Back at It!

Regardless of one’s feelings about the current state of the pandemic, it is amazing to see our students back together again! It’s a lot of bodies. It’s louder. It’s messier. But the energy, the smiles, the giggles, and the connections between old friends and new are so hard to ignore. Life in the ARCTIC Zone has shifted pretty seamlessly. Students have continued to tinker with their own passion projects, collaborate on their short animated films for this year’s upcoming Film Festival, and plan and produce their dream vacations for this quarter’s Flex project.

In Humanities, we’ve continued to read the book, Flipped, in which we are learning the importance of understanding a difference in perspective. Using the experiences from the book, groups must now work to design and build a 3D metaphorical representation of the two main characters’ differing perspectives. The conversations have been incredible!

What are we doing with the extra time we have now that we’re all back together again? Friday challenges are back! I have found one very interesting thing worth noting in the last two weeks of challenges. The first challenge I always present is the same each year. It is simple in nature and sure to get them laughing: the marshmallow spaghetti tower challenge. Each year, as I typically present this challenge within the first two weeks of school, there are inevitably strong disagreements that may lead to arguments, some hurt feelings, and many failed attempts at building a successful, free-standing tower.

This year, I noticed an immediate difference in the ways groups were communicating with one another, laughing together, enjoying each other’s company, building on each other’s ideas, and executing their plans of action. And in the end, we had far more standing towers than I have ever seen before!

Fast forward to our second Friday challenge – marble roller coasters. Groups had the choice of shooting for the tallest, the longest, or the curliest coaster. No winners or losers. Just putting brains together to make a fun creation that required SO many trials and SO much testing! You should have heard the laughter, the brainstorming, and the problem-solving going on in room 820 on Friday!

Despite the challenges and setbacks of this schoolyear (and last), our students are growing in ways that may not be immediately visible to the eye. They are learning to communicate with others, to persevere through hardships, to respect each other’s unique differences, and to lean on others during times of strife. I am so glad we get to spend the last few weeks of the schoolyear together again.

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