Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tuesday SOL: What are they thinking about?

This is a Tuesday
Slice of Life.
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day. 
Check out the Two Writing Teachers website for many more reflections on teaching.

This school year, invigorated by my awesome summer training about Project Zero (see earlier blogpost), I set a personal goal of observing and documenting children's thinking. What do I notice?

I feel my teaching changing. I find myself wondering - what are they thinking? I have added the expectation that children observe closely all that we are doing. We are recalling and reflecting more together. What do you see? What is the why behind what we are doing? What do you think it means? Have we seen or done this before?

I am trying very hard to make myself pause in the midst of my teaching, to think about their thinking. What are they trying to figure out? What is on their minds? I am noticing things that I have never paid attention to before. 

One recent morning during our centers exploration, two little boys chased each other with puzzle pieces. The puzzle pieces were rescue vehicles - an ambulance, a firetruck, a police car. Vroom! Vroom! Whoo whoo whoo! They raced around the room, acting these out.

What am I thinking at this very moment? No running! Stop that!
Switch gears. What are they thinking?
They are thinking about rescue vehicles! They are excited about these, acting them out.

Honestly, thinking about their thinking changed my reaction. I inserted myself into their play. I began building a large vehicle with blocks - I placed two chairs down first, and I started to create "sides" with blocks.  "What if we built an ambulance? Could we?" I called out to them. Oh, they were so excited. "Yes!" We were immediately swarmed by many other children. Everyone began furiously building - and, telling a story. I wrote down what I overheard. 

At Storytime, I shared the words I overheard and asked if there were any details I had left out.  What is the whole story of our adventure? The children were delighted that I had listened to them and they had lots more to add. I wrote all their thoughts down and repeated them back to them.

By the end of the children's nap, I had created a simple book of the day's adventure, entitled "Big Cats to the Rescue!" 

This is the story of the day's adventure:

One day in the Big Cats, we built a helicopter, police, firefighter, race car truck.

The police come for the bad guys. The firetruck puts out fires. Helicopter goes up and helps people. It was chasing bad guys. Big Cats to the rescue!  

It was going into space because a rocketship was stuck. The planets were sharp where the rocketship got stuck. The police were going to all the planets. The Earth planets were sideways.

We live on Earth. The Big Cats were helping. The Big Cats were saving all the people on the planet. 

The End.

Of course, I had the authors sign the book for me!

Slowly, slowly, slowly,
I am helping them see.

Slowly, slowly, slowly,
I am helping them take ownership. Find their own voice. Feel responsible.

Slowly, slowly, slowly,
I am cultivating independence, curiosity, thinking.

I hope "children's thinking" will become the focus of many blogposts.


  1. Hi Maureen, I've been since afternoon with my 5 year old granddaughter, who with a five year old neighbor went to the park with me. They spent a good part of the time on a large part of the park's lawn, pretending to be vampires, and then collapsed, saying their job was done! They'd captured everyone! As always, I love your post and hearing about those "Big Cats", and this time, love that you are moving your own thinking via ideas from this summer's learning. This connects to new thinking on everyone's part, right? Have a great rest of the week!