Friday, May 2, 2008

1000 Paper Cranes

I just had the privilege of returning to one of my favorite classrooms. It was at their request. (the teacher's) I had asked her to call me back when she had completed her project of "1000 Paper Cranes" and teach me how to origami fold a "crane". The kids were so happy to see me again...mainly because I played "Silent Ball" with them. They have very little they say. So I made them "a deal". Show me how to fold a crane and I'll let them play Silent Ball again. Mission accomplished.

The Story of the Cranes come from a book about "Sadako" in Japan, a victim of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Atom Bomb attacks. It culminates with a "Children's Peace Statue" and a plea for World Peace. This is a pretty advanced subject for second graders. I'm sure their capable teacher has quite a connection and identity to the concept. She was the first teacher who had a mirror by the door at kid-height level. Above the mirror were the "Class Rules" - just two. Most classes I visit have at least 5 to 8 all stated in the negative. I wrote about them here previously i.e. #1. Be Nice. #2. Mine Own Business. Just that! Short and suscinct, to the point but all encompassing, (That's correct, no possessive, personal pronoun - your) These two simple rules, if applied world-wide could go a long way to stopping us from bombing each other.

I hadn't been to the class for a couple months and so I wanted to see/witness their progress with these simple, yet difficult rules for their age. I was amazed at how responsive and caring they were for each other and their teacher. I had prepared a song and poem for them and the teacher had given me the go-ahead for some creative "bird-walking" off the lesson plan. She had planned a poetry packet anyway. So as I was strumming away on my uke in hootenanny fashion, suddenly the neck broke cleanly off at the hilt next to the body of the the instrument. I had to hold back the tears with my shock. I think I had been packing too many extra songs and sheet music in the case along with a recorder and a rainbow strap. It just got too much pressure from the newer strings and snapped. Like a thoroughbred race horse, I had to "euthanize" her right there. It was sad. I'll try to save the strings for spares on my new one. I tried to get one today at the Folk Music Center but it was closed all day for the Folk Music Festival. The name of the song: "This Little Light of Mine" with all the verses fit to sing by Pete Seeger. Yes, I learned it in Sunday School with religious connotations but his version is much more "socialistic" and "love-child generation". I also included the Haiku from the previous post on Earth Week about "turning toward the light". My mottos: "Bloom where you're planted." "Turn toward the Light and away from the Dark." (just like plants which have no "brains or hearts")

Well, after a session with two or three girls of the class who knew how to fold the crane, and my trying to write down the steps, I thought I had it. After class, with the kids gone, the teacher came back as I was correcting some of her papers. (required). She sat down with me and we did it together, step by step. The results, you see above. It takes a certain kind of slick, glossy paper that makes nice creases. I must now practice and remember how to do them for our up-coming grandkids visit this summer. They want to have an "Oceanic/Sea" theme and that could include "waterbirds". We are planning to "sail the Seven Seas and discover the Seven Wonders of the Natural and Undersea World" It is a sequel to last year's theme: "Around the World in Three Days".

I now play a "game" with my primary kids I sub for. It is called the "M.Y.O.B. Game". It started with this classroom. At the beginning of the day, I bet them that I will probably have to remind them to "Mind their own business" more than 10 times during the individuals and groups. They just love to "tattle and tell" each other what to do at these ages (6-9). The record so far is 17 reminders. The lowest, and winner, is just 5. They actually love to "play games" like this and usually rise to the challenge for brief periods of time.

An example of this in another classroom of 1st graders happened Friday last. I noticed that the name of a character in a story we were supposed to read as a group was "Makoto" and yet on the white board their teacher had printed neatly sentences about "Makato". This level is just learning to read and pronouce multi-syllable words. This was an interior syllable that was "wrong"...either in the book, or on the board. What to do? Many of them didn't want me to correct the teacher's writing on the board. But what about the book? Is it wrong so many places? They like to have a very "well-ordered" procedure and rule-driven world. Here was a challenge. Do we mind our own business? Or correct the board examples (about 4) or just call the book wrong and continue to read it wrong? I had quite an "argument" with one or two class leaders. This is what it is all about for me; being willing to discuss and decide with these "little people" as fully developing "personalities" and see what the consequences are. Learning rubrics can come in all shapes and sizes, in all kinds of opportunities. RRR

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Halcyon is a word I like here. It is a waterbird also, a kingfisher. It is also a mythical bird that was fabled to nest at sea about the time of the winter solstice and calm the waters during incubation. That's where it got its other meaning: Calm, quiet, peaceful, undisturbed, happy, as in "deep halcyon repose". That's what I desire as I move along my chosen paths. RRR