Peas in a Pod

podI’ve seen some creative use of the central meeting spaces, or Pods, in schools with this really cool design feature. For those of you who don’t know (and this would have included me before I began subbing), some large schools have classrooms arranged around these meeting spaces. Depending on the size of the school, some Pods are the size of a classroom like the one pictured, some are the size a large assembly space at more traditional buildings. Some schools have five or six such Pods that simulate the more intimate feel of a smaller school community.

In one school in the amazing De Soto school district, 3rd grade teachers wanted to present a dramatic introduction to an immigration unit that would help children see immigrants throughout American history as being people just like them and their families. So, here’s what they came up with:

Teachers had posted immigrant photos from a national historic archive that they’d printed on 8.5 x 11 paper around the walls of the Pod. All three classes met there as a whole group and were given twenty minutes to tour the “gallery” with clipboards sporting a T-chart on which they were to write observations or questions based on the historic photos. At the end of this period, we reassembled and had a discussion based on their notes. It was really very powerful.

Then we all began reading a short article about immigration while highlighting important information. Kids were really focused until one girl threw up in the middle of the crowd. We beat it back to classrooms where we completed the article and continued the discussion a bit longer. These students were psyched to learn more about immigrants!

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