Periodically throughout the year, we Ed Techs support each other by assisting in projects at sister schools. Today, I was excited to present a session to kindergarteners called "Next Brilliant Inventor" in support of fellow Ed Tech, Ashley Pampe, and the BCE STEAM day. We jumped right into the A in STEAM (Science -- Technology -- Engineering -- Arts -- Math), beginning with singing, and quickly moving into a shared reading of Beaty & Roberts' amazing book Rosie Revere, Engineer. If you haven't read it, you must; it is the story of a timid inventor, Rosie, who loves creating things but is shy of sharing them. After a few fits and starts, her great aunt (an allusion to Rosie the Riveter) helps her find confidence and the knowledge that multiple iterations are often needed for a design. Little Rosie soon learns that failure is part of the process, and brilliant inventions take multiple explorations, designs, makings, and re-makings to create that next amazing item.
After reading the text together, kindergarteners had four invitations to explore and create. They were offered in the form of provocations -- a way of inviting learners to explore, question, think, and create on a given topic. The concept of provocations comes from the Reggio Emilia approach to learning -- one that lends itself to scientific exploration and discovery. In our kindergarten classroom, students were offered carefully selected materials, and thoughtfully selected picturebooks, and invited to one of four areas to explore the following (the first two were "stay & play" the second were "make and take"):
1) What structures can you design/build? (Unit blocks, Citiblocs, small manipulatives to add to creations)
2) What story can you tell? (Fabric backgrounds, wooden numbers, animal shapes, sea glass, plastic leaves/acorns/pumpkins, buttons, shapes, shells)
3) What creature can you create, and what special powers does it have to help others? (Air-dry hypoallergenic clay, feathers, chenille stems, google eyes, colored sticks, small craft sticks, markers, trays)
4) What gadget/gizmo can you design (paper, sparkle-glue, chenille stems, feathers, foam stickers of various shapes & solar system items, stamps, stamp pads, scissors, markers craft sticks)
Students creatively explored and time ran out way to quickly! If we had more time, I would have taken careful notes on what each child chose to explore, what they worked on, and what they shared about their creation. I could then use this information to design more interest-based provocations, select more materials, and work to connect these experiences to learning goals for each child. We would then take time to dig in to these provocations, allowing for time to engage in multiple iterations, thinking deeply, questioning curiously, and collecting more data. If done well, it can be just like the design process -- a reiterative process that allows the designer/teacher to continue refining the creation (in this case, learning) so as to better support deep thinking and meaningful connection to content. We invite you to try too!
VVE Tech & Learning
Holly Moore, Educational Technologist, shares student learning here, in our Cardinal Community Blog.