Tuesday, March 30, 2010

assessment ideas

Very busy in the world of weaving these days! It's crunch time as we are preparing our work for display at a local college. All writing stories were completed today and primates made the choice of typing their stories using Stationary Studio in the computer lab, or having me type them. All but five primates chose to type their own. Reflection of pride in their work? Although I don't feel those who chose not to type their own stories lack pride in their work, but maybe they are just finished with the whole writing process.

I have much to update on projects and my observations, but it's late and I just want to get an idea down for assessment of this project. I find myself thinking more and more about individuals and what I have observed about them as learners through this project. So I am thinking of writing a paragraph (at least) about each primate and specific skills, abilities, proclivities, I observed as they worked as weavers and writers. I'll have to think about how I want to frame these written observations: around specific skills? general observations? intelligences? maybe a combination of all three...

I'd also like to write each observation as a letter to each primate from me--personal feedback. And I'd like to conference with them and read the letter together. I'm so proud of each and every one of them and the gains they've made, the effort they've shown, and the growth I've noticed.

As we near the end of this project, I feel a bit sad because it's been such a wonderful experience. Weaving will definitely continue to be a choice throughout the day, and who knows where it may lead us next. Several primates have told me they asked their parents for looms so they can weave at home. This transference of school to home is real world learning that I do believe they will carry with them.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

a truly beautiful day

We had an amazing day of weaving today! YoYo Ma on the ipod, weaving and writing pieces scattered everywhere, weavers and writers working together, independently, purposefully, enthusiastically, and seriously. I have so much more to write, but this was a rare occasion for me to capture these lovely moments on video, so that's what I am sharing tonight. (please let me know if you have trouble viewing!)

not wasting my mistake

This one goes back to January 20th. We had been officially weaving for only a week or two, and one of the primates was working intently on weaving short, single strands of yarn through the warp of the loom. I could clearly see that this was not going to hold together off the loom, and the primate wasn't following the direction about making sure the warp is not seen after you comb the weft. I said nothing and let him continue.

Now I'd love to say I intentionally let it go, fully expecting what happened next, but this blog is about teaching and learning, and sometimes, the truth is ugly. Having said that, as I noticed this big mistake I walked by because I was busy and overwhelmed with the throngs of other beginning weavers shoving their looms and needles in my face. I also felt bad--he was obviously working so hard and feeling successful, and I just didn't have the energy to gently redirect him. So I rationalized that I was witnessing a mistake that will be painful to undo after all the effort this primate exhibited, but it would be a chance to refer to our big idea this year--don't waste your mistakes, with a real world experience. And I moved on.

The day quickly came when this primate brought his unwoven weaving project to me and I had to make a choice again: do I tell him it's all wrong and that he has to start all over? OR do i attempt to somehow remove the piece from the loom, and then ask him to identify what went wrong? I didn't have the heart to do the former--I was too afraid to crush his pride and accomplishment. But I didn't have time to do the latter, so I told him to leave it on my desk and I would work on it later.

Days went by and I tried to figure out some possible way to preserve this work, but ended in failure. I had no choice but to face the primate honestly. I sat with him and we looked at the piece which I did manage to remove from the loom in a heap of unwoven strands tied together. I explained why it hadn't come off the loom right--the warp was showing, and there was nothing to bind the edges because he had used single strips. I paused as the disappointment flashed on the primate's face momentarily, then he looked me in the eye and said, "I have to start again?" I nodded and said, "But don't waste this mistake! Think about how you can do it differently so this won't happen again." And off he went to begin his next project. He finished today. And I could never have imagined how powerful a learning moment would sprout from my just walking by.

This primate's work is evidence of learning--from the rumpled heap, (which by the way is hanging on the board with all finished pieces) to the tightly woven, carefully combed finished mug rug (a gift for his mom). This learning came from him making his mistake, sharing it, and not giving up--but trying again. And from me, allowing him the space to do this. He was beaming with pride and excitement--not only to be finished, but to share his work with the class--who clapped & cheered in support.*more on this later

I made a mistake--I don't like feeling like I am too busy or overwhelmed to meet every need of my primates, but I am human, and we humans make mistakes for a reason: it's how we learn. I can't always be on top of every little and not-so-little learning moment in my classroom--and that is OK, because if you nourish the soil properly, if you care and it shows....things will grow. Beautiful moment today.

Look at that tight weave!!!

weaving progress

We are moving right along with our projects, which I will blog about later.....but for now, this is where we were at just before February break..........