Showing posts from February, 2010

A nice thing to say- if you speak Hogwarts

Yesterday third grader Dominic said "hey Anna, you know what?"
"If you were in Harry Potter, I know what teacher you'd be. You would be McGonagall. Hey Tom! Tom! I know who you would be if you were in Harry Potter! If you were in Harry Potter, you would be Dumbledor" Tom is a lead teacher in the class, and he is wise and kind like Dumbledor (and maybe magic!)
"Wow! thanks", we both said. I told him that my own children have decided I would be a Hufflepuff, because I'm a hard worker and pretty nice.
Today when I was back in the third grade studio, Dominic told me he was thinking about it, and he didn't think I was a Hufflepuff, I am more like McGonagall and so I would be a Gryffindor (they are brave, clever and true).
Isn't that one of the nicest things a third grade boy and avid Potter reader could say to a teacher? I think so.

Star Parents at Sabot

We have always felt that school is a partnership between children, parents and teachers at Sabot School.
What started as a parent run co-op 30 years ago is still a place that wants and needs the whole community to be involved.
Because children are free to move from room to room at the pre-school, we need a parent volunteer to watch the hall to make sure children are safe and going to places that are available (stop signs on doors mean the space is closed, and children are careful to follow this rule, but sometimes...) This 'Star Parent' is so important to our program, letting us allow free movement of children, as a friendly parent presence every day, and in support of children's ideas as well.
Today Mary was are Star Parent in the hall. When Nolan made a second car for his model Sabot School parking lot, Mary noticed he was having trouble fitting it onto the "blacktop." Together, Nolan and Mary added on to the parking lot, figuring out how a paper clip could ch…

Literacy in a Co-Constructivist Setting

The Rainbow Makers

The Forest room teachers brought a group of the youngest children at our school to the studio to further their exploration of Rainbows. They joyfully explored the studio and made rainbows out of tape, thread, on the overhead projector and by sewing.

Mapping a Family

Dahlia came to the studio to draw a map. "I want to draw a map of my whole family." I wondered about her concept of 'map'. Would her map involve a place or be more like a picture of her family? Do maps have to involve a place, or is that just my assumption?

Here is a definition of map excerpted from
A representation, usually on a plane surface, of a region of the earth or heavens.
The correspondence of elements in one set to elements in the same set or another set.
To depict as if on a map: Grief was mapped on his face.
To explore or make a survey of (a region) for the  purpose of making a map.
To plan or delineate, especially in detail; arrange:  mapping out her future.
I think the pre-schoolers conception of map lies between these things. It can be any of them, but not always on a plane surface, and connections do not necessarily correspond one to one.

In Dahlia's image, her family is in their house (you can see the line crossed by a tiny …

Doing Things That Are Hard

At Sabot pre-school, the children go to their classrooms first thing in the morning, and if they want to go to another room, thay can, but they have to write a note that says where they are going. After 10:30, children can move around to different rooms and outside.
One day, Oliver came to the studio with a note that said "Do you have any Batman pictures?"
I showed him my binder full of pictures of heroes. He found a couple of Batman pictures, and brought them to the Garden room to finish the picture he must have been working on.

Later, he came back with the same note. It now said, "Can I cut one of the Batman pictures out?" He wanted to cut "A Batman", which is what he called the bat symbol, out of one of the pictures in the binder. I told him he couldn't do that, but that I could show him how to draw the bat symbol.
I showed him how to start with a sort of 'M' shape. He followed along, though it was hard. You can see some of his tries on th…

On being an Atelierista

I have had a couple of questions lately about how I do this job, so I thought I'd talk about what I've learned lately about being an Atelierista. First, some context; I have been teaching at this school for 14 years. For the first 12 years, I had lead teacher responsibilities  for a classroom, and I tried to be as helpful as I could in opening a studio for children and consulting with teachers about art. It was just last school year that I became the Atelierista 'full time' at our pre-school.
Because of a lot of practice, teacher-research and reflection, I know a lot about scaffolding small group inquiry, the affordances of media, what materials have creative potential here, and knowing when to teach a technique and when to let someone 'mess about'. 

As a classroom teacher I had the most fun with big groups. I like loud, boisterous play, and if it involves superheroes or magic, all the better. But in a reflective practice (at least for me), these nagging questions…

Family Stories

I have been working afternoons in the 3-4 class at the elementary school.  The lower school has some guiding questions that frame their inquiry around history and social studies. I am helping them with an investigation based on the questions "How did my people get here?", and "What is the story of Virginia's people?"
I don't see a lot of difference between scaffolding small group inquiry at the pre-school level and in the lower school. In both cases, I have the big ideas, my mental list of resources, essential questions, and media in my back pocket, ready to be brought out to support the children's learning.  At every age, when we come to a place where we need information from observation, a book or expert, we do the same thing; We ask a question and go look for the answer. People keep asking me how teaching in this way works with people who are older than pre-school age, and when I say it is the same, I don't mean that I don't expect different t…

How does snow work?

Miss Zahra over at Trees and Branches, Trunks and Roots 
posted children's theories about rain and puddles. Today I had the chance to talk to some children about how snow works.   We began talking about snow during early drop-off time. Greta drew this cloud -rain is on the side, and snow is bulging at the bottom.       These theories show how children work with ideas, taking bits of serious thought, bits of whimsy and beloved motifs, and bits of 'what people have told me', and mixing it together into a changing 'under construction' version of how things  are.                                                                                                                                                             Owen drew a couple of versions of "a 'chine that makes snow" way up "at the clouds". His pictures have a rocket that can deliver the snow, but his theory really revolves around the machine that is really big, and seems to have a pipe …

Sabot in snow 2-3-2010