel as free as. They came up with some amazing answers: Free as the ocean, Free like the wind, Free as a wild cat, Free to be like a rainbow, and so many other thoughtful responses!

We finished up our week reading Julian is a Mermaid. When thinking about people (in regard to gender identity/expression) trans people of color are the most marginalized, specifically Black and Brown folks. Julian is a Brown boy who dreams of being a mermaid, like the women he sees around his neighborhood. This book does not focus on the struggle, but instead shows the openness and beauty of a Brown boy being affirmed by his Abuela. We had a lot of great conversations throughout this reading. Students had thought-provoking responses when I posed the question: Why do you think Julian wants to be a mermaid? One student said, "I think Julian wants to be a mermaid so he can just be himself," which was met with almost unanimous agreement. They all continue to have such engaged and meaningful conversations about who they are, who others are, and have an admirable amount of empathy in their little bodies. I am so proud to be their teacher.

Despite the world around us, I'm left so hopeful with this group of kids. And with this, I'll leave you with a picture of SK's very own Chris saving a hummingbird from our learning space (I'm too short to be of any help) and pictures of our poetry time at County Farm Park!

Have a wonderful weekend :)


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