During my research into effective education methods I have read a lot about observation. I have even tried to incorporate it into the classroom, which can sometimes be difficult when you do not have a co-teacher in the classroom. This past week I have been trying to put together developmental portfolios for the children in my classroom, so I was prompted to put together some observations of the children as they painted at the easel.
What an eye-opener that was! I literally stood behind the children as they painted, as inconspicuously as I could. I had notebook and pen in hand, writing vigorously about everything I saw; from the colors used, to the types of brush strokes used, to the words being spoken as the child painted. Not only was it interesting to actually “see” what the child was doing, but I got several ideas for projects that will continue their explorations.
For example, one child used her finger to trace patterns in the paint that she had applied to the paper with her brush. This inspired me to include a printing project for next week in which the children will apply paint to the table top, use their fingers to make patterns in the paint, and make prints of those patterns. Another child concentrated on mixing the colors and observing the affects. This inspired me to come up with more color mixing projects, as well as making cornstarch and water projects available (I have been looking to do these projects for a while; I just don’t have the right materials for them yet). Still another child approached the easel painting with hesitancy and caution, since it was her first time. This inspired me to make easel painting more available on a day-to-day basis so that she will be more comfortable with the creation process.
One child was very vocal while she was painting, and it was interesting and fun hearing what she was thinking about while she was painting. And since I wrote it all down and plan to put it in her developmental folder, it means that I will have a record of it to look back on. Her parents will treasure this observation as well, I’m sure.
This experiment of mine really paid off and allowed me to see how observation can lead to bigger and better experimentation and exploration in the classroom. When we approach observation seriously and think about it in a way in which it inspires new activities, it becomes an indispensable part of our teaching strategy.