- The way objects move depends on a variety of factors, including their size and
- A push or a pull affects how an object moves or changes shape function
I can't help but wonder if there is too much emphasis on developing big ideas in the lower grades. It seems to me that early childhood in particular should be mainly about nurturing inquiry dispositions and making a myriad of personal connections. Perhaps there is too much emphasis and time spent planning around and critiquing predetermined big ideas. I'm happy that at my school the skills of inquiry are at the forefront of conversations these days. Here's a video I put together this week of a colleague who's teaching I greatly admire. Incidentally there are big ideas behind this lesson namely:
As a Primary Years Programme Coordinator one of my roles is to share good teaching practice. I love this part of my job as I am continuously learning from other teachers. Here is a video I put together to share ideas about visible thinking. Credit to Jen and Noi the teachers!
The term 'authentic' is pushed around a lot in teaching and assessment conversations. But if I'm honest apart from knowing it had something to do with being applicable to the real world I had never really paused to reflect on the issue. Well... all that's changed thanks to an article by Gulikers, Bastiaens & Kirschener (2004) A Five Dimensional Framework for Authentic Assessment:
The Assessment Task
Replicates what happens in the real world. It integrates knowledge, skills and attitudes just like the real world would. It is a useful, transferable task useful in the real world - otherwise why learn to do it? (I don't deny that until the IB Diploma changes kids still need to learn to sit a test mind you).
In life outside of formal education you wouldn't normally find yourself in a silent exam room. That's not real life once you're grown up. Real life contexts tend to be noisy, messy with several resources to choose from some of which are not useful at all. Time restraints (at least those to the minute) are not usually a reality.
In real life more often than not you have to work with others to get a job done. Therefore if the task you set would normally be a collaborative endeavor in the real world, then so should it be in your classroom.
The Assessment Result
In real life - after formal education - we don't find ourselves writing tests or essays (one exception I can think of is the written driving test). Instead we produce quality products and quality performances to please our bosses, partners, friends and spouses.
In the real world you know what is expected of you. If you don't know you would ask. Think for example about an architect. She asks the 'man' with the money what he wants before she goes off to design the building. We ask what the dress code is before we turn up to work on our first day. In real life we know success criteria in advance.
I am really very interested in the whole idea of documentation throughout the school.
A recent shift in my thinking I experienced recently was that a key purpose of documentation in the early years is making students' thinking (and the learning process) visible. It is about metacognition and learners engaging with and reflecting on the process of learning. For this reason the documentation for the students was not in the form of a portfolio but was mainly explicit on the classroom walls in photographs, pictures of the process of learning and so on. The students were interacting with this documentation to reflect on how they learned.
I had always assumed documentation was for assessment purposes. Prior to a Reggio workshop I attended I assumed assessment was all about looking for misconceptions in order to put to right such student 'wrongs'. I still believe this is what assessment is largely about in upper primary. One thing which was apparent was the level of fantasy in the early years. Children at that age have difficulty separating fantasy from reality. What struck me was that the Reggio teachers were not looking for misconceptions so much but were listening (e.g. by documenting and scribing conversations) in order to expand the students' thinking. So in the example I remember the child thought there were eggs in a cloud. Rather than arrange an activity for the child to discover they were wrong and to put to right this misconception, the teacher instead took this notion and arranged for the children to create model clouds with eggs in them. She asked for their creative input. In other words the teacher looked for the interest and belief to expand creatively rather than worry about the misconception. This was fascinating and seems to me to make sense.
Using Movie Maker (or IMovie) to document
At the United Nations International School of Hanoi several teachers are now documenting using iMovie. Here is one such example I was involved with today. Not early years but Grade 1. The teacher (Jen Kelly) will use this video next lesson so that in the words of Lela Gandini learners can view their learning from an external viewpoint. And thus learn to learn.
Christopher Frost, teacher, principal and curriculum coordinator