Constructing Together - Mid-Pacific Institute

Art - Guillory

Constructing Together

Posted on September 12, 2015

by Ms. Guillory on September 12, 2015

In Preschool, the perspective of other:

The story of the telescopes...

(above L's story "There were two telescopes.They were sisters, one was sleeping the other one was awake...they grew a new sister a baby telescope)

We continue in our laying of the foundational blocks of the learning process. Much like the idea game we expand and build upon the children's learning how to work together (co-construct) in finding strategies that will lead to collaboration. The value of listening to a peer's idea helps the child to add to and refine their own thinking or meaning.

"The lasers find the planet they want to go to...in the daytime the telescopes go to sleep."-s

We want the children to think outside or beyond their own ideas as they think about themselves and their relationship to the world around them. Once a relationship is built, the child begins to develop a deep empathy to the world around them. Through the child's listening, self reflection, and empathetic feelings, the child begins to understand in constructing new ideas or knowledge. This strategy of the game - having the children put themselves in the position of the other (the telescope) helps them to gain the perspective of the other. As teachers we can help children take the children's discoveries to a deeper level as they come to understand the position of other.

The game or provocation seems simple.Children are offered two different perspectives of the telescopes on Mauna Kea - the telescopes during the day and then at night. The children have become familiar with the telescopes from previous discussions as they viewed and unpacked a time-lapse video from Mauna Kea, as well as still images that had they speculated about. The children have come to the game with theories or ideas that are percolating in their minds about Mauna Kea. In playing the game, the children work together as they begin to speculate and imagine the story or perspectives of the telescopes during the night or day. What might the telescopes be thinking about? seeing? doing? feeling? The children then think out loud as they discuss their ideas with each other and the teachers. After the verbal outpouring of ideas, the children then use the images as another layer (using transparent or tracing paper) added on top of the images, allowing the children to focus on their ideas or theories from the perspective of the telescopes. During the game the children are afforded the value of time to imagine and connect to the telescopes. The children have many beautiful, poetic ideas about the telescopes, some in which I have highlighted below.

(Refering to the telescopes)

"What's after outer space? Theres outer space then what after?"-C

"They see the moon and the stars sometimes when they wake up the see the sun."-M

"When it's light theres no more stars then its time for dark and they see the stars."-R

"There trying to make something to keep it dark forever so they can lazer up the stars. If the stars are falling they can lazer up the stars. They don't like the daytime because it's too sunny and too hot."-L

"They'd think about sleeping on jupiter but they'd fall thru then they'd go to uranus but they'd be too cold."-T

(above and below R "The telescope is thinking about the planets."
"There is a telescope in the sky, a brother, he says, 'I don't want you to be down there, ' and the other brother telescope on the ground says, 'Please come down...he' s lonely in the dark"-E
"The telescope would say 'Nice to meet you, I love you' to the clouds."-M
Above, the telescopes talking to the moon

"The telescope would say to the clouds, 'Why do you have stars?' He has to shout a little loud so the moon can hear them."-R

In Kindergarten, the children are being provocated in a way to develop their learning processes. A key part of their work is in making deeper observations.

(above) Mrs. Matsumoto explaining her problem about her plants
(below )T looks more closely at the plants.

When a child observes more often, and perhaps even when utilizing tools, they have more information, can build upon their knowledge, and are able to revise their theories. A real life problem occurred in the Kindergarten classroom with Mrs. Matsumoto's plants - many of them are not doing well.

(above) The plants in Mrs. Matsumoto's class
(below) Each child draws what they observe about each plant.

As teachers, we know that children construct knowledge, not when we give them the answers, but by allowing them to go through their own processes to construct and develop their own theories. I could tell you how to ride a bike, but in order for you to really learn how to ride a bike with confidence, you have to actually get on the bike and do it yourself.

This group notices something that changes their theories about the dead leaf -- little tiny dots, some with color, germs!

L-There are tiny little dots.

K-Look at the orange one that must be a germ.

Ky-The dots too.

The children build a new theory together after their observations

So instead of telling the children what's wrong or how to fix the plants, we asked the children to observe and theorize what might be happening. The children drew their observations of whether or not the plants were well, shared their observations with a small group, and changed or added the drawings of their observations. Now the groups are beginning to construct and draw their theories, with the collaboration of a teacher-participant.

(above the children construct a drawing together of the "germs" on the leaf that is alive and the little black leaf that is dead.
(below this groups wonder about the dirt and the dirt being food for the plant. Under the microscope the children observe bugs crawling in the dirt. "Their their midnight bugs they hide in the container."-J

Because we value constructing ideas together and slowing the children down to look more deeply, we have begun to work with small groups in the studio and in the classroom to provide some different perspectives in observing.

The children work together to observe and look for clues using their senses (i.e., sight, touch, smell), along with magnifying glasses. A microscope is also available to the children to help them build their theories of what might be going on with these plants.

In addition, the children have begun to gather data for their plant, based on early observations - green/brown leaves, direction of leaves, shape of leaves, cracked/ripped leaves, height of plant. This data may provide other information that will aid the children in their theory development.