Thank you all so much for joining us this week as we continue to figure out this "new normal". We hope that you have found ways to keep busy and engaged with each other, the Brown Room families, and the St. John's family as a whole! Your continued support is so meaningful to us.
Coming together as a large group, small group, and as a school is what keeps us connected to each other and the work that we do at school. Each day, we are working to provide you with provocations and feedback that encourage the children to explore, engage in divergent and critical thinking, create with a variety of materials, and make connections to the world and people around them. As educators, both in the classroom and from afar, we hope to scaffold their learning in a way that encourages them to try new things, work confidently and independently, and reach the "next step" in their development.
In the content below, we hope to share photos and memories, but also some thoughts behind our process as educators.
Coming together as a whole group
This week, our intention for our large group Zoom calls was to connect through construction. We saw quite the variety of materials: Magnatiles, puzzle pieces, cardboard blocks, lincoln logs, doll house and furniture, wooden Jenga pieces, unit blocks, and Wedgits. We saw a variety of structures, many which required careful attention to balance and stability.
Of course, the children connecting to each other is essential to the work that we do. While we may have moved to a new platform and way of connecting, the children never cease to amaze us with their ability to adapt and change. We heard them speaking directly to each other during this call, hoping that their friends would notice their work.
"Look what I made! Not very stable. It's really stable now." - Cedar
"I'm gonna keep up that structure." Jack
"I have rainbow blocks!" - Janie
"Lochie, look what I'm building! Hi Janie!" - Cedar
"I'm building a house for my Elmo!" - Maxon
Small groups brought us new information about what the children have been thinking about. In all three of our small groups, the children brought their stuffed animals and pets to share. We saw many bears, a bunny, a "sealy", dolphin, cats, dogs, etc.
This "feedback" from the children inspired us for how we would build upon our construction work from Monday. For Friday, we then invited the children to use their construction materials to build a house for their animals/stuffed animals. Our approach is to listen to the children; listen by observing their behavior, listening to their words, reading between the lines what they say, etc. On this day, their eagerness to share their animals, told us that we needed to make sure we incorporated these animals into our work.
Friday Construction Zoom Call
During our Friday Zoom call, we saw many different types of structures in the works. Violet had a clubhouse, Giacomo built a fort, Reed built a tall house for her dog, and more. The children have done an incredible job of adjusting to this new platform. We saw so many of them engaged and working as we gave each of them a turn to share.
We have been trying to implement vocabulary that might help them understand our process. We will take turns "highlighting" each child when it's their turn to share, or we notice that they have something to say. "Going to put everyone on mute" or "make it where I can only hear ______" will indicate that we are listening to one child at a time. This vocabulary will evolve and shift as we all get used to the nature of Zoom meetings, but we appreciate your assistance with this. Just as we do in the classroom, we want to make sure that every child's voice is heard and respected.
We have opened two hour windows (10 am- noon) on Mondays (Melanie) and Thursdays (Elyse) for the children to have individual FaceTime calls with us. Our goal is to maintain our individual relationships with each child/family. These 20 minute time slots can be used for sharing a story, experience, game, a simple chat, or even a quick check in with the parent. Relationships are at the foundation of what we do, so please take advantage of these times.
A game of funny faces with Cedar
We hope that you've all had a chance to look at Seesaw and the provocations that we have been offering. Please know that we are constantly working to make the threads and responses clear so that our work is as cohesive as possible; no platform is perfect, but we appreciate your cooperation and patience as we all figure this out! It has been so uplifting to see all of the work that you are doing at home. The photos, video, and audio are incredible and so meaningful to the work that we do!
A list of our current (ongoing) provocations:
1. Show us your favorite place in your home
2. Finding Green
4. Symbol Hunt
5. How are you feeling?: Exploring Emotions through Portraiture
7. What do you see in the sky?
8. Finding Yellow
9. Finding (other) colors
10. Our animal friends at home: Drawing and Building
11. Exploring Paper: Surface, Folding, Crumpling, and Wrapping
12. Where is...?
Please know that all of these are merely options. We understand that you are all busy, and materials may be limited. We simply seek to offer you open-ended provocations to engage with during your time at home; provocations that expand on the work that we were doing in the classroom, as well as work that will prepare us for an eventual return to St. John's (physical campus). We will continue to offer a variety of provocations that are in response to the children's work and words. The work and responses of the children are the core of the work that we do.
Thank you for joining us today!
We have been working to set up our YouTube channel and provide you a place to view the teachers/staff of St. John's reading stories for the children. This link should allow you to "play all" or select specific stories that your child may want to listen to.
The playlist will be updated as often as possible with new stories. The link provided should still lead you to an updated playlist when the time comes. Please let us know if you are having any difficulties with this process, and we will troubleshoot with you.
We hope that you all enjoy these stories! Nothing replaces reading with the children in person, but we have seen such wonderful feedback from you all so far regarding these videos.
Thank you so much for the feedback during the PTC meeting today. One of the suggestions we heard from families is that they would like some inspiration and preparation for materials. Included in this announcement are ideas for materials that you could collect. These are merely suggestions/ideas. The final photo is a list of materials that we intend to use this week for our provocations. Please remember that everything is flexible and optional; of course, we want everyone to find a way to participate, create, and enjoy their time at home.