At school my teaching partner Paulaand I keep thinking. You can often find us in the classroom, sitting in two small chairs after school, sharing our observations, talking to children and trying to figure out what needs to be added or changed to improve things. Even when things are going well, these discussion times persist, but usually with a focus on how to keep the momentum going. As the Aftercare program comes in from outside and some of our children re-enter the classroom. We will even get them to participate in the discussions and planning. It’s a whole reflection system that works.
Now teaching and learning looks very different … But this week we were reminded of how valuable reflection time is.
Earlier this week we noticed that our Class video meetsThe number of participants, which normally ranges from 23 to 26 students, was lower than usual. Why? At first, we attributed this to some internet problems in the region, but the somewhat lower numbers continued. Now about 20 students were our norm, and while these video conferences were never requiredwe couldn’t figure out the reason for the break-in. We always invite parents to email us their feedback, but no one has raised concerns. So now we had to do some of our own investigation. Paula and I decided to watch the children closely during the online meetings and to check whether we could gain anything from their words and actions. We noticed that some children were excited to share their learning with us, but others seemed rather fidgety. They wanted to stay, but didn’t necessarily have anything to add. The type of platform associated with our children’s age seems to be having too much exchange, but is there any way to do more with it?
This led us to discuss the possibility of an interactive online lesson.
- All of our children have paper and a drawing / writing device. What if they would bring you to “class”?
- We looked at some works of art that contain shapes and lines. What if Paula showed how to draw different shapes and lines?
- Children could practice on their own papers and then see how these shapes and lines can be combined to create something. What could you do?
- We hate to limit the time for creativity, but would adding a timer help keep things on track and support a deeper focus? Children can always continue drawing or writing beyond the timer if they want to.
I admit that we both felt uncomfortable with this approach. We never make all children do the same thing at the same time … or something like that. This drawing activity seemed very mandatory, and we wanted to make sure there were more entry points. Check out some of our kids who seem the most solved online – A word that bothers me, but also a truthful representation of what we saw – We thought that their love of the arts would help calm this activity for them and could increase their interest in this online learning space. Could the students then take what they started here and expand their learning at home independently?
We thought this new approach was worth trying, so we tried yesterday. This was definitely our best meeting ever!
- When we emailed the parents to let them know our plans, more children came to the meeting to take part in the activity. This had brought our presence closer to normal.
- The children watched Paula’s demonstration carefully and then began drawing their own shapes and lines that slowly developed into several amazing masterpieces. One child wrote a story with a girl, while another wrote a beach story with some “abstract seagulls”. Create a couple of children Turtle island: Link to our classroom learning. Another child drew a group of “zigzag monsters”. There was even a child who used the lines to form numbers and letters, including trying an “italic e”. (For data protection reasons, I could not take photos of the shared work, so hopefully the descriptions will suffice.)
- Everyone could participate. Paula really focused on the lines and shapes so that children could apply this learning in different ways. While some children only worked on drawing different shapes, others combined the shapes to make pictures. Some students even added words and colors, with a JK child pronouncing “beach” as the title for his picture, while a SK child labeled the entire drawing of their home. I think it’s great that we didn’t even make these writing suggestions, but children chose to do it themselves.
- Students applied what they learned at school, but in a different context. A JK child shared her incredibly detailed house picture with small windows and people who played “under them”. She even drew a “concentric sun”. It was great to hear how she used the language we learned from Kandinsky’s work while we were studying, but in a different context. Concentric Shapes must have been popular when another child drew a picture of a jellyfish on an iPad and pointed to the “concentric circles” it contained.
- The conversation naturally flowed about it The same just different, Job. To avoid having too many microphones on at the same time and hearing a lot of static, children usually raise their hands to improve the conversation. I select students who then turn off their microphone, share their work, and then mute their microphone again. When the children stopped part of their work, they noticed similarities and differences in their pictures. The sharing naturally seemed to flow. While we quickly got to the point where I started picking children again, there were a couple of nice minutes when kids muted microphones and unmuted. one after the otherto share their work, to question each other and to create connections between their works of art. It was short, but it was perfect!
When the call ended yesterday, Paula and I discussed how we can continue this approach. We’re going to break things down into smaller parts to allow for multiple mini-lessons, but with the same amount of openness and parts. Will this approach work forever? Probably not. Just when we had to make a change on Friday, we know there will be more changes. After further consideration, Paula and I found that we are constantly making small changes in our classroom at school.
- A material could be added.
- It could take something away.
- It could describe a new technique or a new approach.
Small changes – based on observations and with the intention of expanding interest and learning – are a key component of our teaching approach … How did we miss this component in our online classroom approach? I shared this tweet a few days ago.
What does this reflection look like for you? I wonder if we can learn from each other by sharing our new ideas. Thoughts? https://t.co/tNkXyQzqfp
– 𝘼𝙫𝙞𝙫𝙖 𝘿𝙪𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙜𝙚𝙧 (@avivaloca) April 23, 2020
I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful classmate who shares our online classroom with me, just as she shares our classroom at school. Since everyone is at home alone, I wonder about partnerships and connections in other classes. How could you reflect together now? What do these partnerships look like in our new reality of distance learning? While Paula and I are happy with how things are going in many ways Distance kindergarten, nothing is perfect. We were reminded of this this week. Hopefully further reflection talks will help us optimize our program to better meet the needs of the children. And something that we would have in this online environment never was considered the best new addition to our room. Another reminder of how different our world is right now and how some “never” could actually offer some amazing opportunities.
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