January 25, 2009

Together We Can Make a Difference: Open Space with Children

On January 20th, 2009 after President Obama’s Inauguration Ceremony 45 third graders gathered in a circle for an Open Space event.

Three students on a planning committee decided the questions that would guide the students’ time together:
  • What is something that a group of people working together can change?
  • What is something that you think is important in our school or in our world that you would like to discuss?
The planning committee started the open space with a poem and a story.
The opening poem by Mila Kopp:

And another student told a story:
Once you get older it’s harder for people to change your mind so you’re not as much of a help to the community when they’re trying to think of something to do or when something’s wrong and they need help and are deciding what to do. For instance, with my grandfather, it’s really hard for people to change his mind because he just thinks one thing is right and if something else is right and someone tells him, because he’s older, it’s a lot harder to change his mind and it might not even happen.
The students were told how the process of Open Space works… and then they got to it, deciding what they wanted to talk about, posting their topics and attending the sessions. Students had paper to take notes and had the option of using a talking piece to facilitate their conversations. Some students were given video cameras to interview and document the process.

This same process was repeated 2 more times with groups of 1st and 2nd graders. Below are examples of topics that were posted, some of their notes, and comments from the closing circles. All of the student's brave spelling has be preserved. For the complete list of Topics, Session Notes and Closing Circle Comments download this document.

Topics Posted
  • How to save the animals
  • Don’t be rude
  • Stop violence, It may cause other bad issues
  • Sushi in hot lunch’s
  • Don’t kill animals for coats
  • Do not be to loud. Try to be silent.
  • Save papper saves trees
  • Globle Warming – When you have to go a short way, don’t take your car!
  • Fair and unfair
  • Palushin
  • being raspactfoll
  • wrcing to gether in socor
  • Help stop war
  • Bing Nice With Othrs
  • Life
  • Being helpful
  • how to work out prablums
  • Welcome people into gam’s
Session Notes

  • “I think that pollution is rong because I think the earth should be in it’s healtyest condition and everyone should carpull as much as possible.”
  • “If you polute, that leads to global waring witch leads to us.”
What can we do now?
  • “Groups can like get together and pick up litter.”
  • “Everyone should always carry a bag with them to carry litter that you find on the ground and picked up.”
Globle Warming
  • If you have to go a short way, don’t take your car!
  • Put up sines to stop globle warming
What can we do?
  • STOP Globle Warming (happy voice) in ten years (Deep Voice)
Save the animals
  • Adopt a pet at Cat Adoption Centers and other places
  • Look for lost pets
  • Look in allys
  • Start your own adoption center
How to save the animals
What can we do now?
3. be president and make a law that says you can only kill animals once a year
4. make a complante to the president

What can we do now?
  • Walking, biking
  • Invent vical that runs on trash or sun, rain
  • hybrid
  • carpool
Bing nice with others
  • Be nice to others
  • Telling others to be nice
  • Nicely tell others to be nice
Talk don’t hit
What can we do now?
  • We will say, “Talk don’t hit!” and we will try not to do it ourselves
Being helpful
  • Yore little brother is skating and you help him.
  • Yore little brother got a shot you put a bandade on him
Doing the dishes
  • Save energy by not using dish water
  • Tirn off the faucet more
  • People make it easier
  • sistrs and brothers can help
Help stop war
  • Traiding reciorses
Talk it out
  • We think it is important to talk it out because
  • We have a lot of issues to talk out
  • if you don’t talk, it sometimes get to step 3 (that’s bad!)
  • You need to protect your body
Talking to people
  • Talk to people instead of hitting
  • If you are shy talk
  • If you are a chatterbox let others have a chance to speak

How to stop polushin
  • Not cut down tree
  • Rideing bikes ensted of cars
  • Don’t wast water
  • Don’t kill animals
  • Don’t drive bad mpg cars
  • Drive hyurids
  • Don’t wast paper
Stop Palooting
  • New invechins
  • New fuels
  • If someone is playing and made up an idea it could lead to a big problem if they don’t include the other person in the idea
  • Playing is dangerus
  • You should not exclude other people

Closing Circle Comments
What did you find interesting? What did you learn?
Did you hear anything you haven’t thought about before?
  • If you want to save gas and not pollute the Earth, you should definitely carpool. I also want to give a compliment to my group for thinking of so much ideas.
  • Me and my group came up with pollution. I think I’m sort of helping because I carpool. And I think people should ride bikes and scooters and walk more often then just riding cars. And if you just want to go over to the next store neighbors or the ice cream shop down the road, even though it’s faster to go on a car, you should probably just walk or scooter or bike ride.
  • I agree with (another student) that you don’t need that many people, you only need like 5, you don’t need like 15 or 20 or 50. You don’t need huge numbers like that.
  • I learned that when everyone pitches in just a little bit, it can make a giant difference.
  • I discovered how to keep clean water
  • I discovered how pollution can make the air dirty and hurt people and animals
  • I learned about factories that are bad for the environment, and the importance of different energy sources
  • I learned that a lot of people were thinking about how cars pollute the earth
  • We talked about how to stop wars
  • I discovered a lot of people have ideas too.
  • I discovered that once you think about it, there is a lot more waste
  • I discovered there is a lot of things to change and like President Obama, we should start.
  • I learned it can actually be pretty fun to work with other people
  • Teacher: I learned that you all can have important conversations by yourselves and that you don’t need the adults there. I also learned that you can self-organize what you want to talk about.

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