Sunday, January 3, 2010

Library Project

Last June I met with Lauren and Lisa Burman (our AUSSIE consultant) to begin planning areas of inquiry for our incoming kindergarten children.

The proposed units of study were to follow the tenets espoused by the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education.

We decided that an investigation of libraries would support the young students as they became immersed in books and the workings of the library.

Our plan included visits to several libraries, including the Taj Mahal of NYC libraries, to learn about how they operate, read books and have fun. We made sure to document all of this with pictures, video and transcriptions.

Slowly, we began to incorporate what we had learned into the dramatic play area. We had a plan to introduce something new into the space when we felt the kids were ready, made a large book to show our learning and helped structure the experience to maximum benefit.

The only problem was...the kids did not want to play there!


So we decided that we should stop trying to be 'perfect teachers with a perfect plan' and just let the kids play. We would watch and let the kids tell us what they needed to make their play more meaningful.

And they did.

It took off.

Jobs were sorted out. Some students were librarians, others were visitors. They had story time, created a scanner for checking out books, made a wall of books (pictured) with labels on the spines of each book, used book carts, assigned duties and even had a guard on watch for those who might want to steal a book.

I have the most amazing video of their play that I wish I could post but of course privacy issues forbid it.

Our library project has been a reminder to us (the adults) to step back and listen to the students. How is it that I keep needing to be reminded of this?!


Barbara said...

I love the democracy in the classroom you have created. It speaks volumes when you say you are learning from 5-year-olds. Too much of education is mandatory with rules without reason. What a refreshing change here!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

the children are so lucky to have you and lauren - I don't doubt that you ALWAYS listen to them even if they don't SAY anything.....

Sebastien said...

Cool! did the student who played security guard get to have a taser? ;)

Libraries are one of my favorite public institutions, actually, probably my favorite. Wonderful that you guys are finding such fun ways to introduce the kids to the magical fantastic world of the library!

Gary said...

Sebastien - No taser but he did make an arrest which is amazing to witness (it is all on video). I am not sure what he did to get arrested but they all played this out (a little too) amazingly. There was the handcuffing, perp walk, ride in the squad car, etc. Oh, the shame! Really fascinating to watch and get a glimpse into the realities these kids are exposed to. An education for me to be sure.

Kimy - I am so bummed that you weren't able to visit with this class. Their energy is amazing. Brilliant, each and every one.

Barbara - I really do try to keep my eyes peeled and ears open to take in the brilliance of these little tykes. Sometimes they put things so simply I wonder why I couldn't come up with it myself. And they are the best teachers. If a student does not understand a concept I am trying to put across I can always count on one of his/her peers to help them see the light.

Pauline said...

We constantly need reminding because, as adults, we begin to lose our ability to play. Good for you for allowing the kids to inform you :)

William Manson © 2010 said...

Libraries are wonderful for kids, when they get involved with books they became entranced, thanks Brian for your visit and kind words, love your blog and the postings..


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