Monday, June 23, 2014

A Visit to the Opal School in Portland, Oregon

Five of us were lucky enough to travel to the Summer Symposium at the Opal School in Portland, Oregon last week. It was inspiring and it greatly helped us to not only see what we need to improve, but HOW to get there. 

Flying over Portland

Mrs. Holden and I went to a clay workshop.  We  saw ways to set up provocations
with clay and heard tips on caring for the clay.
They had blocks that could be used in the clay area. This is one of the
provocations from the clay studio.

This is another provocation- they set clay up like a maze and the
students would create things to go in the maze.

The Opal School  has an arboretum located right next to the school.
Mrs. Holden and I hiked the arboretum, listening to stories about how
the school uses the different areas to inspire learning.  This is Mount St. Helen's.

You can see how this would inspire students.

We saw how they do their documentation. This is an area that
we need to focus on for next year. I feel inspired and my most recent
documentation was created using the same program they use, so I feel like
we're heading in the right direction.

Everything is neat and beautiful.

This is me. I loved that the ceilings have mirrors!  It provided more light
for the back corner of the room and I thought it would be neat to create artwork
on the table and then look up to see it from another perspective. 

Some things reminded me of our students.  This reminded me of X's quote from
March 26th: here.

It was so inviting in these classrooms.

Just beautiful and inviting. 

Great quote!

This was my favorite part. They used blue painter's tape to create
what I immediately recognized as Dutch-inspired art. The best part is the
part that looks like a projector is shining on the wall- it tricked me!  It's
actually an area that previously had the painter's tape, but was painted white.
Since the background is cream, it created the look of shadows from a projector. I
can't even express how much I love this.
We learned so much.  We learned that we're heading in the right direction.  Our instincts are good.  When they read dialogue to us, we were able to read the "languages" the children used and had an idea of their understanding, without even ever meeting the children. 

We went to a workshop that helped us understand how to reach children who might not react the way we expect them to- children with behavioral or emotional problems. We went to another workshop presented by a public school (Orangethrope Elementary) which has taken a Reggio-inspired approach. It was refreshing to hear from another school like us! 

We asked a lot of questions and the teachers were very forthcoming in their answers. This, of course, only led to follow-up questions, as we wanted to get as much information as possible out of the visit. 

This year has been amazing. We've changed our classrooms, we've changed how we teach and we've changed our entire outlook on how children learn.  It's been a lot of work, but there is nothing more worthwhile than making these changes for the students!  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for connecting your readers to Opal School, Mrs. Rose!
    If they (or you!) are interested in further exploration, check out:
    Our calendar, filled with opportunities to learn with us in Portland –
    Our publications and videos –
    Our blog –
    Here’s hoping this is just the start of a beautiful relationship!