Sunday, April 29, 2012

Children and a Camera

The  children often document their own work with the camera. It is interesting to see what they see as relevant or significant. 

Why do they choose to take the shot from a particular perspective?

Does the photographer 
capture the process or only the finished product?


I was struck by the height of the tree house conveyed in this photograph.

As I looked at this photograph, I felt that the photographer had captured  the potential of the Rube Goldberg machine that they were collaboratively creating.

What is the child's intention as they take they photo? 

Perhaps they wished that they could shrink and exist within the walls of their imagined structure.

The Ferris wheel: A Power Source

The Ferris Wheel: A Power Source

We asked the some of the preschoolers interested in the Ferris wheel to join us.

We wanted to share with them our understanding of an axle but also ask them if they had discovered anything regarding the following question.

How do we make the wheels turn?

Charlie: You could use rope on the axle and wrap it round once you need the axle to turn.

Dillon: If you glue both wheels to the axle they would turn.

Sophia: The axle needs to be glued on.

Fiona: We want to make it spin without a giant hand moving it.

Sydney: We need a handle to crank it around. It is attached to the axle.

Jericho: We could tie a rope to the axle, then the axle would spin. The axle needs to be glued to the wheel.

Tom: In the middle of the axle there would be a big rope and you would pull the rope and the wheel would spin but it wouldn’t last long because the rope would run out.

Fiona's statement was profound. It spoke to the children's experience with Anna's Ferris wheel. The wheel moved as the children turned a crank which turned the axle and moved the wheel. Fiona considered scale and determined that the hand would need to be enormous to turn a crank on the Ferris wheel that the children were building. 

Jericho's idea of a tying a rope to the axle was compared to the experience of spinning a top.

Ultimately, the children determined that they needed power or a force to make the Ferris Wheel work.

Interestingly enough we came to a different conclusion during a project circle about a week later.

Oliver said that if we placed the Ferris wheel on its side it would look like a spinner. The Ferris wheel morphed into other known objects in their experiences.

It is a merry go round

A waterwheel!

It looks like a propeller....For a helicopter, too.

It could be a fan or a windmill.

Oliver: It is an energy source!  

So there you have it the Ferris wheel has the capacity to create power also....all things are cyclical.

Subtle Changes

Abstract Phoenix
The Phoenix

I had the great pleasure of attending the Richmond Forum last Saturday night. Sir Ken Robinson and Rafe Esquith  spoke regarding the current state of education in our country. Sir Ken is a leading visionary, rising to fame in a famous 2006 Ted Conference.     Sir Ken Robinson

Rafe Esquith is an urban educator, changing lives in a fifth grade classroom in Los Angelos. He said that his greatest accomplishment was teaching as a public school educator for over three decades. His work has been well documented both in film and in books.    the hobart shakespeareans

There were so many inspiring moments and I am still discerning and processing the night. However, both men said that education is on a verge of a revolution. They also cautioned teachers to be patient. Stay focused on change within your classroom.

The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn't need to be reformed--it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passion.
                                                                                                  Sir Ken Robinson

I have been an educator for 25 years and I feel that Sir Ken's words are profound and yet difficult for our culture to  assimilate. As a whole, politicians do not respect or trust the profession of education. Educators are not always given ownership within their classroom. They may feel intuitively that they need to slow down, or deviate, or pursue another strand of learning  but many educators  are held to a pacing schedule. A schedule created by administrators and politicians removed from the classroom and removed from young children.As Sir Ken Robinson said in his speech, if we could see the irony of the system we would make changes.

A revolution would occur if we as educators began each day by listening and observing the child engaged in learning. Each child would be respected  and perceived as capable individuals. Educators would begin to reflect ' "What can this child do?" "What does this child enjoy?" "How do they learn?" This shift in perception would precipitate change. This perception would build a community that engaged in learning.The community would encourage taking risks in learning, taking care of each other, problem solving, thinking critically and expressing their creativity.

As an educator at Sabot, I have also witnessed the power of the relationship between peers. We certainly know that this is true in the social life of a child but during my years teaching at Sabot I have witnessed the inspiration, the provocations and the challenges that are sparked by peers. The teacher may be observing, documenting, offering a variety of languages to support the representation of ideas but the learning is often occurring peer to peer----within the community of learners.

Subtle change....listen to each child, provide space for community to develop, respect their journey (it is not a race).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gleanings: A Community of Learners

Gleanings: A Community of Learners: We are a community of learners.   It is our responsibility to support and respect the work that the classroom and our peers are commi...

A Community of Learners

We are a community of learners. 

It is our responsibility to support and respect the work that the classroom and our peers are committed to completing.  

As learners in this Kindergarten and also school community, we must problem solve and consider the obstacles faced by our peers daily. 

How can we scaffold their learning as our teachers sometimes do for us? 

How can we create an environment that promotes risk-taking....for it is through our mistakes that we find our answers.

These tenets of our classroom are put to the test during Project Circle, a conversation before Investigative Research. We do not always achieve our sometimes lofty goals. As we transition, there are jokes, a few small indiscretions, a hand stepped on or a chair that tips. Sometimes we are off topic or need to share a story before we can really listen to the work that is being shared. 
But is pure magic.

Lorenzo, Emerson, Lukas and Reese shared their recent work in the woodshop with Pippin during our project circle. This is what happens when there is an interesting provocation, the adults stay quiet and the children are asked to tell us what you notice (that golden word...notice).

Sydney: Hey, this is not just a pizza. There is a piece of wood on the bottom.

Poppy: Is that going to be the stand for the Ferris wheel. It looks like a stand.

Lukas: We made a pizza with our spokes and then put the struts on the outside. It is not a stand.

Poppy: Ok, so its not a stand. Is it where the seats are going?

Reese: Poppy, we are going to put the other peices on it and then put the seats on it.

Kaiya: I notice you need to put wood around the edge and you need eight pieces.

Oliver: No, you need sixteen pieces for each one.

Fiona: You need to put on fifteen because there is one piece there.

Tom: I noticed that the wheel is not round. It’s like an octagon shape.

Ol: A hexagon has six sides but an octagon has eight spokes and eight struts. We counted them just to make sure.

Isabel: But there is not a stand. This is not going to work.

Tom: We need an axle first.

I suggested that we have a human axle.

Lukas volunteered.

What do YOU notice?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Things Turning and Going Around

Things turning and going around…. zoetropes, spinners,  and now Ferris wheels.

We were inspired by the preschool’s interest in Ferris wheels. We sketched and observed  Anna's small Ferris wheel. 

Kaiya: Poppy, I don't think the people look safe in your picture. I think they will fall out.

Poppy: They have seat belts on.

The children tried to make a Ferris wheel using recycled materials and other items from the studio. 

N:  I only have one wheel. The stand supports the axle but the wheel can’t move.

We tried to figure out what made Anna's Ferris wheel move.

Reese: A crank powers Anna’s.

Drew: It all starts with the stand connected to the axle, the wheel is put on the axle, and the crank helps it turn.

Nolan: In a real Ferris wheel there is not a crank. There is a motor. The explosion causes the axle to turn.

Tom: How would a motor move it? How would it move on both sides if each side is pulling? There would be no movement.  It would be like a tug of war.

Oliver: It is the same way a car motor works.

Lukas, Emerson, Reese and Lorenzo wanted to create a  Ferris wheel out of wood. 

The pre-school wanted to make a Ferris wheel large enough for a child to ride in but the Kindergarten was concerned about getting hurt. They thought it might be good to make one for their stuffed animals to try.

We assembled all of the tools and started the work. Clay stepped in and gave us a hand.

Pippin asked if we wanted to do some of the work in his wood workshop. He had a conversation with the boys. They discussed the things that our class had learned from representing the Ferris wheel with recyclable materials.

  • The wheel needs to turn.
  • It needs an axle.
  • The Ferris wheel needs to balance and be sturdy.
  • There needs to be two wheels.

Pippin brought a large circular piece of wood and asked the boys to think about the wood like a pizza. We had observed as a class that the seats were evenly spaced. 

Lukas: We cut the pizza evenly and then nail the spokes there.

It is always our intention to let the children lead the work, theorize, test, reflect and theorize again....the cycle of learning. 

It became apparent that the theories the children wanted to test would require a working Ferris wheel using materials that would sustain failed attempts to make it turn, move and hold riders. As an educator at Sabot, I am constantly weighing and considering my involvement and the support I provide to the children. 

Am I in there way? Am I talking when I should be listening? How can I scaffold a decision without interjecting my own intentions and thoughts? How can I keep the process and learning moving forward and energized?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We are obsessed. All of us.
The Object of Our Obsession

N and R have discovered a snail. They want to pick it up and carry it to a home but we suggest observing it for some time.

N: Look it is a suction cup.

R: Just like Spider Man.

N: The snail is leaving behind a trail of slime. You can tell where he has been.

Poppy notices that the snail is using its antennas to feel its environment and make decisions.

As I sat and watched the children interact with the snail. I noticed that they each had an urge to take care of the snail and nurture it. They wanted to carry it, build the snail a home and forge for food. I guess they see smaller life and react innately.

As we slowed down and observed the snail the children were struck by the parts of the snail that allow it to stick to the side of the bridge and sense its slow path. They realized that despite its size the snail is a sophisticated creature and can respond to the world with caution and self assurance.

What a metaphor for all of us big people! How do we perceive the smaller people in our midst?