Sunday, January 24, 2016

Workshop Reflections: Scaffolding and Project Work in Cohort 7 + 9

Each spring at Tumbleweed, we host a Parent-Teacher workshop. This provides us with a unique opportunity to sit down with parents, without children in the room, and discuss the exciting work the children are doing, as well as have a chance for more extended discussions between parents and teachers that are difficult to accomplish during the busy times of drop-off and pick-up. This year, the teachers of Cohort 7 + 9 decided to organize our workshop around sharing the ideas of Scaffolding and Project Work with parents - hoping to give some insight into how we view teaching and learning in a classroom of two- and three-year-olds, as well as recognizing and reflecting upon the beautiful project work the children dove into over the last year.


In scaffolding children's interests, we seek to guide children only as much as needed, to encourage and inspire them to follow their interest just a little bit further.  We think of this as “planting seeds,” meaning we might offer a little information we researched, or invite the children to watch a short video connected to an interest they’ve expressed, and then we step back, observing them as they take it to the next level.  In this way, we seek to always follow the children’s interests, allowing our “curriculum” to emerge from their current focus, understanding, and processing.

Project Work

Project work encompasses the variety of scaffolding techniques we use, in response to our group’s specific interests in the world that surrounds them.  In selecting a topic on which to focus, we reflect on our documentation and observations of the children in order to identify something that the children are repeatedly drawn to, and that ignites in them questions and observations - a desire to know more.  Once we have selected a topic, we consider how it can be connected to three different areas of learning that guide all the planning we do around how to scaffold children’s interests.

  • Life Systems

    • How does the world work?
    • What is a life cycle?
    • How do life cycles look different among different species or communities?

Reflecting on Project Work From 2015

Bees gave us a way to …
  • bring understanding to how a bee stings out of self-defense, as a reaction to its environment, thereby building empathy and perspective around our place in the natural world.
  • find ways we are similar and different to bees.  For example, bees drink nectar, and we drink water, but we eat food with our teeth and bees use a long proboscis.
  • learn about bees’ homes, what they look like and how they function.

  • learn about the waggle dance, which stretched our understanding of what language can look like.
  • bring images of bees and their environments into our classroom, which became focal points of conversation and story about bees’ lives.
Life Systems
  • connect to each season - as flowers bloomed, bees were thriving and as the weather cooled we saw them less and less.
  • understand and appreciate flowers for their function as well as their appearance.
  • explore the concept of nourishment through an animal whose food system looks much different than ours.

We explored bees through...
  • physical observation.
  • flower deconstruction.
  • investigating and discussing pictures of bees and their homes.
  • art materials, with colors and textures inspired by what we noticed about bees.
  • books about bees and their environments
  • videos of the waggle dance and what it looks like inside a beehive

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