Connecting Identity to Place - Mid-Pacific Institute

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Connecting Identity to Place

Posted on October 8, 2017

by Coral Balubar on October 8, 2017

This week we began to make connections between some of the concepts we explored within our identity study and ideas we are in the process of forming with our "sense of place" inquiry.


The concept of each individual being special and unique has been a concept that we have looked at closely since the very beginning of the school year. This week, we began to connect this idea of individuals being special to the idea of a place being special. As we have been exploring the small area of our campus above the ALOHA grass, we discussed whether we considered the place special and why or why not. This is how the discussion unfolded:

T.F. : "[It is special] because it has lots of animals, like lots of bugs, lots of leaves, lots of trees, and it's kind of like, you imagine you're in a forest land."

B.H. "It's special because God made it. It's living nature."

A.S. "It's a special place because a long time ago there were a lot of ancestors and people were there and also, God made it and Mother Nature. And the place has been there a long time."

M.M: "It's special because you can explore over there. There's lots of things there that we can explore."

M.S: "It's special because there are treasures there. Stuff from a long time ago that was used by people a long time ago."

From there, the children began using their inquiry notes as reference to create their own maps of the area. This revealed more about what they each considered special about the area. Although we had all explored the same area, each child included different components of the place on their map. Some children included the ALOHA grass, as they felt it would help viewers orient themselves to the campus location. Other children included only specific pieces (trees, rocks, creatures) that really spoke to them during our exploring sessions. Some children included the pathway that led beyond our designated area, indicating a curiosity and eagerness to explore further. It was interesting to see how something seemingly objective, like a map, actually told the personal story of each child's perspective on the place.













The big idea we developed during our Yellow Pages project was that we are all experts when it comes to certain skills and talents, and as experts we teach others. We put this same concept to work with our place inquiry. We studied several "expert books" (non-fiction texts on various nature topics) to determine what experts might do when they explore. The children shared their noticings, and after studying several of the photographs presented in the books, Emmy noticed that many of the photos were close-ups, leading the children to conclude that when experts "zoom in" on something, they are able to discover even more (the grooves and lines on a shell, the shades of brown on a centipede).


That noticing set us off on our next mission! We returned to the area above the ALOHA grass for a third time. This time each child had a specific object or designated spot that they wanted to become an expert on. They took their iPads and used the camera as a tool to document their expert spot, zooming in on one subject in order to further develop their expertise. We will be using these telling and stunning photographs to document our journey with "place" as well as using them to inspire our writing and thinking.




Photo Credit: Dominic


Photo Credit: Paxton


Photo Credit: Ynes


Photo Credit: Flora

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Photo Credit: Terushi


It was so wonderful to see the concepts of identity and place start to mesh and blend this week. We look forward to seeing how the children continue to make connections between who they are and the places that surround us.

A mahalo to all of the parents who have volunteered for pumpkin donations, pumpkin carving, and for the C.E. trip to the care home. Also, a big thank you to Jen for coordinating the volunteering. Remember to look out for Jen's weekly email for upcoming dates and information.