Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Pedagogical Documentation - a Beginner's Guide - Session FOUR

This is the final post - number four... the previous ones in this series you can check here...
ONE - about observations
TWO - about analysing
and
THREE - about making plans and taking action

This post is about PUBLICATION - about how we share the learning as a more finished product of thoughts... how we make the learning visible on the walls, in portfolios, books and films etc.  It is usually the part that most people tend to call pedagogical documentation - yet when you get to this stage there is not as much room for further thought... it is on the walls, your reflections, your analysis, the words and quotes you have chosen to represent the children's learning and ideas.
Of course the children can also be a part of this process of making publications of their work - by making books and films... it does not have to be only the adult interpretation of the project.
Films, posters etc on the walls are much harder to change once they are made... even though they can still contribute to the dialogue about a project or learning area. Being aware of the intentions of the publication will also affect how you write it and how you present it.



For example there have been times where I have wanted the children (and parents) to think more about what we have been doing, so I will put up images and some headlines onto the wall as a kind of panel to ignite discussion and further ideas. These panels though are areas that often change - the publication there is more like a daily newspaper or a weekly newspaper - they will go into a file as I take them off the wall to be replaced with the latest update about the project, the learning, the play and happenings... sometimes just photos to provoke thought.

I have end of project exhibitions where more things will go up on the wall on a temporary basis so that children and parents can explore the project together with us educators... all our thoughts are there to see... and I will put up QR codes next to short texts and the children's work so that there is a chance for the parents to click onto the blogpost and find out more of MY thinking behind the process, as well as youtube links where they can see their children in action... so on the wall will be the final product of an action art project... with a QR code next to it so the parents, and children can find a film of the art in action. This brings backs lots of memories for the children, and enables them to talk more about the process with their parents. And really this is what I want to achieve - a space and publication that allows and encourages further reflection. Of course there is not always time for these further reflections to make it into the final publication.

Sometimes the publication has been a programme, that the children and I have put together to go with a production... the programme would show the whole process of how the children decided on doing a performance for their parents, how they made the story up, their thoughts about this, how they designed the set, the costumes etc etc... of course this means reflections on the actual performance is not with this publication... but the publication was about the process leading up to the product - the performance.

The children have portfolios... and this can be done in many ways... from including samples of their work, along with their quotes and the educators reflections, to a story of the children's time at the setting, to the children's own collection of notes and images... and there are many online tools to help with this too.
In the last 12 months I have made film versions of a portfolio, and have focussed on the group and group learning... the individual part of making the learning visible I have done with the parents at meetings - and with the children on a daily basis. The film is then a story of their time spent at preschool divided into different categories of learning with small texts showing how each area covers many forms of learning too... so it can be viewed as a memory, or as a way to make their learning visible...

You can check out this post for some examples of publications... ie the documentation you often see on the walls... this post explores different ways to use portfolios, panels on walls, files etc (so lots of images for you to look at to rflect on the many ways learning can be published/presented)... and also to reflect on the idea that sometimes there can be TOO MUCH published stuff on the walls...
I feel there is a need for space, so that the children and teachers have somewhere to rest their eyes and just reflect. Having a child with autism at home our walls are VERY scaled down with extremely few images on the wall to make sure there is not too much visual clutter and that home is a restful space... we need to think about this in our settings too... how can we create spaces of calm amidst all the stimulation?

Clicking onto this link will take you to my post about the children's own files, where they punched their own holes and chose completely what went into the file.

this link is more the process than a publication... but it did end up being a book the children could take home... The log books became a useful tool for us as educators to look through and learn more about the children... their ideas, how these ideas linked to those of the rest of the group... their interests, their proto-writing turning into writing... their drawing etc. These books were a process and publication all at once, as it was sometimes hard to return to a page and add more thoughts when there was not the space for this... so we learned as we went along to leave space between the children's thoughts and entries... we glued in photos too... and some of the children wrote/drew in random places too. How active the children were with these books was also  informative... as not all children wanted to spend lots of time with these books.

This publication was made with powerpoint... the idea was to show educators in Jenin that a trip into nature could be a great way to support writing skills from the sense that hands need to to train their strength... I wrote several pages of powerpoint with images and text illustrating how outdoor play helped with reading and writing skills... from climbing trees, to traces letters and images in gravel...  My INTENTION before producing this publication was clear.
In the same trip as the one above I also wrote from the point of view of collaboration/social development and also natural sciences... often using the same images to illustrate the complexity of learning. What I wanted to share with the educators there and with you, the reader, is that analysing the documentation together with other is essential to making decisions, not only about what projects and activities to pursue with the children but also how their learning should be presented to the children and the parents... and colleagues, society etc...
Learning about the parents and how they understand what happens during the day... what they think is learning, and how it happens, what they have for expectations and what they think is important in their child's development can be influential in understanding how to publish the children's learning and play... so that parents can better understand the deeper learning through play that occurs on a daily, weekly, monthly basis... I have written publications about the children's happiness and security and how this can be seen in the activities and the level of participation - especially at the start of the academic year when some parents are worried about their children settling in... as these worries are allayed then there can be more focus on looking for the learning.

There is a short film in the making, but since it is taking a little longer to put together than I thought it would I am going to share this post now... and the film will come out later in the week... as I would like this series of four to be released in the same month at least and May is just about over .

Again the aim of these posts is not to give you a step by step method of how to do pedagogical documentation... but a guide, a series of thoughts for you to think about and to discuss with your team... and if you work alone maybe there is a group of likeminded parents, carers, educators that you can explore these concepts with... either in a meeting... or even in an online community. In a private group for the educators training programme in Jenin films and photographs of their observations are shared and we discuss them together - learning from each other as well as sharing knowledge.

Below are some links to further reading... so you have the chance to gain different perspective on pedagogical documentation and not just mine...



LINKS:
Pedagogical Documentation and its links to Children’s Personal Social, and Emotional Well Being by Debi Keyte-Hartland - also by Debi...
Pedagogical Documentation as a Tool for Thinking Differently
Pedagogical Documentation in Challenging Times
really you should spend some time looking at more of Debi's posts, they will serve you well.

Pedagogical Documentation: Why? When? Who? What? Where? How? by Diane Kashin.

Meaningful Writing - this is a publication made by Garden Gate Child Development Center, Martha's Vineyard, MA, USA... it will give you an idea of how observations, images and thinking can be brought together and published for others to read. This is part of the preschool's facebook page... so take the time to explore more...

Sightlines - the British Reggio Emilia Institute has a pdf about pedagogical documentation you can read.

Learning to Document in Reggio-inspired Education Carol Anne Wien York University with Victoria Guyevskey & Noula Berdoussis - the abstract reads...  "This article discusses how teachers in child care and elementary schools learn to work with Reggio-inspired pedagogical documentation. While teachers grasp the value of such documentation theoretically, it is most challenging but exciting to use in practical settings. Documentation illuminates teacher theories about children’s understanding: watching such theories change through study of documentation and further teacher research profoundly influences professional development. This article outlines five aspects in a progression in learning to document: (1) developing the habits of documenting, (2) “going public” with recountings of activities, (3) exploring the visual literacy of graphic displays, (4) making children’s theories visible, and (5) sharing visible theories with others for the purpose of further interpretation and curriculum decision making. Two stories of teachers learning to document are shared—one showing a teacher’s attempt to make one child’s theory visible and one showing a teacher’s “documentation strips” developed for revisiting theories with children."



Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Pedagogical Documentation - a Beginner's Guide - Session THREE

This is the third in a four part series on Pedagogical documentation.
part one can be seen - here
and part two can be found - here

In Part one I covered the topic of collecting data, while in the second post it was all about the analysis of the collected data... this post will be the decision making and action planning using the analysis as a basis.

You might make the decision to introduce a project idea to the children... your observations have lead you to understand that the children have an interest/need and that it can be met within a project idea you have...
for example I remember two years ago I visited a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in Milan, Italy... and the whole visit made me think of my group of preschoolers back in Sweden (I know, I know, occupational hazard).. I knew that we had not covered so much of the technology and design area of the curriculum as I would have liked (but the social-emotional need of the group took priority) and I could see that by exploring Da Vinci we could bring more of that into our daily planning... Da Vinci was also a philosopher... and we had philosophy sessions every week, it made sense for the children to feel a link with others throughout time that have seen the value of shared sustained thinking; Da Vinci designed robots, and I knew my group were into robots as they played robot chase almost every day for the previous two years (sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for hours); Da Vinci was not afraid of making mistakes, he practised and practised and saw mistake making as a way of learning... I had a few children who were perfectionists... I felt that through stories of Da Vinci we could explore mistake making and feeling more comfortable with the idea of not needing to get it perfect the first time; Da Vinci also built bridges... and this would be the groups final year and we would be building bridges throughout the year with their schools to be... personally I was really rooting to do a whole projects on bridges... but I knew the Leonardo project was wide enough for the children to find their interest within it...
So I introduced Leonardo Da Vinci to them through stories, books and art... and it did not take long for them to fasten on robots and technology (film-making - trying out a new skill, for all of us) -
there was always the chance that they would reject the whole Leonardo Da Vinci idea all together and that I would have to observe the children again and learn from them what their interest are and their needs... but I had been with the children for three years already, so my understanding of the children was great enough to find those project areas that interested them and caught their imagination.
When you are with a class for a shorter time, or just getting to know them, it is much harder to come up with project ideas - mostly because you are not as familiar with the children, their interests and their learning styles... so having the opportunity to work more than three years with a group is a wonderful thing.

So decision one is launching a project.

The project starts with its activities, art, experiences, stories, explorations etc - which means the observations start again and the data collection starts a again and the analysis too... which will bring you to another possible decision
This project idea was not one that whet the children's appetite for learning and play - you will need to make the decision...

  •  does the project need to be presented in a different way? ie was the learning style wrong for the children?
  • do you need to observe the children in their free play more to better understand their learning styles, their needs and their interests
  • should a different NEW project be launched? that during the last observations you have already noticed needs and interests
  • should an old project be re-launched - the children have seen art/photos and text on the walls or in their files and have started to ask questions about their previous play and learning, giving you the opportunity to return and deepen their understanding of this.
  • OR maybe you feel the project is worth persisting with, that maybe the children need another chance to explore the same thing again... that the first experience was so novel that they were dealing with the novelty, or were nervous of the newness, and that by repeating the activity the children have an opportunity to test it again with more confidence.
So you have got this far..
You have observed the children... analysed the documentation of these observations (written, oral, photographs, films and the children's work) and you have made the decision how to proceed...

Then it is to do the activity, or the play, or the excursion, the experience and start the circle again with more observations. More analysis. More decision making.

Each time you will learn more about the group, the individual children, the relationships within the group, the learning styles, the interests and also about how you work as an educator.

it means taking risks to try new things with the children... accept a role of learning with them,
Get the children involved in making the plans and suggesting ideas for how to take the projects further.

You might be wondering at this stage... but where is the stuff on the walls? What about portfolios...

Well, they can be a part of the pedagogical documentation if they are being used to explore the children's ideas and experiences further... for example I would hang up works of art the children had made together with photos of the process and short texts of my observations and my understanding of the learning processes... allowing not only the parents to see what their children have done... and to give an opportunity for children and parents (grandparents, aunts uncles friends etc etc) to enter a dialogue with the children about the process. It also makes the children's learning visible to the children... and allows a dialogue with the educators about what they remember about the experience, how they felt and how we could continue... it is not a finished work on the wall... but still open to interpretation by children, parents and educators alike.

What ends up on the walls, in portfolios etc  is a publication... it is a product of the documentation, observations, analysis and planning...  the process is the circle of pedagogical documentation.

In the next and final part of this beginners guide to pedagogical documentation will be about the published part of the process... how we can present the children's work, play and learning - and our interpretation of that.

The next post will also include links for further reading about pedagogical documentation.

Visit to "Bild och Tanke" preschool...

I spent a morning at Bild och Tanke preschool today, found in the suburbs of Stockholm. Bild och Tanke means Image and Thought.

It was lovely to be back in an environment designed for children. This is a small preschool... and it is with intention that it is small. On my way home my mind raced about the obvious benefits I saw for these children attending a small preschool.. there were less relationships to manage, fewer other children to compete with for adult attention... and no matter what you tell me about wanting children to be independent and competent and all that (I want that too) - I remember so clearly How I wanted adult approval, adult attention... I remember that feeling of being special if I got it... and I know this should not be the case, I know that children should not desire that need for approval... but i think it is there within us all no matter how old we are... as children I/we sought approval of adults... and as adults we seek approval of our bosses... as humans we want to be seen, we want to be heard, we want to be valued... and being one of 25 is much easier than being 1 of 40 or 50 or more... even if the adult ratio is the same... I have got to the point where I need to check out some research into this... so if there is anyone reading this that can recommend some good papers/research to read, please add the recommendation to the comments...

So why do I mention that the children had a benefit?
I was there for only 2.5 hours... but during this time, my first visit ever... the children were all confident in asking who I was, why I was there, how long I would be staying... introducing themselves etc. I also saw how they helped each other, how they said kind things and complemented each other (and me) and also how the apologised for accidents and also accepted happenings as accidents... this I shall go into more detail...

Two children had spent quite some time constructing a series of sandcastles, with a complex story attached of what they were and who lived there and how many rooms there were in each castle.
Some other children came over to look... one of them balanced on the edge of the sandbox and accidently lost balanced and partially destroyed the biggest and so-labelled most beautiful castle. The child with a destructive foot moved quickly to the side.. he looked at the scene of destruction, and looked at the two children who had built it... they had not noticed... the child could have moved on and no-one would know. There was a slight pause... then the child said...
"I was balancing here and my foot slipped here, and the castle fell down like this... I did not mean to, I lost my balance. Sorry"
The children who had built the castle looked at the castle then looked at the apologetic child and one of them answered
"Its OK. We can build more"
The educator close by added..
"Maybe it is now a ruin... many old castles become ruins over time?"
"Yes, yes" many of the children said... as there were quite a few collected at the sandbox now.. at least 6... "it is a ravine"
In Swedish ruin and ravine rhyme. (Roo-een / ravv-een)

The play then carried on... all the children now involved with building, digging holes, filling up holes with water etc, making a few more ruins...

If the children were less secure (and I have seen this) then there would have been not the confidence to own up to this mistake, there would not have been the strength to accept that others make mistakes - many think they do stuff on purpose... and there would not have been the joy of being able to then play together with very little adult interaction...

The whole outdoor area was filled with children in groups busy exploring one thing or another... those children wanting/needing to run had an area they could do this without disturbing the gentle busy-ness going on... in the "pit" (a small mound with a slight dent in the top like a nest) was filled with loose parts that could be used to construct cocoons  - and activity connected to the children's interest in the butterfly cocoons found inside... in the middle were also images of cocoons belonging to other insects... not just butterflies so the children were making and reflecting on what could be inside their cocoon... the educator busy taking down notes...

I think with the preschool being smaller it not only means the children do not have as many relationships to manage... it also means the educators have fewer too... this means each child can be seen and listened to on a deeper level...

Well these are my observations and my reflections - having worked at both small and large preschools and also visited both small and large ones too..
but I am keen to follow this and learn more...
BUT first I am to communicate with Jenin... another skype meeting and then the next in the series about pedagogical documentation... THEN I can start exploring this idea..
Meanwhile enjoy these two images of the garden from Bild och Tanke.





Monday, 22 May 2017

Pedagogical Documentation - a Beginner's Guide - Session TWO

This is part TWO in a series of four posts introducing pedagogical documentation. Part one was about collecting data... and can be read here if you missed it. The idea is that these posts are for educators just at the start of their journey with pedagogical documentation, the kind of post that is not giving you a step by step method of what you must do but a post that aims to give you ideas and inspiration and to feel a little more confident as you try it out.

So you have collected data - it can be ...
photographs
written notes
films
the children's work

Now is the time to look at all this data, both as an individual educator, together with colleagues, with the children and with parents. Each time you look, each time you share with others you will gain a new perspective... some will tally with your perspective, others will add new details, and yet other might come in conflict with how you have interpreted the information.




It can be a good idea to have some questions at the ready when reflecting on the collected information... for example...

What is/are the child/ren doing?
Did anyone take the lead/Who took the lead? Did the other children allow this/contest this?
Did the child/ren ask questions? What sort of questions, to other children or the adult?
Was the child/ren following another child’s lead? Peer inspired. Or was it own creativity?
Was it inspired by Tv/film/book or...?
Was the child playing independently or collaboratively? Is this usual?
What friendship constellation? The usual ones, or a new ones?
How did the child/ren use any resources/materials?
Has the child/ren explained any actions?
What is the child/ren showing in terms of understanding? This can be individual understandings and group understanding.
What knowledge does the child/ren have? Again on a group and individual level.
What skills does the child/ren have? Do they use them to collaborate?
Which strategies does the child/ren use/seem to prefer? (the children's way of dealing with a problem, learning/playing... not the adult strategy of teaching)
How involved is the child/ren? Are the active participants with enthusiasm, reluctant partipants or passive (ie watching the others)

How do you know? What evidence do you have, is it backed up with previous evidence/documentation?

I think it is important to not only look at each child but to see the whole group. Remember to collect information of individuals, groups and whole class levels... and to also analyse it in the same way. Each person has their own way of evolving, but the groups and the class is also evolving too, and it is a good idea to understand the nature of the group dynamics in the class and how the children's roles and development impacts this. especially as you will need this analysis to plan future activities/lessons... so always documenting on an individual level will make it much harder to plan class activities... as activities rely often on social interactions for them to be successful.

You can use the following criteria to evaluate a child’s involvement level - this can also be viewed for the whole group too, not just on a individual level.
Concentration, perseverance/persistence
Energy
Complexity and creativity
Precision
Facial expressions and composure
Reaction time
Verbal expression
Satisfaction
Interaction with others/materials
Length of time of involvement


Time allowing it can be  helpful to look for any connections in documentation, e.g. does the child/group always seem to be exploring their learning/play in a particular way?

Remember to reflect on your collection method too... was it a good way to collect information, not only at the time, but also how it enables the analysis part... for example when I was doing philosophical dialogues with my group of children I found that filming and recording the sessions ended up being more time consuming in the analysis part of the process, even though they could offer a greater depth.  So we ended up only recording a few sessions to enable us to maintain a deeper thinking level of our notes, and also to help us understand what got missed in our notes (as voice inflection and movements and emotions are rarely recorded in written notes during a philosophy session due to the speed of the children's talking and trying to keep up with writing it down.
Also there has to be a level of respect and security with a team of educators to share films of themselves working with children... especially when this is open for critique... after all the whole aim is to understand not only how the children learn, but also to improve the way that we as educators teach... so that the learning and teaching are in symbiosis.
Directors at early years settings... well ALL educational settings - need to work towards creating an atmosphere that allows the educators to talk freely, openly and respectfully with each other. This is done in a similar way as we work with children... we need to give it time for these relationships and trust to be built... we cannot expect children or any person to feel courage to express all their opinions without that level of security and trust, and the need that mistakes are not frowned upon or laughed at, but merely seen as stepping stones of learning.

When it comes to the analysis part I really want to press the point of not just focussing on individual children... I know there is much said about the unique child etc... but  we all function in society and therefore we need to understand how groups work, how the individuals work within the group. To understand if all the children are interested in the same things, or whether some children are not given enough time, space or volume to make their voice heard. Is there an equality in the group... and this can be seen from many perspectives... from age, from gender, from religion, race, interests etc etc.
A recent report here in Sweden about the need to review the Swedish preschool curriculum wrote

The group and the individual in the curriculum In the preschool setting there are values ​​that are important from the preschool curriculum that concern both the individual and the collective. The preschool curriculum is, more often than not, interpreted from an individual perspective. According to the School Inspectorate, Nordic preschool research shows that there is a pattern of individualisation in value-based work throughout the Nordic countries, with indications that collective values ​​are increasingly marginalised. There seems to have been a shift from a group-oriented view to greater focus on the individual child (School Inspectorate, Part II, 2017). The child must, however, be seen in relation to what is stated in the preschool curriculum, and the group should be seen as an important and active part of development and learning. The group is thus, not only an opportunity for social development, but also be an active and integral part of learning, and this may need to be clarified.
For me this is part of the democratic process... that individuals are an active part of the group... and that the group is an active part of the individual development of the children and teachers.
This democratic approach is also why it is important that children are active in the analysis of the documentation. Why not print out (or open a page on the computer in powerpoint, with the image and space then to write the child's thoughts) - and show this image to the child of themselves doing something or interacting with others... ask the children about what is happening, what do they remember, how did they feel; if they would want to do this again, if so in the same way or would they want to make any changes? etc etc... there are many questions that can be asked to find out more about what the children were thinking... and this might end up being very different from how you first interpreted the photo.
In the log-books for the children I would glue in photos of the play-spaces that we visited... and then ask the children about the space... was it easy to get to, was it fun to play there, was there anything there that was not as much fun, was there anything there that was tricky? Did they need to learn more skills to be successful...? I would then analyse the children's individual answers to see if there was a group pattern. I would use the group patterns to  support continued learning and dialogues in the group/class... and always keep in mind the individual to ensure that we were providing an inclusive learning and play environment.

The more I write the more you might be thinking how on earth can I be thinking all these things and analysing all of this... the thing is the more you practice using this tool, pedagogical documentation the more it just becomes a part of how you see and listen... it is like broadening your spectrum of sight and sound... pretty much in the same way the curriculum becomes a part of your being and you no longer need to keep on referring to it, but that as you are doing your daily work with the children you see the curriculum happening in the small actions all around you. (of course it is good to keep on returning to the curriculum to reflect once more and to gain a deeper understanding). What I am trying to write is that the more you collect data and the more you analyse it... and use the entire circle of pedagogical documentation the easier it will become, as you learn better techniques of collection, and analysis, these stages will allow you to refine these techniques even more, and you will also become more comfortable with exploring ideas with colleagues, children and parents - and also to understand that not all feedback is going to be "great job" and that this feedback is about the work... and not you personally, and is there to help you get better at your work as an educator.

Having a weekly meeting where you spend time analysing the week can be a good start... asking the same questions allow you to have a systematic approach and easier notice patterns and anomalies.
For instance the following questions could be asked..
1. What are the children interested in (don't just write play... think about what it is in the play that is the most interesting... if it is a subject, for example robots, what is it about the robots that they are interested in... maybe they do not want to build robots, maybe they are scared of them and are dealing with overcoming fear)
2.How can we build on this? (what activities, visits, materials can we use to allow the children to explore these ideas through play, and through adult lead activities too)
3. Did the week go as expected? (each week will be planned... at the end of the week ask yourself did it go as you planned it... if yes, explain how it went as you planned, if no, explain that too... and remember not as expected also means that it went better than expected)
4. What have we learned from this... ? (For example if the math activity was more popular than expected and children complained there was not enough time/space/room - then what adaptations would you make to allow more children access to the activity, keeping in mind that many children might complicate the experience, but this can still be tested and evaluated... as it might work better)
5. are there any developments, milestones or concerns (on an individual and group level) - this is good to write down so that you can go back and see when you first started to have concerns, or the child/group first developed this particular skill etc.
6. What measures do we implement to respond to this... if there is a concern what are the teachers response... this is important to make sure you keep track of what measures you are using and how effective they are... there is no point reacting to a child in the exact same way week in and week out if it has no affect, this way you can keep track of effective measures to support the child/group learning and development.
7. How shall we plan for next week based on the analysis/reflections we have just made. For example if you had planned a science activity that the children have shown clearly they have no interest in, maybe it would be appropriate to change the activity to something the children are interested in. This new activity might have the same process but a content that is more meaningful for the children and will engage them.


Getting into a routine of analysing the data is important... especially with the children. Finding time is another essential question to answer... when is there time for collegial dialogues about the collected data, when is there time for dialogues with the children... and with the parents?

Your reflections and analyses of the children's work, the photos, the films and the written notes should give you enough information to make plans...
what sort of project would the children be interested in, and why
what sort of skills do the children already master, what do they want help with, need support with?
What learning styles/strategies do the children have?
Is the group settled enough for meaningful learning, or is the a greater need for more team-building activities... I am a big believer that children will learn if they feel safe, valued and included.

These questions will influence what you plan and how you create the curriculum/process for the learning/project in the near future... this might be something that occurs for a short time, or it might end up being a project that lasts a much longer time... for instance... the Leonardo da Vinci projected that I started with my group of children ended up being about robots and lasted a whole year and allowed the children to explore many different areas of their own development within the safety of the robot project... we explored, friendship, emotions, responsibility, making mistakes, technology and film making etc etc

For me this is one of the most exciting parts of the  circle... exploring the children's ideas, play and learning - my own thoughts, with the children, with my colleagues (my closest colleagues and the whole setting) and also with the parents who can bring a whole-picture clarity to the child and how they are evolving as a citizen of the local community, of the town, of the country and of the world.

of course I am writing these posts in isolation... which means I will probably forget something important that if I was with a colleague I would be reminded of...

The next part of this series will be about making decisions and taking action.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Pedagogical Documentation... beginners guide... Session ONE

This is a guide... it is not a step by step manual. So please read, let it fill you with ideas and with questions... and the courage to start...
this is a post for pedagogues that have not yet started using pedagogical documentation and are interested in learning more about this documentation approach...
This is post one of four... they are connected to the sessions I am holding via skype with early years educators in Jenin, Palestine.

Pedagogical documentation differs from documenting in the sense that it is a tool for the teacher to learn more about the individual children, about the group/class, about how the room is working (the third teacher) about how children learn, their interests etc... and from this knowledge make plans to support the children's continued learning, to make visible this learning to the children and parents ... and other interested parties... it is a tool to allow participation in the children's own learning. It is also linked to the Reggio Emilia Approach... where documentation is collected, analysed, discussed, reflected on, used to plan, returned to, more collecting of data as needed etc... so that the educator is learning from the child to become a better at helping the children to learn...

The first session was all about different methods of collecting information... about  observations, photographs, films, writing down dialogues etc and why we do this...
There were questions about should it be about individual children, the group etc... and really pedagogical documentation is a tool that can be used in many ways... to explore and better understand the learning happening in your setting.

An average week of data collection for me would be
Monday... take films/photos of the movement session to see how the children are physically developing over time. if there any concern areas I will take close ups of this (discreetly).
Outdoors, photos taken if the children are exploring something new, or are challenging themselves in a new way... or if the children ask me to (my group of children were well aware of how documentation was being used... to put into their files to remember, and also to show this is when I managed this, it also gave them power over what is important to them, and not always my adult perception of what is important in their development).
Sometimes I would have a notebook with me and write down notes about the group constellations, how they grouped and re-grouped during their free play, what sort of play they participated in, and how long they participated i certain games before changing - sometimes this would be intensive writing, and I would write the time at the left side at regular periods so I could see the process of the morning.  (this applies to all days... as we were outside every day)
Afternoons data collected through films, photos and written observations as needed. (this applies to all days)
Tuesday... dialogue would be recorded, most often by taking notes. One person held the dialogue another educator wrote down verbatim what the children and the lead educator said. Sometimes we filmed and recorded these dialogues, but the children often wanted to return to an idea we wrote down during the session, and rewinding on film/audio was more complicated to check. We also found that the children found it inspiring for us to write down their words... at first we wrote them by hand in notebooks, but after a while we wrote them directly into a computer.
see above for outdoor and afternoon data collection.
Wednesday... in the atelier. This was a session that was recorded mostly through film and photos, including photos of the various stages of the children's works. At regular times throughout the year I would take close up photos of how the children held their pens/pencils to see how the children's pen grips were developing. I would be focussing in the films not only on technique and the children's ideas and creativity, but also on their social interaction. Some art sessions needed more scaffolding... during those sessions there are fewer photos and films or maybe none... as the children always come before the documentation.
see above for outdoor and afternoons
Thursday... outdoor learning...  so very much the same as what I have already written about outdoor play, but also with more focus on seasons and nature... so I would take photographs and films of what we were seeing and doing, this would then be material we would use with the children later for further thinking and reflecting.
Friday... was a reflection day... I tried to take as few photos and films as possible on this day, so that there was time to reflect on the week... of course there are times when the children or myself see a moment that needs to be recorded in some way or another.

There have been times when i have felt the need to collect extra information... when I worked in a bilingual preschool language was an important part of our lives... as not only were there two used languages at the setting (English and Swedish) but many of the children had further home languages too. For the sake of play, learning, communication it was important for us as educators to know how much the children could understand in the two languages used at preschool... so that we could better support their development through appropriate activities, stories and constellations of children... as the children are also teachers and help each other in their learning.
Of course when it comes to children in need of extra support in their social skills or an area of learning, then there needs to be specific data collection to better understand the child; as educators we will have our assumptions, but by collecting data we can see if we are correct or not...

Sometimes I have collected data based on the needs of the educators (in my role as director). On occasion educators have felt that at certain times of the day there are to many children for the child-teacher ratio at the end of the day... and by collecting precise data of when children and educators leave the setting there is the opportunity to see if this is just a feeling because educators feel tired at the end of the day, or that there is a real problem that needs to be addressed.

Data can be collected to understand how the setting is being used... what areas are most used, are there any areas that some children do not feel welcome in, are there any areas that educators do not keep within a good radar of safety? There are many questions that can be asked.

At this point we have collected information, documented the children... it is not pedagogical documentation yet. It is when we begin to analyse this information that it begins to be pedagogical... and this should be done preferably with others... with colleagues and with the children too... and also the parents. So we are at stage one of the documentation circle.

It is important when collecting data, making observations that you find a style/approach that works for you. Maybe in the beginning you feel uncomfortable... especially if you are being filmed and your voice being recorded... but this can be a good reminder that the children too might find it uncomfortable.
When documenting children though film and photographs we should always be sensitive to the children... not all children want to be photographed or filmed, especially when they know it is going onto the wall. So respect a child's integrity. If they say no, then don't.
it can be a good idea to talk to the children about taking photographs, and take the time to explain to them why you are taking photographs, so that they become a part of the process. If you are taking photographs of the children's work, there are copyright issues here... the artwork belongs to the child, so if you are wanting to share it on social media you should be asking for permission.
But we can go into this more at a later date... right now it is this first step. Getting comfortable with collecting data, finding a routine that works for you, and making sure that the children come first... the documentation is a tool to support the process of becoming a better educator it is not the process in itself. So put the camera, notebook down and be with the children, use the documentation tools when there is time.
It might be that when you get started you want to give yourself a routine, that at certain times, certain activities you learn how to collect the information; so that you get comfortable with the process. AND why not push yourself out of the comfort zone and try a method that you would not usually use, just so that you can evaluate it... maybe it is better than you first thought?

Over the years I have had a variety of notebooks for writing down observations, or writing down dialogues, or for using like a scrapbook, with photos glued in... I have also used similar notebooks for each child... where they could choose photos to glue in and write their thoughts down (sometimes on their own, most often they dictated their thoughts to us and we wrote them).

it is about getting creative with documentation... about being open to technology as new tools allow for new ways to record the children's learning. it is about testing, and making mistakes, rethinking and finding new ways... until you find your optimum data collection procedure...

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

MOMO and play...

In 1973 Michael Ende wrote the book "Momo" - it is about a girl with the ability to tell stories, to capture the imagination and for play - it is also about someone who can REALLY listen... a child that creates an almost time-free zone through play and listening... a child that creates an almost time free zone through play. The grey men are time stealers... they make everyone work hard in order to "save time" to do the things they like later... of course later never comes. Momo becomes their enemy... she cannot be convinced to save time by playing with toys that are not open ended, and her playful power is so strong that she inspires all of those around her...
In the book she goes out of time for a while to learn with Professor Hora how the grey men can be defeated; but during this time the grey men succeed in controlling the children... the hardest part of society to control as they were not so easily convinced to save time like adults...

The children are put into depots... because it was too dangerous to have them on the streets, they needed to be educated for the future, accidents involving children cost so much money and could be used for other things, and because the adults were so busy trying to save time that they no longer had time for the children... 

"None  of Momo's friends escaped the new regulation. They were split up according to the districts that they came from and consigned to various child depots. Once there, they were naturally forbidden to play games of their own devising. All games were selected for them by supervisors and had to have some useful, educational purpose. The children learned these new games but unlearned something else in the process: they forgot how to be happy, how to take pleasure in little things, and last, but not least, how to dream.
Weeks passed, and the children began to look like the time-savers in miniature. Sullen, bored and resentful, they did as they were told. Even when left to their own devices, they no longer knew what to do with themselves. All they could still do was make a noise, but it was an angry, ill-tempered noise, not the happy hullabaloo of former times."

I find it interesting that in 1973 Michael Ende (author of Never-ending Story) saw how adults would so completely control children's lives... I have seen how the free play... free from adults (but not devoid of adult care) from my own childhood seems a rare things in most parts of the western world. I saw glimpses of it in Palestine, but it was not free for both genders.

By sharing this excerpt I am not in any way saying the early childhood education centres are something bad and should be avoided at all costs.. what my intention is that we who work in these centres and home-settings are aware of the need for play in its many glorious forms. That we need a healthy play diet.
I have been writing about this all morning as part of the play chapter for my book, and it made me think of Momo, which made me want to share it.

For me play needs to be safe, but that does not mean it should not be without risk, but play should be a space where children feel safe enough to express themselves, to explore their emotions, test out their skills, make mistakes, adventure with their imaginations etc etc. There also needs to be freedom, and openness to try out the things that we as adults feel uncomfortable with... like using sticks as guns... so that the children can make sense of the world together with others, and not feel confused in isolation.
Pedagogical play, I feel, is part of the play diet... but the space to experience this free play with a non-judgemental openness is being offered less and less, as children are being institutionalised younger and younger with the express need that they should be trained to be good citizens.
And it is not as if I want bad citizens... its just I have more faith in play and children.



excerpt from: Michael Ende (1984) "Momo", page 168.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Updated version of "The Relevance of Malaguzzi in ECE"

It is one of my most read posts... and yet when I read it I see the gaping holes I would loved to have filled if I had had more word space... it was an assignment as part of my masters...
So I have returned to the paper and added a few more reflections... and since there was a request to be able to download it and have more access to it, I have made it into a downloadable pdf file...
you just need to click on this link

The Relevance of Malaguzzi in ECE

and it should take you to another page where you can read online, or download for later.

I hope it inspires some further thinking, or gets you going as you start your journey in the Reggio Emilia Approach, for whatever reason you read this... I hope that it offers you something.

all the best
Suzanne

not often there are images of me here... but just so you get an idea of who I am behind this blog... well sort of...

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Why Together Paintings/Art?

(på svenska)

I have always liked collaborative art... of working together...
I find that often the focus is on the individual, which is an essential part of working as an educator... to see each individual child and to enable them to reach their potential... but individuals live, work and play in groups, so they need to work out how to be themselves in not just one group, but in a variety of groups and social situations.
Together art gives children the opportunity to express themselves and interact with other. It is not a form of art that is conflict free - it can require a great deal of scaffolding at times - but it does give the children time and space to practice those social skills while doing something enjoyable. They learn how to take turns, to make space for each other, or take space from others (as there are children who take up a lot of social space and children who take up too little social space... they both need to learn how to allow an equality in the social space): they learn how to be inspired by each other... sharing techniques, learning from mistakes etc etc etc...

I also felt there was a lot of "mine" happening, so by making art together we were creating "ours". It is not that we were making only together art, but that there was a mix of many options of big group art, small group art, working in pairs and working individually... and that all of these ways felt natural for the children to partake in.

Lots of scaffolding in the early days, allowed me to take more and more steps back as the children would scaffold each other more and more.

Also by allowing together paintings to happen across the ages the older children got the chance to realise just how competent the younger children are... and stopped referring to them as babies...

In this post I have selected a whole load of different together art for you to see and think about... (under there are photos and more information)

Jag har alltid gillat samarbetskonst ... att arbeta tillsammans ...
Jag tycker att det ofta är fokus på individen som är den väsentlig del av att arbeta som pedagog ... att se varje enskilt barn och att göra det möjligt för dom att nå sin potential ... men individer bor, arbetar och lekar i grupper, så dom måste lista ut hur man ska vara sig i inte bara en grupp, men i en mängd olika grupper och sociala situationer.
"Tillsammanskonst" ger möjlighet att uttrycka sig och interagera med andra. Det är inte en konstform som är konfliktfri - det kan kräva en hel del "scaffolding" ibland - men det ger barnen tid och utrymme att öva dom sociala färdigheterna samtidigt som man gör något roligt/spännande. Dom lär sig att turas om, skapa plats för varandra eller ta plats från andra (eftersom det finns barn som tar upp mycket socialt utrymme och barn som tar upp för lite socialt utrymme ... dom båda måste lära sig hur man skapa jämlikhet i det sociala rummet): dom lär sig att inspireras av varandra ... dela tekniker, lära av misstag etc etc etc ...

Jag upplever att det finns mycket "min" som ske på en förskola, så genom att skapa konst tillsammans skapade vi "vårt". Det var inte så att vi bara gjorde konst tillsammans, men att det fanns en blandning av många alternativ av stor gruppkonst, liten gruppkonst, som arbetar i par och arbetar individuellt ... och att alla dessa sätt kände sig naturliga för barnen att delta i.

Det krävde mycket "scaffolding" (stöd) i de tidiga dagar för att göra det möjligt för mig att ta fler och fler steg tillbaka - att bli en osynlig stöd, så barnen kunde stödja varandra mer och mer. Att lära  genom att lära andra.

Genom att låta "tillsammans-målningar" ske under åren har de äldre barnen möjlighet att inse hur kompetent de yngre barnen är ... och slutade att hänvisa till dom som småbarn ...

I det här inlägget har jag valt en hel mängd olika tillsammans konst för att du ska titta och tänka på ...

when working with one year olds I introduced together painting in a different way... not so much that they were all there the first time, but in ones and twos so that it was not overwhelming. In this image just off-screen were three children watching... two of them had shown us that they did not like getting messy in previous art opportunities. There was so much joy when this child painted that both the children who did not like getting messy wanted to try...  and this is the beauty of together painting that children can inspire each other. Both those two only painted for a very short time... but they had tried something that they had avoided passionately before hand.
när jag arbetade med ett-åringar, introducerade jag tillsammans-målning på ett annat sätt ... inte så mycket att de var alla där tillsammans på första gången,  istället en och två så att det inte var överväldigande - det blev ett slags moment bild - men många tillsammanskonst åprojekt blev på det viset också). På bilden var det ett barn som målade och tre barn som tittade på ... två av åskådare hade visat att dom inte tyckte om att bli kladdig i tidigare aktiviteter. Det var så mycket glädje när barnet målade att båda barnen som inte tyckte om att bli kladdig ville prova ... och det här är skönheten att tillsammans målning att barn kan inspirera varandra. Båda dessa två målade bara under en mycket kort tid ... men dom hade vågat prova något som dom hade undvikit passionerat innan.




sometimes a together artwork is not about art AT ALL. This piece was a morning meeting, it was about supporting the group to take turns, supporting the group to take the time to think and reflect and to support the group to help each other... it was not about being creative and expressing themselves through art.
The idea was that each child selected three squares of tissue paper... the colours on offer were the same colours found on Elmer the Elephant by David McKee - the children needed to glue their three squares onto the elephant in order and also to make sure that the same colour square did not touch each other (although corners were allowed). This was a lot of thinking for eleven 2-3 year olds It required patience to wait your turn (each child had several turns), but being an active adviser also helped with that. It also meant that children could not just select their favourite colour but had to explore other colours too.
At the end the elephant was cut out and used as part of storytelling. The children also got the opportunity to draw their own elephants and glue on pieces as they wished - but then the focus was more on painting with the glue rather than fixing pieces of paper onto their art.
Ibland handlar det inte om konst alls. Denna aktivitet var ett morgonmöte, det handlade om att stödja gruppen för att vända sig och stödja gruppen för att ta sig tid att tänka och reflektera och stödja gruppen för att hjälpa varandra ... det handlade inte om att vara kreativ och uttrycka sig genom konst.
Tanken var att varje barn valde tre rutor av silkespapper ... färgerna som erbjuds var samma färger som finns på Elmer Elefant av David McKee - barnen behövde limma sina tre rutor på elefanten i ordning och också för att se till att att samma färgruta inte rörde varandra (hörn var tillåtna). Det här var mycket att tänka på för elva 2-3 åringar. Det krävde tålamod att vänta på din tur (varje barn hade flera varv), men att vara en aktiv rådgivare hjälpte också med det. Det innebar också att barn inte bara kunde välja sin favoritfärg men var tvungen att undersöka andra färger.
I slutet klippte vi elefanten ut och användes som en del av berättandet. Barnen fick också möjlighet att rita sina egna elefanter och limma på bitar som de ville - men då var fokus mer på att måla med limmet än att fixera pappersstycken på sin konst.


this was another artwork.. making leaves for a tree which was more about supporting the children with understanding boundaries than it was about being creative. What happens if you paint out of the lines and into someone else's area, how could we resolve conflicts, how could we use self-regulation to avoid conflicts... can someone paint over the lines by accident, or is it always on purpose? Lots of ideas for the children to explore.
detta var ett annat konstverk .. göra stora blad för ett träd - som handlade mer om att stödja barnens förståelse av gränser och samtycke än att vara kreativ. Vad händer om du målar ur linjerna och in i någon annans område, hur kan vi lösa konflikter, hur kan vi använda själv-reglering för att undvika konflikter ... kan någon måla över linjerna oavsiktligt eller är det alltid med viljan? Massor av idéer för barnen att utforska.


and yet another artwork about turn taking. patience, thinking about colours, self regulating, concentrating... this was again not an art session per se, but a morning meeting/circle time/philosophy session.
Ytterlia en konstverk som handlade om turtagning, tålamod, att reflektera kring färgar, själv-reglering och koncentration - detta var egentligen en samling och inte en konst aktivitet i ateljén.


This was the first "Together painting" in the sense that it was labelled a together painting before we started... I wrote "TILLSAMMANS" on the paper in big letters which is Swedish for "TOGETHER". It was a part of a project called Together on the Square where we were exploring collaboration, empathy and the local area through the children's interests.
In the beginning I needed to have a list - a turn taking list, as there was so much disagreements about who should paint and when. There were two pots of paint, one black and one white. The idea being that the children needed to talk to each other about swapping colours... giving them the chance to learn how to ask respectfully, how to say no respectfully, to be aware that others are waiting (and if you don't like to wait, maybe they don't) and also to learn how to wait (if you don't like having to change colours to quickly, maybe others don't). This was a way for the children to learn how to socially interact with each other. It was not conflict free, but I was there to support them if needed. After a week the children did not need a turn-taking list any more, they were able to do this themselves (no longer waiting a few cm away saying "is it my turn yet?" on repeat) - they learned that there was time to paint, that they could play and return to the together painting repeatedly and have several turns during the day. The children had to learn that there was time... and everything did not need to happen now... other could be first sometimes.
Det här var den första "Tillsammans" målningen i den meningen att vi medvetet kallade den "Tillsammansmålning" innan vi började ... Jag skrev "TILLSAMMANS" på pappret i stora bokstäver,. Det var en del av ett projekt kallat Tillsammans på torget där vi undersökte samarbete, empati och lokalområdet genom barnens intressen.
I början behövde jag ha en lista - en turas om lista, eftersom det var så många meningsskiljaktigheter om vem som skulle måla och när. Det fanns två krukor av färg, en svart och en vit. Tanken var att barnen behövde prata med varandra om att byta färger ... ge dom chansen att lära sig att fråga respektfullt, hur man säger nej på ett respektfullt sätt, att vara medveten om att andra väntar (och om du inte gillar att vänta, kanske andra gör inte det heller) och också att lära sig att vänta (om du inte gillar att behöva byta färg snabbt, kanske andra gör inte inte heller). Detta var ett sätt för barnen att lära sig om social interaktion med varandra. Det var inte konfliktfritt, men jag var där för att stödja dom om det behövdes. Efter en vecka behövde barnen inte längre en turas om lista, dom kunde göra det själv (dom klarade av att vänta utan att vara några cm bort och fråga "Är det min tur ännu?") Dom lärde sig att det fanns tid för att måla, att dom kunde leka och återvända till tillsammansmålningen upprepade gånger och ha flera varv under dagen. Barnen måste lära sig att det finns tid ... och allt behövde inte hända nu på en gång ... andra kunde vara första ibland.

the together painting was active for different length of time -  sometimes a week, sometimes much longer... with different layers being added. There were many discussions about was it OK to paint over someone's work or not, and what happened to that image, was it still there. A lot of photographs were taken at the children's request, as they soon learned they could document their process and keep their artwork that way too. This was a great way for the children to understand how photography could be used as a memory and also as a form of documentation.
tillsammansmålningen var aktiv under en olika längd tider - ibland en vecka, ibland mycket längre ... med olika lager tillagda. Det fanns många diskussioner om det var OK att måla över någons arbete eller inte, och vad hände med den bilden var det fortfarande kvar. Många fotografier togs på barnens begäran, eftersom de snart lärde sig att de kunde dokumentera sin process och behålla sitt konstverk på så sätt. Detta var ett bra sätt för barnen att förstå hur fotografering kan användas som ett minne och också som en form av dokumentation.
eventually more and more children could paint at the same time as the children became more socially competent at the easel. Learning how to share the paint pots and how to communicate their desire for colour change and also their desire to not swap... they learned to do this in a respectful way... although some scaffolding still was needed on occasion. And when there were many children at the painting at the same time then space was a premium and finding space for your own creativity could be tricky... but this was all part of the skill package... conflict resolution.
I always chose the colours in the sense that they would offer the children experiences of new colours being formed when mixed... and not for it always to turn brown...(although brown happened on occasion too)
så småningom kunde fler och fler barn måla samtidigt eftersom barnen blev mer socialt kompetenta vid stafflin. Att lära sig hur man delar färg med varandra, och hur man kommunicerar sin önskan om att byta färg och också deras önskan att inte byta ... de lärde sig att göra detta på ett respektfullt sätt ... även om lite stöd fortfarande behövdes ibland. Och när det fanns många barn samtidigt var utrymme en premie och att hitta utrymme för din egen kreativitet kan vara knepigt ... men det här var en del av färdighetspaketet ... konfliktlösning.
Jag valde alltid färgerna i den meningen att de skulle erbjuda barnen upplevelser av nya färger som bildas när de blandas ... och inte för att det alltid ska bli brunt varje gång ... (även om det brunt hände ibland också)
it also became a place to test writing skills... and this inspired other children... so it was a great way for literacy to spread through play across the ages.
det blev också en plats att testa hur man skriva - som inspirerade andra barn - det var ett underbart organisk sätt att sprida skrift intresse inom lek.
The together paintings often became a wonderful sensory experience for many of the children... one child would start painting their arms an others would follow.
Tllsammansmålningar blev ofta ett tillfälle för sensorisk utforskande för många av barnen - ett barn började måla på sina armar och andra härmade 
it was also a place where we tested new techniques... like putting tape across and then peeling it off when the paint was dry...
Det var också en plats att testa olika tekniker... t.ex att använda tejp och sedan ta bort den när färgen var torr...
or dipping straws into paint and blowing it onto the paper
eller att doppa sugrör i färga och sedan blåsa ut färgen på pappret
or gluing bits of paper onto the paper using glitter filled glue... this was to create a hedge of thorns and flowers as part of a sleep beauty project the children were exploring.
eller att limma små pappersbitar med glitter lim ... här skapade barnen häcken från Törnrosa
sometimes we decided BEFOREHAND how to collaborate... here the children made rainbow - each child with their own colour and taking it in turns to make a series of rainbows across the paper... They really had to check each rainbow to see which one was the next for them to paint, so that the colours would come in the "right order" - the children helped each other out.
Ibland vi bestämde INNAN hut vi skulle samarbeta - här barnen bestämde att dom skulle måla många regnbåge - varje barn målade med sitt regnbågs färg och turades om med att streck. Dom verkligen behövde kolla hur dom gjorde så att färgarna kom i rätt ordning, något som barnen klarade av att göra själv när dom samarbetade.
sometimes instead of pots I would put a tray of colour out for them to use - often the tray itself would become the artwork - and there could be intense dialogues between the children when one wanted the colours separate and the others were mixing on the tray... these were great opportunities to learn.
ibland jag presenterade an bricka med färg på istället för små burkar med färg - ofta blev brickan som en konstverk också... men det var alltid en dialog mellan barnen - ska vi blanda på brickan eller inte, vad händer med färgarna då...
Together painting can be taken outside... this is plastic stretched between trees... the same idea of different colour pots with a brush in each and for the children to enter a dialogue with each other to change colour. This was part of the International Fairy Tea Party celebrations that are held every year in September...
Tillsammansmålningar kan ske utomhus också - såsom en stor bit plast sträckt ut mellan träden - samma idé att det fanns många burkar med olika färgar som barnen måste byta med varandra. Det här var en del av vårt firande av International Fairy Tea Party (Älvkalaset)
more outside collaborative art - it does not always have to be paint...
mer utomhuskonst... det behöver inte vara målarfärg hela tiden
sometimes it is using what the children find
ibland det är saker som barnen hitta

and they can sometimes find all sorts of junk to create with...
och kan skapa med alla möjliga saker
some collaborative artworks have been done very differently... in the sense that they did not work on them at the same time... we had 11 children and 6 pieces of art... half the group went outside to play while half worked on the first stage of creating a magic forest...
vissa samarbets-konstverk skapades på ett annat sätt... den här gången arbetade barnen på samma konstverk på olika tider - 11 barn jobbade på 6 bakgrund - hälften gick utomhus medan hälften jobbade med en magisk skog - sedan nästa gång var det tvärtom
then the other half would come in and continue the magic forest process... this happened many times until the children were satisfied
den andra hälften fortsatt på den magiska skogen med en annan teknik - detta skedde många gånger
layer by layer...
lager på lager 
and then a few months later the children decided that the forest were no longer correct... winter had arrived and we needed to change the look of the forest... so we took them down from the wall, lined them up on the table and then on another table at the other side of the room I put lots of white tissue paper for the children to rip up, make balls with etc and glue onto the forest images... all 11 children on the 6 forest artworks - it was an interesting dynamic watching the children negotiate the movement in the room and interacting with each other to ensure each forest picture became wintery.
och sedan några månader senare bestämde barnen att skogen inte längre var korrekt ... Vinter hade kommit och vi behövde förändra skogens utseende ... så vi tog dom ner från väggen, lade dem upp på bordet och sedan på ett annat bord vid andra sidan av rummet satte jag massor av vitt silkespapper för barnen att riva upp, göra bollar med etc och limma på skogsbilderna ... alla 11 barn på de 6 skogsverken - det var en intressant dynamik - barnen förhandlar deras rörelse i rummet och interagerar med varandra för att säkerställa att varje skogsbild blir vintrig.

This idea of a communal paint centre I have used many times... this was part of a rainforest painting... each child painted a rainforest using flowers and leaves... the first session was leaves, the background, using a variety of greens... the children came to a central table to dip leaves and then print on their own paper... the idea being there is movement and the need to take turns with the paints... and not just to paint their own creation in isolation.
Den här tanken på ett gemensamt målcenter har jag använt många gånger ... det här var en del av en regnskogsmålning ... varje barn målade en regnskog med blommor och blad ... den första sessionen var löv, bakgrunden, med en mängd olika gröna ... barnen kom till ett centralt bord för att doppa blad och sedan trycka på eget papper ... idén är att det finns rörelse och behovet att turas om med färgerna ... och inte bara att måla sin egen skapelse isolerat.
it was also about sharing materials, and inspiring each other.
det handlade om att dela material också och att inspirera varandra
I have done several spaghetti/string painting over the years, in a variety of ways too... but this way of doing it in small groups and collaborating is the way I have enjoyed most... as I see the interactions between the children have been at the best. A pile of string or spaghetti, dip in the paints and then let the noodle/string dance on the paper in a variety of ways - some children have told stories together as they create the art, some have sang together, once I saw a group do this in total silence.
Jag har gjort flera spagetti/strängmålning under åren, på många olika sätt också ... men det här sättet att göra det i små grupper och samarbeta är det sätt jag har gillat mest ... eftersom jag ser interaktionerna mellan barnen har varit optimal. En hög av sträng eller spagetti, dopp i färgerna och låt nudlarna/strängen dansa på pappret på olika sätt - några barn har berättat sagor tillsammans när dom skapar konsten, vissa har sjungit ihop, en gång observerade jag en grupp som gjorde detta i totalt tystnad.
the art is then done over time in a series of small groups... adding more and more depth to the artwork.
konstverket skapade över tid med en serie smågrupper - lager på lager

sometimes artwork can take a long time to get going - like this one did... I was sweaty at the end of this due to having to work so hard at the scaffolding and trying to keep my cool... I was getting frustrated by the children's total lack of listening to each other. It was a new group to me, and after working for four years with the same group and really working on the group dynamic and how to listen to each other, it came as a shock to work with a group that could not. But just because it was not easy is not reason enough not to do it... maybe it is more reason to do it... to expose the children to an opportunity to learn about the needs of others and how to make sure their own needs are met too.
ibland kan konstverket ta en lång tid att komma igång - som den här gjorde ... Jag var svettig vid slutet av detta på grund av att jag var tvungen att arbeta så hårt på att skapa "scaffolding"  (stödja) och försöka hålla mig lugn ... Jag blev frustrerad av barnens totala brist på att lyssna på varandra. Det var en ny grupp för mig och efter att ha arbetat i fyra år med samma grupp och verkligen arbetat med gruppdynamiken och hur man lyssnar på varandra kom det som en chock att arbeta med en grupp som inte kunde. Men bara för att det inte var lätt är det inte anledning nog att undvika det ... kanske det är mer anledning att göra det ... att utsätta barnen för en möjlighet att lära sig om andras behov och hur man ska se till att deras egna behoven är uppfyllda också.
more outside art collaboration... this time using coloured ice on fabric
mer utomhus samarbeta - färgade is och tyg
Together painting on the square.The water source was two spray bottles that the children needed to collaborate together with to ensure they could all paint... as well as changing the colour pucks with each other.
Tillsammansmålning på torget. Endast två spray flaskor som barnen ska turas om med samt flera färg puck att samarbeta kring
some outdoor art is more science than art... this is where the children painted on the slide (well paper on the slide) we also used the swings to create art too together.
ibland är utomhus konst mer som vetenskap - vi målade på en rutschkana (papper på rutschkana) - vi användade gungorna att måla tillsammans med också...
vi inte hade en egen gård, så vi tog med allting till en lite park i närheten - man KAN om man vill.
the swing art became the background for the fairy portraits... the children drew each other, added wings and then cut them out.
konstverket från gångarna och rutschkanan blev bakgrunden till mer konst - älvporträtt - där barnen ritade av varandra och sedan ritade vingar och klippte ut.
taking turns mixing the spices.
turas om att blanda kryddor i vitfärg

this is part of making a background for a Moroccan inspired fairy land...
en del av en bakgrunden till ett älvland inspirerad av Morocko - ett barns familj kom därifrån

it was also about self regulation... can I put paint on all of my friends backs? Will they like it? Should I ask first, is it ok to say no?
det handlade om själv-reglering - få jag lägga färga på mina kompisars rygg? Vill dom tycka om det? Borde jag fråga första? Är det OK att säga nej?


and this is the sky for that fairy land... some made the trees, some made the sky etc... all the children do not all have to do the same thing... we can all contribute in different ways. This session was designed to help the children with pronunciation difficulties to train their mouths through blowing the paint through the straws... Paint on sugar solution.
det här är himlen från älvlandet - vissa gjorde träd, andra gjorde himlen... vi behöver inte alla göra samma sak för att det ska vara lika - vi kan delta på olika sätt med lika värde. Den här aktivitet var skapade för att stödja barnen med uttrycks svårigheter, lite extra munträning genom att blåsa genom en sugrör - färg på sockerlösning.

I have done a lot of light table painting with children... in pairs and in groups... as well as individually. The small space adds a challenge, but that is a part of the process. Again a lot of story telling, singing and dancing usually happens.
Jag har gjort många ljusbord målningar med barn - i par och i grupper, samt individuellt. Det trånga utrymme skapa en ny utmaning, men det är också en del av processen. Igen det ske mycket sagoberättande, sång och dans här.

and it has seldom been a negative experience as there is just so much wonder and joy.
det har sällan varit en negativ upplevelse eftersom det finns så mycket glädje och beundran
some together paintings have been a meta dialogue... a reaction to a philosophy session... here the children has explained that to play magical powers (what we had discussed in our philosophy session) there was a need to dance on a rainbow. So together we created a big rainbow to dance on... with our feet... and the children cheering each other on...
vissa tillsammans målningar har varit en meta-dialog - nästa steg i en filosofisk samtal - här barnen hade förklarat att om man skulle leka magiska krafter (som vi hade diskuterat i den filosofiska samtalet) måste man dansa på en regnbåge. Då skapade vi en regnbåge för att kunna dansa på - med fötterna - och barnen visade glädje och stödja varandra i processen.
sometimes it has just been about paint directly on the floor... because they wanted to clean up like Cinderella (boys and girls). So we paint and then we clean it all up together. Taking responsibility together.
ibland har vi målat direkt på golvet - för att dom vill städa som Askungen (pojkar och flickor) - Så vi målade på golvet och tog ansvar att städa efteråt tillsammans

big painting on the floor... working out together how to make brown... testing theories and then finding a solution.
This was part of making a gingerbread house as we explored Hansel and Gretel. The candies for the house was made with paint scented with peppermint, lemon etc...
att måla stort på golvet - att testa hur man skapa brun - testa olika teorier för att hitta en lösning. Det här var en del av att skapa en stor pepparkakshus (Hans och Greta). Vi målade godis med färg som luktade mynta, citron osv

individual portraits brought together. Individuals make up a group.
individuella porträtt, fast tillsammans. Individer skapa en grupp.

here we needed a big artwork in the dining area, not to just cheer up the room but also to act as a sound absorber... so we painted on fabric. The whole preschool was involved. The younger children first, printing with vegetables and fruit, and also dancing with coloured feet and hands... fabric is great for this as it is not slippery.
Här fanns ett behov av att skapa en stor konstverk i matsalen för att dämpa ljudet - då målade vi på tyg. Hela förskolan deltog. Dom yngre barnen målade först med frukt och grönsaker men också med fötter och händerna - dansande - tyg är så underbart eftersom det blir inte halkig och är då tryggt för dom yngre barn att utforska med mindre risk för skada.

then the older children finished off the artwork by using black paint to draw fruit, vegetables and other foods.
dom äldre barn avslutade konstverket genom att måla frukt, grönsaker och andra mat med svart färg
this is a similar artwork... where the younger children made the background and the older children painted spring images on top... a way for ALL the children to be a part of the process.
det här är ett liknande konstverk ... där dom yngre barnen målade bakgrunden först och dom äldre barnen målade vårbilder ovanpå ... ett sätt att alla kan delta
some together paintings need a lot of collaboration... here the children are egg rolling... too steep and the egg breaks, not steep enough and the egg won't roll. We did many kinds of collaborative work with balls, magnets, and poles with paintbrushes dangling down.
vissa tillsammansmålningar kräver mycket samarbete - här barnen rulla ett ägg - för snabbt och ägget gå sönder, luta den för lite rulla ägget inte alls. Vi har gjort många samarbetskonstverk med bollar, magneter och skaft med en pensel som hänger från mitten...
back to turn taking and risk taking... this is just on a table to add flower prints to a big spring background... there have been artworks where children have taken it in turns to climb a step ladder and drop paint from up high... the children supporting and encouraging each other, as well as making sure that they are safe.
turtagning och risk - här står barnen på ett bord för att trycka blommor med toarullar på en vår bakgrund - man kan också klättra upp för en stege för att hälla ut färg (hur högt våga man klättra?) barnen stödja och uppmuntra varandra och ta ansvar att det är tryggt (men vi vuxna ta huvudansvaret självklart)




 So, as you see, there are VERY many ways that children can collaborate and paint together... and I have felt that the benefits are so worth the trouble. Yes, this style of working can get messy... both with paint everywhere, but also socially, as we are putting the children together in close proximity to experience new things... but what I observed is that the more the children were exposed to working together the better they got at it... and the easier it was to use these skills they learned in other play and social situations...


 This does not touch the collaborative nature of loose parts, or construction and other areas of learning... the focus of this post was on art.

Så, som du ser, finns det VÄLDIGT många sätt som barn kan samarbeta och måla ihop ... och jag tycker att fördelarna är så värda besväret. Ja, den här arbetsstilen kan bli rörig ... både med färg överallt men också socialt, eftersom vi sätter barnen nära varandra samtidigt som dom uppleva nya saker ... men det jag observerade är att ju mer barnen utsattes för att arbeta tillsammans desto bättre blir dom på att lösa problem osv ... och desto lättare var det att använda dessa färdigheter dom lärde sig i andra lek och sociala situationer ...


  Detta berör inte den samverkande karaktären av att leka med lösa delar (loose parts), eller konstruktion och andra områden av lärande ... fokuseringen av detta inlägg var - konst.