Today the youngest children at our school visited the studio. This was the first time many of them had been into the main building. It was interesting to see their interactions with each other, the space and the materials in it. A group of boys thought about what they could do with a yellow and a white string, a black spiral notebook binding, a red holder for a steel wool pad, and a wooden spool, concentrating hard and inventing many combinations. They chose the objects from an array that was layed out on a long bench. The boys played with the objects and put them down, drew a little then passed the pieces to each other, figuring out how to connect and re-connect the objects.
Some other children found uses for materials that were like a game, or a dance, rolling and stacking wooden spheres and using marker tops and modeling clay by turns as they explored and noticed what the studio is.
The 3 and 4 year old children made up a game of 'powers' in which two children stand on a carpet square and then 'psh psh psh' their powers at each other. Other children sit to the side and often draw the action and cheer. After they had been playing this game for a while, we teachers began to wonder how to take the thinking further.
We came up with some questions; What color are your powers? What sound do they make? Could I borrow your powers? We encouraged each child to make a mask, cape and a pocket to hold their powers.
"Real animals don’t have any powers. Stories have powers. Yeah, in stories they have powers. Not any kind of real animals can’t do stuff. Can’t do stuff that powers can do, no. We play stuff but it’s not powers." Anna Hart, you have powers, don’t you? Hart "No. I have pretend powers. Just when I freeze stuff, and when it’s dark. It only comes out when I’m mad, or scared."
The back and forth between magical thinking and theory making …
The community at Sabot adopts a big idea every school year. Called the umbrella project, it's part of my job to shepherd it through. Teachers agree to set up encounters with the idea to provoke thinking and discussion. To start with, we spend time thinking about questions and provocations that will help children to shake hands with the idea and bring it into our community. This year’s idea is LISTENING. As social constructivists, we believe that learning is based on dialog and collaboration, and sharing each other's theories is the way we build new understandings. Listening is already part of our school life, but maybe we don't know it as well as we think we do.
My intention is to broaden my relationship with listening, to think about it in new ways. I'm wondering if I can get better at listening with empathy and without judgement. This seems especially urgent right now, here in the former capital of the confederacy, with our friends in Charlottesville just down the r…
During a meeting a few weeks ago a teacher asked the preschool staff what the difference was between 'centers' and 'provocations'. It seems to me that there are a lot of similarities between the 2 things. Provocations are materials or experiences that Teachers set out to provoke children's thinking. From what I've seen, centers are classroom areas that are set out to give children experience with certain developmentally appropriate learning activities.
So in a traditional classroom you might see a literacy center where children can practice certain writing activities, and in a Sabot classroom you will find writing materials, a variety of papers, things that make marks, envelopes, books and other tools and materials that can be used for writing. One mistake people sometimes make is to assume that the fact that the environment is set up differently and may look looser and less formal in a more progressive school means that teachers don't look for those moment…