I just finished my first year at Discovery ES, a brand new ES in Arlington County, VA. To learn more about this amazingly designed, energy-efficient and sustainable building, go HERE and HERE.
As we ended the year, students, staff and parents were asked to write a letter to themselves to place in a TIME CAPSULE that will be opened in 20 years – June 2036. (My Principal even sent out an Outlook Calendar reminder for June, 2036 – who knew Outlook even allowed accepting dates so far into the future?!!)
As a last day of school activity, my students wrote a letter to themselves, with this first line: Dear _____, If you are reading this, it is 20136….
As I collected them, I noticed that many wrote down questions: Am I married? Did I go to college? Have the Caps won a Stanley Cup yet?!!
I wrote my letter the week before at the beginning of a Planning Day with fellow colleagues to plan out writing instruction for the next year. Here’s my letter:
June 16, 2016 (6-16-16)
Today I sit in the Blue Sky Studio. I am 7 days away from ending my inaugural year as a 3rd grade teacher at Discovery ES. I am given today to work on a plan to implement a writing curriculum called Units of Study for Teaching Writing written by the BEST educator in the world (in my opinion), Lucy Calkins and her staff at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. I sit today with a pretty great group of co-workers at Discovery – Principal Erin Russo, Assistant Principal Judy Concha, Reading Specialist Jen Dodd and Instructional Lead Kathy Olmstead. It is our hope to pour our collective knowledge and passion for strong writing instruction into this day, which then can wash over our school, providing Discovery Explorers time to write daily the stories that only THEY can tell!
Erin begins by saying, “Can I add to our agenda? I want us to write for 20 minutes a reflection to be added to the time capsule to be opened in 20 years.” My eyes well up. 20 years. I’ll be 72. 72, going on 73. Many questions enter my mind: Will I be here, still living at 5218 N 12th Street (the house I started living in just 6 months ago) or in a nursing home? Am I still teaching? Am I still alive? Looking ahead 20 years when I’ve already lived more than twice that makes me pause…. makes my eyes well up a bit.
However, I hope I am here. And that, after opening this letter, I happily walk the halls of Discovery ES, now a 20-year old school and see the 2036 kids still sharing their stories and still using the latest tools to create, design, and produce. I look forward to seeing all the enthusiastic faces exploring their world to solve the current issues of the ’30s and their excitement for what they can accomplish in the 2040s.
In 2016, I can confidently say that I am proud of all my 3rd graders accomplished this year. My 3rd graders wrote and wrote and wrote this school year, 2015-2016. We used a composition notebook and we used kidblog, a kid-friendly blogging site with easy access because every 3rd grader in our school (and 2nd, 4th and 5th graders) was given their own iPad to keep and use all year long. We also did research and shared our knowledge by standing in front of the Green Screen in the broadcast center. We made Google Slide shows about our visit to the National Gallery of Art. We used Google Docs to write an adapted fairytale. We made iMovie trailers. My favorite one was Jackson and Will’s Epic Failure with a Ball! I wonder what tools will be used by the students in 2036? I wonder what Jackson and Will (and all the Room 212 friends) are doing in 2036?! I believe all will be doing GREAT things because as 8 year olds, they were doing great things!!! I hope many come back to Discovery in 2036 so we can reconnect!
I am very proud that I had a part in the opening this new school this year. I am proud that this school is built with sustainability in mind. It is very much like the house my husband, Brian designed and had built for us and that we moved into on December 23, 2015. I wonder if both spaces are working well in 2036? My hope is YES.
And my real hope is to have 20 more years beyond this letter, taking me to 92 years, to tell the stories that only I can tell!! Now back to curriculum planning for the 2016-17 Discovery Explorers! While it is fun (and a little scary, too!) to think long-term, it is the day-by-day short-term plans that get us there!
About my writing process: I made an effort to NAME things. Since my audience is the 20-years-from-now-me, I revised to name the people and the tools and the spaces in our building assuming that my memory may not be as sharp 20 years from now! And I’m so curious to compare the tools listed here with those used by the class of 2036.
What will YOU be doing in 2036??!!!