Tag Archives: diversity

What’s Your Angle? SOLC 2019 Day 21

When was the last time you used a protractor?  Drawn a circle?  Measured an angle? We spent time earlier this week doing all of those things in my classroom.  There’s nothing like a new tool to pique students interest…and the protractor did just that.  Students were fascinated that protractors also have rulers on them, they couldn’t wait to experiment with them!

We used those protractors to draw a half circle on the fold and then open the full 360 degrees of circle.  Each student then had to measure an angle–one randomly assigned–and cut that angle out of the circle.  The cut out angle became the mouth of an “angle fish,” the piece removed became the caudal fin.  Some designing soon resulted in a whole school of individual angle fish!

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Why bother with angles and protractors?  Simply for a cute crafts project?  You probably know me better than that.  My students are just beginning to pay attention to angles, to recognize those perfect square corners that measure 90 degree.  To understand that triangles exist that are not perfectly equilateral, with equal angles as well.  They are starting to understand that attributes can categorize without diminishing the diversity of possibilities within those categories.

I hope geometry lessons can teach ideas that transfer far beyond polygons, sides, and angles.  I want my students to recognize that each of us brings our experiences, genetics, family backgrounds, and opinions to who we are.  That they will learn to see diversity and difference as opportunities to enrich their own experiences, to add value to our world, to push beyond their own status quo.  That they will step outside the comfort zone of sameness, and consider the view from another perspective.

I’m pretty sure my students understand the categories of acute, right, and obtuse angles…the rest will continue to be a work in progress.  After all, I’m still working out my angles too.

 

One Word from Sophia, it’s Destiny!

Sometimes you know at first sight that you were destined to meet.  That happened to me today.

The SDAWP Summer Institute (SI) is in full swing, which means my head is full and my schedule is packed.  There is lots of reading and writing and thinking and talking going on…and I love it. Today at lunch I had a few minutes to myself, so I headed off to the coffee shop to treat myself to a latte. When I walked in and saw that there was no line, I immediately thought–jackpot!  I can take a few minutes and walk through the bookstore, just to look.

Coffee in hand, I headed toward the children’s book section.  And there it was…

I couldn’t resist.

One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail grabbed me and wouldn’t let go!

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I was drawn in by this brilliant little girl who knows what she wants…and has a plan to get it.

Sophia’s birthday was coming up, and she had five things on her mind–One True Desire and four problems.

This girl is a student of rhetoric and knows how to make an argument.  She knows her audience and how to tailor her reasoning and evidence (love the variety and types!) to convince.  And she takes her feedback as information essential for revision and iteration.

I don’t want to spoil the story by giving away all the details here…but if you are a teacher of writing, of argument, of debate…or just love a great story…you will want to read and study and probably even own this book!

And there’s more…rich vocabulary, compelling characters, and a surprising ending.  And this is not a book just for children.  I can see community college instructors using this book in their composition classes and kindergarten teachers too.  And you don’t have to be a teacher…this is a book for readers and definitely for writers.

I think this will be a relationship that will endure…right now, it’s love at first sight!

Here’s Jim talking about the story:

Appreciating Difference

I love my macro lens!  What I like best about it is that it makes me slow down, breathe deeply, and pay attention to the smallest of details…things that I didn’t even realize I couldn’t see.

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time at our local botanic gardens, offering a wide variety of plants in different ecosystems from deserts to rain forests to native plants of our area.  They also had a section of the gardens that was all fruit trees…a variety of citrus, figs, persimmons, guava, and more.

When I saw this delicate guava blossom, I had to stop and take out my macro.  I just knew that it would take a close look to really see and appreciate the beauty of this ethereal bloom.

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And once I got started, I couldn’t stop myself.  Each variety offered its own unique beauty. Here’s one variety of fig.

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This is a different variety of fig…and perhaps at a different stage of development.

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I was surprised by the center of this lime blossom.  I knew it was a white flower, but I hadn’t noticed the center before taking this photo.

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And this lemonade lemon tree had the prettiest pink blossoms getting ready to open.

lemon blossoms

I’m not sure which fruit tree this blossom came from, but I love its crazy red fringe!

fruit blossom

As I looked closely at these fruit blossoms I found myself thinking about how much diversity there is among them.  Even varieties that are closely related are different from one another. Which got me thinking about my students…and students in general.  As teachers (and parents too), we need to slow down, look and listen closely, and pay attention to the diversity among our students.  Even when students are all the same age, they have vastly different personalities, learning strengths, and interests.  I often have the privilege of teaching siblings…sometimes even twins and triplets…and what I know is, despite having the same parents and living in the same environment, each child in the family is different from the other(s), highlighting the complexities of DNA, personality, behavior, and more.

And in spite of these differences, we all have so much in common:  the need to be loved and valued, to be nurtured and supported, to have others assume the best and help us learn from the inevitable mistakes we will make.

That macro lens offers insight as I look closely at the world of plants, noticing features and details I might have missed without it.  I don’t have a macro lens to use with my students, instead I have to use the lens of mindfulness to keep myself attuned to the individuality of my students and take the time to notice and learn from them and about them.  I don’t just teach a group of children, I teach a classroom full of diverse individuals and to teach them well it’s important for me to know that and take their differences into account.  And for me, that’s the beauty of the classroom, it’s a room full of teaching and learning opportunities as we all bring who we are into the mix.  Our differences are the best part of our learning community as we help each other slow down and see the world in new and different ways.