Term Three Friday Reflections

Still happy in the reading corner

I will try to write a little something here every week this term as I think that wisdom in hindsight could be helpful to any future projects I engage in. I am not continuing with my movie and book project this term although I imagine it will continue in some way as a natural part of what we do.

We painted our imaginary friends like Aldo in a John Burningham style.

Week Two
I have been reading a whole lot of John Burningham's books. Mr. Gumpy's Outing, The Shopping Basket, Edwardo The Horriblest Boy In The World, Oi Get Off Our Train, The Secret, and Avacado Baby. I have been reading a few of these over and over upon request and we have had some great discussion around Edwardo and all the horrible things we do and why he becomes so horrible and then a bit better. I was feeling a bit flat the first week back and I think it was just that it was so rich and so fulfilling sharing books in that way and exploring movie making. I think I missed the reflecting and writing as well. I also needed to pace myself a little this term so that I could sustain my energy as the movie making was fabulous, but it also required a lot of energy and time on my part.
It's funny because by week two I was engaging kids in book discussions again and setting up a time lapse photography project around a science exploration about light and shadows. The kids took photos every half hour from three places around the class and also of a boy standing outside in the exact same position. Today the kids asked if they could act out Edwardo and make a movie of it. I'll think about it. I would like to make a science documentary this term and keep it quite low key. I am also integrating legends about the sun and the moon and stars with our science study so that could perhaps turn into something.

By Tomi DePaolo

Photos for Our Web Site. Fly Kakahu Fly!

Week Three
It is a lovely week this week. I am enjoying having our afternoon talks about the books we read. Avacado Baby has to be read every day still. They laugh more and more each time we read it. I like that about five year olds. Things get funnier and funnier as they repeat. We read Oi Get Off OUr Train and now they are all making train tracks and all the endangered animals are there. I want to do some scraffitto painting like John Burningham's illustrations. We have had a big discussion about people cutting fingers and toes off! It is surprising how many parents, aunts, and grandparents have chopped bits off.
We have been acting out Mud Walk by Joy Cowley but I want to film it with real mud on a warm day and get everybody in and covered in mud. That would make a great film.
I should buy some more picture books. I borrow them but I should work my way through the best authors and collect them. I do have a few boxes. I told the children the story of The Boy Who Flew too Close to the Sun. They loved it. I said I thought we should have more dramatic. stories. One girl brought some puppets to school and now the whole class has my box of puppets and we have puppet shows and tickets and pretend biscuits and commercial breaks. I will bring the video camera back to school next week. I have a few films that I haven't finished from last term and I want to teach the kids to film more independently now that they are all pretty good photographers.
The class is a cohesive group again after the first weeks of juggling friendships. Picture book depth brings us together, makes us care and work and play together as a whole whanau.

Inquiry Documentary -Ice.

Inquiry Photos -Flight.

Week Five
I think I am having a sort of mental block about going back again and looking at the project. Maybe because I don't want to think about presenting at ULearn! We have continued to read John Burningham's books. I am enjoying them more and more and enjoying the way children's humour works. It is an AHA to see. I have not been as open to discussing the books and that has meant the discussion is not nearly as rich but that is alright for now.
Children are still bringing their books from home most days. I have asked our library book buyer to get a collection of books by a few authors I admire like Leo Leone and John Burningham.
The children have all chosen a scientific research project. They will ask questions and do experiments and record the experiments as mini documentary films with any luck! We will have a look at David Attenborough or someone and then plan little movies in pairs. I like their chosen ideas. Flight and aeroplanes/ rocks and fossils/ light and rainbows/ machines and building/ seeds and growing/ and a few others. Craig came in and shared some of his movies with the kids and told them how they had made them. They were impressed and the next day three kids brought things to do with dinosaurs, which was the subject of one movie.
I need to choose an AHA moment to share but I can't decide. I can't seem to load the voice from the data recorder onto my computer and that is the AHA moment.

Ice cream inquiry
Seed inquiry

Writing from the heart with the wonderful Joy Cowley

Oh the term flew on. That's what you get for letting kids choose their own inquiry. You also get a phenomenal amount of excitement and genuine engagement. Of course my ideas were bigger than my ability and time so we haven't finished our documentaries. The children chose a topic related to science or technology to ask questions about, conduct a hands on experiment with, and create a documentary movie about. They worked in pairs.

I continued reading John Burningham books all term. I didn't read one book a week instead I had a lot of books that I was reading over and over. We talked about the books less. Why? Because I didn't make it happen, I didn't listen completely and with an open heart. It was less satisfying and less rich. I missed the conversations, the richness of our connecting. Sometimes we did have wonderful talks spontaneously after a book. The kids loved Bill and Pete. My friends Jane from school brought her special books to school and each time it was like Christmas, so exciting to discover another wonderful author.

Throughout the term the children play acted Avacado Baby, one of John Burningham's funnier books. They painted beautiful art works in the style of Aldo from John Burningham. I listened to Kate de Goldie talk about his picture books on the radio and found there is a regular picture book review with Kim Hill and Kate.

Why didn't I listen? Why didn't we have the same richness of learning related to our picture books? It was still rich but in a different way. I think it was because of time. Time and focus. Because I wanted to focus on teaching the children to make documentary movies and to question and understand science and inquiry it became our main focus. I was so glad that when I chose to do the fellowship, I decided that picture books would be the topic, not just a little part of the language programme. That made all the difference to the way it unfolded. Most schools have a picture book week. It's funny isn't it. It's such an amazing thing to study, it leads you to such rewarding learning and yet I don't think we really think of teaching and using this amazing resource in that way. I never would have realized if I hadn't done it.

Our e fellow trip to Christchurch was good for me. I liked listening to the others deliver their speeches. It felt like we were closer. It was also good to gain some knowledge about the design process and presenting.

My best learning this term was my trip to Christchurch for a weekend workshop with Joy Cowley. I really do believe that all teachers should be writers. All teachers should go through the process of writing. Joy spoke from the heart, the way she writes. She inspired us all. She had so many stories about the development of big books in New Zealand, the way she had combined ideas to come up with stories, the people she had met along the way. She talked about humour being so very important. To make children laugh. To let the littlest character be the hero. To write for a child of a certain age. To include real dialogue. It was excellent to be a teacher understanding books from the writers perspective.

They can read! How did that happen?

The Future
One very lovely thing that happened near the end of term was that a teacher from Rotorua wrote me and asked if she could come down to visit the class. She had been inspired by this wiki and she and her class had been making movies and reading some of the books we had read. I had been writing reports and feeling a bit tired and overwhelmed by my teaching job. You know that feeling, like there just isn't enough time and too much to do, especially when you are a professional procrastinator like me. Anyways it was the loveliest day that day she came. I learnt a lot from her. I thought about how valuable it is to be able to connect with other teachers who teach the same age group, particularly the five year olds because they are quite a different thing to teaching other ages. I thought about this wiki and about the Web site we've been building about our picture book study. I hope that somehow it is a help or an inspiration.

For next term I am planning a term of MUD. Clay and play. Maybe it will turn into a film. I wish I could do more research. I may apply for a sabbatical next year. Write a book. Make a documentary. Who knows.