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  • Writer's pictureRachel Terlop


Convergent: coming closer together, especially in characteristics or ideas.

March is a stretchy month in the classroom; its long, there are no breaks, and the content is hard. March is a very real month in our classroom; passing of family members, working through growing pains of turning 8, and preparing for our move to the upper grades. Things are hard, days are long, and if we weren't feeling stress already - we start multiplication in 2 weeks.

This week, more than once, I felt myself release, for brief moments. There is a difference between Mrs. Terlop and Rachel Terlop - and my students met Rachel for a few moments this week. I got my nose pierced last week; that was exciting for them to talk about and look at. I sat in my grandmas' rocking chair just a little bit too hard and smashed the chair as I fell flailing to the ground; that was shocking and hysterical for them to watch. We also had a long talk or two about the true importance of coming to school - to prepare ourselves for the demands of the real world. We aren't doing math because its just what you do in second grade - you do math and learn to check your work so when you go to McDonalds, you ensure you get the right change. We aren't learning to read because thats just what you do, you learn to read so you can read a contract, tickle your soul with poetry, and inform yourselves. I don't think that any of my teacher training programs ever prepared me for these transitional moments between Mrs. Terlop/Rachel Terlop but I feel like this was what our whole week was. I liked how it felt, being a teacher, without a facade. It almost felt like the two worlds were converging.

Also this week, we started our unit on Geography and Geology. This is one of the units I was hired to write integrated STEM curriculum for - and basically, I felt unleashed this week. Something I have come to understand about myself, is that I feel most successful when I am creating. That is something my mother could have told you about me since I was 5 years old, but I recently discovered the power in that.

This was a week filled with plate tectonics, movement, and landforms. Teaching plate tectonics is such a large concept, the only way to do it is through movement and modeling. So on Monday, we did plate movement with saltine crackers floating on top of icing magma. Monday night's homework was video recording themselves explaining the types of plate movement. The homework went over better than anticipated - students recorded themselves explaining how plates move and how that affects the world! Transformative movement causes earthquakes?!? YES!

The best part of the assignment was how my students took it to the next level. They started recording video responses to their friends with feedback. They were watching each other, then correcting mistakes, giving compliments, and giving their feedback. "I liked what you said, but next time can you please speak up!?" Our morning meeting on Tuesday was all about how encouraging positive feedback is!

Check them out flipcode: landformterlop

Thursday we read about volcanoes and how plates converge and cause eruption that can be creative or destructive. We then built those plates converging, and the volcano rising and forming. Giving the students materials to build plates converging allowed me to understand misconceptions about their understanding of how plates move and interact with one another.

Following this activity, I realized I needed another more authentic way for students to see plate movement. Enter: Dynamic Plates - a fantastic app that encourages students to use their finger movements to replicate convergent, divergent and transformative movement. These kids went nuts over this app! I was impressed by the way the app showed students what happens over prolonged movement between plates. The animations, vibrations, and easy design layout made it easy for students to navigate the app, and then discuss the consequences of motion.

Building this unit from the group up was incredibly exciting for me, and I feel an immense sense of pride as I watch my students FlipGrid videos. After 1 week, I can already see my students understandings of such difficult to grasp concepts. I cannot wait to see where this unit takes us!

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