Wednesday, March 21, 2012

you put the fun in interaction

Interactions. This is what drives the life of a classroom. Meaningful interactions can inspire. I try - every educator tries their best to respond and engage with children through meaningful interactions each day. Yet there are moments I miss, simply because I'm caught up in the moment of getting breakfast ready or already involved with another child or group. That happened this morning as a child playing at the sand table held a green glass stone above the sand and noticed a green light being reflected in the sand. "Hey look at this, it makes a green light!" he proclaimed. I was aware of the coolness of his noticing but couldn't stop my forward-thinking get the breakfast on the table mission. Now, later this evening I'm still thinking about this lost moment (doh). The spark this comment could have generated about light, prisms, reflection and color. Oh the science fun that could have been had!

Luckily, moments and memories can be revisited. This astute observation from one student is something that I can revisit and tomorrow morning I will. I'm not sure yet how I will set up the provocation. I'm thinking of hanging the colored glass stones from the ceiling with white paper below. It will be something for me to experiment with in the early morning moments before children arrive.

So this is the lens I am peering through in reflecting on the last few days photos - some of our most meaningful interactions.

narrating the experience
This moment in the outdoor 'mud kitchen' jumped out at me. As the child continued to squeeze clumps of mud, smiling at the watery mess oozing through her fingers. A true sensory delight. Also, a moment ripe with science - the exploration of liquid, solid, pressure, and transformation.

I notice as you squeeze the mud...

the wet water is seeping through your fingers.

an invitation to see even more closely
Noticing a child already focused, and engaged in observing can be an invitation to extend their thinking. At first glance what looks like a simple drawing on the ground  - I find out is a representation of the water she observes underground. As I share the experience with her I ask questions - and with each question she adds to her drawing.

Do you see the water splashing below?

I see the reflection of the grate lines, do you see that?

being the follower - not the leader
It's important to hand over that screw driver and the wire cutters. Interaction is a sharing of power and communication.
Weeks of unscrewing screws and the true tinkering about to begin. I am the observer, on hand when a hand is needed.

And of course still a teacher, inviting the group to think about their tinkering. How does the wheel work? What happens when you spin it?

the cheerleader
Children were upset that we never had milk at snack time and unsatisfied with my reasoning, "we have no way to keep the milk cold." One child's idea to build a refrigerator gained my full support. With two friends by his side and our project shelf full of recycled materials they did it. This has been fully functioning for over a week - they simply change out the ice pack each morning and voila cold milk every day for snack.
You used great thinking to solve that problem - to make the wall higher.

Can you tell me how will your refrigerator work?

While focusing on each of these interactions there were surely other important moments I missed. We do the best we can in each moment, being present and really being with each child. And sometimes we get lucky enough to revisit a moment we lost like I will try to do tomorrow, fingers crossed.

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