I read back the words from the students’ note cards, including Eli’s “Rain Window” and “Fire Room”, Carlos’s “Dragon Place”, Riley and Sonya’s “Candy City”, and more. I then asked the students, “Besides talking to each other, what are some ways we can share more ideas about the new space?” The students came up with “drawing”, “drawing with chalk”, “drawing with crayons”, and “drawing with paint”. Carlos added “paper mache”. Ananya added “folding paper”. We then took a vote and decided upon “drawing with chalk” as our next step for this project.
We taped a large black sheet of paper to a work table and set out chalk for the students to work with. Riley used the chalk to create “hills and mountains with holes”. She explained, “The holes grow grass in them. It’s a big forest with tiny spiky white trees.” This comment reminded me of Rayden’s idea involving grass in the new space. She added, “There are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 guys that are very mean in the forest. There are aliens that live in the forest. They’re kind of a lot real.” Eli and Catherine joined in on the chalk drawing, each separately drawing “the biggest forest ever EVER”.
At another table, Carlos was drawing with markers and paper. He explained one particular drawing as a “Candy Bus”. Catherine came over and drew a “Candy Store”. Riley moved to this table and switched her focus to “candy” as well. When asked if she was drawing something from her “Candy City”, she clarified, “it’s Candy TOWN, not Candy City”.
My immediate takeaway from this second day of work is that this project seems to be flowing down two very different channels: one, a “spiky” place with monsters and other “mean” things in a big “forest”; the other, “Candy Town”, where things seem somewhat like our town, only with all things “candy”. I wonder how these two very different ideas will continue to develop alongside each other.
At our October 22nd Morning Meeting, our investigation was interrupted when our group of Eagles sat staring at Mr. Jake's group as they put on their coats to leave for the new school. Sensing that we were unable to carry on a design-related discussion at that moment, I instead asked the Eagles to share what they were feeling.
With folded arms and a beet-red face, Zoe explained, "I feel bad cause I wanna go to the new school.”
Riley shared, “I feel a little bit mad, and a little bit sad."
Catherine said, “I want Juliette.”
Carlos lamented, “I wanna’ go to the new SPACE.”
Ananya said, "Me too!”
Then all of a sudden, Zoe's eyes lit up. She raised her hand and asked, "What if we write Mr. Jake a note, ‘Can we come visit the new space’?” The group then voted that this would be a good plan to help us feel better. However, the Eagle teachers clearly need to try a new approach to this separation so that our students are able to move forward together.
I finished the Morning Meeting by asking what we could do in a place like "Candy Town". Zoe said, "We could make candy canes, split ‘em apart, then use them to build the town.”
When asked how Candy Town might feel to them, Sonya said, “I think Candy Town tastes sweet, and it feels fluffy like cotton candy!”
Lastly, Eli shared that in Candy Town, he wants to "buy some candy. You can get it from a man--from a man at the store… at the CANDY store.”
For our October 24th Morning Meeting, I shared the students' thoughts from the 22nd on Candy Town, then asked them to tell us about a place called the "Spiky Room". Eli explained, “The Spiky Room has fire and hard rocks.” Camerina, who was new to the class and to our project, nonetheless added, “Fire and aliens!” I reiterated Riley’s comment about “mean aliens” from the 17th, and she clarified, “Some aliens are nice, and some aliens are mean, and there are scary MICE.”
When asked what else lives in the Spiky Room, Sonya replied, “Giant whales and bears.” Catherine added, “Sharks that are mean and poisonous.” Rayden said that the Spiky Room is “in the ocean. FISH live in there.” Eli vocally disagreed with these statements. I asked the group if there could be an ocean sometimes, and sometimes no ocean in the Spiky Room, and the consensus seemed positive among the students.
Lastly, Louis threw us a curveball by adding, “There should be Superman and little hotel room bottles in there.” I asked for clarification. “Little hotel room bottles that you find in a hotel room.” So now that’s in the mix, too!
After this meeting, Ms. Sonia and I invited the students to make things from the Spiky Room out of pipe cleaners. Riley created three pieces which she called, "a black widow”, “dragon”, and a “red-eye monster”. Camerina made a “very long, very tall dragon”. Eli independently brought down his Fire Room drawing from last week and attempted to reimagine it in the medium of pipe cleaners. He held the two pieces up together and explained, "This is the Spiky Room; this is where the whale-stink is!” Using multiple media to reimagine this space seemed to be a powerful tool for solidifying and expanding upon the students’ ideas.
It now appears very clear that we've got strong ideas flowing about our new classroom space being used as both "Candy Town" and "the Spiky Room". Based on the students' work and words, this space of dual identities will be a place for open-ended, unbridled imagination. We will do dramatic play, construction, and art as needed--at times this work will "feel fluffy like cotton candy", and at others it will be "mean", "poisonous", and "spiky". Either way, the Eagles seem very excited to be defining this space, and at the same time building new culture together. I am very excited as well!
Next week, we will try to push our way into the new space to actually see what sorts of activities the students bring in there. We will also start using the terms "Black Eagles" and "Golden Eagles" to help explain this confusing transition in a way that may allow both groups to feel proud of their new identities and the important work they are doing together.
Thank you for reading,