And so our last day at the conference ended with the same intensity that had built all week. The morning was spent split into three groups, and my choice was to find the bridge that links all this wonderful work with the elementary schools, which are considered first through fifth grades. There is so much that we do at Trinity that fit in so beautifully with this philosophy of learning, from our story paths to our workshop approaches to reading and writing. Collaboration is a word that was fully in evidence, as we all know that children learn from each other as well as from their teachers. Children have to learn the codes of society, the letters and words that give them that entrance into the world of literacy. We saw evidence of children in 4/5 grades using google docs to do a collaborative piece of research, each adding their observation in a different color (sound familiar?) as they used technology as a means of coming together on a learning project. Children document much of their own learning through recorders, iPads, pencil/paper, camera…
In the afternoon there was a session on a soundscape project that was done by a kindergarten class as they recorded the sounds that they were able to hear in a square of the city. To extend this sound work they drew a map of the square, made representations of the sounds they heard (such as pigeons flying, people walking) and with the help of their teacher this project the children wrote the “music” of the square.
Thinking about all of this work of the past week, it was mentioned that the role of the teacher is to find “the red thread” that the children will follow as it meanders through their school day. When we find the thread, no matter what it may be, we look for as many ways to stretch the understanding of the path we are following, whether it is frogs, sounds, or eggs. We try to break down the first glance into a more careful, more thorough observation, and in doing so involve the children in writing, drawing, reading, researching, watching, creating, observing, predicting, growing. It is a very organic process, this business of learning, and our evolution as teachers never ends.
Now I am in Milan for one big day of exploration before flying back to Charlotte tomorrow. I am so grateful to Trinity for giving me this opportunity to spend a week completely immersed in thinking about learning in a fresh way. “”Light the Fire” is so aptly named, for my ideas are exploding as I think about ways that I can bring some of this remarkable energy back to my own little ones in the short amount of time that we have before we say goodbye in June.