Sunday, December 4, 2016

the continued saga: some days are just meh

And so...did we let the light and sculpture project fizzle or push on a bit? We did push a bit and I'm here to share the story.

Before laying out the details of the continuation of the mini-project. I'd like to share why we pushed on a bit.

First, is the idea of persisting and seeing something through to an end. This idea was resonating with me as it felt timely - our children seemed ready - for the challenge of sticking with an idea. This also felt like prudent timing as we will begin an extended unit of inquiry in January under the umbrella of 'tinkering.' Each year the trajectory of this tinkering inquiry looks and feels quite different depending on the interests and actions of the group but it is a three-month inquiry and it seemed wise to introduce the group to this way of engaging through inquiry. This also lends itself to modeling the way we think during an inquiry - there was a great deal of teacher-led wondering and we viewed and discussed our own photo and video documentation daily (visible thinking). The emphasis on building foundational habits of mind necessary for inquiry (even if teacher-led) felt necessary. These are really the biggest reasons I persisted in asking the children to persist.

Ultimately, I am happy we did and I do think children were really proud of their individual and collective work in the end. It was difficult for me to feel like I was the engine encouraging us to chug ahead. There is a palpable discomfort I feel with that. Yet, I think this discomfort in itself was also helpful as it begged of me to reflect and assess along the way.

So! some of the the exciting habits and outcomes from the process:

  • rich discussion-based morning meetings on the topic
  • viewing video of children telling their stories and talking about these stories
  • reinforcing the thinking routine 'see, think, wonder' with frequent discussions framed this way
  • pride in work! working with wood and creating sculptures made children feel like sculptors
  • growth as storytellers through multiple invitations to use sculptures and light for the purpose
  • encouraged collaboration among the children
And now for the project. Below is really just a brief explanation of the process (this was a 4-week project). When I first started teaching in a project-based way - examples really gave me guidance. So for anyone beginning their journey, perhaps this will be helpful.

To begin where we left off in the previous post...we looked at the sculptures and stories of friends who had already made their creations (before our long weekend). And one by one over the next 8 days children made their own sculpture - first building an impermanent work of art and later using glue to permanent-ify their sculpture.

Then children shared stories inspired by their sculpture. We printed a photo of their sculpture and invited our little ones to write their story in the white space below the photo. When they read their story aloud, we transcribed their words onto a separate paper as well.

And...when all was said and done. We carefully presented all of the sculptures on a platform along with lights and two flashlights. This prompt greeted the children one morning and inspired several pairs of children to tell stories together.

We finished the project with a special morning meeting, with the lights dimmed low in the classroom and told a shared story. Nearly every child took a turn adding a sentence or two to the story and when it was their turn they used the flashlight to show where their story was taking place in the large sculpture setting.

The sculptures now live in the block area and are part of our daily block play. A very important handmade element of our classroom play environment. 

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...