Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pippin taught the Kindergarten, First, Second and Third grade a song from Japan during our singing circle. After learning the song the children asked to sing it without any adult support. What do you think?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Reading the Stream

"There is no water in the stream."
" We will all die."
This is a phenomenon experienced each year in September as the Kindergartners visit the stream.One week the water is flowing strong and so there is unanimous proclamation to damn the water. The next week there is less water in the stream and the damn becomes the culprit.  

This time there is concern for the creatures of the stream. How will they drink? 
"We must have water or we will die and this is true for them, also". 
The children locate a reservoir of water and  begin to dig channels that allow the water to  flow away from the reservoir to other locations. 
It is a massive collaborative effort and their efforts are acknowledged by a slow trickle of water.

A first grader has an idea but it is controversial. He is building what appears to be another damn  to the Kindergarten. He assures them that this is not the case and explains his thinking. 
"The water pressure will build and then slowly pass through this hole." 
Tannin is the first to announce that the theory works.

I think that Vea Vecchi, the Italian Atelierista,  would feel very satisfied with this effort.  Aestheticism  and practicality do coexists in our work.

"Children are born with a sense of wonder and an affinity for Nature.  Properly cultivated, these values can mature into ecological literacy, and eventually   into sustainable patterns of living."
Zenobia Barlow
a pioneer in creating models of schooling for sustainability

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Slowing down and noticing the ordinary extraordinariness

Vea Vecchi, one of the first pioneering atelieristas in Reggio Emilia, is a believer that all children are powerful thinkers and that the environments of schools should inspire our children, challenges educators to preserve the "culture of childhood".  

Vecchi writes, "We were struck by the visual culture and sensibility children demonstrated in capturing original and non-conformist images of the world."

What do eyes that see for the first time SEE?

This is what the children saw as they sketched the 'line up tree".

Tanner brought bark and leaves from home and shared during Project Circle.
Noah: Real leaves should feel like paper.

Acadia:Leaves have different textures.

Ella: The stem feel softer than the leaf. 

Tannin: One side of the leaf is bumpy and one side is  softer. 

Jesse: The leaf looks like a parachute.

Jericho: I bet it could float.

Caleb used clay to represent our observations of a Tanner's leaf in the big studio.

The bark from the tree triggered more thinking.

Tannin: The bark has different textures.

Lydia: One side is grayish and the other side is brown.

Acadia: The bark on the tree if very breakable.

Dante: The bark on the tree has different shapes off the tree.

Roman observes the bark and then recreates the bark on the trunk of the tree. He includes the concrete bricks or door on the tree.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What is a tree?

How many times have we walked past this tree? 

We know it is unusual. We think that there is a probable explanation but we have places to be and conversations to finish. The moments and questions that adults often relegate to their subconscious are the same moments and questions that tantalize a child.

The children try to make sense of the "line up" tree (the location we gather before going to the classroom)

Peyton: This is actually a castle. It is rounded.

Noah: Maybe we can uncover the spot to open it up (to put the key in). 
Guys, I got it maybe this is a round thing with a stairs inside and a person put a tree around it so somebody might think that it is really a tree. 
If someone pushed the tree part off it then maybe we could see the round part.

Elizabeth: We could get a magic robot to open it. 

Gardiner built a model of the stairs that is inside of the tree.

Dante considers x-raying the tree. This is the only way to see the inside of the tree.

Mary, Anna and I talked about the children's questions and work. Anna suggested that we ask the children to define a tree. 

What does it mean to be a tree? What must a tree have to be a tree?

Dante: You need to have leaves.

Noah: Trees are made of wood.

Annie: There are no bricks.

Tannin: Fruit is a on a tree if it is a fruit tree.

Noah: Branches.

Elizabeth: Roots or on a tree.

Nora: They give a tree food.

Tanner: They make the tree big.

Gardner: They stop the tree from blowing away.

Nora: Trees don’t have leaves if they are dead.

Jesse: In winter, trees don’t have leaves except if it is a pine tree.

Mary: What is a pine tree?

Mathilda: It is a tree that we celebrate at Christmas.

Ian: It is an evergreen tree it is always green until it falls to the ground.

Caleb: It means the tree is dying if you find brown needles under it.

Gardner: You need water to be a tree.

Tannin: Evergreens don’t loose their leaves in the fall.

Ella: If you pick needles off a pine tree they don’t grow back.

Elizabeth: Why would a tree have bricks in it?

Acadia: The bricks might help the tree to stand up.

As we leave Project Circle and make intentions for the work we are interested in pursuing during  Project Time (Investigative Research) many of the children represent a tree.....a real tree.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

“Playing is still the greatest training you can have, I think, for being a writer. It helps you love life, it helps you relax, it helps you cook up interesting stuff in your head.”  

Cynthia Rylant

I was given the opportunity to travel to a conference this summer hosted at the Opal School, a public charter school in Portland, Oregon. The school is Reggio inspired and shares many similarities with our school. We left feeling a sense of inspiration and affirmation.

The Opal School devotes a portion of the morning to a rhythm referred to as Story Workshop. The children play and create using the languages of drama, design, paints, building, clay, sketching, dance, music and the many imaginable and unimaginable expressions of ideas. As they play and create the children are asked to record the story they are telling. The teachers assist in capturing the story. The story is then retold to others and represented using other languages. This process encourages the author(s) to dig deeper, revise, answer questions and develop the story further.

We have also worked in this way in the Sabot classrooms. Collaborative stories were woven in the past with a large group of children during Investigative Research (or project time). These stories relied on  sketching, music and play to pull and stretch the story. We were true believers and knew that this rhythm would be worth instituting as a part of our Literacy Workshop.

Would you like a glimpse?

Ella drew a story in her sketchbook. As she drew, she talked to her friends and elaborated the details. Later, we asked her to use design materials to tell her story again. What happens when you are asked to represent an idea using a new language? Have you ever had this experience as an adult or even in your memories of childhood? Have you ever witnessed a child in the process of doing this?

Ella owned a farm. She had animals, too. She had a duck, some pigs and a giraffe. Ella did all of the work while her sisters were at school.

Jericho used clay to tell a story that was peculating in his mind.

"This is a volcano that shoots fireballs into the sky."

This story was retold by his friends using the media of water colors. Notice the colors that they used to capture the movement of the clay and the power of his words.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Shoe pie fly? 
No, Shoefly Pie!
You want to know why there is Shoefly Pie?
You might want to ask the boy who made the Shoefly Pie why there is pie?
Or perhaps ask the the children who ate the Shoefly Pie? 
Is Shoefly Pie named after a Shoefly? Is it named for a Shoe with the power to fly?
These are questions that can only be answered by you know who...the children who ate the Shoefly pie...that is WHO.

All more left ....this is true.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Not just one language but one hundred

Anna reminded us that there are many ways to express ideas.....maybe as many as one hundred. She read a poem called the One Hundred Languages (posted at the end of this entry). This is an important tenet of our approach inspired by the classrooms in Reggio Emilia. The children represent ideas using the languages of expression. This includes wood, clay, drama, dance, math, the written work, and movement. The list is endless especially as a child. 

As ideas are represented in a variety of languages, more children join the conversation and begin to collaborate. The children think deeply about the idea because the languages they use are often multi-dimensional requiring fluidity and flexibility in thought.

Anna asked about our ideas. What have we been noticing  in the Kindergarten? 

"We think there is tree outside in the garden that is not really a tree. It has a concrete door in it."

Anna asked if we had ideas regarding how we would open the door and get inside. 
She suggested that we document our ideas on paper before we started to represent.

This is a drill.

Perhaps a key

or wave a magic wand.

The Hundred Languages
The child is made of one hundred.

The child has

a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.

A hundred.
Always a hundred

ways of listening

of marveling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.

The child has

a hundred languages

(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.

They tell the child:

to discover the world already there

and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:

that work and play

reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child

that the hundred is not there.

The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

-Loris Malaguzzi
Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach