All year I have been thinking about how to bring more play into Studio 4. It has been mulling for months. I am lucky to work at a school with many advocates for play. Ainsley Cameron and Melissa Meadows are just two of the fantastic educators that come to mind. Our math coach, Tiffany Eaton, is going back into the grade 4 classroom next year at her new school and recently posted on Twitter how much she aspires to make that classroom as much of a parallel to her daughter's Early Explorers classroom she is currently in.
I come from a background of lower primary and younger aged settings. I worked and volunteered at preschools, before and after school care, and four of my first five years of teaching were all grade 1 and below. To me, having things out is natural. Drawing kids in is a normal purpose. Letting them play is a constant purpose.
Should it be different once they hit grade 2?
What are we trying to instill in them?
Do we take away play because it is a distractor to their normal "work" or goals for the week?
What if it inspired a new goal?
What if it created an "aha" moment for someone?
As we gear up for summer, Tiffany and I thought we would jump in and see how it went. We tore through the studio... literally. Taking covers off of benches to create more workable spaces, adding provocations for math as well as history, for our current Where We Are In Place and Time unit. We went down to the Early Explorers section of the school to see what "spare" things were in storage and changed what we could in one afternoon.
We put out linking blocks, pattern shapes, a crafty/makerspace area that is open for everyone to see all of the resources, 3D connecting pieces, an old typewriter, a cassette/radio player, artifacts from multiple countries, and some extra bamboo rugs to create visual places for them to go to.
Students were immediately drawn in. They put down their iPad and came to question and or build with us.
Is the studio messier? Yes.
Is there more responsibility for belongings? Yes.
Are they 'distracted' from their goals? Sometimes.
Are they linking it to their goals? Sometimes.
Are they talking to others while they build/get curious about the things that are out? For sure.
Do they get bored of what is put out after a few days? Yes! As they would in early years, too.
Are students creating more? YES!
I hope to continue this journey next year. I feel it is important to have things in their sight and readily available to them.
Today I had a luxury all teachers should be able to have.
I work at International School Ho Chi Minh City. At the beginning of the year all teachers were given a "golden ticket." This afforded us one day of cover to use as we wish for PD purposes. Some people use them to visit other schools, some people use them to observe just down the hall, as we don't always get time to do this in our normal busy schedules.
I teach in Studio 4 (grade 4 age). My plan was to mainly spend time in our Early Explorers rooms as well as Studio 5 looking at spaces and structures.
After reviewing my pages of notes, these were my main takeaways from today. These are all based on our own particular structures that are set up already in our school situation.
Questions I have...
1. Instead of whole classrooms used as home bases, could we reframe our thinking to be one carpet/projector area as the home base? This would create "more room" in the studio for specialty areas such as a makerspace/building area, scientific tools/thinking area, a building area (large builds and small), etc. and possibly afford us the time and space to leave things out as provocations for inquiry more often?
2. Do we need a Town Hall that is a dedicated open space for meetings? Could we not find somewhere else to meet? Or meet in a classroom with the sliding walls open to extend the area, if needed?
3. Can we make one room a building/maker-space area? Can we paint a wall green for green screen movies?
4. Can we use TAs and EAL support for daily afternoon CAR time discussions about progress, assistance, and accomplishments? Can specialist teachers be used for these discussions, especially during the HWEO unit?
5. Can we create a common specialist timetable sign up that is consistent through studio 4 and studio 5? Wouldn't this be more efficient for the specialist teachers? And students, in the long run?
6. How can we create more space for provocations and inquiries?
7. What data can we collect from students about their learning? And then how can we involve students in the analysis of that data? Why are teachers only using that data?
8. How can our morning flexible time, 7:45-8:15 be more... more? Is banning iPads the right way? Some of them plan their day at that time.
9. Can we set up book clubs where students talk about more than one book at a time?
10. How can more "circle time" discussions happen, and what would make them the most purposeful for our learners?
Materials I want!
In addition to that, I saw a lot of furniture get added to my wish list!
- folding bookshelves
- coffee tables
- a shelf on its side for large storage
- lines for hanging things on
- large art display areas
Passionate Canadian PYP Teacher in Vietnam