Perspectives: The Class Environment - Mid-Pacific Institute

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Perspectives: The Class Environment

Posted on September 29, 2017

by Kelly Tokuhama on September 29, 2017

This week we read the story, "Going Places," by Peter and Paul Reynolds. In the story, a class of students was given a go-cart kit for a race competition. Almost every student constructed a go-cart according to the instructions on the kit. One student in particular thought outside of the box, and through her observations of a bird, constructed an airplane with the same kit supplies. In the end, her airplane crossed the finish line first, and she won the race!

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As a class, we discussed two questions about the book. Their responses followed:

Teacher: "What did you think about this book? What did you learn?"

Students: "You don't always have to follow directions the same way." "You can think differently." "They made an airplane instead of a go-cart." "Their idea went farther than everybody else's."

Then we thought back on our discussions of who we are as individuals.

Students: "We are readers. Artists. Mathematicians. A sister. A girl. A boy. A singer. A football player. A writer. A daughter. A brother. A student."

Teacher: "What makes all of you a student?"

Students: "We are taught things." "We learn things." "We have a teacher." "We are always learning." "We read." "We write." "We make friends at school."

Teacher: "Do you have to be in a school to be a student?"

Students: "You can be in a classroom." "You can be a student at home too because your mom and dad can teach you things."

After our discussion, we began to brainstorm all the parts of our classroom that help us as students. To challenge their thinking, much like the characters in "Going Places," the students were given very simple instructions to create a map of our classroom. Their map needed to show their interpretation of our learning environment. The students were also allowed to go wherever they needed to in the classroom, to create their map. How they wanted to visually map their learning environment was completely up to the them.

At first the students had some difficulty learning to see and think differently about our classroom learning environment. But about ten minutes into the activity, their ideas started to flow on their paper. Here are some of the creative and diverse classroom maps they created!

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Next, we shared these maps with our peers. The students noticed many interesting things:

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Students: "Not everybody's map is the same." "Some people see things differently." "I noticed things in the classroom I didn't see before! Now I know where everything belongs." "I didn't see all the science things before." "We have a lot of literacy circle books!"

After understanding how maps are helpful to us, we concluded our activity with the students sharing all the things they believe are important parts of a map. This helped them to understand the purpose of a map, and how we need to be very mindful when we create them. Part of being mindful requires us to use all of our senses and build our awareness level in different environments.

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The most important take-away in this activity was that as students, we observe and experience things in our environments very differently. The students did a great job creating their classroom maps this week, and we are excited to explore other environments outside our room over the next few weeks!

Upcoming Dates:

  • Friday, Oct. 6- NO SCHOOL (teacher's Professional Development)

  • Monday, Oct. 9- NO SCHOOL (Discoverer's Day)