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Transcript of Teacher Inquiry
Inquiry Plan & Methodology Cont'd
The Visual Arts...
Inquiry Plan & Methodology
Because this was the Pre Test I simply provided students with the materials needed to complete the art activity. I also provided them with 6 pictures of volcanos and one completed example. They were asked to design a volcano. There were no specific expectations for this task. The plate and small clear cup were pre-glued for them and the molding clay was pre-cut for them as well. We had read 3 non-fiction texts on volcanos earlier in the week. We were interested to see if they would use content specific vocabulary when engaged in the creative process. We had no specific plans for these creations so we left it open to the students to decide what they wanted to do with them once they were finished.
These are some of the photos taken during the creation stage of the provocation. Once the students were finished they asked if they could set up their volcanoes on a table to make a volcano land. We invited the other Kindergarten classes to visit our display!
The Learning Goal and Success Criteria was stated orally during Activity 2 since we were interested in listening to the children recreate and retell their favorite part. These Anchor charts below are posted in another area in the class and are used for whole group instruction focusing on recount and sequencing.
Creativity & Creation...
School and Site Location
Crosby Heights Public School opened it’s doors in 1958 and the rooms and hallways are filled with stories and memories from previous years. Programming begins in Kindergarten and extends to grade 8. There is a gifted program at this school as well. The school motto is “Success has to include me!”. To learn more about the school please feel free to browse the link below which will take you to the schools website.
For the purpose of the TI all activities occurred in our Kindergarten classroom.
14 JK students and 15 SK students make up our class. Not all children were involved in every provocation seeing as these were set up during are free flowing portions of the day. The ages range from 4 to 6 and include both male and female participants.
The resources needed for the TI included books, photos and drawings, chart paper, markers and other writing materials, glue, tape, a wide range of art materials (play-dough, paper plates, feathers, cotton balls, etc…), work space, space in the classroom to set up centers, assessment templates, and a camera and video recording device.
Types of Data
The types of data being collected were observational and anecdotal record keeping, checklists, photo documentation, transcriptions, video documentation and student feedback forms.
Question: What are three strategies that can be used during visual arts instruction that can enhance play based learning in KG?
The fundamental reason behind my inquiry was to challenge myself to find meaningful ways that allow the Visual Arts to support learning and play. In the beginning of this process, during the question formation stage, I did spend some time struggling to find a question that incorporated my personal professional desires and my school’s desire for very specific types of assessment pieces. Through feedback and online conversations with my instructor I was able to let go of the prescribed literacy assessment pieces and focus more on the creative and diverse entry points that allowed the students to learn; while engaged in highly play based activities. It was a bumpy start for me, but in the end the light bulb went off and the play based learning provocations were so exciting! Throughout this process I will be acting as teacher, learner, photographer, documentor, collaborator and reflector . I have focused on providing four different teaching or provocation strategies that allow students to play and explore in meaningful ways while utilizing the visual arts as a means to express their understandings. I will highlight how this learning is connected to the curriculum expectations, specifically the learning goals and the success criteria that is created with the students. I will also consider other expectations that are revealed during the creative process. These activities will be presented and shared with my divisional colleagues during our Professional Learning Team meetings (PLT’s) in order to support our collaborative efforts and team planning. I will also open up an invitation to my administrators so that they can share in this learning and professional development.
By: Rachael Dankiw
Reflections on Equity and Confidentiality...
The Foundation: Literature Review
Activity 1: Poster Provocation (Pre-Test)
Posters & Prints presented during free choice, along with prescribed visual arts material (molding clay, plate and small clear cup) to provoke a creative response. Questioning and observations made by the teacher along with photo documentation. No specific success criteria was provided to students.
Prints: Photographs of volcanoes displayed on table.
Teacher Selected - Personal & Social 1.2, Visual Arts 1.1, 2.1, Language 1.2
Unveiled by Students - L 1.6, 1.8, 1.9, S&T 1.1
Activity 2: Text Provocation (On-going Analysis)
Read-Aloud followed by prescribed visual arts materials (play-dough and plastic food items) presented on a table during free choice with the book to provoke a creative response that could support play based learning and oral retelling of the story. Questioning and observations made by the teacher along with photo documentation. Provocation question was orally stated to students who visited the activity. They were asked to recreate their favorite part of the story.
Text: The Very Hungry Caterpillar By: Eric Carle displayed on table
Teacher Selected - Personal & Social 1.2, Visual Arts 1.1, 2.1, Language 1.2
Unveiled by Students - L 1.6, 1.8, 1.9, NS1.3, NS1.4
Activity 3: Poster Provocation (On-going Analysis)
Posters & Prints presented during free choice, along with some visual arts materials to provoke an unstructured creative response that can support play based inquires. Children were told that they could request materials as needed. Learning Goal and Success Criteria to be created and posted for students.
Large Drawings & Prints: Architectural drawings & large maps
Teacher Selected - Personal & Social 1.2, Visual Arts 1.1, 2.1, Language 1.2
Unveiled by Students - Language 1.6, 1.8, 1.9, 2.4, 4.1, 4.2, Science and Technology 1.3, Geometry 3.2, 3.3, Number Sense & Numeration 1.9
Activity 4: Visual Arts Co-Construction (Post Test)
Students were given a challenge to decide what the drama center should become. Once this was negotiated (whole group brainstorm and vote) the students co-created Success Criteria on an anchor chart with minimal teacher support. The anchor chart was displayed so the students could refer to it as needed. Materials were selected by the students and pout out on a table. Requests by students for additional materials and support were provided by the classroom teacher and DECE.
Drama Center Props: The Kindie Coffee Shop, The Diamond Jewelry Shop
Teacher Selected - Personal & Social 1.2, Visual Arts 1.1, 2.1, Language 1.2
Unveiled by Students - Language 1.6, 1.8, 1.9, Geometry 3.2, 3.3, Data Management 5.1, Number Sense & Numeration 1.10
During the initial design of the TI I was worried that the students may not make the connections I was hoping they would make. Because I have a very diverse classroom with multiple needs in the areas of behaviors and individualized programming, I envisioned that some of these tasks would turn out to be chaotic; however, I also had this inner voice that seemed to recognize the potential in these learning experiences and a large part of me was excited to let go and allow the students to show me what they were capable of saying, doing, and representing. The use of co-constructing success criteria is an area that I feel I am still learning a lot about and so with the support of my course instructor I was able to gain insight into what that process will look like, sound like and feel like. I was slightly worried that the students would not follow the success criteria, but I was pleasantly surprised with some of the findings.
It is my belief that all students are creators, inventors, teachers and researchers. I also feel as though communication and play through the arts offers an entry point for students to demonstrate their understanding of the world around them and to communicate their thoughts feelings and ideas. It provides the children with a mode of communicating and interacting that is inclusive and allows for a diverse range of expressions and outcomes. I have also learned that the environment plays a very significant role in the play and inquiry based learning experiences in any classroom and critical consideration should be given to the set up and accessibility of materials.
The implementation of the TI began in my class during the week of April 22, 2013. It has concluded during the last weeks in May. The Drama Centre is still up and running in the classroom an the students have added onto the initial plan by creating a plaza in our classroom which supports dramatic play and learning.
Activity 1 – Week of April 22, 2013
Activity 2 – Week of May 1, 2013
Activity 3 – Week of May 8, 2013
Activity 4 – Week of May 15, 2013
Questioning During the Creative Process:(Saying, Doing, Representing)
Q: What is on the top of your volcano?
R: “I did the smoke.”
Q: Why did you add smoke?
R: “Because its erupting and its cool!”
Q: Can you tell me about your volcano?
R: It’s a big one and its scary and hot.
Q: Why is it hot?
R: “Because it has magma and lots of rocks.”
Where is the magma going?
R: “It goes up and then down, down, down.” (student gestures with their hand to show the movement).
One student was so excited to take theirs home and did not want it to go on display. The rest wanted theirs to go into the volcano land where the students brought some rocks over from our nature bin to add details to the landscape or ‘volcano land’.
This was a wonderful activity for fine motor development and I was so happy to see how the children wanted to create a space for our work. I still felt as though we needed to continue with the TI to see if we could encourage more interactive and social play based learning.
Students enjoyed the Volcano Land for approximately 3 weeks. We had 3 visits from other Kindergarten classes over the duration of the display. Students did not engage in high quality ‘play’ when at the display; however, they did frequently revisit their model and add or change portions of their creation. It was interesting to see how they cared for the space they created. They even asked me for pylons to put around it when visitors came.
Extending Our Thinking...
As an extension of our volcano creation station my DECE had offered to bring in her sons school project, which was a model volcano that can erupt. We conducted a whole group experiment where we witnessed an eruption in class! The students were so excited that they asked it they could see a real volcano erupt. We had access to the smart board so we spent some time viewing live footage of scientists collecting magma and rock samples, the 10 most famous volcanos in the world and some videos of active and live eruptions.
These are some of the photos taken during the creation stage of the provocation. Once the students were finished they used their 3D play-dough creations to retell their favorite parts of the story. The book and prints of the graphics where left out on the table to support the creative process.
Questioning During the Creative Process:(Saying, Doing, Representing)
Q: What are you making?
R: “I am making the Swiss cheese!”
Q: Why did you decide to make the Swiss cheese?
R: “Because I love Swiss cheese and it’s my favorite part!”
Q: Why is it your favorite?
R: “Because if I were a caterpillar I would eat all the Swiss cheese in the world.”
Transcription: Retell of Favorite Part(Saying, Doing, Representing)
Student A: “Come on Mr. Caterpillar, come and eat the fruit its healthy.”
Student B: “Ok, much, munch, munch, my tummy hurts.”
Student A: “That’s because you ate too much junk food.”
Student B: “I know and now I have to be a butterfly.”
These two students worked together to retell a portion of the story. They connected with the influence diet can have on our health and well-being and the ideas around the life cycle of a caterpillar.
Surprises: I was tremendously surprised that not one student made the butterfly from Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpillar. This graphic illustration from the text has always been one of my favorites and I was sure that some students would create the ‘metamorphosis’; however, I was mistaken. Almost all of the children created the caterpillar and a select few stayed focused on the food aspects of the story.
Concluding Thoughts: I feel as though this was a highly engaging activity that supports social interaction, oral language skills, fine motor skills and as well literacy skills around retelling a story. The children were highly creative as they had ample time and space to create and interact. Allowing students to tell their favorite part further supported the inclusivity of the task. If I had told them to recount the story from Beginning, middle to the end I would suspect that there would have been more restriction on what and how they created and shared.
The success criteria was co-created with the students and I provided them with some examples of what landmarks might look like. This was left up for students to refer to ass needed. At this point in the TI I was really beginning to develop my skills around co-creating success criteria for creative and artistic provocations.
Architectural drawings and city maps where left out on our carpet for students to explore.
The Creative Process...
The kids enjoying their co-created road maps!
These road maps are still being used everyday. The kids have always loved the car bin and these maps seemed to invite more students to this activity. Students are engaging and interacting during play and they are revealing curriculum expectations, knowledge and skills from: social and emotional, mathematics, language (reading, writing, oral) and have facilitated this learning through the use of the visual arts to create this wonderful road map center. I feel as though they put themselves into the creation and in doing so they are more connected to it. They know the streets, the made the homes and they included the landmarks that interested them!
The images here capture the students creating the success criteria. After receiving feedback from our course instructor I took her input and built the success criteria as an interactive shared writing! Teacher support and scaffolding was provided as needed (i.e., providing letter sounds to help students sound out a word or providing a ‘think aloud’ of some of our writing strategies like finger spacing).
The students really enjoyed this writing task and I was able to scaffold student learning so that each child was able to be successful during the writing task and demonstrate their abilities!
Making Our Signs!
The students really enjoyed working collaboratively to create the signs for the drama center. In addition to the co-creation of the Kindie Coffee Shop students also created a Hair Salon and a Diamond Jewelry Shop. We ended up with a SHOPPING PLAZA in our class! WATCH THE VIDEO!
The students preselected the materials that they wanted for the creation of the props for our Kindie Coffee Shop. Teacher scaffolding was needed when students had asked for me to cut out shapes for them. They were having trouble getting started and needed a foundation to begin their designs. They told me what shapes they wanted: Muffins, cupcakes, cookies and donuts. The Success Criteria was set up in way that was easily viewed for students. Teacher support was needed for a few students to self monitor and self check (using the anchor chart). The students created very different food items and selected ingredients (materials) that they seemed to favor based on personal taste.
The Creative Process
“Mine has sprinkles and those are the best”
Q: Why are they the best?
R: "Because they are the colors of the rainbow and I love rainbows!"
Q: Why do you love rainbows?
R: "Because they have all the colours and they make me smile."
Q: Did you price your two items?
Q: How much are they?
R: “This one is two $2 and this one is $1.”
Q: Why did you choose those prices?
R: “Because this one is bigger and this one is smaller.”
Q: Why is the bigger one more and the smaller one less?
R: Because there is more big doughnut so you need to pay more for it and this one (points to small cookie) is small so you pay less.
Q: What shape did you use for your sprinkles?
R: "A sphere!"
Q: How do you know it is a sphere?
R: "Because it's like a bouncing ball." (He knew this from a 3D shape rap song we learned)
As you can see there were many connections made to our math expectations! (sorting, classifying, money, geometry).
“I’m making a chocolate chip, blueberry muffin because that's my favorite.”
Q: Why are you making that?
R: Because I love blueberries and they are my favorite."
Q: why are they your favorite?
R: because they are good for you."
Questions, Wonderings & Future Research...
In order to ensure equity and inclusion I have shared all planned activities with my teachign team (DECE, EA, CYW's) in order to prepare them for the learning experiences and so that they were able to prepare the students they work with specifically (i.e., updating visual schedules and reward charts relating to behaviour tracking). I also ensured that students were allowed to talk and share ideas to support our JK's and ELL students. There were many visual supports in all learning provocations and all video and photo documentation excluded any head shots of students which is in compliance with the signed agreement and photo release form that I had completed with all guardians in September. During my assessment of our goals I offered varying scaffolding techniques to students as needed. For example in some of the learning experiences students needed one-to-one support to follow the success criteria and complete a task. In some of the video footage you will see myself supporting students through the self-checking process when we are assessing our task together. Some students met all the criteria, while others completed it after noticing it was not yet finished. Each child was able to achieve the goals set out by the educators and each child found their own path to get there and this framework comes out of the theories from the Growing Success document: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/growsuccess.pdf
Curriculum & Documentation
The Visual Arts
Creation & Creativity
Themes in the Research:
Ministry of Education - Ontario. 2005. Education for All: The Report of the Expert Panel on Literacy and Numeracy Instruction for Students With Special Needs, Kindergarten to Grade 6. Queens Printer of Ontario.
This is a great resource for Ontario educators and it provides strategies and recommendations for teachers that support creating an inclusive and supportive learning environment for the diverse student body that exists in Ontario today.
Ministry of Education – Ontario. 2010-2011. The Full Day Early-Learning Kindergarten Program – Draft Version. Ontario: Queens Printer of Ontario.
This document guides instruction and implementation of learning goals by presenting subject specific expectations for educations in Ontario. It is a resourceful document that also illustrates concrete learning examples and questioning.
Seitz, Hilary. 2008. The Power of Documentation in the Early Childhood Classroom. Yong Children. The National Association for the Education of Young Children. naeyc 2, 3, 4, p. 88-93.
This article briefly explains the importance of documentation and provides examples of how and what to document.
Fiorito, Peter, June. 2008. Using a Cross Over Curriculum: Teaching Communication Through Art, Music, and Language Arts. The Journal of Adventist Education. Oct/Nov. p. 19-23.
This article provides evidence of the importance of having a cross-over or cross-curricular program. It suggests that knowledge and learning is more concretely consolidated if students are provided opportunities to make connections and transfer learning.
Cornett, Claudia E., Smithrim, Katharine L., 2001. The Arts as Meaning Makers: Integrating Literature and the Arts Throughout the Curriculum. Toronto, Ontario. Pearson Education Canada Inc.
This book provides educators with strategies and techniques for incorporating the Arts and aids teachers in developing the skills necessary to support learning and responding through the Arts.
Danko-McGhee, Katherina., Slutsky, Ruslan. Jul. 2003. Preparing Early Childhood Teachers to Use Art in the Classroom. Art Education, Vol. 56, No. 4, p. 12-18.
This article briefly defines and explains the role of the 'atelierista' and suggest the important role that the Arts plays in education. It provides some interesting examples of learning inquires that can be applied in a classroom.
Lorimer, Maureen Reilly. 2009. Using Interdisciplinary Arts Education to Enhance Learning. Arts Education for the Whole Child. Jan/Feb. p. 8-12.
This article suggests that the Arts should be integrated into all areas of learning, but also points out that in order to do so effectively it requires strong leadership skills from administrations and a rich arts minded philosophy embedded into educators practice.
Pelo, Ann. 2007. The Language of Art: Inquiry-Based Studio Practices in Early Childhood Settings. St. Paul MN: Redleaf Press
This book provides many studio explorations for educators. It also provides specific inquiries and provocations for educators. A great hands on resource guide with wonderful illustrations.
Wright, Susan. 2003. The Arts, Young Children, and Learning. United States of America. Person Education Inc.
This book connects Theories of Development and connects them to learning in the Arts. It can be described as a 'cookbook' of ideas for educators.
Annotated Bibliography Cont'd
Davis, Gary. 1967. Teaching Creativity. The Clearing House. Vol. 42, No. 3, p. 162-166.
This book offers specific approaches to stimulate creative and critical thinking by making suggestions for the learning environment, encouragement, using the discovery method, and problem based learning opportunities.
Early Childhood Education Series. 2005. In the Spirit of the Studio: Learning from the Atelier of Reggio Emilia. New York. NY: Teacher’s College Press.
This book offers a detailed look into the role of the atelier of Reggio Emilia schools in the United States. Suggestions are made for environmental alterations that can help support this type of learning environment and detailed colour photo illustrations catalog what it can look like.
Isenberg, Joan Packer., Jalongo, Mary Renck. 2012. Creative Thinking and Arts-Based Learning: Preschool Through Fourth Grade. United States of America. Pearson Education Inc.
This book is heavily focused in play, creativity and the arts. It uses the experience of current and past teachers to guide and influence future educators. It also suggests ways to adapt lesson for diverse learners.
Robinson, Sir Ken. 2009. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. Penguin Books.
This book provides a theory for developing the 'element' or the perfect balance of creativity, imagination and passion. Packed with real reflections of the lives of individuals who have found their creative genius, this book is truly an inspiration to all educators.
Pitri, Eliza. 2001. The Role of Artistic Play in Problem Solving. Art Education. Vol. 54, No. 3, Early Childhood & Interdisciplinary Challenge. National Art Education Association. P. 46-51.
Miller, Edward. 2010. Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School. Alliance for Childhood. p. 1-8.
Tyler, Christopher., Likova, Lora. 2012. The Role of the Visual Arts in Enhancing the Learning Process. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Vol. 6, No. 8. p. 1-7.
This article suggests the importance of the learning environment in relation to play and also highlights the importance of re-creation during play.
This article advocates for child initiated and child directed play in the classroom. It identifies play at the primal language of the child and that this 'work' is about pursuing their own ideas and persevering until their succeed
This article provides evidence that suggests that neuro-imaging studies that focus on brain activity in relation to learning in the arts shows that learning in this area engages 'many' areas in the brain, thus enhancing the ability to transfer learning.
Watch the following video documentations as four students share their learning with me!
We used the success criteria to check our work.
During free play I watched and listened as children made revisions and additions without a teacher prompt. They had internalized the step from the success criteria and saw value in self and peer editing and chose to do it on their own. There was also one student who has not shown an interest in writing all year and he picked up a blue marker and started to draw a sign just like the one his friend was drawing - I caught this all on camera - what a proud moment! They also started to include learning and big ideas from other areas and incorporated that into the map too (geometry, weather, safety and signs, text features).
Surprises: Additions & Revisions caught on camera during free play...
Concluding thoughts: This activity worked extremely well and matched my goals from my initial question of allowing creation in the visual arts to support rich play based learning experiences. I was happy to see other students that do not usually choose to play with cars engage in the road map creation project. Well done!
FD Kindergarten Curriculum
Below is the link to the Full Day Early Learning Curriculum. Feel free to browse some of the overall and specific expectations that were selected by myself and some of the others that were revealed by the students throughout our journey of creation and discovery!
By identifying the learning goals and success criteria together children had a clearer understanding of what was expected of them and had a the time, materials and support needed in order to achieve them. These learning goals and learning provocations have been mindfully planned to support learning experiences that are developmentally appropriate and student centered. In accordance with the Early Learning for Every Child document we have ensured that the creative process will support PLAY because "Play is how children make sense of the world and is an effective method of learning for young children. Ideas and skills become meaningful; tools for learning are practiced; and concepts are understood." (ELECT 2007, p.15). To read more about child development and links to early learning and play feel free to browse the ELECT document in the link below:
Early Learning & PLAY
The transition from program based learning to student centered learning has been a wonderful learning experience for me. Through diverse learning experiences in the visual arts we have created co-operative and project based learning experiences that support all learners. We used a variety of content/materials and creative processes to allow students to share they understandings. The final products were all very unique as well providing different types of play opportunities for students. As stated in the Education for All doc: "Students in their zone of proximal development" can, with assistance, resolve problems, by questioning their conceptions, and by asking them to justify their positions." (Ministry of Education. Ont., 2005, p.14). During the questioning phase of the learning students were asked to share their reasoning and justify their decisions. This process allowed students to show, do and represent their understandings to the FDK team.
See the link below for more information re: Education for All
Ministry of Education - Ontario. 2010. Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting in Ontario Schools. First Edition - Queens Printer of Ontario.
The following document provides an in depth look at student achievement and standards of practice for instruction, assessment and evaluation. It explains the process of learning and assessment: AS, OF and FOR and although this document is intended for grades 1-12 it is embedded in much of the FDK document and is still an important resource for the Kindergarten educational team.
How can we begin to include the photo and video documentation that we collect and bring it into the children's learning and reflecting experiences?
Because we use documentation.....
Because we know the importance of brain based learning and that current research tells us that play activates more centers in the brain simultaneously...
What light can FMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) research shed on how play based learning impacts student achievement and development?
Because learning through the arts supports play, diverse learning styles, differentiated instruction and student centered learning...
How can we continue to develop and include Reggio inspired learning in our classrooms and what can educators and the board do to support this process?
In order to explore answers to this question I recently visited Joanne Babalis' classroom during an open house she organized. It was truly inspiring and was a huge success, which shows the commitment to professional development, collaboration, and community partnerships that exists in our board. As teachers learn, share, question, challenge and engage one another in this type of professional development and growth we will continue to develop our craft and inspire our youngest thinkers, creators and inventors. This blog was also in our course readings... Take some time to look at the process of this classes transformation over the course of three years!
Some students were independent, while others needed support such as verbal prompts, modeling, and hand over hand support. Each child was able to show where they were on the developmental continuum and I was able to utilized the balanced literacy framework to support instruction.
You can see in this video that some of the students were focused on the process of working with and mixing paint; while others we very concerned with creating a symbol and message for the customers that would eventually visit this center. this artifact became the focal point of our coffee shop and provoked students to extend this learning to create two other play centers (the Diamond Jewlery Shop and the Crosby Heights Hair Salon.
Cycle of Inquiry: "an encounter between children and materials coincides with their imagination or interest, is recorded by a teacher or saved as an artifact, and is retold by children and teachers, which becomes a provocation to pursue the encounter into the future." (Gandini, Hill, Cadwell, & Schwall,, 2005, p.61)
BIG IDEA: Children are connected to others and contribute to their world.
Overall Expectations: 1
Identify and use social skills in play and other contexts;
Specific Expectation: 1.2
demonstrate the ability to take turns in activities and discussions (e.g., engage in play activities with others, listen to peers and adults)
Teacher Inquiry Question:
What are three strategies that can be used during visual arts instruction that can enhance play based learning in KG?
Design Down Approach!
BIG IDEA: Young children have an innate openness to artistic activities.
Overall Expectations: V1
Demonstrate an awareness of themselves as artists through engaging in activities in visual arts.
Specific Expectations: V1.1
Demonstrate an awareness of personal interests and a sense of accomplishment in visual arts
Personal & Social Development
BIG IDEA: Children are effective communicators.
Overall Expectations: 1
Communicate by talking and by listening and speaking to others for a variety of purposes and in a variety of contexts.
Specific Expectations: 1.2
Listen and respond to others for a variety of purposes (e.g., to exchange ideas, express feelings, offer opinions) and in a variety of contexts.
This summary goes to show how much learning can be revealed by our children have to offer us if we look and listen closely....
Student Participation Tracking Record: Below is the tracking sheet where we recorded which students chose to participate initially in the activities, who left to move into another area of interest and who finished through to the end. Our interest in this was to notice who was interested in these learning provocations and if there were any patterns to be revealed. We noticed that students who had a personal interest in the content or subject (i.e., volcanos, insects and life cycles, the built environment and consumerism) stated and participated for longer periods of time. Those who were interested in the visual arts also participated in more activities (we highlighted students that participated in all activities and followed through to meet the Success Criteria). We records who left and where they went - it illustrated that some students were more willing than others to try a new activities and when students did leave they usually went to an activity that was a personal favorite.
Feedback from Students: We also wanted to know what the students thought about the activities so we used a rating scale after the volcano creation station and provided a scanned document of a few student feedback forms here...
What The Research Is Saying....
Curriculum & Documentation...
Design down planning with the curriculum, documentation and reflective practice are the foundation of good pedagogy and these variables work together to guide best practice and to ensure all students reach their full potential. The environment as teacher is really important to consider when you are planning and preparing to document the learning process. Does the space support the learning provocations? Can students access space and materials easily? These are important questions to consider when planning your learning experiences. "Teachers create environments in which all students feel valued and confident and have the courage to take risks and make mistakes." (Ministry of Edu., 2010, p.8). Teachers are also responsible to ensure that all students feel safe and are able to succeed.
When planning it is important to recognize the interconnectedness of all things and the importance of the diverse range of learning styles so that you are engaging as many of our sense as possible (sight, touch, taste, smell, sound). "Students benefit when subjects are taught not in isolation, but in tandem or in concert." (Fiorito, 2008, p.20). They are able to make meaningful connections that originate from rich personal experiences and from this students begin to build their own schema's and understandings of the world around them. This becomes the taking off point for their own investigations and inquiries. As stated in Growing Success "Teachers show students that they care about them, and model a love of learning that can deeply influence their lives." (p. 8) This love of learning feeds the students questions and supports the educators planning and provocations.
Assessment is an integral part to the learning process because it informs current and future planning and provides a baseline for each student of where to begin. "The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student learning." (Ministry of Edu., 2010, p.28). With this in mind all students can achieve thier greatest potential given the right amount of time, support, resources. As stated in Education for All "The assessment process is is multidisciplinary, and occurs in a continuous cycle that is fully integrated into the learning-teaching process..." (Ministry of Edu., 2005, p.19). The assessment as, for and of learning provides educators with a clear picture of the process of learning from start to finish. Documentation; as suggested by Hilary Seitz (2008), includes samples of student work and illustrates the process or stages of completion and becomes a "natural way to make learning visible." (p.91). It is important that professionals work together and collaborate in order to learn more about documentation and research suggests that when this happens educators tend to have more positive experiences associated with documentation (Seitz, 2008, p.91). The Full-Day Kindergarten program depends deeply on the professional collaboration between the classroom teacher, Early Childhood Educator, and other professionals such as educational assistance, speech and language pathologists and intervention specialists to name a few.
The Early learning program focuses on the while child and prepares them fro life long learning. "The purpose of the program is to establish a strong foundation for learning in the early years, and to do so in a safe and caring play-based environment that promotes the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of all children." (FDELK, 2010, p.1). Educators must allow students to grow and learn in a safe environment where play provides the pathway for inquiry, investigations, problem based learning and explorations. "Children need many opportunities to explore and investigate. These experiences allow children to build on their existing knowledge, create and clarify their own new understandings, and experience a variety of approaches to a problem or question." (FDELK, 2010, p.12). Students begin to connect these new learning experiences and explorations with previous understandings and begin to assimilate new information which support the formulation of new questions and provocations. "A well-planned program provides Early Learning–Kindergarten teams with many opportunities for ongoing observation and assessment of children’s strengths, needs, and interests." (FDELK, 2010, p.12). These observations allow the FDEL team to guide and scaffold learning so that students can make connections with what they already know and begin to understand where they are going. While students engage in expressing their curiosities, wonders and questions the team "...provides a rich variety of materials and resources, and interact with children to clarify, expand, or help articulate the children’s thinking." (FDELK, 2010, p.15). Finally, it is so important to work to provide students with the materials and opportunities to demonstrate their understandings and to ensure that all learners are being supported.
The Arts is an integral part of the child's learning experience and allows them to communicate their interpretations of the world and imaginations in meaningful ways. "Effective integration of arts activities across the Full-Day Early Learning Kindergarten program helps support the various learning styles, interests, and strengths of individual children. Integrating the arts with other areas of learning allows children to make meaningful connections between program areas, and can be highly motivating." (FDELK, 2010, p.17). By allowing students to use the language of the arts you are able to connect to more children by engaging multiple learning styles and intelligencies. "By supporting art experiences in the classroom, the teacher allows the children the freedom to manipulate the numerous art resources (languages) available to them and to illustrate in their own ways their understandings of concepts and ideas." (Slutsky, 2003, p.13). The arts allows for multiple perspectives to be shared. It encourages children to come back and revisit an idea or experience; to create a new understanding of it, that can continue to inform future experience and understandings.
What art is the right art? It is important to allow children opportunities to try out and work with a diverse range of materials, but you can also pay close attention to the needs and interests of the children to find mediums that support the development in those areas. "Teachers listen to the ideas of the children and construct a curriculum that encompasses their current interests and needs." (Slutsky, 2003, p.13). For example, if a student who is still in the early stages of their fine motor development has a sudden interest in small rocks and beads; a teacher could create an inquiry space at the light table with a range of small stones and beads with tweezers and chop sticks to encourage an investigation and manipulation of materials; while also supporting the development of fine motor skills. "When carefully planned, interdisciplinary arts education has the potential to provide a relevant and developmentally responsive curriculum...that ultimately enhances learning for all." (Lorimer, 2009, p. 9).
Children need to be able to select materials and use these materials to communicate their ideas, thoughts and feelings. This communicative process allows children to become active, critical thinkers and investigators. Providing children with opportunities to express themselves through the arts develops decision-making skills, stimulates memory, facilitates understanding, develops symbolic communication, promotes sensory development, and encourages creative thinking." (FDELK, 2010 p.140). Teachers must ensure that the environment and materials are accessible to students and that they are offered support and proper visual arts techniques appropriate for the introductory level that can be extended as needed. "During early learning experiences, we should provide appropriate materials and resources and set the learning context so that children's ranges and types of learning experiences can be extended." (Wright, 2003, p. 27).
The FDELK document provides teachers with good examples of what learning in the arts can look and sounds like. "The creative process is the focus of the arts. Children’s thinking emerges as they try out new theories and ideas." (FDELK, 2010, p. 140). The process is just as important; if not more important at times than the product when dealing with arts education. "Thus, what children say about their artistic creations is not an addition, but an integral part of an arts activity. Therefore, teachers conversations with children should deal with the intent as well as the outcome of their activities (Wright, 2003, p. 31). If a child comes up to you to share an drawing, have them explain their drawing and record these details in their anecdotal records for later use, or add them to a class book about that particular topic or class art-book collection. Through the Arts education children "learn to look carefully and discern nuances, to move with thoughtful intention, and to follow their intuition." (Pelo, 2007, p.1). the process takes them on a journey of discovery! "They also learn to find joy in the play of their sense." (Pelo, 2007, p.1).
In order to better support studio type learning experiences teachers can "create areas set aside for for art exploration. We develop practices that guide our exploration. We collect notes and photos and samples of children's work to use in written documentation, displays, and portfolios. We make time to reflect on our studio work with families, with teachers, and with ourselves." (Pelo, 2007, p.7). By collecting and documenting the journey we gain a depth and breadth of experience and understanding that could not have been revealed without the vehicle of the language arts. Visual arts provide children with a place to express their emotions, communicate using one of the many languages and motivates while engaging many sense in a harmonious way. "Through art making and art discussions, children experience the joy of discovery and learn how much of life is ineffable - the search for meaning does not always end in the finding, but in a satisfying journey." (Cornett, Smithrim, 2001, p.136).
In the book In the Spirit of the Studio the authors provide a deeper look into the Reggio Emilia approach to the studio or 'atelier. "The atelier is most of all about communication, because the artifacts of the children's learning can enable us to share with others what we have learned." (Gandini, 2005, p.17). This studio space allows students to create and share their understandings and to explore their questions and new ones that arise along the way.
This can be defined as the 'cycle of inquiry', where "an encounter between children and materials coincides with their imagination or interest, is recorded by a teachers or saved in an artifact, and it retold by children and teachers, which becomes a provocation to pursue the encounter into the future." (Gandini, 2005, p.53). Once we have this natural cycle in place the next most crucial part of the process becomes the documenting or showing of these creations. "If we do not communicate, if we do document, it is as if the things we do as teachers and the things that the children make do not exist, or they would exist for a brief time and only within the cultural context of their school." (Gandini, 2005, p.60).
One of the most simple steps in facilitating a creative space is discussed in Gary A. Davis' article Teaching Creativity, where he provides seven approaches to teaching creativity. The first and I would suggest, most important would be 'Providing a Creative Atmosphere' or developing a creative environment. This goes beyond providing a wide range of sensory activities and includes providing students with support to encourage the development of communication skills in the arts and allowing students to become active, independent agents of critical thought and expression.
In Isenberg and Jalongo's book Creative Thinking and Arts-based learning the authors explore concert methods of implementing an arts based learning program in your classroom. Suggestions for environment, materials, teaching styles and assessment strategies are made.
Creation and Creativity empowers children to use their inner voice and just as Sir. Ken Robinson suggests, “We are all born with extraordinary powers of imagination, intelligence, feeling, intuition, spirituality, and of physical and sensory awareness. (p.9)”. It is our job as educators to allow students to discover their inner powers and inner genius. "While there are different dimensions and levels of creativity, every child is creative if given the chance to be."
Play is an integral part of the kindergarten experience."Over the years, both theory and researched have documented that play is children's optimal vehicle for learning and development. It also suggests that the absence of play is often an obstacle to developing healthy, competent, and creative individuals." (Isenberg, Jalongo, 2010, p.44). With this in mind it becomes clear the play has one of the most important places in our early learning environments. "Children grasp ideas more easily and more effectively and maintain their interest in school when they have an educational program that enables them to connect their learning to their own lives and the world around them." (FDELK, 2010, p.16). Play offers an arena for children to explore real life experiences and to question their understanding of these experiences. Integrating other areas into play and exploration such as the arts Integrating "allows children to make meaningful connections between program areas, and can be highly motivating." (FDELK, 2010, p.17). By utilizing the arts to support play children are able to communicate and demonstrate their learning in ways that provide a deeper assessment of the process and a more diverse illustration of perspectives. "Participating in and responding to appropriate arts experiences gives children opportunities to reflect on their own experiences and those of others." (FDELK, 2010, p.17).
By engaging in self directed play children "know what they want to do and work diligently to do it. Because their motivation comes from within, they learn the powerful lesson of pursing their own ideas to a successful conclusion." (Miller, Almon, 2010 p.2). Play is the initial language of children and "teachers need to understand the ways in which child-initiated play when combined with play-ful, experiential learning leads to life-long benefits in ways that didactic drills, standardized tests, and scripted teaching do not." (Miller, Almon, 2010, p.4).
Visual art learning is reliant on a complex system of perceptual, higher cognitive, and mtoor functions, thus suggesting a shared neural substrate and strong potential for cross-cognitive transfer in learning and creativity." (Tyler, Likova, 2012, p.1).
Extending our Experience...
Here are some images that captured our extension of the TI process. We have now co-created two additional centers for the dramatic play space and these creative process where initiated through the use of the arts.
This is the Diamond Jewelry shop. Children asked for materials to make jewelry items and they co-created a sign for the store.
In this image a student works with the DECE to create a sign for the Crosby Heights Hair Salon.
Watch the videos!
Watch the video!
At the end of the journey of the Teacher Inquiry it has become clear to me that both play and the arts are innate qualities of the early childhood learning experience and that these modes of communication should be at the foundation of learning and development in the Kindergarten program. Educators and families alike should continue to develop strategies and skills that support learning through the arts and intentional play based learning. I have found a new spark and inspiration from the readings and research in this project and I am excited to continue to develop my draft as an educator.