Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Gem

I've been experiencing technical difficulties and a lack of patience to figure them out.  I'm ready to try again so here goes...
We started the snowman project yesterday.  I remember doing this when I was a kid.  It was the only kind of art I was ever good at; wrap tissue paper around the end of a pencil, dip it into glue, stick it on the paper.  I'm not sure it even qualifies as art. But I brought the project to my students and they enjoyed it. Some students took great time and care in creating a pattern or plan for their art.  Others just wrinkled tissue paper, dipped it in glue, and stuck it on their template.  Once everyone was finished, I called my little charges to the carpet area.  I had them write a description of the snowman they created with enough detail that someone could find theirs in a crowd of snowmen. A first grade writing standard is to write more than one sentence about the same topic.  Another standard is to use descriptive words to explain ideas.  I thought I could knock out 2 birds with one stone. Some students came back with sentences about the colors of tissue paper they used and where it was placed on their template. Some came back with sentences about what they like to do with their snowman. Hmmmm...After talking with several such writers, I determined that their lack of detail was not with the words they chose but within the eye that was looking at their art. They came back from recess to find their snowmen in the center of the floor and someone else's writing at their table spot.  As we sat in a circle around our grand creations the goal was to pick out the snowman that was described in the writing. Most were able to do it. As the writing and the snowmen were linked together I noticed that the randomly decorated snowmen were the same that the writers had trouble describing.  I think it is so interesting that the same students who haphazardly threw together their snowman also struggled to find precise words to describe it.  How do I teach a 6 year old to have a discerning eye?  Better yet, how do I teach a 6 year old to have a discerning mind? Come to think of it, it's not unlike blogging. How do I sift through the details of my ideas and find the gem to polish on this page?

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