Page 1

INTERACTIONS / OBSERVATIONS / REFLECTIONS UPON AN ARTIST-TEACHER PARTNERSHIP EMILY WARNER ST JOHN’S PRIMARY SCHOOL MOONBEAMS 16-17


Training Session One // ARTIST + TEACHER JULY 2016 Role of practitioner Learning from an early age The box – the possibilities / enabling vision I am there to synthesise From the bottom up Connecting / direction / approach


HOW TO PROVIDE MEANINGFUL LEARNING EXPERIENCES IN A DEMANDING CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT > HOW IS THIS SUSTAINED? Focused exploration / encouraging focus and possibilities Feed in language of enquiry Are they learning? What can they discover? Multiples / combinations How is this scenario questioning the child? How else can we suggest / alternative language Think through Pathways to possibilities // process // change


Training + Planning Affordances – what are they? Objects, materials, scenarios that present multiple options for interpretation and response. Counter narratives // Solitary Social Visual Logical Aural Verbal Physical Suite of strategies// Anna Ephgrave http://www.carterhatchinfants.com/reception/ http://earlyexcellence.com/ http://www.freedomtolearn.co.uk/links/ ABC does / Alistair Bryce Clegg Provocation: http://www.abcdoes.com/abc-does-a-blog/category/teeth/ Mind Stretchers / Thinking Talking Floorbooks: http://www.claire-warden.com/ https://youtu.be/OY_Bh7EQ1aQ Talking Tubs: https://youtu.be/qZ3yOPYqtno


School Visit: OCT 2016 Two form entry / job share reception class Independent class / shared learning space Timetable outdoor working The children, family, culture, community – priorities and context outside of classroom Demands of curriculum / transition stage How to ignite curiosity Enable enquiry Stimulate thinking beyond the immediate Starting small with provocation box // explore and examine Frame ways of looking / questioning 4 days 2017 developing investigation how to facilitate a interpersonal skills


After visiting St John’s and understanding the context and environment of the both the school and the home life of the children, I was keen to explore how creative materials might stimulate the children’s imaginative responses. And so I asked what kind of materials could I present to the children, that they might not have come across before, and what will they learn from engaging with these materials? I wanted to think about materials that contrasted digital toys and computer based activity, things that looked, felt, smelt and behaved in unusual ways. Or objects that would inspire a story or a narrative that would excite and engage the children as a whole. We called these materials possibilities, and then later affordances - something that offers or inspires an unusual thought or response. These materials might actually be difficult to engage with or confuse or bemuse, but they pose questions and they challenge expectations. And this is when the learning can happen. Objects and materials, and even spaces are full of possibilities when they: Have different multi-sensory qualities Don’t feel and weigh what you might expect - might be cold or hard or heavy when you might have thought the opposite Are in multiples - when in a group of more than one, objects start to become new things and can be used in different ways - a whole load of one thing is really exciting. They might be containers or platforms for things - you can add to or change them around - like a giant jar or a tiny jug - variable sizes and scales are exciting and intriguing Sometimes it can be a really tiny detail or small glimmer of something that catches the eye. Often children like to find or discover affordances themselves - like opening a small package or lifting the lid of a box full of unknown materials Are from a real life context - adult objects or equipment gives a sense of purpose and functionality - a respect and sense of responsibility Operate at different levels - having spaces to move objects between, put things on to and use trays or surfaces as points to share or ponder what has been collected or displayed


FIRST SESSION PLANNING Setting up small provocations – exploring what might be considered an affordance. Exploring ways of presenting and facilitating activity with whole year in shared area. Testing modes of documenting with and without children. SET UP: shared area cleared and created low level, platform and table exploration. Mixture of objects. PART ONE: children open to explore / engage BREAK: refine area, add further provocation and set up documentation PART TWO: continuation of work PART THREE: revisit selected group with box of materials, photos, and sketchpad – facilitate reflection OBSERVATIONS: CYCLE OF PROCESS > explore + test > investigate + identify > make a game > apply a narrative > role play


IN SCHOOL SESSION ONE: JAN 2017 WHAT THEY DISCOVERED Examining objects, working out how things functioned – applied narrative or function. Took to other parts of are to work with existing materials. Light box exploration was extended. Multiple children working with same materials for different purposes. Borrowing and sharing – giving people tasks. HOW IT WAS MOVED ON Areas revised and lifted to tables / added other existing materials. Photography aided reflection and prompted drawing and feedback with children. MOONBEAMS MOMENTS Making memory games with materials in a box. Getting new children involved in existing play groups and extending ideas through suggestion. Children working in abstract ways, experimenting with construction, placement and function. DOCUMENTATION VALUE Photographs aided snapshot reflection – difficult to negotiate in focused play Film works well at capturing whole session, but time consuming and difficult to revisit with children. Captured ‘out of sight’ activity. Camera became a prop for children – intensifying focus and stimulating attention.


Using photographs and actual objects stimulated feedback and drawing – this revisiting promoted a renewed interest in the materials – good way of developing further work. THE POWER OF OBJECTS Functional and practical – sense of purpose Obscure / abstract – endless interpretation and applied to other areas Varied – sets of objects had differing qualities – some lids wouldn’t open on tubes so enquiry was stimulated. Surprises – things didn’t look / feel / operate in expected ways


Platforms / levels – upturned tins became mediation points – platforms to share Children worked better at height / on levels Asked questions and presented comparisons Multiple options dissolved conflicts Stimulated imagination and presented start points for a story Allowed things to be moved, contained, carried and presented Size scale and spatial development Natural game play, negotiation and selection WHAT I LEARNT The children’s natural enquiry and curiosity Various characteristics in children Documentation and role of reflection significant as a connecting process WHAT CHALLENGED / SURPRISED ME Conflict with objects and wanting to share Large group difficult to engage / focus with particular children Speech and language difficulties – working with some children who were silent / engaged with process and experimentation Further considerations: Surfaces / stations / components Managing conflict Ideas expand and retract – like the folding ruler The children work out mechanics and then extend potential Staged presentation THE GENIE What do the children do when given more freedom? How is this built upon?


A larger provision of materials engaged a wider group, and we started to see the emergence of different types of play with the materials imaginative story and narrative emerges. Others explore how materials behave in a process based way (arranging etc). Also game play and imposing rules for calculating and experimenting. The activity dispersed quite easily and the open space diluted some of the play at times.

Started to get a sense that lots were doing interesting learning and how do we show that value what they are doing, and give them the opportunity to reflect and build on experiences. Leading us to ask: How can we create a calmer and more focussed learning space? Additionally how to start to facilitate the children connecting with and reflecting on their learning?


Exploring ways of developing effective learning... How can we (children and staff) engage with learning in a new way? How can we set an expectation of non-expectation?

How can we really value the learning from their independent play? How can we help children make connections with their previous learning and experiences and build on them? How can we capitalise on children’s independent experiences (ie take their learning on) or do we need to?


IN SCHOOL SESSION TWO > FEB 2017 Dedicated space with revisiting group Elevated levels work well – easier to move between table tops White boards work best at upright / face height Maneuvering in the space/ MAGIC // How do we start conversations in the spaces? Images / verbal questions / provocations BOYS: strong hard rock break wobble bricks cold // varying forms provoked surprise Extending on provocations with clay / natural materials Trialing the use of reflective imagery Testing drawing and observations on large boards Building on previous stories with objects and provocations Envelopes and discoveries Materials reacting and behaving in exciting ways How do the children self-resource?


POINTS FOR REFLECTION Do we foster: WARM NURTURING RELATIONSHIPS Are we providing: FLEXIBLE RESPONSIVE PROGRAMME OF ACTIVITIES Are there opportunities for: ACTIVE AND PROBLEM POSING PEDAGOGY WITH CHILD INITIATED ACTIVITY Is there a focus on: CENTRALITY OF PLAY AND IMAGINATION IN ACTIVITIES How are we: SUPPORTING THE CONCONSTRUCTION OF ACTIVITIES + WORKING WITH CHILDREN’S IDEAS Can we show we are: SUSTAINING AND EXTENDING DIALOGUE (REFLECTIVE CONVERSATIONS) Do we value: THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIO-EMOTIONAL LEARNING IN THE GROUP Does the classroom: NURTURE TEAM CULTURE AND INDIVIDUAL AGENCY – DISCIPLINE AND CREATIVITY


REFLECTIONS


This space allowed children to revisit initial ideas and conversations. Further multi-sensory materials added a rich opportunity to examine and investigate. We placed photos from the previous session to try to help children revisit previous ideas and themes. For the second half of the session we asked ourselves how can we modify the environment we are providing to allow the children self-resource from the affordances? And how does the space need to look and feel for the children to still want to explore and engage?


APRIL 2017 SESSION 3 IN SCHOOL: Caroline and I spent the morning reflecting, planning and retracking the progress so far. Identified a clear progression from small box of ‘affordances’ to the introduction of space for ‘possibilities’ and then a further dedicated space for ‘tinkering’/ this space is a continual area, with open-ended materials and room for reflection, experimentation.. STAGES SO FAR: Intro a small box > affordances >> marbles, socks, trays > Caroline worked independently on this---showed the children have a passion and curiosity for this kind of play-THEN Create a space for multiple affordance boxes >> first contact with children > magic play---showed that independent groups formed and worked across platforms-THEN Set up dedicated space and invited return groups to revisit, document and developed--- showed value of drawing and note taking – materials that transform-THEN Tinker table and shared space>> --a dedicated area for open-ended materials, exploration and consistency--


WHAT HAPPENED THIS TIME// The stages of development came together in dedicated space. Recurrent ideas: MAGIC > build on this development > tasking / imaginative play how do we record this? POTIONS > vessels and materials to add into mixtures TRANSFORMATIONS > materials that break down or change BODY AND FIGURE CHANGES > do we give materials to add to this awareness of body – or play movement games>? THE GENIE – prompted by lamp > build on this story and bring other related brass provocations? GAMES AND CHALLENGES – keeping scores and rules > making this a more focused activity – counters measures rulers etc > sand timer? THE CLAY DONUT – the magical properties and strength of the material – other ‘real world’ materials that give the children a sense of material properties? What we did: Introduced moveable walls and partitions – keep the space enclosed and integrated // also partition off if other work taking place. Children very excited by my presence – I have become associated with certain narrative and children return for this play. I became the material at one point – need to learn to step back and facilitate independent play. This added a dynamic and energy – how is that managed in a real-life scenario? Day to day. Caroline identified opportunities for the play to be developed and scaffolded – offering layers and potential for change//

How can we provide a “manageable” independent creative space ie where children self-resource but then tidy up? How can we provide opportunities for meaningful mark making? Would a defined space help the children use the affordances in a more creative way and encourage others to participate? We cleared a dedicated space that would allow for all of the components we had explored so far - objects and affordances, documentation and recording process, tables and platforms along with floor space to work. We wanted to bring in some of the dynamic and fluidity that we had seen in the first session but present the opportunity for the children to have a constant space that they could return to and utilise. A space for them to revisit and extend their ideas, and a space that wasn’t cleared out or changed to reflect a particular topic or theme. Again we focussed on different levels and surface, backdrops for documentation and multiple vessels and container that allow the children to start to manage the space.


KEY LEARNING FROM ARTIST/TEACHER PARTNERSHIP: >> It is possible to provide creative experiences >> Incremental change takes people with you ... little risks .. a step at a time! >> You don’t have to radically change your practice to provide quality creative experiences >> You will make mistakes but take a small step / reflect / try again, you will be surprised how far those small steps will take you >> Keeping staff with you is key to the sustainability of what you do >> The journey of asking questions /reflecting on practice never stops


NOTES FROM MOONBEAMS CONFERENCE JUNE 2017


EMILY WARNER 2017

MOONBEAMS'17  
MOONBEAMS'17  

Notes, observations and learning from a 12-month action-research partnership at St John's Primary School in Spark Hill, Birmingham. Artist E...

Advertisement