Learning with others in a diverse community
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At the beginning of this year, 13 more children joined the school. Whenever new children join our school community, we feel it is important to reaffirm the school’s culture, to help children to feel safe and settle. We decided to use the book All are Welcome as our provocation. The book celebrates diversity and is about a school where children have a place, a space, and are loved and appreciated; a school where students from all backgrounds learn from and celebrate each other’s traditions.
Each morning the Foundation Phase spend time together as a whole group. In exploring the book, it provoked the children to consider how they feel when they are at school; we recorded the children’s thinking in a mind map. Some of the children went on to make their own mind maps.
As we listened to the children, we kept hearing the word ‘kind’, so decided to go deeper in this area. Rachel asked the children what they could do to show the act of kindness. They were given the sentence starter “I can be kind by…” (which the children changed to ‘We‘). The children came up with lots of suggestions and wanted to act on one of their ideas; making a card for a peer. As staff, we were intentional about ensuring all the children received a card, so the children were given the name of someone else to make a card for.
Rachel provoked the children to consider if they could take one of their ideas, and turn it into a drama. They were very excited at this prospect. The children were intentionally put into groups of three, consisting of a mixture of ages. After a few minutes working in their small groups, one of the groups volunteered to share their drama with the understanding that we would give constructive criticism. This enabled each group to reflect on their dramas, and refine. After a further few minutes, each group shared the drama. The children identified how each drama showed the act of kindness, and encouraged one another.
In response to a piece of music we had listened to the children asked if they could create their own musical story, and were specific about wanting to work as a whole group. To link to our on-going conversation, Rachel provoked the children by saying “I wonder if you could create a musical story about being kind….”
Through a mixture of discussion, with their talking partner, and conversation as a whole group, the children came up with a storyline. They considered which percussion instrument would be best to portray each element. Six leaders emerged and the children practiced their parts, specifically thinking about tempo and dynamics. The children have worked on this a further two times, and are keen to record their musical picture professionally.
The book also provoked children and staff to think about the school community and the activities we do as a community. The group used their thinking to write a paragraph about how they learn together, and from one another.
Within our group meetings, we encourage collaborative conversations, where children initiate, respond to comments and ask questions. As Rachel was talking about this and explaining how we need to try not to shout out, one of the children asked – “How can we add on to what someone else has said, and not shout out?” This led to a further discussion on how they could show they would like to add to what someone has shared. The children shared their thinking with their talking partner, and fed back their ideas to the whole group. This included the making of physical signs and movements. As a group, we took a vote to decide on which sign to use. The children decided to roll their arms and then use their fists.
The children construct understanding and learn as they have space to interact with one another and the adults around them. As children participate and share their thinking and ideas with a partner, in small groups, and with the whole group they learn from one another and develop a sense of belonging and responsibility. We are better together.