From Eli’s new preschool:
“At Small Faces we assess children in a new style called Learning Stories. The intent of this form of assessment is to more holistically and usefully assess child learning. Originally a native Maori oral tradition, Learning Stories assess the learning process as a narrative illustrating 5 Learning Dispositions (tendencies towards learning). The 5 Learning Dispositions are: taking an interest, being involved, communication, persisting through difficulty and struggle, and taking responsibility. Teachers observe the children as they engage in play, looking for times when they exhibit the 5 learning dispositions. We then take pictures of the children in action and write down what they are saying. From this we create a narrative, or story of the event, and write what the event means in terms of learning, and then we write what opportunities and possibilities the story suggests. Finally the story goes out to you and the rest of the child’s community so that you all may respond to your child’s story, and these responses go in as the final part. These stories are addressed to the child and are meant to be read to them. Share these stories with everyone in your child’s life. No learning story is complete without the responses and contributions of the child’s family and community.”
I forwarded this email with the learning story to my mom and Andy’s mom. I’d really like for each of you (and whomever else would like to as well) to write a little something to Eli to go into the final part of the story. It doesn’t have to be anything particularly long or involved, examples are things about the story that you liked or your general thoughts about Eli and how he is growing and learning. I’ve also asked Mike and June to write a little paragraph for this since they are very important to him as well and of course the grandparents need to put something in! In the next few weeks would be good–just remember, usual responses are only a few sentences, nothing big. I think it’s a pretty neat idea. If you could just send something to me in the next few days, that’d be great. Also email or call if you have any questions.
Here’s the learning story again (I can’t figure out how to get the pictures to show up):
Eli Makes a Farm
A Learning Story by Laura Chandler and Eli Smith
October 3, 2012
This morning I placed many small boxes in the art area. Eli picked up one and began to tape sticks to it. “I am making a farm,” he told me.
One of the children asked if she could use materials from the shelf and I answered yes. Eli stopped his work on the farm and went to the shelves. He brought several jars to the table and announced to the children there: “Here’s lots of art project stuff!”
Eli selected a jar of yellow tiles and began to place them on his box. He explained to me: “The yellow tile they make the walls more comfortable. Some of these are windows.” He also covered the cardboard square that was next to his box. After everything was covered Eli began to remove the tiles. “Now I put these away because the walls are comfortable.”
As he held the cardboard vertically next to the box Eli told me: “Look these are both of my farms, this goes like this to be a wall, this is the bedroom.”
Picking up all his pieces Eli asked me: “Can you put these on the wall?” “ My staples won’t hold the box on the wall but I have a place in the hall for your farm,” I answered.
Out in the hall Eli placed his creation down carefully arranging the pieces. “When I put my cardboard like this it looks like a book.” After a second the board fell over and Eli sighed,then put it up again and it slipped down once more. Eli sat a moment staring at the box then he moved the box over next to the cardboard square: “This is so it stands up.” And it did.
What this Means
Eli you are a very original thinker. You were the only child to look at the boxes and think they could be a farm. As you selected materials you did not watch anyone else but made your farm from the ideas in your head. The yellow tiles have been in the room for months but only you thought to use them to make the walls more comfortable.
You had to think hard to make all your ideas work. You had to use scissors and tape on your box and they are tricky things. When we took the farm out to the hall you wanted the cardboard square to stand up against the wall and the cardboard square fell down several times before you figured out to put the box next to the cardboard square.
While you were busy thinking Eli about your farm you also thought of the other children. It was your own idea to get many jars off the shelf so evryone at the table could use them. That was very friendly and all the children were happy you did this for them.
We will continue to keep our art area or Idea Studio available to Eli to so he can stretch his creative mind as far as he wants. We keep it stocked with a great variety of stuff. Some days we will put out new things with a suggestion but most of the time we just tell the children they are there and let them take over.
Eli will be encouraged to make the leap from thinking about materials to people and feelings. We model how to solve social problems and support children when they try. When Eli is ready we will help him, if he needs it, to talk about problems with the other children.
Eli’s spontaneous sharing of materials showed he thinks about others. Any time he does this we will give him positive feedback so he knows these gestures are appreciated. It is a wonderful quality to see in a young child and we will nuture it so he can grow up to a considerate, as well as creative person.