One of Opal School's values is stated this way: A view that learning happens in an environment where people form relationships with one another, with ideas, materials and the environment. How might a teacher organize early in the school year to set in motion a classroom culture that supports this value?
Other stated values include:
- A powerful image of the child as intelligent, creative and capable with gifts and abilities that the world needs.
- A belief that children play a central role in the development of their own learning.
- A deep respect for differences, however they may be expressed.
A key component to curriculum planning includes intentional reflection on these values. If I do _____, how does it support ______ value?
In the first week of school, Kimie, our kindergarten teacher, prepared the classroom studio with an opportunity to explore what wire could do. Knowing that wire is an excellent material for connecting, somewhat challenging to manipulate, and deeply engaging for the endless possibilities it can inspire, Kimie organized materials and questions to invite children to "make something from their imagination."
This simple provocation has built in connections to our values. It:
- honors the creative gifts of each child and invites them to share
- opens the door for relationships of many kinds
- invites difference to present itself
- gives children a role
When each child had created a piece, Kimie presented their creations to the whole group, sitting in a circle.
The children were then asked to connect their piece to the piece of the person sitting next to them.
This first connection wasn't always so easy. How do I let my idea go and become part of another? What will happen to me?
Pairs were asked to connect with other pairs. And it got a little easier.
Foursomes connected with other foursomes and it began to get downright exciting.
What might happen when all our imaginations connect?
The final piece hangs in the classroom now — a reminder of the possibility and the joy of connecting all our imaginations together.
What do you notice about the role of organization in the implementation of this first of the school year project? What levels and layers of organization are present? How does a clear articulation and attention to values support and enhance the organization of meaningful curriculum? Let us know what connections you're making!
I love this idea of using the wire to create connections between the children in a class. I have used wire often with my classes and sometimes children who choose this material will spontaneously start connecting their pieces to each other’s work but I have never thought of organizing it to create a sense of community. Wonderful work Kimie!
The process of building a trusting and connected community in a classroom is so important. I thought the wire idea was a great way for each child to express themselves through their own creation, and relate to other children and their pieces as they connected them all together. I thought it was interesting that, at first, the children were hesitant to combine their pieces, but as time went on, the children became more and more excited to attach their creations together. By hanging the finished product on the wall, the teacher has shown the importance of the children’s work. The class will also be able to look at the masterpiece together and reflect on the importance of working together throughout the year. What a great way to encourage a classroom community that works together!
The way Kimie scaffolded the work was intentional and respectful. It was a great concrete example of her belief that children are creative and capable and each have their own gift to offer a community.