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Tales from the Loft

As usual, we are busy diving into a myriad of topics and activities in middle school. We have started our study of the United Nation's Sustainability Development Goals in earnest, beginning with an overview of each goal and learning vocabulary integral to understanding our upcoming units.

One of our initial activities involved quiet observation of photos from around the world. I asked students to write a list of everything they noticed and gave them ample time to focus not only on the obvious, but to visit the lesser details that do not immediately catch the eye. These initial observations were made without context. After several moments, I gave minimal context, explaining place and time and maybe a few additional bits that a caption would have shared. Each small group discussed how this context affected our view of the photo and whether we had a positive, neutral, or negative reaction. After a short discussion, students wrote reflections. Every reflection had to end with a question. (We are always left with questions!) We then studied another photo that connected to the first one in some way. By navigating four or five photos, students gained perspective from a diverse array of voices and circumstance. This one piece - no single stories - is integral as we approach the SDGs. As we witness some of the world's largest challenges, we must also acknowledge that no one problem defines a people, a culture, a country, a community. Each of our spaces is made up of all kinds of stories and all kinds of humans. No one problem contains only humans as single lens victims, so the goal is to teach not just an SDG, but the richness of the people included and the creativity of our innovative work in solving these problems.

We concluded this introductory lesson by once again using hexagonal thinking, writing descriptive words about one photo and then have to draw connections using multiple photos. It was a challenging exercise and one that students always seem to enjoy!

(A springtime ritual involving students in South Korea - They swim across a river to celebrate their strength of spirit and body.)

(Boys swimming in a crater caused by a bomb in a city in Syria.)

(We used several photos, always from the same place at various times and from different places around the globe with some kind of commonality; these pictures merely give you a visual of the exercise.)

Seventeen students and seventeen SDGs.............. Every student designed a large hexagon for our wall display. We will build on this visual aid all year; I cannot wait for you to see the finished product! Hopefully the picture in my head matches the reality that unfolds in our classroom:)

Finally, we began our first SDG unit study, SDG #6 - Clean Water and Sanitation. I am reading the book, A Long Walk to Water, aloud during small groups. It is our jumping off point as we explore the many facets of global problems around clean water and sanitation.

As a side note, we are getting a head start on our ELFT planning as well and will report more when we have real decisions made. Stay tuned!

Birthdays this month - Elle, Lily, Olivia, Claire, and India

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