This post is Part 2 to a post from 26th February
Supporting Children’s Identities as Designers and Makers through Inquiry (Link to part one).
How We Organize Ourselves
An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.
Products can be created and developed by following a process.
Lines of Inquiry
Form: Products are derived from a variety of sources.
Causation: Products go through a process of creation.
Responsibility: Products can be used, reused and repurposed responsibly.
After some of the children shared their idea about creating a working museum of their own, the teaching team focused the learning on supporting this action. We met altogether with the children in both classes and invited Carl and Anishka to share more about their thinking. Without exception, children from both kindergarten classes were excited and highly motivated to plan and be a part of sharing their learning as designers and makers with a museum of their own.
“Me and Carl had an idea. My idea is if we make a bag we paint it whichever colour we want and give it to the museum and write that we are going to the museum again. If write and give it to her and she says we could put into the museum so other people will see it too. When we are finished for the whole museum we can teach the others how they can do it and we can show them too.” Anishka (5)
“We can make a different museum, monoprinting, construction area. Actually, also I have another idea that the bag makers should pretty many bags and I thought about when they are going back and when they are going back they could have the monoprinting. We are just, like just one of them needs to have a sign where they say. The one that can do the bags, can do the bags and if they don’t know they can come over and that’s the thing I thought about and show people with arrows, around the whole school.” (Anishka (5) and Carl (5)
The children brainstormed possible venues for the museum. Some felt our classrooms would be an obvious choice but after much discussion one child suggested a familiar public space in the school which she described as “you know the place where everyone goes for assembly”. The group was in agreement that this would fit the children’s requirements of “big enough for lots of people”.
The first step after this decision was to support the children’s planning. The children had many ideas which they shared through dialogue, writing, drawing and model making. They decided that the museum should be a place where the children’s work as designers and makers could be showcased but it was also important to them that it be a space where they could teach others about the creation process. One child shared, “Everything you don’t know you can learn here.”
We noticed that the children made significant connections to their experience visiting The Museum für Gestaltung at the beginning of this inquiry. Many of their initial ideas integrated components they had experienced on the trip such as the way areas were presented, opportunities to learn about designers by “listening with headphones”. Collaboratively, the children decided the products they had made and evidence of processes should be organized by areas including Monoprinting Products, Wire Designs, Clothing Design, Upcycled Machine Designs and Biographer Film Makers.
The children drew their visions for the museum as well as represented their ideas three dimensionally with block models and labels. There was much negotiation and problem solving as the children dialogued with each other and with the teachers.
Throughout the inquiry as well as during the museum preparation stage, the children were active protagonists in realizing their individual and collective visions. They held a strong shared desire that the museum be a space where they could share as well as teach about what they had learned. As a team of educators, we found this an especially significant indicator of the children’s strong sense of identity as designers and makers with agency and ownership over their learning.
As a next step, the children identified that they needed to communicate with others about their intention to create a working museum. Using their knowledge and understandings from the visit to the Museum für Gestaltung, coupled with their research in school, they designed, wrote and created invitations and publicity posters in order to share information about this important event with the larger community.
The children worked in small groups together with the Atelierista to create aesthetically captivating posters. A suggestion by one of the children to recycle some of the monoprints they had created in order to make a new product, the poster, was agreed to by the group.
There was much anticipation and excitement the week before the museum opening. The children’s interactions with each other and the wider community during this final planning stage was filled with a strong sense of ownership, as a result of the shared learning which the children were eager to showcase. As we had noticed early on in their learning journey, the children’s identities as designers and makers came through consistently in the way they approached the setting up for the exhibit. The children were serious, committed and collaborative. As others in the community expressed curiosity about what was happening in our common space, the children responded with pride.
Although the group had developed expertise with the processes involved in the creation of a range of products, the teachers proposed the children consider which area they individually felt most confident, skilled or interested in sharing about. The children would act as experts, guides and teachers in that particular area. The children created identification badges so that visitors to the museum would know who had expertise in the different processes.
The Creative Design Museum was a powerful example of children collaborating and taking agency over their learning. It has been incredible to see the level of engagement and learning throughout the unit. As teachers, and researchers in the journey we have been able to see the evidence of student agency come alive. The level of expertise and hands on learning has supported the children with expanding their knowledge and understanding in rich and meaningful ways.
Visitors to The Creative Design Museum were invited to share written feedback which supported the children with reflecting on their accomplishments.
Teacher Reflections from Process To Product…
As teachers we collaborated and discussed throughout the inquiry what we had observed and heard from the children as they were engaged in their project based explorations, we began to understand that we too were going through a process through supporting and engaging with the children in their learning and planning for future provocations and experiences. Through scheduled weekly meetings to excited informal conversations passing in the corridor, we began to build a deep and detailed understanding of the process the children were exploring, and the possibilities for supporting the inquiry further. As a team of Kindergarten Teachers, EYC Coordinator and Atelierista, we recognized that our roles in reflecting, revisiting and sharing our observations collaboratively was central to the children’s agency over the process of their inquiry.
A Collaborative Project by:
The ICS Kindergarten Children, Alexandra Gentile (Kindergarten Teacher), Trista Romocki (Kindergarten Teacher), Victoria Newman (Early Years Coordinator), Joanna McGarva-Brown (EYC Teaching Assistant), Chiga Schochet (EYC Teaching Assistant), Andrea Mills (Early Years Atelierista), Claire Febrey (PYP Coordinator)