CODS Reflection & Valentines Celebration

We started our day with an extended morning circle sharing about our CODS milestone experience. What are your favorite memories, your proudest moments, the greatest challenges you had to overcome? Just to mention some reflection questions. It was heartwarming to hear the excitement in our sourdoughs’ voices and to see the pride on their faces even though they must still be very exhausted. After our circle, our learners had a chance to reflect more deeply in writing and drawing on this important milestone trip.

We then finally had our long-awaited Valentines Celebration and the anticipation and excitement was palpable in the room. I have to say that I am so impressed by the thoughtfulness and creativity of our learners. That makes this tradition one of my favorite 3/4 events. See for yourselves … many happy faces …




Today, learners had an opportunity to experience “gold fever” in the classroom.  I secretly spread Rolo’s all around the room during recess.  When they returned to the room, learners ran around, collecting “gold” in their hands, pockets, and shirts.  Though I didn’t announce any sort of activity or contest, there was a mad dash to collect as much “gold” as possible and hoard it.  In the end, a few learners ended up with a lot of gold, and some had few pieces or no gold at all.  We talked a little bit about the hard life of the miner, and how our simulation was similar to the gold rush of 1849. Some people made it to California before others, and among the miners, some were much luckier than others.

Land Grants, Diseños, and Letters to the Alcalde

Diseños were hand-drawn maps of land grants that the Mexican government awarded to Mexican citizens living in California in the mid-1800′s.  These land grants were typically about 75 square miles.  They were owned by both Mexican women and men. Native Americans were not allowed to own land.

In December, learners created maps of the imaginary land in California they would like to own.  They also designed a brand for the cattle they plan to raise on the land.  Next, they wrote a letter to Alcalde Heidi (Mayor Heidi Branz-Hernandez) asking for the land grant.

Tortillas, Tea, and Rancho Dances

The week before winter break, we paired up with room 24 to celebrate the end of our short unit on Ranchos. Elysha taught the learners a traditional Californian dance from the mid 1800’s, while groups cooked tortillas and made tea in my classroom.

Most of us were shocked to learn that women typically spent 6 hours a day grinding corn at Sanchez Adobe and other California Ranchos in the early 1800’s!  Luckily, we didn’t have to grind corn for our tortillas.  We bought a bag of dry masa for the class to cook.  Masa is ground corn mixed with lime.  If you’d like to make tortillas with your learner at home, the directions are on the bag.  It’s simple: just at water and salt.  They were delicious!  We also made mint tea.  Typically, people living in California at this time would have used “Yerba Buena,” a native California mint.  We used non-native mint instead.  The learners ground their mint with a mortar and pestle, added a sugar cube and hot water to make tea.  Yummmm!

Persuasive Essays

During October, November, and December, writers in Room 25 explored the world of essay and opinion writing.  Learners discovered how to write strong thesis statements with reasons and evidence to support them.  They learned how to choose reasons that mattered, organize them based on importance and develop their evidence in meaningful ways through mini stories or quotes. They learned the importance of structure within their essay pieces. They learned how to hook their readers by developing strong introductions and also the importance of a strong ending that restated their claim and left the reader with something to think about.  Finally, they used these skills to develop persuasive speeches. Brave learners who were interested presented their speeches to Room 24 and Room 25.