a tour of blue school with definitions melanie kahl
welcomenounan instance or manner of greeting someoneblue schoolA feeling that you get when you walk into the blueschool–also, an intentional practice. Everyday, theschool community meets for a quick hello, a shortreﬂection, or an impromptu game. It strengthens theparent community and makes every day at schoolone that starts with community and a sense ofwelcome.
portal 1noun1 a doorway, gate, or other entrance, esp. a largeand elaborate one.blue schoolA glow hallway laden with black lights that connectsthe entrance/community gathering area with therest of the school.Used for public art projects and sometimes just to letout some energy.
mural |ˈmyoŏrəl|nouna painting or other work of art executed directly ona wall.blue schoolA manifestation of a larger exploration of form. Inthis case, done in glow paint and after monthsconversation about squiggles and shapes. Always inprogress and awaiting exploration of meaning.
documentationnoun1 material that provides ofﬁcial information orevidence or that serves as a record :blue schoolEverywhere. Mostly depicting the evolution ofshared inquiry that comprises a curriculum that isconstantly evolving. A mix of reﬂection, quotes, andpictures. It celebrates and illuminates process.Here we explore the transition from squiggle toform to production.
perceptionnouna way of regarding, understanding, or interpretingsomething; a mental impressionblue schoolA playful concept in inquiry that encourages patternﬁnding and discovery. It often involves ﬁnding thefamiliar or exotic in apparent chaos.
signage |ˈsīnij|nounsigns collectively, esp. commercialor public display signs.blue schoolAbundant in hallways and oncabinets. Often made by or forchildren themselves. May havecreative lettering or childrenderings of object in question.Clarifying, playful, child-centric.
mind map | map|nounA mind map is a diagram used torepresent words, ideas, tasks, or otheritems linked to and arranged around acentral key word or idea.blue schoolA tool to illuminate the necessarilywinding road to learning. It is often usedto trace a line of inquiry and relevantthemes and concepts. It is both a tool forteachers (and students) to wrap theirmind around their own evolvingcurriculum and a public artifact.
emotion | |nouna natural instinctive state of mindderiving from ones circumstances, mood,or relationships with othersblue schoolA key component to child developmentand everyday blue school conversation.The goal is to develop emotionalawareness, intelligence, and control.Books that inspire their work: • The Development of Emotional Competence, Carolyn Saarni • Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman • Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, John GottmanHere, the kindergarten class has made acreature and space (emotion station) todeal with emotions (like anger) throughart. A shared dialogue about emotionand a public space for its understandingkeeps it from something relegated tohushed tones and hallways.
color | |nounthe property possessed by an object ofproducing different sensations on the eyeas a result of the way the object reﬂectsor emits lightblue schoolSomething to be explored, splattered,studied, and mixed. Recipes for newkinds of color are constantly concocted.
world | |nounthe earth, together with all of itscountries, peoples, and natural featuresblue schoolSomething to be explored but alsocreated. In the four-year-old classroom,this world was a mouse world. Thismeans systems, structures, and spaces allon the mouse (and child) scale to bediscussed and reﬁned by the class.
workshop | |nouna room or building in which goods aremanufactured or repaired.blue schoolAn authentic space in the classroom withreal tools and artifacts of process. Aplace for making and learning skills likeprecision and measurement. It is a placewhere ideas are manifested and all agesare empowered.
make | |nounform (something) by putting partstogether or combining substances;construct; createblue schoolAn synonym for learn. You see, learningis active at the blue school. Here,kindergarten students are using a realsaw (under supervision) to construct abird house. But to get to this point? A lotof learning...look around.
projector | |nounan object that is used to project rays oflight, esp. an apparatus with a system oflenses for projecting slides or ﬁlm onto ascreen.blue schoolOld school device gone wonder roommainstay. Pictured here, it is a tool fordisplaying shadows (dinos, obviously) andcolor. A modern day screensaver, puppetshow, light-bright...whatever you want.
wonder | |nouna feeling of surprise mingled withadmiration, caused by somethingbeautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, orinexplicableblue schoolA feeling that a many rooms have at theblue school–but one room (for the 2-year-olds) is designed to embody it. Used forcreative and dramatic play, this room ismeant to inspired wonder. Thefoundation of learning.
movement | |nounthe general activity or bustle of people orthings in a particular placeblue schoolA crucial part of the healthydevelopment of young children. Thechildren weigh in (and so might you) thatthis is best done in spaces that glow.While special rooms with soft buildingmaterials are good for this, corridors andcourtyards also work quite well.
treehouse |trē ˈhouziz|nouna structure built in the branches of a treefor children to play in.blue schoolA space for reading, thinking, napping,plotting, learning, or many other -ingthings. It is found in the branches of atree, even if those branches are broughtinside. One might make an argument tothe formal deﬁnition that it isn’t only forchildren.
invention |inˈven sh ən|nounsomething, typically a process or device,that has been inventedthe action of inventing something,typically a process or deviceblue schoolCreated items of imagined utility andgreat novelty. This invention gallery wasmade by ﬁrst graders. It allowedexploration of people, processes,creativity, and form.
map |map|nouna diagrammatic representation of anarea of land or sea showing physicalfeatures, cities, roads, etc.blue schoolA product of exploration of self andplace. Shown here is one of many mapsof New York City created by ﬁrstgraders. Using the city as a laboratory,lessons from sociology to urban planningto maps can be explored.
neighborhood|ˈnābərˌhoŏd|nouna district, esp. one forming a communitywithin a town or cityblue schoolSomething one should be aware andactive in. At the blue school,neighborhood and boroughs areexplored virtually and by foot and thenrecreated as maps.
curate |ˈkyoŏˌrāt|verbselect, organize, and look after the itemsin (a collection or exhibition)blue schoolAn active process of cataloging selectedand found materials for use in learningactivities. Key to storage is transparencyso that students and teachers may beinspired by the object itself. This is at theend of a corridor – a sort of exhibitionfor art supplies rather than art itself.
collection |kəˈlek sh ən|nounan assembly of items such as works ofart, pieces of writing, or natural objects,esp. one systematically orderedblue schoolWhether manmade or natural, bought orfound, the blue school has an impressivecollection of materials for use in projectsor exploration.
circus |ˈsərkəs|nouna traveling company of acrobats, trainedanimals, and clowns that givesperformances, typically in a large tent, ina series of different placesblue schoolAn opportunity for performance duringa parents’ night. In this classroom, the 3-year-olds were excited by this idea andused a circular rug (that also acts as away to explore the solar system and meetin groups) and hanging fabric to create acircus tent and grounds.
sanctuary |ˈsa ng (k) ch oōˌerē|nouna place of refuge or safetyblue schoolHere is a space where transition andemotion is explored. For three-year-olds,a nook in the classroom is special andquiet place to reﬂect on the transition outof full parent-contact classrooms. Thisspace has soft objects, images of theirfamilies, books, and curtains to create asafe space.
mess |mes|nouna dirty or untidy state of things or of aplaceblue schoolAn incidental by-product of play. It isoften intentionally created and orcelebrated at the blue school. It shouldn’tbe a deterrent for certain types ofactivities, such as drumming with paint.
portfolio |pôrtˈfōlēˌō|nouna large, thin, ﬂat case for loose sheets ofpaper such as drawings or maps.blue schoolKey components to a child’s time at theblue school. They contain art, stories,and other creations that are reﬂected onamongst teachers, with parents, and bythe students themselves.
reﬂection |riˈﬂek sh ən|nounan idea about something, esp. one that iswritten down or expressedblue schoolA practice to for teachers to mediate ontheir class activities and report to parentsand one another. While curriculumreﬂections are posted throughout theclassroom, weekly reﬂections are postedat the entrance of the school.