Last week in class we put together boxes that each student will fill with symbols of stories in his/her life that helped to shape who they are. We have talked about not being literal in their choices of items which leaves more room for “Possibility” of interpretation and layers of meaning.
The box itself is a basic origami box, one larger than the other so that one half becomes the lid. The students practiced the folding method on smaller paper, chose larger paper in a wide range of colors, and got to work. They actually were quite a dextrous group (and the few who struggled found a peer to help them) and easily put the boxes together that will hold their creativity and thoughtfulness with ease.
Following the morning class is a study hall in my room and a couple of boys were competing to see who could make the smallest box. MH kept cutting smaller and smaller squares until BL was able to fold a box smaller than Lincoln’s head on the penny. More and more students gathered around as the competition heated up. Then, using a calculator, he and PG determined how many of these small boxes would fit into the larger box they had made for the self-portrait box (5,324 boxes for those who are interested). BL decided to put his heavy pencil case on top of another small box and lid he had made (the perfect size to hold a penny) to see how much weight it could hold. They even tried two big dictionaries. The box and lid stayed structurally solid. Someone in the crowd of students who was watching all this was bringing over a third and fourth dictionary when study hall was over.
This is what is amazing about 8th grade energy when left to itself to play and push and explore. 8th grade energy has a lot to teach us all.