With a Twist: SOLC 2019 Day 25

School has a reputation for being routine, dull even.  Students learn through reading, writing and repetition.  Take in information, lather, rinse, repeat.

But does learning have to be like washing your hair?

I’ve learned over my many years of teaching that novelty and doing are essential to learning, but both need to have a purpose integral to the goals of the learning.

Today was all about the wire.

We’ve learned some fish basics in preparation for a deeper inquiry into grunion–a very special fish native to our area that depends on the pull of the moon for the signal to lay their eggs on our sandy beaches.  We studied about angles, creating fish from the 360 degrees of a circle, then cut a mouth and caudal fin measured with a protractor to understand categories of angles.  And, inspired by Alexander Calder and his circus (have you read Sandy’s Circus?) as well as his magnificent mobiles and stabiles, we made wire fish.

My favorite kinds of projects are those that people can’t believe are possible for kids. Long strands of pokey wire and pinchy pliers are not the usual fare of an elementary classroom.  And yet, students couldn’t wait to handle these materials.  Equipped with floral wire and pliers, students turned and molded.  They twisted and pulled, curved and bent, all the while telling the story of their emerging fish.  Buttons became eyes and scales, even the lighted appendage of an angler fish.  I coached and encouraged, pushing students to elaborate on their basic ideas–to push past my example and envision new possibilities.

Students also encouraged and informed each other as I watched new ideas take hold.  I noticed confidence in students who are sometimes tentative, the challenges of the intricacies of wire.  We commiserated about the problems that come with sweaty hands. Eventually, little hands, emerging stories, and big ideas twisted together with  buttons and colorful wires became a school of fish.

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The next twist is still to come as we assembly each small collection of wire fish into a fishy mobile swimming from a piece of driftwood.  There’s a special surprise as well…but I’m not ready to tell about that yet.

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “With a Twist: SOLC 2019 Day 25

  1. charlenedoland57

    I am frequently enraged by how we limit kids for reasons of “safety.” They are far more capable of handling “dangerous” tools and working with their hands than we give them credit for. Woring with our hands is also meaningful for ALL of us.

    Reply
  2. charlenedoland57

    Also, have you read The Calder Game, by Blue Balliett? It *might* work as a read-aloud, at least for the older students.

    Reply
  3. livinglife816287820

    Very full and detailed description of learning! Thank you! Unfortunately learning is like the hair washing description throughout most of Asia. We try to make it different here. We did an art session on Calder last year. I follow an art teaching website so we made Calder mobiles. Such fun!

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Something Fishy: SOLC 2019 Day 27 | Thinking Through My Lens

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