On Thursday, my teaching partner, Paula, and I decided to show the students a clip from Box City to get students thinking about different items to build and signs to create as they play with blocks. We had no intention of making a cardboard city. We just noticed some of the block building during the week, and thought that we could try to extend it.
When Paula showed part of the clip on Thursday morning, one of our kids got really excited. She remembered our Box City project from last year, and wanted to create one again. What might be possible? Paula heard her out and began to think aloud with the rest of the class, as well as with me, about possibilities. We might not be able to play with a collaborative Box City due to COVID protocols, but if students made their buildings at their individual spaces, we could set one up as a class. This child was so excited, and started to use paint and cardboard to begin the Box City process. She even wrote me a note asking for shoeboxes.
Her excitement got others creating in different ways, and had Paula and I thinking about what else we could do.
In between interviews and training yesterday, we started to make a safe space in the classroom for Box City. Getting the area organized also had us considering provocations for this upcoming week.
As we were planning, we wondered if Box City could be one way that we explore inclusion and equity with our kids. After school on Thursday, we had our November Staff Meeting. Near the end of the staff meeting, our principal spoke to us about inclusion and equity, and had us start to think about how students might see themselves in the classroom. In a Twitter conversation last night, I had an opportunity to further reflect on some of the points that Gerry mentioned during our Staff Meeting.
Paula and I wondered if as we build this city, we can also look more closely at the housing complexes in our community and in surrounding ones.
- What might you see in downtown Hamilton? In Toronto?
- Could this then extend to people within our cities? How are we alike? How are we different?
- How can we become more knowledgeable and accepting of differences?
Just as I blogged about back in June, we want to take the cues from our students. We want to be aware of their age and their developmental level. But I still stand behind my goals from Doug Peterson‘s challenge back in June.
All of these goals could be addressed as we create Box City together, and even create many different people for Box City. I’m not sure where this project will go this year, but I remember how our city was transformed last year.
Christmas seemed to become the key discussion point. Is this because it’s what almost all of our children celebrate? Is this because it’s what they see most often? Maybe this year, we could look more closely at multiple celebrations. How are they viewed and celebrated in our community? How might kids share their learning through this city space? What new learning and additional ideas might parents and families share, even from afar?
Not every conversation is easy, and it’s the unknown component here that makes this a little bit scarier. (How do we prepare for questions that might be asked and ideas that might be shared?) But I continue to return to things that our children have talked to us about this year:
Each of these discussion points have rarely been full class discussions, but they are ones that kids have opened up to us about. We’ve listened. We’ve wondered. And we’ve realized that our children are looking to talk and seeking to understand. Even if their world might be well-represented within school walls, is it our responsibility to expose them to a world beyond this? I think it is. What about you?