Monday, May 21, 2012

The Art of Observation

"All of us are watchers—of television, of time clocks, of traffic on the freeway-but few are observers. Everyone is looking, not many are seeing."

Peter M. Leschak

The Art of's a title of a great book, many great blogs I have read, and it truly captures the truth. Observation is nothing short of an art. Working with other educators and student teachers, I have had the question time and time again..."what do I write down?" or "what do you choose to take picture/video of?". The problem is there is no simple answer to that question.

As you grow in your observation skills you begin to figure it out. But I don't think you are ever done learning. We are very fortunate to have an amazing SWSI teacher, Michelle Kreller-Janke, in our classroom this term. This week when she came in to observe and work alongside the children she settled in to the busy building area. Three girls had closed down building to create a library, which evolved into a book store and then finally became a book store and library divided by a piece of tape.

The girls started minutes after the bell creating a library. Using materials in the classroom they created the library structure, set out books, created signs with prices, made their own money, built cash registers, and developed library cards.

I was involved in another activity, but I watched the girls throughout the morning. Our SWSI teacher watched more closely and was able to capture much more than I had hoped for. In her position, observation plays an important role. In many of the grades and inquiry projects, observation is what drives the project.

She noticed that the girls were exploring the idea of permieter when adjusting the length and width to create the right size for the library. She noted a lot of vocabulary that was important in their play and reflected their knowledge. It is so interesting that two educators watching the same play can capture and pull out completely different things.

I loved reading her notes and observations about the children. I began to reflect on my own skills in observation - I often don't note vocabulary use for example, but loved what it captured about their learning in her notes.

What an amazing part of reflective practice - I would love to work with my partners to observe children and then compare notes and have a discussion. I wonder what else would differ in our observations, would we make note of the same things? I know I am meant for this career because I get excited about this stuff, I love the journey of learning as an educator - what better place than in a Kindergarten room...

Join us to further our discussion on documentation at the beginning of April!

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