School Without School

I've been hard at work trying to create a virtual studio for the last couple of weeks since schools closed. The puzzle is how to recreate experiences based on relationship, collaboration and dialog on a screen, mediated through adults who have a million things to do on top of the general fear we all feel? My fellow Atelierista expressed it well on instagram when she said something like 'how can I do this online when everything I do is based on authenticity, intimacy, and being connected to the present moment!”

Taking apart bikes and using the parts to create animals was a long, long term project.

Engagement is the word my co-teachers and I use for learning that is absorbing, deep and challenging. Children build new understandings over time as they encounter new experiences and information, so creating connected experiences that slowly unspool and deepen thinking is important. In person I plan for roadblocks like realizing we don't have a certain material. Roadblocks help slow down the process, creating a context for re-thinking and further planning. I try to create situations where wonder and delight exist along with inquiry. How can we create engagement like that with a computer? Games do that but I'm not sure it's the kind of engagement I'm after, nor is it appropriate for the younger children at school. We hope to rise above “edutainment” but at the same time have to capture families' attention. This is the puzzle I'm working on. I'd love to hear what you think in the comments.


  1. I am atelierista for an international school in Panama. We have been doing distance learning for two weeks now. The first thing I want to say is all you can do is what we can do. It's not going to be perfect and that's ok. I try to come up with artistic challenges that are as open ended as possible. I build on their past experiences in the earlier to help my students make connections and feel empowered in their new learning situation. For example, my first distance learning lesson referred back to an exploration we just finished about colour and monochromatic paintings. I reviewed what we discovered and gave them a new challenge: create a monochromatic costume from head to toe! I use short video clips which I record and put into a Google slide show with some tips/guidance for the parents. Best of luck to you and feel free to contact me if you'd like to talk.


Post a Comment

Please do comment!