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“Big Ideas. Real Tools. No Recipes.”

Richland Academy / Making Learning Visible  / “Big Ideas. Real Tools. No Recipes.”

“Big Ideas. Real Tools. No Recipes.”

These words in the title above from a Tinkering school in San Francisco really resonated with us in thinking and reflecting about our JK project in the Tinkering Lab. Our ‘Big Idea’ in JK is ‘Transformation’.  We began chatting and planning our rigorous plan, about how to execute the project of an ‘Alphabet line of letters’ for us to use in JK. After much interest and discussion, the Tinkering Lab seemed to be the perfect spot to go about this endeavour. The Lab, gives the children an opportunity to develop theories and test them out and to make adjustments, as the project unfolds.  It is a place that celebrates the fusion of the disciplines: science, arts, literacy and mathematics.At our fingertips was an infinite amount of materials to be considered, as we began to think about how to ‘transform’ and ‘shape’ our chosen letters. From wood to wire, from fabric to cork, and bits and bobs of all kinds, a room filled with a ‘Hundred Languages’ of possibilities, awaiting transformation.  They travelled throughout the room and ‘shopped’ for the materials required to their individual pieces.Each child had already chosen several letters to construct his/her own piece. The problem and questions were posed to the children: “How are you going to plan and design your letter? What materials could you consider to transform your selected supplies into your letter?”The children began to create a plan which contained: the chosen upper case letters, the hunt around the room for possible materials, and their own detailed list of the materials, that they thought would be most useful for them to begin construction.  Devising their own plan, gives each child a sense of ownership over her/his project.  There is lots of room for student-driven and student-directed research.Mr. Rafael was on hand each time to guide and assist us with our questions and the use of the tools. Mr. Rafael was an integral resource for us, as he shared his expertise, support and knowledge about this type of project. The ‘Alphabet letter line’ will be shared with our community, once our project has come to completion. We look forward to using the letters for making words, signs, and we are quite sure, many other intriguing activities, that the children will devise.

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