This whole 100th Day of School thing has got my head spinning. Last year I thought I had answered the question (at least the 1st grade version of it), but then it came to rear it’s ugly head again this year as last week people starting talking about it and planning again for the “holiday” that falls on Thursday, January 28 in our school. So I started thinking again. And you, kind blog readers and Twitter friends, helped my thinking along by asking some really good questions.
For instance, @avivaloca, who was part of the reason I started this whole thing last year, had this simple inquiry:
Now here’s where I got a little uncomfortable, because I realized my answer wasn’t as nearly as strong as I thought. Well actually, I didn’t even have an answer at that point, because I was asking a different question altogether!
I don’t remember my exact answer (although if you’re curious you can go back to that post and read my response to her comment), but basically it was “Uh….because everybody else is doing it?” “Because I don’t have a really good reason not to?” “Well I don’t know, but let me tell what we’re doing on that day to celebrate! They’re really good ideas…”
Um, yeah. Not my best day. ESPECIALLY as a teacher who likes to pride herself on not just doing things because everyone else is or because they always have been done that way.
So as the title suggests, I did just what I told Aviva I was going to do, and asked my class to weigh in on the whole deal. (By the way, as I was telling them this story and was about to say what our next step was, Makayla said that she knew I was going to ask them about it. Love that they know my moves!).
My first question to the to get our conversation going was “What do you know about WHY we celebrate the 100th Day of School? What’s it all about anyway?” Here’s what they said after having a chance to chat it over with a partner first):
So what I heard them saying was that it wasn’t really about the number 100 at all, but that it was about stopping to reflect on how far we’d come together, how much we’d learned together and where we were going. My next question was “Well that could happen any time, right? Why the 100th day?”
They had some really good ideas, most of which had to do with the fact that that day is nicely right in the middle of the year; long enough in to have something to look back on and be proud of. Sara made a good point: “It couldn’t be on the 1st or 2nd day of school because we wouldn’t have learned anything yet!” I guess you’re right. ❤
We went on to talk about the origin of the 100th day celebration (which I believe is in kindergarten when kids have actually been in school for 100 days, right?), and I wasted Aviva’s question: “Why do we celebrate this day in 2nd grade? Is 100 really a big deal to us now?” They agreed that no, it’s not. We’re working on time, money, we’re going to be adding to the 1000s, and we can count WAY higher than 100 already. It WAS a big deal a couple of years ago, but that number is not such a landmark for us anymore. We decided that our focus would be on looking back at our learning and reflecting on the many things we know how to do now.
With that in mind, we went back to our list to revise; we would only keep things on it that had to do with reflection, not the parts that were just about 100. Basically the things that were related to the number 100 were crossed off, although we realized that we had a pretty good list of reflection activities already.
As we revisited our ideas, we crossed off ones that were “number based,” as well as the blog posts and reading 100 books because those were things we did last year. We decided 100 math problems was something we always do anyway, and that 100 facts about places was just what we were doing in Social Studies and so we’d wait on that, too. The writing and notebook entries were also typical to our daily schedule. The 100 post cards was crossed off because we’ve been working on letters in Writers’ Workshop and that would make more sense that post cards. Pretty valid support, I’d say.
We did have a question come up related to puzzles. Ja’Mia wanted to take that off the list, because at first it seemed to be just about the number. She asked the class “What do puzzles have to do with learning?” (I was glad she was brave enough to bring this up to everyone, and was eager to hear their answers!)
Here’s the (long) list of what kiddos said about how they fit into our theme:
- You have to work together.
- You have to use problem-solving to figure it out.
- You have to be patient.
- You have to have self-control and keep it together if you get frustrated.
- You have to use grit.
- It’s a challenge (especially if there’s a lot of pieces!).
- It takes a long time so you have to be willing to work hard.
After hearing what others had to say, she was ok with it. “Well, if you’re working in a group to do it, I guess it makes sense.” Good girl. 🙂 (By the way, we applied the same logic to board games, including Millie’s point that games like that help us learn how to win and lose graciously.)
So armed with our new list and some renewed excitement and understanding about the reasons behind this day, we’re getting geared up to have a great day of learning, reflection and fun on Thursday. Can’t wait to share it with you!
I think that you have a very smart class of students with a very smart teacher too! I love how the dialogue unfolded, and how you’ve come up with a solution to your 100th day problem that really helps students move past “100” and to the real reason for the day. I’m still not sure if we need a 100th day, but their thinking makes me believe that the day is going to be about way more than the number 100. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!
I am always impressed by what they come up with. And yes, next year I may not even participate, but for now we’re going to go with that plan and see what happens. I’m excited! There’s even more to the story (that happened after this initial conversation and related to a book we read) that will add to the fun!
Wonderful Jen! I can’t wait to read your reflection post after the day. Please let me know when it’s done. Happy (almost) 100th day!
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