“When you make the finding yourself — even if you are the last person on Earth to see the light — you will never forget it.” – Carl Sagan
Children learn best through their own curiosity and by their own experience. It is with this in mind that we have our morning Monday and Friday community meetings at Alta Vista School.
These meetings are separate from the excellent, stimulating, structured educational environment of the classroom. We think it is important to also provide more open-ended opportunities for students to make connections between lessons and observations, making learning and thinking an active, visible experience.
Monday mornings are very special at AVS. During morning meeting, Junior Kindergarten- through Fourth Grade students gather for a little science: a demonstration or explanation of a physical phenomenon, or an example of how to deal with failure and the small setbacks in life.
For example, at a recent Monday morning meeting, one of our parents explained the composition of DNA, and then separated a few strands for us based on the weight and polarity of the strands. It was fascinating, and generated interesting questions from students of all developmental ranges.
On another morning, the presentation focused on the inner workings of a cell, and was accompanied by an entrancing, animated video that looked like something out of an upcoming science fiction movie. The focus was to generate curiosity, and did it ever. The students ooh’d and aah’d as they saw a cell’s nucleus and then how a leukocyte works to heal a cut. They asked all sorts of thoughtful questions that showed their nimble and flexible thinking.
Many times the morning meeting, through science, tries to teach a lesson about the value of failure and the resilience needed to work toward success. Sometimes I will purposefully attempt a new procedure without vetting the outcome, knowing that there is a significantly high probability of failure. And when that happens, students gain an understanding that failure is a critical component of learning, understanding, and mastering a concept. Try; fail. Try again. Fail better. Learn. Try again. And again. Succeed.
When you can, I encourage you to join us on Monday or Friday mornings. Then, help us build on the culture of thinking and wonderment by continuing the conversation at home.