Saturday, 10 November 2018

Some things I have learned so far.

This is our fourth year growing into play.  This is the richest journey I have ever been on in my professional career.  This journey has unfolded naturally without the need to be forced, time has allowed me the opportunity to reflect, respond and change as needed. 

My one concern at the moment is that with the growing popularity of play, teachers will jump on board, without a why, thinking they need to put everything in place at once, rushing in without taking the time to let the process guide them, and in turn finding the journey is not as successful as they believe it should be, in turn they will blame play and return to the old way of doing things.

I know and trust that my journey still has a lot to teach me, but wanted to share some of the things I have learned so far.


1) You have to have a why, a reason to start this whole journey, and it can't be because others are doing it and it seems like a good idea.  Our initial why was the limited oral language children were coming in with and the apparent rise of 'learning difficulties.'  Our why now has morphed into developmental readiness.  This why needs to be clearly evident when lovely people like ERO visit, if you are the best person to speak about that why, be part of that meeting, don't count on others to be able to articulate it for you.

2)Clearly have the bones of what you are trying to do in your head and on paper from the start.  What dispositions are you after?  Are you using elements of Te Whariki?  What are the values you want to develop?  How will you guide social and emotional skills?  These are the elements that will help to shape where you find your place in the programme.  Where and how will you take the opportunity to 'coach' these things?  What is it you want for your children?

3)Trust, this is crucial, you need to take time to develop trust in yourself and trust in the children, without trust, this approach will be quite restricted.


4)Learning, how does it look and how does it happen?  I have learned some much about the brain and how it develops.  It is crucial in a play based class that you are aware of developmental needs and how you can use these to engage with each child in your class.

5)Time, it is important not to try to change too much at once, take time with everything, it has been important for me that I have had time to reflect on what I am seeing and respond to these.  I have changed so much of what we do, but don't believe at any stage I have been wrong, I just didn't know better yet.

6)You can not run a class based on play and developmental needs and still hang on to the old way of forcing learning.  This needs to change.  A play-based/developmental approach is at cross purposes with a programme that forces academic learning and testing in the way it has been done in the past.

7)Children are individuals and need to be treated with respect given to their needs.  One of the gift a class based on play gives us is the opportunity to really see children, but we must allow us to take the time to do so.

8)The curriculum comes from the children, trust that it will.  In fact I have never discovered so much with my children, I don't plan for this, but it is up to me to notice it and work out a way to respond if appropriate.  It is up to me to see how the prescribed 'curriculum' has been falling out of our days, not the concern of the children who naturally see everything as connected.

9)Oral language is off the hook in a play based classroom, if you are looking for a way to improve confidence and ability to speak, play based is an absolutely perfect way to do this. 



10)Eventually there is a need to ditch weekly planning and the timetable, this will happen naturally and as if feels right.   Backward planning is where it is at.

11)  There is no need to spend loads of money on resources, in fact we have ended up ditching many of ours.  If you want to purchase items, take time to watch the interests and urges first.  Open ended items are the absolute best.

12) Mess is good, pack up at the end of the day.



13)Reading, writing and maths can still be part of your day, these just may look a little different.  For us we use storytelling for writing, number agents for maths and reading is individual if and when they are ready.

14) Get ready for that old teacher on your shoulder to have a field day every time you see the actual age of children and compare it to their so called reading level.  This voice will dim with time, but it will always be there.  Take it from me, progress will be there, but it will look different.  Measures of reading, writing and maths may be more relevant from Year 4 on.


15) Children will naturally deepen play, you don't need to do it.  There is no need for beautiful provocations, take time to provoke or invite when you are responding to an interest.

16) You may have wonderful ideas for a provocation, and the children may not take the bait...don't worry, just shelve that idea.

17)Children love a 'sense of a mysterious other' and it is a great way to provoke writing.  Use magic at every opportunity.

18) Every day won't be a wonderful leap through the daisies, this approach is hard work, I have never worked harder, I go home brain dead and some days wouldn't make the pages of facebook.  The great days outweigh the difficult ones. 

19) Eventually you will be able to ditch any rewards you have been using in a traditional classroom.  We have phased this out this year.  Children simply don't need them.

20) Allow yourself good chunks of time to reflect, honestly look at your programme, if something is not working, why isn't it...what can you change?



Play has transformed our classroom and continues to transform our school.  We have learned to see children from a point of competence, to see them as creative, imaginative and able...this lens has helped us to change the way we see children and in turn, change the way we interact with them.


Sunday, 21 October 2018

Bringing in student voice


I promised a wee while back to share a bit about how student voice can be used to assist planning and a middle primary class.  Here it is:)

This is not my work, but is shared generously by a teacher from my school.  She has been on a journey with using student voice and from that journey play-based has been a natural path, this post however is just about how she uses student voice, taken straight from her planning with her permission.

Student Voice - Planning
Years 2, 3 & 4 class

This is the collaborative classroom culture and student voice approach that continues to grow and morph on my learning journey.  It is ever changing and evolving!  I have not specifically included play based learning, Mantle of the Expert, positive behaviour, etc.

Feeling confident enough to take responsible risks and knowing that your voice is heard, and it matters, is pretty powerful.  Inextricably linked to this is the ability to care for yourself, others and property.  Our focus in room 5 is that “we focus on caring, teaching and learning” (we have no other rules).  If there is caring, respect and trust can be formed, and kindness, empathy, valuing ourselves and others, and valuing property grows.  Imagine a class like this!  It makes for an exciting and happy year together!

Term one’s focus is on creating this culture.  This happens moment by moment, day by day - always consistent.  Through Play Based Learning others help others and time is given to encourage, coach, have fun and explore.  We take time to notice and reflect as our culture grows.  (I use Seesaw to capture moments to help us with this.)  This term I use to do a lot of observing and relationship building.  Important attachments for specific children are targeted (Joseph Driessen - BSc TTC MEdAdmin).

Student voice is powerful.  We work together every day.  I may lead in some areas but not all the time.  Planning is just one area where students voice is heard. In term one we create a skeletal framework for our weekly planning (which of course can change). During term one we make time to notice how we feel, at different times of the day to check when we generally feel the most ready to focus on our teaching and learning.  Morning is usually the best and so we plan our reading, writing and numeracy in the first one or two blocks.  All other things to do are planned around this (unless we need to change it for some reason).  Planning time is very short as we only focus on specific things we need to plan for the next week. (we plan on Friday). 

Please note:  The curriculum areas below are only skimmed over. They are not in-depth.   

Writing: Genre is usually chosen on Tuesday or during the week, as things unfold. Children put their ideas to the rest of the class and I may suggest a genre that we may not have covered for a while or if I think it would fit in well with what we have been doing.  Then we vote.  The most vote wins.  An example of student voice happened just before the end of term 3.  I was being observed by another teacher and thought a recount, narrative or something like that would be good, but the children had a different idea.  I had recently read, “One fish, Two fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” by Dr Seuss and they loved the idea of making up words and rhyming and they wanted to do that.  So after I put my case forward, we had a vote.  Guess who won?  So that day the teacher observed writing from a Dr Seuss perspective! 

Reading:  The children I get are all usually ready to learn and so I do group them.  The children who are at an independent reading age (including comprehension) are in the independent group.  These children choose what they study (within an area they collectively agree - say animals) and then present their learning to the class in whatever presentation they want.  They then become the teacher and the class (including me) become the learners.  Sometimes if a reading group is reading something that another child is interested in they come down and listen and join our group.  This is also where I may find ‘urges and intrigue’ that the class as a whole wants to find more about.  This is where I may leave reading groups for a day or so - or a week (except for those I need to target - with their permission) and we work together on gaining knowledge and understanding of this subject.

Numeracy:  The children rely on me most times to help to guide their next steps.  When I notice a common thread (say a lot of the numeracy detective groups are grouping numbers and counting in 5’s, I may say, “I have noticed that there are some of you counting in groups of 5’s.  That is what multiplication is (and then I would show them what they are doing).  Who would like to start learning about this operation?”  Children also inspire me with ideas about word problems we could use.  If children ask if we can do something else we discuss this together.

Children also ask me during the week to write in our planner for Friday something they want to teach the class.   Some things we have been taught are making a stone from aluminium, french knitting, slime and origami.  On Friday morning they present to the class what they would like to teach and show them an example.  If it is voted through we look at our plan for next week on the tv screen and decide where this can fit.  I have put in things that are going to happen that next week already so it saves time.  Children recheck each day and comment add or change.  Two copies are then made.  One for the children (that goes on the whiteboard by the Menu) and one for me.  I use my plan more in-depth.

Ronda Rowlands

--------------------

I have been wonderfully impressed by the culture established in this class.  Children are a real mix of ages and abilities but they operate very much like a supportive family group.  I have been lucky enough to observe Ronda working on the timetable with her class on a Friday and it is a super collaborative process.  One thing is always evident, children want and choose to challenge themselves.  When given the choice they don't opt for the known or the easy, they opt for the challenge.  They understand their collective strengths and appreciate their differences.  They get a sense that they are all learners (including the teacher) and that they can all be teachers, how rewarding is that!  There is a real culture of trust and respect in this room that I think really has to be seen and understood.  Children are capable, they appreciate challenge and where they are placed in an environment that also appreciates their need to play and follow their own interests and urges, they flourish.  The reason we keep such a multi-level split in this area of the school is to allow us to provide for developmental readiness, it works incredibly well.

A huge thank you to Ronda for always inspiring me with her abilities as a teacher, her willingness to embrace change when it is for the good of our children, and for always putting children at the heart of what she does.  A caring, kind, giving individual who brings this into every corner of her classroom.

We must trust ourselves as professionals, we must be flexible, and we must give children the respect and trust that they deserve, at every stage retaining the beauty that is childhood.  #buildinghappybrains

Leslee Allen



  

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The crucial role of attachment - for some children it is far more complicated!

I am not telling you anything new by saying relationships matter.  They matter more than anything else in the classroom, the relationship you have as a teacher with each one of those competent human beings in your room is crucial, what you say and do matters far more than what you teach.  Relationships are that important, they matter at each level of our system!


This is not rocket science, deep down as teachers we know this in our bones.  It is what makes teaching both so rewarding and so frustrating at the same time.

But I have never delved more deeply into the science of relationships and just how important they are until most of my staff went on a course about attachment theory with Joseph Driessen.

What they came back with from that day hit me like a truck and made so much sense that I sat up and wondered why I had never thought about it before.  It was like I had all the pieces of the puzzle, but was trying putting them together without any idea of what the picture needed to look like in the end. 

We have a strong focus on emotional learning at our place, developing social and emotional understandings through play, directly teaching empathy and kindness, and a push into valuing wellbeing over academic achievement.  It has become what we are about, who we are, our why.

I even identified emotional safety as the first priority in brain development and often talk about children 'reverting' or being unable to learn when they are feeling unsafe.  But I had not gone that one step further and explored attachment.  When I started reading about it, it made absolute sense to me. 

There have been so many children that befuddled me over the years, but once I looked at them through a different lens, attachment seemed to really make sense based on what I knew about them.



This is an interesting, yet short article that sheds some light on what I am talking about.

"Attachment theory is well known to professionals within health and social care, but is less understood by teachers. Teachers may misinterpret insecurely attached children’s behaviour as uncooperative, aggressive, demanding, impulsive, withdrawn, reactive or unpredictable. So it’s important for teachers to better understand this behaviour and some of its possible causes."

It is all so interesting to me, there are so many children who I have been puzzled by in my time, for all intents and purposes they show all of the ability to achieve, but often display odd, oppositional, disruptive, disconnected, negative behaviour.  For these children it never seems to matter how much you pour in in terms of extra support, and they certainly don't respond to consequences for behaviour, actually it often makes their behaviour worse.  I used to describe it as if they were putting up walls, protecting themselves, hurting us, before we could hurt them or let them down.  Low and behold I was pretty darn close with this definition.

This info is great, if not a little long, however so worth the read if you are struggling with children that just seem to be a puzzle.  




So what does this mean for us?

Well very simply it means continuing to focus on wellbeing and emotional learning as a school, but it also means working as a team to identify individuals that need us to be their attachment, supporting each other to be able to do this.   It means ensuring that we all learn about emotion coaching, and think at every step about how we interact with every child in our school.  It means helping children to understand and accept their emotions, and to know how to behave in these situations.

A very simple way we are trialling is just taking more time with a particular child we believe has issues around attachment and ensuring that every day we have had at least 3 or 4 positive interactions/conversations.

Trying to avoid the negative, we will be working on our understanding of emotional coaching and restorative practice.

Another simple way is teachers being able to keep children in their class for more than a year if they think they would benefit from this.  We all have them, the children that we struggle with for the first two to three terms and then suddenly, that connection happens, that attachment...and then we do it to them, we move them on and the teacher next year struggles in the same way we did.  At our place we are now nominating children that we think would benefit from a second year, taking to whånau and going from there.

The other strategy is to identify those children that we think are going to have difficulty attaching to a new teacher and taking deliberate opportunities for them to develop a relationship over term 4, this may mean swapping classes a few times in the term to give that teacher an opportunity to bond...or the new teacher making a real effort to interact with that child in the playground on a daily basis.

All so simple, but it could be groundbreaking for us.


Love this



I know it does not seem like rocket science, but if we are to put this understanding at the centre of everything we do, in every school, what a difference we could make.

Of course play-based learning and Mantle provides us with the perfect opportunity to promote wellbeing and attachment, another reason to embrace play-based learning!




Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Building happy brains

Over the past three years I have learned more about the brain and how it develops then ever before in my career.  Like the children, suddenly there was a purpose for my learning, it intrigues me, fills me with a need to discover more and to share this learning with others.

Building happy brains has kind of become my little hashtag...born out of a realisation that in the past, the brain and how it develops has not even been part of my thinking when teaching new entrants, or in any age group for that matter.  I taught the way I taught because that was how things were done.  I taught reading in leveled groups, every day, with every child, even my newest children.  I expected them to be able to sit down and work towards criteria in activities.  I expected them to write for extended periods of time after I had modelled, even if they had no idea how to hold a pencil.  I thought using taskboards and systems like daily five gave them 'choice.'  I thought that choosing time was a great way to incorporate a bit of play.  My classroom was a traditional new entrant room, full of routine, timetabled learning and structure, because that is what children need...isn't it?

No don't get me wrong, teaching has always been something I was born to do, I love it, am good at it and couldn't even fathom doing anything right.  But the absolute and utter truth is that my way of teaching four years ago was not in the best interests of the children, it was in the best interests of me.

I won't spend time going through my journey as there are many blog posts on here about that, a couple of short books and a recorded webinar you can watch via facebook on the learning through play page if you would like to know more.

What I do want to talk about is my greatest passion and in turn my greatest concern.   Over the last three years brain development has become and absolute passion of mine, and as I have learned more, I have become increasingly concerned that many classrooms don't take into account anything that the research shows us.  

We Continue to place children on a conveyor belt of learning that sees some succeed and some fail.  Why is that ok with us?  It is my contention that many children fail in our system because we have a very poor understanding of the brain and how it develops and the practice we employ does nothing to assist this development in a positive way.  In fact some of the practice does more damage than good.  We need to start appreciating children on an individual level, rather than trying to put them into poorly labeled boxes.

Now, firstly let me say, I am no expert, most of what I have learned, I have learned through my experience, a bit of trial and error, a lot of listening and a lot of reading.  I have no intention to blow you away with science and every intention of showing you the most important facets of what I have learned so far to show you how knowing a little bit about brain development can transform what we do and how we engage with children.

Nathan Wallis has become one of my go-to experts, he explains things in simple, matter of fact manner that makes sense to me.  This is a good listen if you have not heard it.https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2595176/what-3-to-7-year-olds-need-to-learn-nathan-mikaere-wallis

The most important feature of my learning has been the role body awareness, fine motor, gross motor and the development of dominance and working memory play in developing learning readiness.  In the brain is simply not ready for any sort of academic learning until these things are in place.


Something that Nathan mentioned at one of his sessions is that the brain is like a house, built from strong foundations and from the ground up.  Seemingly so simple, yet when we look at how we transition children from ECE, where they are intent of laying strong foundations, to school, where we try to put the roof on first, you can instantly see where we are going wrong.  

It is like a building project, one contractor has spent time and love laying strong foundations, may have even started putting up some of the structural walls, but is deemed to be working to slowly, so the job is handed over to another builder (a bit of a cowboy if you ask me) who quickly whacks up the rest of the walls, puts the roof on and walks away, without any thought given to the quality of the job...the house is bound to have structural issues later on.

Without any intention, primary school teachers have become those cowboy builders, with an endpoint in mind and targets to meet, time is not a luxury we have afforded to the children who walk in our doors.  Now this is not entirely our fault, we've been doing what we have been trained to do in a system that has become heavily dependent on testing and targets.

So what can we do, how can we change this.  What we did, was set some early goals for us to work towards with children on an individual level when they walk into our classroom.  A point for us to take up from and a way of showing progress.  We are obviously play based and only read with children when they are ready, no more conveyor belt for us or our children.

I really like this blog article.



My own diagram that I interact is based on the model below:

This is my version


These goals are working so well for us.  We can take children from where they are up to and continue to lay lovely strong foundations and gradually work our way up the diagram until we begin more formal learning.

What I want is for more classrooms to take brain development into account when developing our programmes, not just for new entrants, but for each year level.  If we are to take brain development into account, we will end up ultimately with every child being successful, we will be able to see easily where their needs are and if they may need some extra help.

We need to stop being in a rush.  There is no winning post, learning is not a race.

In a room based on play, employing this philosophy is possible.  If you have not looked into play based learning I urge you to do so, and get into an ECE near you to see just how they go about laying those lovely strong foundations.





Sunday, 2 September 2018

Ditching the traditional timetable - backward planning

Ok, so I believe that the very notion of a timetable is contradictory to a play-based class that aims for child led learning through interests and urges.  So we 'formally' ditched it this year and it has the best thing we could have done.

Like a flowing stream I believe a play-based class meanders, whilst the water is all ultimately travelling in the same direction, every drop of water travels a slightly different path. 

Restricting play to a timetable gives a ping pong effect, that I personally find very stressful, for me I wanted to get of the conveyor belt and just allow the learning to take over.

So what it is it we do, are we travelling along blind. are we still planning?  Yes we are planning, I look at it like different camera angles, there is the extreme wide shot that shows us the full picture, the wide shot that focuses in on particular items and the close up which picks out priorities for the day/week.

Alright, enough of the waffle, this is how I do it (it is of course not the only way to do it by any means.)

Beginning of the year - Ingredients of play, what are the important parts of my programme that I want to weave into my room

This mind map is here

And a framework for developmental progress

And a specific one for communication/literacy

Along with this, as the progress of development in literacy is vital to me and it comes first from an ability to communicate and play around with sounds.


From this I create a mind map one for each term, using what I discovered in the term before to guide me.  This is in no way prescriptive, but a guideline.

This one is for this term.

From there I keep a google drive folder that includes the developmental stage children are at, our developmental goals writing groups (which are flexile) and other bits and pieces.

Then this is where I go back to the future :)  I have a good old fashioned scrapbook.  I glue in all the important stuff I need to refer to, so that I can scribble over stuff and change as needed.  I also keep a class learning story book where we can paste photos and make notes about our learning.

For each week, I will reflect on my mind map and on the week before, along with the interests and urges I have noticed and any emotional/social areas that could do with more focus.  I will pop these down as priorities for the week.  These are my must do's.  An example from last week:

 (we currently have 43 children and three teachers.)
*KOS - where I live, what if I get lost, feelings
*Writing group 2 once, writing group 3 once, storytelling together.
*Number Agents
*Bucket filling (to help with some friendship issues)
*Being brave mindfulness
*Individual readers, ten each day split between the three of us.
*Individual developmental check in's three-four each per day
*Waiako

Then we just go for it, get into the flow of the day, starting with play, and taking my cue from the children I begin to incorporate the things highlighted as priority as and when they are appropriate.  At each break time I will write down what we have actually done in that session. 

As we notice interests and urges I will also scribe these and may incorporate bits and pieces into our day that complement these.

By the end of the day, I will have a timetable written, the novelty is that it has already been done and will be used to guide the flow of the following day.

At times even our must dos will go by the wayside if it interrupts our flow.

In my facebook post I also spoke about children creating the timetable in a year 2-4 class.  I promise I will blog about that next, because it is not my process, I want to check with the teacher involved to gather all the ins and outs.

I hope that this post was helpful. 

And just because they are so so cute!








Saturday, 18 August 2018

Before we get started with play...



Play-based learning is on the rise (quietly does a happy dance) but with that comes the risk of bandwagon jumping.  Bandwagon jumping happens frequently when the 'next new thing' comes along, even though play is hardly the 'next new thing,'  Bandwagon jumping means that little thought is given to the why or how, with the most thought being given to how to get the the end point right now.

I urge caution and reflection before anyone makes changes to how they do things in their classroom.  Firstly because I believe you must have your own why, and this can not be, just because everyone else is doing it and secondly if we leap into things quickly, it is more likely that one or two negative comments from people who do not believe in play will lead us to backtrack just as quickly.   To stand firm behind our practice and the importance of play, we must fully trust in it ourselves, and for that to happen, we have to allow ourselves time.  Play could mean a dramatic change to the pedagogies in our classrooms today, and we do not want to get this wrong. 

Firstly our why.  I believe it is crucial that we all have our own why and sometimes this takes time to just reflect, discuss, share and find out.  My why began with an inquiry into engagement and motivation back in 2012.  This inquiry made me much more open to honestly appraising my own practice and led to us trying various ideas like discovery time, developmental groups,  junk shed time, removing school rules, and mantle of the expert.  All of these things served to show me the power of play and the capability of children.  The inquiry also went hand in hand with some deep delving into the lack of oral language and vocab children were coming in with, and an ever growing diagnosis of processing disorder for some of our puzzling children.  Because I was in a state of honest reflection I was entirely ready to meet my student x he was the one that opened my eyes to the failings in our traditional new entrant programme. 

To understand why this was such a breakthrough for me you have to know the 'me' from then.  I was convinced that believing children were capable meant pushing them into academic learning like reading and writing straight away because 'they could do it.'  I believed play belonged in ECE and would often become very frustrated that they had not even been taught to write their name.  I lacked any real understanding of developmentally appropriate learning and had a lot to learn from my ECE colleagues. 

I met student x at the right time.  We had already started a little on incorporating playful approaches and I was ready to be very honest with myself and stop my deficit thinking in terms of the children and their readiness for learning and start thinking about what I could change.  Student X had real difficulty with following instructions, answering simple questions and appeared lost 98% of the time.  Rather than just accepting that there were processing issues going on (although it did definitely go through my mind and we did make referrals) we took a proactive approach, implementing several oral language approaches along with a small play-based class to assist him and his peers.  The results were really pleasing and now, although much older, student x is working well within expected academic levels, but also (and probably much more important) has some great dispositions in place to ensure he will continue to experience success in life. 

He is my why, because he showed me (along with listening to Nathan Wallis and a lot of other reading) how implementing developmentally appropriate practice could benefit myself and my children.

Taking this process slowly, implementing one part of the puzzle at a time allowed me to form a strong trust in play and in turn a trust in myself.  Because I have this trust in play and an understanding of why play is best for my children, I can stand firmly behind this when questioned.  I don't have that flicker of doubt that I would have had if I had leapt into play headfirst and attempted to put the puzzle together all at once.

My advice is to start slowly, find your why and change one thing at a time.  Do your research, see the power of play in action in your own classroom and in the classroom of others, note all the wonderful positive things you see in the play so you can truly trust it.  Talk to others, share ideas, reflect on what you are doing and allow the changes to unfold naturally because they are necessary and right for you and your children, not because others have told you that is the way to do it.


Friday, 10 August 2018

Finding the curriculum in a play-based class

The title of this post is deceptive, because of course, if you are a believer in play, you will know that play is in fact the curriculum.  In essence in the real world, there is no such thing as the 'curriculum'...that is just something contrived by a system that wants to fit learning nicely into labelled boxes.

Well in my world, learning does not fit into boxes, but is sprawled all about the place like a giant spider web, connected and purposeful.

But in saying that, one of the most frequently asked questions by teachers when they come to visit, is how do you prove coverage of the curriculum, how do you plan for it?

To answer that effectively, you would probably have to observe over at least a three week period to see how we tie this all together by allowing the children to determine and drive the learning.  Learning in our room could be best described as fluid, it ebbs and flows, and weaves itself throughout our day naturally.  Our role within that is to notice, support, provoke and extend on the learning, without taking over. 

What I find at the moment is that most teachers new to play are worried about fitting in the other curriculum areas, loosely defined in most schools as areas of inquiry or topics.   They want to know how to fit in the topic areas that they are required to teach. 

Very luckily for us, we have not had school wide 'topics' for many, many years now.  If there is to be true student agency and direction in learning I think the idea of having a school wide topic is contradictory.  Instead, we will discuss the needs of the children in our school and perhaps set some goals around dispositions, competencies or values, maybe even a big idea in Science that we may feel has not been covered well enough, but we will not dictate what must be taught and when.  Our focus is needs based and responsive.

In my opinion for a play-based philosophy to be embraced fully, we need to get away from the kind of prescriptive planning that dictates a topic.  For learning to be powerful and meaningful, it needs to come from an area of child interest, this is not as simple as asking children what they would like to learn about at the beginning of the year, because often, just like us, children do not know what interests them until they are allowed time to explore and investigate.  I would also hasten to add that I don't believe asking children what they are interested in, counts as having student voice, if that is all the input they have.

Ok, so I have got a little off track again, back to the point of the post.  My inquiry this year, is into provocations.  I wanted to develop my own ability to do this as a natural part of the classroom, but I also wanted to ensure this was not directing children in a way that I wanted them to go.  You see all these amazing provocations/invitations online and that gets you thinking  that for a provocation to be successful it must look a lot like this.  Well, my discovery this year has been the opposite.  As an example of this let me talk about what is going on at the moment. 

In my planning, I had identified some areas of interest that came up towards the end of the term that I thought may be worth provoking further.  These were areas that within the play I was able to see children wanted to know more about.  If we get to these we will, but if the interests that I see this term take us in a different direction, so be it.

Our most recent 'inquiry through play' has come out of a child's interest in dinosaurs.  He had found a book that told him how long a certain dinosaurs teeth were.  We spent some time together measuring that length out and he shared it with the whole class at one of our moments when we came together.  This inspired a lot of talk and discussion on teeth and what other animals had long teeth.  We found a youtube clip and children continued to find this topic of great interest.  I invited them to draw an animal into our 'learning journal' that they wanted to know more about (in terms of their teeth) and a group of children chose to do this, while others went off about their play.  Using these pictures we will explore length etc and keep this learning area going for those that are interested.  Children come in and out of the learning as they choose and as the interest in the topic dwindles, so will our focus on it.   The great thing is that through these discussions, children have shared their understandings around extinction, herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, etc...they have springboarded from the topic to show me understandings that I would never have known they had.

To round this little area of learning off we may explore very quickly how to look after our teeth and just for fun and to add a bit of mantle in, I will add an imaginative dimension in that also brings in their currently strong interest in design and construction.  The tooth fairy will employ us to create a contraption that can transport the gigantic teeth of one of the animals we have been investigating.

So, this area of learning is basic and does not take up a lot of our day and is not focused on everyone, but ebs and flows until it dwindles naturally.  I will then tune into another interest and we will start the process again.  We cover so much more of the 'curriculum' than we used to and it is so much more real.  We keep records of this in our 'learning scrapbook' so we can look back on what we have been doing and it also doubles as a record of learning...backward planning if you like.

I do love to use 'magic' in my classroom a lot.  The imagination is such a fabulous pathway into learning and I enjoy feeding this in wherever I can.  My most recent bit of magic is a simple placemat from kmart that I think looks like a spider web.



At the moment it is stapled up into the corner of our classroom and has not been noticed.  I have a second one to add to it soon.  I also took this photo this morning of a perfect spider web which I will share with them.  I envision many will go hunting for spider webs during their play as well.

Hopefully this will prompt them to notice the 'spider web' in our class.  The idea is to add to it like Charlotte's Web.  Eventually there will be a spider sitting in it, along with regular messages appearing for us to read. Who knows, perhaps they will even write back.

So basically that is how we do it, we notice interests and provoke from there, letting the children guide how much time we spend on this topic before we move on.  Last term it was castles, which was a lot of fun.

Alongside this we use a lot of picture books, particularly when teaching values and dispositions.  We will also use picture books that are relevant to the current areas of interest to perhaps provoke a bit more thought or investigation.

Rather than planning each week, I write down what we actually did and make notes for myself on likely where to nexts.  Seesaw is also a great way to evidence this.

So how do we find the curriculum, well we don't really, it finds us.

I really hope everyone is having a brilliant term!



This is a copy of my 'planning' for term 3

Framework for the term



Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Basic Facts - My opinion



Basic facts, to teach or not to teach, that is the question.

But to that question there are always a range of answers, ranging from absolutely yes, children need to rote learn these, to at the other end of the scale, no children will have calculators there is no point.

Many of us sit in the middle.

This blog post offers my opinion on basic facts and some of my discoveries that have pleasantly surprised me over the last two years.

I was one of those teachers that did believe in the importance of explicitly teaching basic facts...don't get me wrong, I also strongly believed that children need to understand what the facts actually meant, but I can put my hand up and say I valued the correct answer and speed just a little to much.

As I have gone deeper into Number Agency I have noticed something that has really intrigued me, the less I  paid attention to explicitly teaching or 'testing' the 'facts' the more it became clear to me that I didn't really need to waste my time doing this. 

Why?
Because despite me no longer referring to basic facts (and when I say that, I mean referring to them as something we need to rote learn) the more capable my agents started to become with working out such problems in their head. 

Now when I say this, I am of course referring to agents that are ready for this knowledge, I would never expect a child only beginning to develop their number sense to be able to solve problems in their head.  In this post, I am thinking of children that have had at least six months in agency.

The fact that they were becoming so good at this intrigued me, I started to think back to when I had noticed this and what maybe I had changed or added in agency to provoke this new awareness.

I have always used songs, to me learning new knowledge through song is very powerful, however when it boils down to it, this is just good old rote learning again, just tied up with a different and much more appealing and kid friendly bow.

So it wasn't the songs. 

This increased ability to solve basic problems in their head (and when I talk problems I mean addition and subtraction, however there are a few already starting to solve basic multiplication and fraction based problems in their head) directly coincided with my increased use of dot talks and other visual problems alongside the Three Headed Dragon problems that involved materials and thinking about shapes.

It intrigued me to see how the agents started to think of shapes as numbers, quite naturally, instead of being a square it was four, instead of being a triangle, it was three...etc.  I thought I was being mean only allowing three seconds to see a visual problem like a dot talk, but in fact, many of my older agents could quickly lock onto a strategy that saw them close, or right on the answer.  However they also knew it was the strategy I valued, not the right answer, so they started looking deeply for patterns that could help them.  Many found strategies that I would never have seen.

The songs, the dot talks/visual problems, and daily problem solving using materials seem to have combined to create the perfect storm...because they need the knowledge in order to solve the problems and given the urgency of solving the problems to defeat the villains they appear to develop this knowledge a lot quicker than before, and not only that, they understand exactly what they are doing, meaning they can solve new facts they may not have encountered, using the ones they know. 

The key to this however seems to be the visual images.  Above is a video from last year that shows how I started out using dot talks...I do use these slightly differently now and like most of us, watching videos of myself teaching makes me cringe.  I now place children in groups and have them look at the dots for three seconds, then tell their group how many and how they know, then I pop it up again and they have a check to see if they still believe that to be correct, after three seconds of being displayed, they repeat the process with their group.  They also have the image in front of them and at this stage they turn it over, I also put it back on the screen.  They again talk about how many and how they see it.  The important part of this, is the how they know.  After this we share as a whole group and I encourage agents to compare their strategy and see if it was similar to others. 

Jo Boaler is probably a better example of how this is done :)




This guy presents us with problems, which many use materials to solve, they are great problems because they are accessible for all.  Some use popsicle sticks to make the shapes, some draw them, some have learned to represent the shape with a number for repeated addition and some have started solving the problem with other strategies, sometimes in their head.


We use visual images in a similar way to dot talks.    However these are more complicated than the dots and there can be a range of different questions that can be asked.  Sometimes a visual image may take up half of an agency session, and that is ok.
This is an example of an 'open' image, basically any photo taken of anything, these images are used to explore what we notice and may or may not lead to any deeper discussions than that.  We use these images to really train our 'agent eyes.'  The idea for this came from this site http://www.haveyougotmathseyes.com/
What surprised me when I started doing this was how much the children actually noticed that I did not expect.  Photos don't have to be elaborate  and there can be a lot of fun had in discussing where that photo may have been taken, where that object belongs, who may use that object...etc.




In this image there can be a range of questions asked...how many green stars, how many red?  How many altogether?  Or how many blue shapes?  Etc...
We got a lot of great discussion out of this one, and some fabulous maths.

This visual image leads children into a strategy as I am wanting them to use what they know.



This is an example of a dot talk.





The use of visual images, in a range of different ways seems to have boosted what we call 'basic facts' for want of a better term.  Not only that, it has increased independence with number and more agents seem to be able to image now.  

Imaging was something we were told in the numeracy project that children had to go through, golly gosh, how many of us held children back because the couldn't image.  Then we were told that that was a false understanding, not all children would image, and we should not be using this as an assessment point.

I know myself I never imaged...probably due to lack of number sense more than anything.  But for want of a better word, this is what these visual images are gifting my agents, an ability to image in order to solve problems, but whats more an ability to use the known, to solve the unknown, in their heads.  Funnily enough my own abilities to image have increased, just because we are doing it over and over again...so maybe all of us do have the ability to image, we just haven't been exposed to the right activities to help us do so?




So where am I going with this?  Well I think what I am saying is there is no need to 'teach' basic facts in terms of a stand alone compartment of knowledge, because I think this is how many children are seeing them...they memorise them, know them, but are not able to use them to solve problems.  I know I did this, I always believed myself to be 'bad' at maths, but I was the fastest in every one of my basic facts tests.  Go figure!

Why then would we use basic fact speed tests when we can teach through visual images, use song to reinforce this, provide beautiful authentic problems, add a bit of tension through the role of the villains and low and behold actually see a child's ability with basic facts in action, explained through the talk moves.

Does this mean I am against teaching facts as children progress into the senior school...no it does not, because by then, they should have an absolute understanding of why they need them and how they can be used.  By this stage, there will be a lot of learning that they seek to do themselves because it is a portion of knowledge that they absolutely need.  Not the answer to a single problem, but just part of the puzzle.

Does it mean I am against speed learning of basic facts, yes, yes it does.  If a child is able to whizz through a basic facts test, but unable to solve an open authentic problem and explain how they have solved it, what have we achieved?  In my opinion, we have achieved this...we have told children that maths is about being right, being fast, and that there is always one answer and one way to solve it.  We have defined to them, that in order to be good at maths you need to be right the first time and you need to be fast. 

We have closed the beauty of maths off to them and made work for those they go to in the future.

Below are three of my favourite quotes about maths.  In my opinion they are words to live by when teaching maths.





Saturday, 14 July 2018

Play - where are we up to in our journey?

I thought it was about time I updated my blog with where we are at on our play-based journey.  I feel like things are ticking along well now and it has been so heartwarming to see the rest of the junior school also embrace self-directed play. 💓  What is even better is that the seniors are also embracing more playful approaches and playing around with invitations within inquiry.  Mantle of the expert is a wonderful flow on from play, but it is great to see that play is able to also continue.  Outside classroom day has really sped up this process and our environment has certainly become play on steroids.  I really recommend Outdoor Classroom Day as a way into play, it can be a very good way for teachers to see how children are able to self-direct with no help from them.  I know that this day is the favourite day of the term for our children.












I will start with talking about our 'timetable' as that is a question I get often...coming from a traditional class we all seem quite hung up on timetables, but I am very proud to say that this year we have finally discarded this.

We do not have a 'timetable' for ourselves to refer to, but this is our overview for each week.  I keep this in my planning scrapbook and write in what we have actually done each day.  Basically the overview is just that, an overview, the day may not necessarily go that way, but we have our items that we want to cover in some way each day. I love our morning ritual, and even though rolling play while we are doing the roll does take longer, it feels more gentle in a way.   It also gives us time to actually greet children, and for those children that are late, it feels less stressful.

I really like writing in what we have done after the fact, it feels so much more real to me in terms of following the children's interests and urges.  While we may discard some facet of what we 'planned' to do on one day, it is likely this will be made up for on another day.

Fitting in the 'required' learning areas is also a question that is often linked to the one about the timetable.  It does take a bit of juggling at times, but it is possible, however I think often the 'required' learning areas need to be filtered through a lens of developmentally appropriate practice.  If what we are doing is not appropriate for the developmental stages of our children, why are we doing it, who are we doing it for?  If the answer is because we have to, and I really don't know (or in some cases management) then perhaps it is time some sit down discussions happened around this topic.

It is entirely possible to cover those things that are necessary and pitch it appropriately for a range of developmental stages.  However I have come to really believe that the sweet spot for my munchkins to sit on our mat for any directed learning is about ten minutes...unless we are in Number Agency and then for some reason, perhaps because of the playful nature of agency, would stay in character and in agency for more than an hour if that was what I wanted.  Of course it is not and the sweet spot for agency is about 45 minutes excluding getting into and out of agency.  I try very hard to keep to these sweet spots and very much use the children as my guide in this.

So what have become the areas where we use teacher direction now?

Reading - specific teaching of reading only happens with those that are developmentally ready and interested and it is done individually throughout the day.  If a child is showing developmental readiness according to the checklist we have created (which for us is working really well) but they show no interest at other times of the day in learning to read, we will wait, as nothing is gained by pushing a child that has no interest in what we are trying to teach them.  We have discovered decodable books (I have discussed this in another post) and these are transforming the reading process for our children, I LOVE them!  After researching the reading brain, I now understand why explicit teaching of letter/sound relationship and all the bits and pieces that go with it is so important.  In fact it has really challenged my old thinking about high frequency words and I love being challenged, challenge can have transformative effects on my teaching, and in turn only positive effects on the learning in my classroom.  We will have 46 children in our space, with three teachers on most occasions.  Only 21 of these children will be reading with us.  We only read with them twice a week.   A bit more about this here.

In my second book about play, found in my store here, I grappled with my approach to reading and really wanted to embed a more child initiated process.  This has really happened quite naturally, we have a gorgeous class library, and those interested children are often found browsing at books and will frequently ask us to read to or with them.  The other way I have worked at embedding this sense of agency within children is by having something I call interest reading after shared book, or at another time as our day allows.  This involves children self-selecting, browsing and taking a book home to share.  We have found children to love this process and they clearly have their favourite books that they love to read over and over again.  This is a screenshot of the poster we made to explain this process to parents and outline what we wanted from them.  This process usually lasts for just over ten minutes.

Below are pictures of the children engaging with this process and a snap of part of our library.  Books are in boxes according to type, making it easy for children to find a box of books that interest them to browse at.







Writing
If you have been following my posts, you will know I use what I call a storytelling approach based largely on using pictures to tell a story, but also with a huge focus on oral language development.  This post talks more about this.  
Term 2 saw us continue with storytelling and the introduction of Edward the Enchanted Tree.  This is a clip of Edward....taken on a phone, so it is not great quality, but you get the idea.




The response to Edward has been incredible, they ask for him every day and don't even notice that as we progress they are actually making up more and more of the story on their own.  I have also found, similar to in agency, that they are more inclined to do what Edward tells them to do, so he is able to remind or children that have started writing about those things they are working on.  

In terms of how this works in our play-based learning, we have settled on a rhythm of perhaps 10 minutes of 'direction' and then children spend time doing some practicing, this is 5 minutes, or if they want to keep going they do.  We all come together as a group, and the gentle nature of just engaging at their own comfort level means there is zero stress.  

Maths

Obviously our maths is delivered through Number Agents.  The name is misleading as strand is delivered through this as well, usually integrated, because that is how mathematics truly works.

Our first two terms have been amazing, I am really noticing the connection of agents to the world growing stronger and stronger and for some the level of engagement borders on obsession.  

Excluding entry and exit from agency or maths time usually takes 40 - 45 minutes.  I have now managed to introduce all of the characters, excluding one that is new and will arrive this term...
Witch is Mine!



This slightly scary looking puppet will be best friends with the Grouping Goblin and will be used to introduce some understanding of division.  In past years I have not explored grouping or division, but the use of dot talks and visual images has really led agents into using grouping as a strategy.  I will need to do a new addition to the book to add all of the changes I have made.😜

I have really enjoyed the playful way children have added their own storylines to agency and have enjoyed just going with it.  It is important that they are given time to add to the narrative each agency session, it is what they love, to build the imaginary world that they exist in.

I enjoyed our tension filled end to agency over two sessions.    I  think I will add to this narrative a bit more this term with other lead agents around the country being kidnapped and use being asked to assist.

I know that I have really got the best mixture of play, drama and problem solving when children start asking to go into agency and when I start to see lots of dramatic play going on, this has been the case in term 2, so I am very happy.

Agency generally happens in the session between morning tea and lunch, however this again is flexible.  If I have limited time, we just do a problem rather than the rest of the programme.

I do not teach Wednesday or Friday and on those days agents have a strand focus and focus on having agent eyes as their super power.  They have a client with a problem, but this is delivered through a message in a bottle.   They love it and it works well.


Phonics
I absolutely believe that children need to be exposed to the sounds of language and that a rich oral language approach contributes to this.  We love nursery rhymes and will have fun singing the ones we have learned when we have a few minutes in our day.  I found a few years ago that learning a range of nursery rhymes off by heart really assisted working memory, so simple, but very effective.

My dilemma over the year has been how a structured phonics session can fit within a play-based class that I have structured around an awareness of developmental stages.  I am very aware that some children are not at all ready to be formally engaging with phonics, but I am also very aware that hearing sounds and developing a rich understanding of language is vital.  Thinking about this I created this diagram for literacy development and have shaped my 'phonics' sessions around an awareness of the four first stages as outlined below merging with the fifth stage.  

Like my writing I wanted this session to be gentle, non-threatening and for children to engage at their level of understanding.  We then will directly teach phonics (the last three stages) individually as children have moved onto reading and writing and on a need to know, ready to know basis.  We will sit with children individually and talk explicitly about the knowledge they need next.  




In our whole group sessions we will spend a maximum of 10 minutes, we base our session around these little guys.

The children love them, and they make the link between the letter and the sound explicit and also demonstrate how they can join together to make words.

We do have a go at writing a letter, or working on pre-writing shapes which we call volcanoes, mountains, valleys, craters, lines from top to bottom and lines from left to right, we also may focus on the shapes below.  These pre-writing  skills are crucial before children can learn to write actual letters.




We may some time on hand exercises.

I call the session 'phonics' but really it is a mixture of things and closely links in with what we talk about in our writing sessions.  We have settled in to having these sessions at the beginning of the day as it feels right.  Absolutely no more than ten minutes.  Some children will then go away and spend time practicing on their own and this is our opportunity to support them if it seems appropriate to do so.

Growth Mindset - Emotions - Kindness - Play-based reflections

These elements have become really crucial to me, these operate on no designated schedule, however we will find moments to share books with a focus on these areas, songs, and photos taken during play-based time that we can reflect upon through a social-emotional and dispositional lens.

It is most likely that we do these reflection sessions in the in-between areas of our day.  Those moments we come together, with a few moments left before we need to move to the next thing.


This series is awesome, the other videos can be accessed through Class Dojo, they are called the Big Ideas series.



There are so many lovely songs on youtube that reinforce a growth mindset.




And some gorgeous ones about kindness

These short elements in our day have become very important.  Observing the play and really thinking about what is going on through a  lens based on dispositions has allowed me to know what it is we need to reflect on to assist development in this area.


What does the play look like now?

What we decided to do in Term 1 and 2 was take a lot our of our classroom space and just leave items that can be used in a variety of ways.  This was the best thing we could do.

The children are in a real rhythm of play now.  Before we move off to a play-based session we may reflect on something that we have been focusing on, this may be how to solve problems, a particular part of play we have been impressed with, or maybe a social/emotional focus.  Children move off with a clear intention of what they want to do and what we have noticed is that they end up playing with people with the same interest or urge as them, rather than a chosen friendship.  This means they play with a range of different children and actually get to make friends with people that have the same interests as them, rather than making friendships of convenience. 

Our children spend a lot of time outside and often we can look out the door and see not a soul because they are all in the bush.  

We also have a huge construction urge/interest going on at the moment so there is a lot of building, using various materials that are becoming more and more sophisticated.  


As an example a group of boys have been obsessed with the magnetic tiles...they initially just seemed to build non-specific towers/buildings etc...but now have started to plan and build specific constructions, here they have made a rugby stadium and a football stadium.
Many of our children have an urge to create, they seek out the paper, scissors, glue, felts and spend time planning and discussing what they want to create, then using these creations in their play.  We have had a lot of handbags lately.

Others are really obsessed with our new bike track 'humps' and spend huge amounts of time running up and down.  They then discovered the could slide down the sides into the mud and this was so absolutely fun to watch as they tried desperately to stay on their feet while sliding down.  Mud is a huge interest, due to the fact that there is a lot of it and we have just gone with it, but encouraged gumboots.

We have a lot of dramatic play, children dressing up and using the puppets pretending to be agents is a common theme.  We also have a lot of cowboys that spend time wrangling animals in the bush.

Children do seek out whiteboards and paper to write and make signs, books etc and this often intermingles with other types of play.

Loose parts are popular and children spend a lot of time in imaginative play with these.

Basically play-based time is busy, but very very focused and we have so many opportunities to engage with the play, coach in the play, observe and truly get to know our children.

Another thing that is big at the moment is organising their own games, there is a love of football at the moment and they spend a lot of time organising teams negotiating rules, even subbing on and off fairly.  Because the other junior rooms also run play-based time there are often older children in these games too.

Below are a selection of photos that show a range of play that goes on.

The key for us is that play happens most of the day, if children are engrossed in what they are doing we will just let it continue to roll and discard a directed activity, children will engage in a range of activities over the day, with a range of social groupings.  It is messy and we do not clean up until the end of the day.  Thursday afternoons is junk shed/discovery shed day and they absolutely love it.

Our days are quite fluid and busy, but we love it and are finding that social, emotionally and in terms of dispositions towards learning our children feel leagues ahead of those that used to come from our quite formal/traditional classroom.

Some days it can feel like beautiful chaos, but if you take time to focus in on what is actually happening in the pockets of play inside and outside, the learning that is going on is amazing!  We just need a child lens.


































Something we want to do this term is to make our spaces feel more homely, this is an idea we picked up when we visited Kamo Primary and saw their gorgeous environments.  I can take no credit for the environment that is currently being created below, my wonderful partner in crime has been busy.















Making coverage visual - Finding the Curriculum

Something that I am asked on a frequent basis is how you provide for the curriculum within the play-based environment.  I think that it must be hard in a school that requires quite prescribed coverage and feel that this question comes because there is not a shared vision.  A shared vision of play would not see a teacher having to prove curriculum coverage because there would be an understanding of the huge amount of learning that comes out of the play and that play is how children learn.  

Curriculum is a construct of our education system, it does not exist in the real world...people don't sit there and say we are doing Science now,  then move into Social Studies.  In my opinion we need to re-shape learning that we give a priority to and how we deliver it.

Ok in saying that I love to capture the learning that comes from the integrated curriculum.  We have settled on using seesaw to make the learning visible for the parents and a shared learning story book where we record various parts of our learning that children can reflect back on.  It is also like an inquiry record if we are focusing on an interest that has come to the fore.  Basically put it is a scrapbook where we paste photos and make notes, it is a document shared as a class and a great reflection of our learning over the year.

The response to seesaw has been awesome and I would really recommend it!

Our sequence of goals, probably best seen as steps into learning is still working really well and it enables me to plot children's progress through these, proving the progress that is happening within a developmentally appropriate context.  It also allows me to show where a child has started developmentally and how far they have come.    These goals are based on the diagram that I created based on the work of Nathan Wallis.  It is simple and user friendly for a play-based class.

I did make a very interesting discovery this term when looking at gross motor skills, specifically related to crossing over, we had a young man that puzzled us, he was really struggling to move through this area and it puzzled us as to why.  We watched him during play and then when we asked him to march (which he just couldn't do.) What we realised when we watched him in play was that he had his hands in his pockets all of the time, how could he possible develop these motor skills if his arms were constantly still.  This was an easy fix once we noticed it.

That is the true beauty of slowing down isn't it, we get the time to really observe and more importantly to notice.




I find this vision from Te Whåriki as appropriate for all levels of our schooling system and would love to see it as an umbrella vision.



Narratives

Something I wanted to work on this year was creating narratives that captured learning accurately, rather than just commenting on what was going on I wanted to also capture either the dispositions and/or curriculum learning that was going on.  This document is the one we have created for our school.
My ability to create narratives is a work in progress, initially we were creating learning stories in google and then sharing on seesaw as a PDF.  These were really useful, but not manageable as our numbers rose.  Last term we decided to turn this into a paragraph on seesaw.  We kept a list of our children and them off each time we had made a deeper comment that informed the parent about an element of learning in a more thoughtful way.   I found it was better to make some notes during the day, capture photos and then spend some time after school adding them to seesaw.  I see this as the most manageable way of ensuring these take place.

These narratives can also be printed out and glued into their 'learning/assessment journal' which gives a more overall picture of the child, this book captures their progress through our developmental goals.

Invitations and Provocations

Provocations are one of my personal goals this year.  What I have found is that this happens best if I am able to observe the play and find the interest or urge, then to think about a provocation that may see children extending on this thinking.   If I am in sync enough with the interests and urges going on, the children actually guide the provocations.  Earlier last term it was construction, it took very little effort to use pictures and questioning to get them to think more about types of buildings.  We ended up with a lovely cardboard castle that they spent a lot of time playing in.  Provocations in the way that I have come to use them do not look like they could be in a magazine, they are much more likely to happen within the play and through our reflections.  I love using pictures, videos, books and songs to provoke further thought about a topic.  I also enjoy watching the learning that unfolds.

Children have expressed interests in camouflage and 'treasures' so I will need to do some thinking about how I can provoke thought around these areas.  

We have found that we started to design specific invitations for fine motor skills last term.  This was based on a need of a group of children and different invitations were provided each day.



Goals For Term 3

Work further on developing narratives based on dispositions for seesaw.

Create a more homely environment and let children guide this development.  Get our pallet house village up and running outside along with our fire pit.

Work further on how to provoke from interests and urges