Tonight was our school's Curriculum Fair. Once a year, in March, we open the doors to the parents and each class displays whatever project they are working on that ties into the curriculum. Each teacher plans a project that is special just for the fair, and it is neat to walk around and see what everyone else is working on.
By far, the best project this year was the rain forest in the west hall. My daughter's class has had their teacher for 3 years now. She started out with her in first grade, and due to class size issues, had her again last year when she taught a 1/2 mix. This year she asked us if it would be OK to keep the whole class,as a 2/3 split, being they all work so well together. Of course we said yes. These kids have been together a long time. They are well behaved, they are respectful, and they are friends.
They have been studying the rainforest in science. Their teacher had the great idea to turn the hall outside our classrooms (I work in the west hall also) into a rainforest.
The best part wasn't that my daughter is in this class, nor was is that because I work with 3 of her students I got to help out with this fabulous display, or even that our principal said we can keep it up for a while. The best part was the excitement in the kids. Each step of the way they were so eager to share what they were working on, or to ask me to stay late and help them to color, or cut, or paste. They worked together as a class, a real team unit and created by far the best curriculum display I've seen in 5 years. They made the leaves. They made all the animals. They did a special project with the art teacher involving the animals in the rainforest. They researched animals during library and created them in the classroom.
A rainforest scene was projected onto this abandoned canvas from the gym, and the entire class used oil pastels and colored it in. They have stayed in during every recess since last week, on their own merit (and we even have nice weather this week!) so that they could work on this project. After the Insurance inspector came through last Thursday, they got to work turning the hall into a tropical sensation. They showed it off to everyone who walked by. The older kids came down the west stairs, just to check it out.
They praised, and wowed, along with the staff.
These kids put their heart and soul into this project, and the result clearly shows that. It was such a pleasure to see kids enjoying learning so much. Even the few quiet, withdrawn students in the class came out of their shells and blossomed.
The idea that next year they will be split off saddens me. It has been a journey for us all, watching them grow together and work through their issues to become one unit. One community. One awesome class. One group of friends.