Voices of Practitioners
This teacher research article depicts the intertwined stories of a professional development workshop and its impact on the investigations of an early childhood educator and of three preschool aged children. The study highlights the children’s encounters with sunlight and a mirror ball, and reflects the lasting influence that professional development can have on teaching.
voices of Practitioners Encounters with Sunlight and a Mirror Ball Diane Spahn I wondered how young children experience and understand light and how my own expanded understandings of light would translate into my ability to support children’s explorations. • with commentary by Barry Kluger-Bell and Ellen Hall I n this article, Diane Spahn embarks on a project involving light and reflection inspired by professional development work with Dr. Barry Kluger-Bell, a physicist. Using photographs, video, and reflective journals in a unique way, Spahn captures those telling moments of discovery, of uncertainty, and of trial-and-error as young children try to make sense of their engagement with light-related phenomena. Spahn provides a wonderful example of a teacher’s artful use of key teacher research tools to enrich and deepen teaching. She shows how her own expanded knowledge about the properties of light enabled her to approach the children’s learning in a new way. Careful documentation not only of the children’s words and actions but of her own interpretations of their thinking helped her see possibilities for the children’s explorations. Ecologist Amy Seidl explains that there is the phenomena of change and there is the perception of the changes. This is what Spahn has done so well—using teacher research tools and modes of representation to help us see how children experience the phenomena of light and how they perceive themselves in relation to changes in light and the environment. —Daniel Meier T his teacher research article depicts the intertwined stories of a professional development workshop and its impact on the investigations of an early childhood educator and of three preschoolaged children. The study highlights the children’s encounters with sunlight and a mirror ball, and reflects the lasting influence Diane M. Spahn is the Theater Arts Teacher/ Researcher at Boulder Journey School in Boulder, Colorado. Diane has a background in professional film and theater, which informs her early childhood teaching practice daily. Her work has been presented to members of Hawkins Centers of Learning, at numerous conferences hosted by Boulder Journey School, and most recently at NAEYC’s 2011 National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development. that professional development can have on teaching. Two related questions are the focus of this teacher research: How do young children experience and understand a complex concept like the properties of light? How do my own expanded understandings of light and shadow translate into my practice and subsequent ability to support children’s explorations and construction of knowledge? It Spahn Voices of Practitioners 6, no. 2 (2011) 2