By Emily Murphy | Pagosa Peak Open School
The stage was set, chairs lined up and food ready for snacking. Pagosa Peak Open School (PPOS) families poured in through the doors of the Tennyson Building Event Center on Feb. 28 for their children’s first poetry reading: The Moon, Sun and Stars Celebration of Learning.
First-grader Torin kicked off the event with his poem and artwork. “It is sunset. The sun is orange and purple. The sun sees animals going to bed,” he read to the crowd.
PPOS advisors Kelle Bruno and Katie Young worked for the past few months with students on this project, ending it not only with the celebration, but also bound books for families containing all the poetry from the class.
This project began with fictional stories and folktales about the sun, moon and the stars, and students making observations about why people write about the sky. Students studied the patterns seen in the sky, including the difference between day and night, and the phases of the moon.
“What really brought this project to life for the kids was visiting the planetarium at San Juan College in Farmington,” Bruno said. “They were in awe of the close-ups of the planets and the moon and fascinated by the constellations. We brought the project full circle by having the students write a poem about the sun or the moon. It is exciting for them to see their work in a professionally bound book.”
Field work, authentic audiences and inquiry are a part of the projects at PPOS.
“I am so proud of our first- and second-graders,” Young said. “During the course of this project, they had to learn the process for writing and revising their own poems, and now they get to celebrate being published authors. This is my first time working at a project-based school and I am so impressed with how these students get to take charge of their learning and share that learning with the community.”