Posted on November 24, 2012
This is the lull before the whirlwind of activities leading to the end-of-semester conferences on December 17 and 18. As soon as the faculty and students return from the Thanksgiving holiday, refreshed by family connections and some time away from the classroom, the students will be working steadfastly on their portfolios. Students in grades 3-5 have become fairly independent in managing their iPads to document representations of their learning. Just learning how to keep a steady hand on their iPad to take a photograph of an artifact, then email it to their teacher or create a new note in their Evernote portfolio takes concentration. There's a bit more hand-holding in first and second grade, though students are certainly becoming more confident in their documentation. In the kindergarten, the teachers work one-on-one with each student, encouraging them to reflect on their learning. Even in the preschool, our youngest learners are always being asked to explain their "theories" or rationale for some phenomenon, some of which is recorded for semester conferences. Throughout the preschool and elementary, our students are slowing down to do some metacognitive calisthenics, that is, thinking about their thinking!
Where will the class inquiries end up? You may already have been hearing about your child's particular classroom inquiry in the teacher's blogs. The kinders' notion of community has expanded beyond the basic family unit and their classroom and into the high school, places of business like a restaurant or supermarket, even underground insects! First and second graders have become experts on the origins of the earth and the multiple ages of prehistoric time before man ever tamed wild creatures. The third and fourth graders are attempting a first in our inquiry approach. They are tracing back through their research journals where the moments of cognitive epiphany have taken place. Ask them about tectonic plates and how that works. And our fifth graders have intensified efforts in their inquiries on Native Americans and different energy sources. Each of these inquiries go wide and deep, encompassing much more than traditional curriculum.
Next week's blog will be on my visit to the renown Wonder of Learning exhibit in Vancouver, British Columbia. This fantastic exhibit celebrates the learning of very young children by examining the research done in early childhood centers across North America inspired by Reggio Emilia as well as the inspiring work in Reggio Emilia, Italy.
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey