Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Learning Story: The Boy Who Drew A List and Made A Book

Learning Stories are a form of assessment, reflection and sharing that I first heard about through a Reggio yahoogroup I belong to, which offered a link to this website.  Basically, they consist of narration and photos (or other visual documentation) that tell the story of a child's singular learning experience, followed by a "What It Means" section, an "Opportunities and Possibilities" section and a "Parent's Voice" section.   There is no right or wrong way to write them, but, to be most effective, there are conventions that a man named Tom Drummond conveniently summarized in a PDF entitled Writing Learning Stories.

Folks who used to scrapbook or currently blog, like me, might enjoy adapting the Learning Stories concept for their own use to create both memories and documentation about their child's learning and development.  I know I intend to start creating some well-developed ones.

Here is my first attempt:

The Boy Who Drew A List and Made A Book

Recently, we have gotten our printer working again, and Luke is very excited about it.  Daily, he asks for print outs of different things that interest him.  This morning, he asked me to print him a number of things and waited, not so patiently, while I finished what I was doing, so I could print him some things.  As he waited, he persisted in his request by making comments such as, "I like print out books, Mom," and, "Please print me some cats and babies."   He kept asking for things over and over until I got annoyed and corrected his behavior.

Despite this, when I was ready and Luke had demonstrated some better behavior, I printed him some coloring pages. He quickly set to work coloring them.

He colored the cat page, before writing "Dad" and "Luke" on it, 
because there was "a kitty Daddy and there was a kitty Luke, Mom."

He also colored the baby one, wrote "LUKE" on both that one and the cat one,
"because they are my things.  That's why I wrote 'Luke' on them, Mama," 
and he wrote Jack on the baby one because "that's the baby's name."

When he finished the cat and baby coloring, Luke asked me for more print outs.  I told him that we had other things to do and that if he kept asking me over and over again to print things, I would not print him anything.  Asking once and knowing I would help him later was what I expected.

Later in the day, after we had enjoyed outdoor time, lunch and some other activities together, I sat down to do some work.  As soon as the computer was turned on, Luke requested more print outs.  I told him I could not comply with his request yet, because I had to finish a task.  I then eminded him not to persist in asking me for print outs over and over and, instead, suggested that he build some K'nex rockets or entertain his brother.  He did both of these things and also sketched some drawings of:

some astronauts,
a football guy,

 a hockey guy
and a dog.

After some time, Luke was ready for me to take a break and thought I might be ready to stop my work as well.  So, he brought me his drawings and asked me to print them.  I thought he meant for me to copy them, but he explained he wanted me to print out similar things.  He said he had drawn the sketches "because you were too busy, Mom, and I wanted you to know what I like...  I didn't want to forget what I wanted you to print."
At this point, I closed out of what I was doing and did a Google search for coloring images of astronauts, football players, hockey players and a dog.  Luke fixed his eyes on the computer and picked out which images he wanted me print, taking them off the printer tray as quickly as the printer could spit them out.

Immediately, Luke set to work coloring the printouts -- not with the care he sometimes uses when coloring -- but with great gusto and typical-of-Luke creativity:
 He added nothing to the astronaut, but told a story to himself about the astronaut as he colored him.

He ensured the hockey player had a puck to use.
  He gave the football player a  field goal and a "G" on the Packers goal line, 
because "he's trying to make them win, Mum.  
He plays with the Steelers."

And, he added reins all around the husky,
"so he can pull the sled, Mum,"
plus "footprints underneath him.  
And there's 'husky' (written)  underneath him and I put a 'R' for ran."  

Once they were colored, Luke gathered all these pictures together back to back, "so I can make a book, Mama."  The unbound book is now waiting for Daddy to bring them to work to staple them.

What It Means

Luke, I am so proud of the patience you showed in waiting for me to print you things.  I know being patient is difficult for you, but you are becoming stronger at demonstrating this virtue

I was pleased with how you are beginning to use letters on your own to label and add details to your drawings. Sometimes, you ask me how to spell things, but usually you use your memory or invent your own spellings or representations for words.  It shows your creativity.

Your creativity also shows in how you approached "making a list" by drawing sketches.  This demonstrated clever problem solving.  Since you did not want to forget what you wanted me to print, and knew you could not keep asking me over and over for things or would get nothing, you came up with a reasonable solution.  It made me very proud.

I am so glad you like coloring and make everything you do your own by adding details, words and ideas that come from your own imagination.  I enjoy looking at your drawings and colorings and reading your books with you. 

Opportunities and Possibilities

You are very creative in your art work, problem solving and book making.  

To make your artwork even more appealing and expressive, you could take your time with it.  Choose your colors purposefully and take time using them.  Experiment with different media -- crayons, colroed pencils, chalk, paints, collaging, etc.  Continue to add your own details and letters to express your thoughts and share the stories you imagine. 

To continue practicing effective problem solving strategies, think about things you want and what others have expressed they need.  Then, as you did today, use your creativity and talents to come up with a solution that can make everybody happy.  Use virtues, such as patience, to help you think of and carry out solutions.

As you make further books, maybe you can go beyond simple coloring and drawing.  Take pictures of your sculptures, constructions and models and create storybooks with them.  Make collages.  Do paintings.  Write more text.  Think of all the different artwork we see in books we enjoy and try making some like it.

Thank you,

I am sharing this at Works for Me Wednesday, because writing Learning Stories works for us as a way of documenting, reflecting upon and sharing our children's development.  I am also sharing it at Homeschool Hints, since this form of documentation could help other homeschooling parents in building state-mandated assessment portfolios or in illuminating learning that is happening now or could happen (think emergent curriculum) with their children.  Please visit the links at both sites to see what works in others' homes and homeschools.

1 comment:

blissful_e said...

That coloring in (especially the astronaut and hockey player) is some of the most beautiful I've seen a child produce. Love the many many colors put together to produce something completely unique our of typical coloring-in scenes.


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