This afternoon I visited Suzanne Kaegi's room (but everyone calls her Suzie) and it was pretty wonderful. I came into the art studio, full of kids I had taught three years ago, and not one of them greeted me with the ‘Mzz Tawska!’ drone that I usually get. All eyes were glued on Suz. I sat on a table at the back of the room and started documenting the learning, and what unfolded was simple, pure and engaging.
“One of my grade 2 classes are tuning in to their unit on How the world works and specifically how states of matter can change. This is a perfect, authentic opportunity to link single subjects within the context of the inquiry. I mean, what better example of matter than a piece of pottery? We wanted to hook students, get them interested in the process of pottery, but also assess their prior knowledge of clay making. We constructed a front-loading experience to explore the process of clay - from its wet stage to a fired piece of pottery. The students used drawings I had created in order to scaffold sequencing the process and this was especially helpful for the second language learners in the group.
The students were invited to sort and order the process of clay making from their prior knowledge. They worked collaboratively to analyze, debate, justify and construct their understanding. As they finished we gathered as a group on the carpet to reflect and address misconceptions. We then started to move away from the 2-dimensional representations I had created of the process and explore the real tangible materials. We examined the properties of each stage of pottery. Drawing on adjectives, and descriptive language the students had been working on in literacy. Great conversation was generated. The children were engaged and I came away with a very clear understanding of their knowledge, vocabulary and individual comfort with the processes of clay. This was all beneficial information to feed forward to their homeroom teacher and add to their portfolio!!
Engaging students in learning experiences like this is a powerful thing to be part of. BIS is my first International school experience, previously I had been teaching in New Hampshire for four years. I worked at three different schools, all part-time, out of my car, with no art budget, and taught in a pottery studio whilst creating my own work. I was busy!
Here in Germany, I teach primary art, grades one through five, over a two-week rotating basis from one nicely decked out art studio. The international mix of students, their love for a variety of mediums, and their willingness to share and pass on information is inspiring. I find that by enabling kids to see how they relate to big concepts, materials and artists, they open up to the possibility of viewing themselves as artists too. Their enthusiasm motivates me each day.”
Suz is right. I was inspired too. The kids were switched on. They wanted to know the steps of pottery making so they could produce a final product. They were focused and invested in the learning.
And that is super cool.
But Ms. Suzie hasn’t shared the coolest bit, so I will for her. This year, along with a colleague, Jo Tilton, Suzie collaborated with teachers across the PYP, MYP and DP to create a scope and sequence for visual art that spanned all three programmes. This was an incredible amount of work that will enable students and teachers to have quick overview of the skills, vocabulary, artist studies and materials explored within the context of IB programmes. The document allows the transitory, third-culture students that enter our school mid-year or mid-programme to assess where they fit in the scheme of learning, to identify skills they already have, as well as those they are working towards. It empowers students to look at their learning and see what they have been able to accomplish over a year, and if they have been at the school long enough, over their educative career.
What an amazing iterative document to create for the school! Suzie and Jo then fed that forward to educators at the ECIS conference in Amsterdam in November.
<strike>I have provided it here for you to share in their process. Why don’t you check it out and give Suzie feedback! I am sure she would love to hear your ideas!</strike>
Thanks again to Suzie for sharing the teaching and learning happening in her classroom!
(*Please note this post was edited at the request of the teacher. The curriculum document is no longer available. Sorry if this inconveniences you, or if you had bookmarked this resource.)
BUT, hey- Don't despair, I can hook you up! if you want a research-backed, FREE, curriculum phase-document that @JeffHoffart and I created in order to help kids to take action and make a difference in the world through service learning- check it out here: HelpTakeAction.