Some years are a blessing! That would be this year for me because I get to move up a grade level and therefore continue to work with my incredible students from last year. Now, some teachers are resistant to change and wary of 6th-grade besides. Many teachers would do just about anything to avoid being switched into 6th-grade, but not me! Especially not this year because I will have the honor of getting to work with my students from 5th-grade for another year. They are an amazing group, and I can’t wait to share a learning space with them once again.
It is hard not to be impressed with these kids. They arrive at school each day from single-room family living spaces within multi-family households, most often without having eaten breakfast. Some enter without having heard English since they left the classroom the day before. Some enter without having felt safe or paid attention to since they left. Yet, each day they arrive ready to engage! They astonish me with their compassion and ability to imagine life beyond their knowing. They leave their hardships and troubles at the door and enter willing to immerse themselves in learning!
Our school has not had upper grades since the 4th-6th grades were moved to another site over 8 years ago. Since that time, we have seen the roll-out and adoption of common core and NGSS. Most schools have had a chance to begin to augment past science programs or reimagine them in new, more aligned ways. Our site is starting from scratch.
My students need a solar oven so that they can engage in the kinds of hands-on learning that is happening at every other school in our town. Without the kinds of materials I am seeking to provide for my classroom, my students will not be able to have an experience in 6th-grade science that matches their future peers from across town. The students in my class, for this year and in years to come, deserve to be able to discover in a real way the power of the sun and then, hopefully, begin to transfer that knowledge into an investigation into sustainable energies. This is the goal, to create interest and engagement in our future leaders and thinkers around sustainable and renewable forms of energy.