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.
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-