Telling our stories through teacher-research

There is a new edition of Voices of the Practitioners available on the NAEYC website. This journal's purpose is to publish teacher-research. You can read inspired writing from Teachers in their own voices. There is a lot of great writing there- it is so interesting to read about the variety of ideas and problems capture teachers attention, and how they figure things out through teacher-research. There is a terrific new article about laughter in the classroom, and one about boys and reading. My favorite article from this issue is by Renetta Goesen. It tells the story of early childhood education in a tribal head start program in North Dakota.
here is a short excerpt;

"Two important historical and current factors of the tribal culture are the
sacred act of learning in children’s experiences and the explorative nature of
their environment. The child herself is considered sacred as well:
A child was considered sacred having arrived from the spiritual realm.
A child was respected and treated as capable of understanding the
most important part of living on this earth—the spiritual nature of
life. (Morrison & Locke-Flying Earth 2003)"

Voices is always looking for teacher research articles, and will guide you through the editing and publication process. Please check it out!


Thinking About Time with 5 year olds

One of the things I realized after reflecting and thinking back on a school year's worth of conversations with children about time, is that few of the conversations led to long inquiries (or projects, if you prefer). The difference between the children's conception of time and the adults seemed to be such a barrier at times. For myself, it got me thinking that time is really a construct that comes from the culture. I wanted to be able to free myself from that and see time the way the children did, but it was tough!
However, that doesn't mean the conversations themselves weren't really rich. Nancy, Robyn and I explored the idea of turns with the children in the Meadow room (the oldest preschool class). the illustration above was made by Brian while talking about time: I asked "do you have any stories about time?"


Collaboratiing with Clasroom Teachers on Their Research: Using Materials in New Ways

Nancy and Robyn who teach the oldest preschool class (five going on six) decided this year to investigate one common material to see if there was anything more to it than they had seen before. The material, MagnaTiles, are really neat, but like so many toys, children's play can become repetitive after they are out in the classroom for a while.

Normally, the Teachers explained, they put the toys away when the children seem to run out of new ideas with them. But this year they decided to keep the MagnaTiles out and pay attention to them.
I got to support the group a couple of times while they were trying new things with MagnaTiles. One of the first things was to ask children to pre-plan a building. This allowed one group to play with the MagnaTiles in the Meadow room while I worked with another in the studio. Since I don't have a set, I offered squares of paper and scotch tape. Miles, Luke, Tucker and Tavish started by thinking about more ships. but eventually came up with a plan for a skateboard park with a bridge. Here they are composing a song about the bridge they wanted to build.
This was exciting challenge- could the boys engineer a bridge with MagnaTiles?
Back in their room later, they figured it out.

Next a group of girls came to make a plan to build Sabot school.
I offered thin cardboard
can you see the cardboard model winding through the building?

drawing the Sabot school   

We tried printing designs to build

building on top of the printed plan
While building Sabot School children realized they needed stairs. That was another big challenge, how to build stairs with MagnaTiles? Different children tried many ways- this was the most successful-

Helping Teachers find answers to research questions is one of the best privileges of being an Atelierista.