Contributed by Molly Edington & Anna Grace Rohr, Fourth Grade Language Arts
“Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what sunflowers do.” -Helen Keller
We started a morning meeting last week with our fourth graders trying to complete a challenging assignment — with sunglasses on and the lights off in the classroom. It wasn’t easy.
“These sunglasses are fogging up, and I can’t see!”
“Can I take them off, so I can see?”
“This is impossible! Are you making it impossible on purpose?”
The answer: yes, a little. The purpose of the sunglasses and dark classroom was to simulate the “shadow” mentioned in Helen Keller’s quote. As humans, we are likely to experience many challenging and difficult times throughout the course of our lives; time when shadows of sadness, frustration, despair, and more might come over us. As we discussed the different shadows these emotions can cause, our conversation served as a great introduction into the difference between literal and figurative language.
We discussed examples of “shadows” our students might experience as four graders and then brainstormed what “turning to the sunlight” might mean in fourth grade. Many students thought that Helen Keller was telling us all to have hope. Leaning on family and friends for support was also a popular idea. One student challenged the class to be sunlight for others, especially when someone is struggling. Of course, at ROBS, our precious savior Jesus Christ is our one true light. Many students shared that they can and do always turn to Jesus in prayer. He is our sunlight.
All of these ideas made our hearts burst with pride for these sweet students. This conversation was a perfect lead in for our writing prompt during our second morning meeting: “What are your hopes and prayers for the fourth grade school year?” Students wrote their thoughts on flower petals, and together we created sunflowers for the bulletin board in our hallway. These sunflowers will be a great visual reminder for us all to cling to hope, to trust in Jesus, and to turn toward the light – just like sunflowers do.