Sunday, 4 October 2015

sparKtalK5 Vlog - Flexibility on the Spot

This week, the learners I worked with pushed me to be more flexible. It really got me wondering if there are times/situations where we can't really afford the flexibility our learners need. I want to believe no, but I also know that logistically, I'm one person, trying to support a number of different learners at very different places in their learning. Please comment and share with me how you handle student tangents in learning, learners moving in a different direction, and other opportunities for practicing flexibility.
In the example I share, my goal was have learners create an artistic image that uses line and colour to communicate the mood and theme of fall. Pre-activity, we all looked at the same work sample, discussed the connection to our Autumn theme, and the creative process we would be exploring. Sharing the experience, we all sat around one big table together, and a natural evolution of creation occurred;  learners began to make suggestions to each other (leaf drawing strategies, ways to add texture through rubbing, and how to shade the leaf as opposed to "colouring" it, for example). One learner went in a completely different direction (see photo above).
I'm working really hard to support and respect learner differences (be that in their understanding of directions, their own desire to do something different, or simply where they are "at" in their learning) and a big part of that is being flexible. Reflecting also allows me to consider what my role might have been, if any, in influencing the learner's diverted path.

I am feeling a little lonely in my program and my attempts to pursue personalized learning and inquiry in a multi-age (7-13 years) environment. Any comments, questions, advice, constructive criticism, feedback, or words of wisdom are greatly appreciated!! (Does that sound too desperate??)
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  1. Hi Tanya. I'm a 4/5 teacher for the first year this year but I would like to reflect on your recent vlog as the 25 year teacher of French that I've been at middle school up until this September. Because in French, there are specific skills to conjugate verbs it wouldn't be appropriate to "agree/encourage" the written form if a student was asked specifically to write simple sentence using the correct form of avoid. Being in a class of 28,if I saw the students mistake was occurring with many others, I would most likely choose to re-teach the steps of this common mistake. However if it was just the student alone, who seemed to continually make the mistake, I would adapt the instruction by offering 2 choices of conjugate verbs,one being the correct one. If this was a continual occurance,I would most likely do a one on one over lunch time or with a small group of friends or find peer teaching.
    In saying all that, I think your specific lesson asked for the at skill of Pattern. I think your response was definitely appropriate and I think if you really wanted to extend your students comprehension of "pattern" in Art, you could say something like, "I noticed you drew some a great fall scene. Today I was hoping we would look at patterns and create a fall picture that showed patterns. What do you think you might add to show patterns In your scene". If the student understood patterns, he/she might draw leaves in groups, lines in trees, colour throughout etc. I think as educators, we need to create opportunities for student to show their different understandings of pertinent and meaningful concepts in all areas. Art is meant for expressing ideas through various mediums through concepts of Art. It would be interesting to see if your young artist would look at different patterns of lines in other pictures (not the other students ts to compare where he/she went "wrong") of nature on the Internet. Then ask the class for the next Art lesson to discussPattern on Art,and have them use another medium to show patterns.

    1. Thank you so much Mme E. for your comments! I really appreciate the time you took to share your own process. And I agree that encouraging/reinforcing the skill / concept being explored is important and I missed that piece. I will revisit with my group and explore further. In bringing up the purpose again, perhaps my student can review his piece and consider where pattern might already exist in his fall scene or where he would emphasize it if he were doing this piece of work again.

      Thank you for the encouragement! Tanya

    2. One other thing, I think you bring up an important aspect of teaching in French Immersion or other language based learning--how can we support a flexible learning environment where very specific skills are needing to be mastered, such as is the case with conjugating verbs in French. I know in my experience as a Special Ed teacher, it was always a challenge to put adaptations in place for students in FrImm who have significant challenges with spelling as it impacts the meaning of their writing. How much room is there for flexibility and what does it look like when we are teaching specific skills? I realize we can be flexible with materials, the when/where students learn, the method in which they share / show their learning etc.--but how flexible can we be or what would flexibility look like in terms of teaching specific, targeted skills?

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