Friday, 13 January 2017

Documenting... learning to see the learning in play (Palestine 10)

Today I have been sightseeing... a trip to Nablus, one of the world's oldest cities that has been continuously inhabited, and also Sebastiya. This is the area of the Samaritans... not that there are many Samaritans left these days... these are also very historic places... King Herod was in Sebastiya, as was Jezebel and John the Baptist has his tomb here... his head being reportedly laid to rest here.
For me there was a link to my own city of York... Helena lived here... she was the mother of Constantine who was made Roman emperor in York.

But back to the main purpose of this post...

Yesterday i went with the Freedom Theatre's preschool to a farm owned by the family of one of the teachers. It was about a 20 minute walk from the preschool... and there was lots to discover on the way...  from muddy puddles (which only two children could splash in, as they were the only two with boots on... most had slippers on, some had shoes on... when I return in April I am going to bring a variety of sized rubber boots for the preschool to use on these occasions)... there were plants and flowers and berries to smell and look at and learn about.

The small farm had sheep, hens, turkeys, olive trees, herbs, lemon and orange trees... so much to discover. The farmer milked one of the sheep (since there are lambs now, the sheep can be milked, this the children learned too). The milk was taken to the open fire to be heated and let boil for a while so that it was safe to drink. We all got to drink warm fresh sheeps milk... my first time to drink sheeps milk... it was creamy, rich but not as pungent as goats milk. We also drank chai (tea) made with herbs found in the garden.
The children could freely interact with the animals, run around, climb trees and enjoy the tastes and smells that this farm could offer.

I took photographs of the whole excursion... and I have made two documentations... one to show the activities that support writing... climbing trees, hanging from the swing ropes from the branch of one of the olive trees, mushing olives with a stick, splashing water with a stick, washing the small cups after drinking... I also showed how much the children had learned about nature and the world around them... the different herbs, the different trees, the cabbage still with its roots attached, where milk comes from, that it needs to be boiled first etc etc etc
These documentations I will show to the teachers tomorrow.
Sadly the schools are on their winter breaks right now, as I had hoped that they would all do a document of their observations of their children in their settings - so what I will do instead is get them to take photographs of their "play" tomorrow during our full day session and to share the learning through photos and texts.

The documentations are VERY simple, using power point and little text... the idea is to get them going, thinking about the learning through observation... as well as giving the educators a tool to show the parents that learning IS happening even though they are not filling in worksheets. It is also why I chose not to bring my camera... by only using my mobile phone to document there is no excuse saying that I have tools that they do not have... I have the same tools... although I am unsure if they have access to a computer. Printing out would be best... but if not then showing the photographs on their phone and explaining the learning (having it written down on paper, as a document) will suffice.

and yes, that fireplace was open... and not once did the children, aged 3-5 even think about putting their fingers on it, or I felt they were at any kind of risk... they stood round it to watch the milk boil for a while... and then continued exploring the farm.

Tomorrow I introduce loose parts to the educators, we will be messing about together... and they will be bringing in 3 stones each and will tell the story of their stones before we make a pile together ready for different kinds of learning.

There has also been a big pile of old paper there all week... I am hoping to use that paper to challenge them to make a 3D house with it... so I am REALLY hoping that no-one has come to tidy it away. They will get some tape but that is all.

I will be taking down buttons and also some other loose parts to use on the overhead that has been found in the Jenin markets by the theatre stage manager... he finds all sorts of marvelous things.. and is great at fixing things too...

1 comment:

  1. This is really interesting to read, I can relate to some of the issues with the parents. Even though the majority of the parents are understanding that children do not need to fill in worksheets to learn, they need experiences, and they need to play, we still need to work on educating the parents that having sheets or a one size fits all craft brought home, does not mean that the child has learnt something. Sometimes it is sad to see that out of 10 children only 2 are able to enjoy a preplanned craft, the rest can't wait to go and play .