As a lab school for the University we have students come and go. Each group of students has a different “job” when they are in our classrooms. As they get further into their studies, they begin to teach lessons and try out new materials in the classroom. This semester, we have a group of six girls who are coming in our classroom two days a week. During this time they are learning how to implement project work. For those of you who are new to project work, project work is an in-depth investigation on a topic. This topic can be uncovered for as little as six weeks and as long as months.
This group of girls has already made a web (we call an anticipatory web) of where they think the children will go which is complete with our curriculum objectives and dimensions. They then completed a knowledge web with the children. They also started and will continue to add-on to the children’s question web over the course of the next few weeks. Thus ending Phase One of the project. We are starting Phase Two of the project which is investigation including hands on learning! Our favorite part!
We have already gathered several resources (Thanks to anyone who has already let us borrow items) but are still in need of the following items:
- sheet music
- music stands
- stage make up
- pictures of musicals
- props from a musical
- tickets/ticket stubs
- costumes from a musical
The girls brought in their first item this week for the children to investigate which was a light from a real musical!! The children spent time sketching, predicating (and dictating to the students), and experimenting with the light. They have also been trying to figure out how and what items are needed to change the color of the lighting when needed. We will continue to explore the light over the course of the next few days learning the names of the pieces and buttons and learning more about how it works.
We are in full swing of our Target project. We first started explore how the things in Target get to the store. We watched videos on this process. The videos showed warehouses where boxes were stored and then trucks loading the boxes to take to their final destination. This sprung interest in price tags. The children were interested in making price tags for our Target store located in the family living area.
Following the children’s lead, we began exploring receipts and what they are used for in target. We began making receipts, looking at pictures, and using receipts in our store. We have sketched and built gift cards, computers, debit cards, and money. Some of our practicum students have had phenomenal lessons, encouraging the children in their Target play.
The children have shown interest in how much things cost. They have the realization that the smaller things are the less expensive they are. They larger things are, the more expensive they will be. If this interest stays the same or increases we will explore this aspect of Target next week. If you hear any talk about Target at home, we would love to hear about it at school!
Click here to see what we have done so far with our Target project: The Target Project
After creating our Knowledge Web, we begin to create our Question Web. This is an opportunity for the children to feel empowered. We are able to listen to their questions and by doing this we are telling them that their feelings are important to us, spend some one on one time as we write the question together, and begin to think of ways we could find our answer. When the child asks a question, we ask if we can add it to the web. The child and the teacher then walk over to the web and document their questions right away. Our web’s are positioned at the height of the child and in group so that we can continue to reference it. We spend time sounding out and identifying the letters in the question. We often times talk about the grammatical structure of our question (the children are motivated during this time and exposure during motivation is so important!). Sometimes during the creation of our Knowledge Web and during our personal stories that the children share, we begin to think of questions as well. Even the youngest children can have questions about the project, but may not be able to pose in a question format. For example, a young child may be very interested in a bird they see in a tree every day when they go outside. One day the child may ask the teacher to look at the bird. This may then produce some dialogue between the child and the teacher. The teacher may say, based on her observations and the dialogue she/he may have shared with the child during this time period, “You were really interested in that bird! Maybe you want to find out if birds live in trees? What birds eat?” If the child is verbal enough to answer yes and no, they will tell you if you are on the right track! If not, continue to observe and restate another question based on these observations. In our classroom and with this project, we added our questions to our Weeping Willow Tree.
We do set time aside for the children to ask the pressing questions that they have days after working on the knowledge web, but the question web will become the children’s working document. They, with practice and modeling, will begin to ask to add questions on during play. This will happen days and weeks after the initial creation. As teachers, we have questions, too! We add our questions on there as well.
How can you start one in your classroom?
- Start with a large piece of paper
- Start small
- Model the behavior
- Use terminology during their play such as, “I wonder how the leaves fall off trees…” or “I see squirrels in trees, but I wonder if they live there.”
- As you write the question, as the child for help!
- Encourage the children to document their own questions
As you begin your own webs, feel free to post questions here! Don’t be shy! I am sure someone out there has the same question or has been through the situation and is willingly to give you insight! We are a team here!
Everyone, everything, everyone has potential. -Claire Warden
Until next time-
Each project has three phases in it. In the first phase, we begin to gather information with both the children and with your teaching team. The first phases is typically about one to two weeks.
As I shared in the last post, the teachers gather information by creating the anticipatory web. We begin, with the children, by creating a web of what the children know. For children who have been a part of the project experience before, they have lots to share and typically do not need any prompts. The younger children often begin to tell you personal stories where you are able to identify what they know from those stories. For example, a child might say, “I have a tree in my back yard that has apples on it.” As the teacher, you might say, “So what you are saying is that you know apples grow on trees?” After being at the Engaging Young Minds Training with Lilian Katz and Sylvia Chard last July, we also encourage the children to sketch and share stories about their personal experiences. We gain so much knowledge from the children at this time! We can even save the first time personal sketches and compare with the sketches at the end of the project. Lilian and Sylvia taught us the importance of these stories as we followed this same procedures in our adult project.
Check out our knowledge web with the children!
Please let us know how your knowledge webs! What are you strengths? What do you feel your weakness are when creating the web? Do you have any frustrations? Please share, your concerns, thoughts, or ideas can help someone else!
“The greatest motivational act one person can do for another is to listen.”-Roy Moody
Keep Growing and Inspiring!