Last Saturday a nice crowd joined me for a short accordion workshop, the first of what I hope will be a few months of these free, mini workshops to give us all some more practice with accordion folds.
The time was so short and it went so fast that it almost seemed like it didn’t happen at all. But I know it happened, mostly because I received some sweet notes, and even some photos afterwards.
Next session will be building upon this past one, so if you plan to come, and you missed out, take a look at the handout above.
This Saturday will be the same time -4 pm EST-, same zoom link as last week. I will show up about 10 minutes early if anyone want to chat, then by 2 minutes after the hour, demonstration starts, then zoom kicks us out at 30 minutes after the hour.
Paula Krieg is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
My thoughts do not naturally go towards developing projects for students who are very very young. But, when I wrote about using an unending accordion for number lines John Golden left a comment saying ” Ooh! It’d be fun for young learners to put pictures of things in that pocket that come in a number on that page. Could make a guessing game out of it, or just a way to record number observations.” I liked the suggestion and I thought that I could develop a response in just one day, but nothing happens fast with me. TEN days later I finally got it worked out in a way that I like.
You may notice that I used dots, not pictures. I like dots. Everyone likes dots. Granted, dots can get kind of, well, repetitive after a while, so it’s a good thing that there’s a one side and another side and that dots are malleable.
Here’s the thought behind this project. First, it’s a pockets project. Students seem to like pockets even more than they like dots. Anything at all that would benefit from a peek-a-boo kind of experience would be fine subject matter for the pages. I just happen to be on a numbers kick at the moment. I have gleaned from the #MTBoS math people who I follow on Twitter that associating numbers with groupings can be a good foundation skill: creating groupings of, say, three things could help support the understand that the symbol for three is an abstraction representing three somethings.
As usual, the challenge I set out for myself was to make this out of standard copy paper. This structure is similar in many ways to the structure in my previous post, the one difference being that I’m not linking the papers together as I don’t see an advantage to this being a continuous number line, though it certainly could be.
I made some PDF templates for this project. (The good news is that I finally figured out how to make PDF’s in a small file size!!! I will eventually be going back and make all my pdf files smaller). I did not however, provide colorful dots and pictures. I see this as a class project, where students can either color in the dots or turn them into balloons and ladybugs. (Let them color it and they will own it.)
In the summertime, when school is not in session, I’m on my own in terms of deciding on what kinds of projects that I want to teach in workshops. Last week I taught for five days at the local community center. My sessions with the kids were 40 minutes long, and although I prepared for 30 rising third and fourth graders, there was no telling how many students would attend each day. I had originally thought I would make a plan for the week, but quickly realized that it was more satisfying to create projects each day based on what I found interesting in the children’s work from the day before.
My own goal for the week was to do explorations with shapes and symmetry. On Day 1 we made a four-page accordion book and did some cut-&-fold to make pop-ups. The students were amazing paper engineers; With impressive ease, they created inventive structures.
There were plenty of counselors in the room, and from this very first project, these counselors joined right in with creating their own projects.
I was so impressed with the students’ folding skills that the next day I helped them create an origami pamphlet that contained more pop-ups, as well as some interesting other cut-outs. What turned out to be the most interesting work on Day 2 was how much the kids liked the little bit of rotational symmetry that I encouraged them to do: I gave them each a square of paper, asked them to trace it on to the cover of their book, then rotate it and trace again.
These students like the shapes created by shapes, so the next day I brought in a collections of shapes and asked them to arrange tracings of these shapes on a piece of heavy weight paper, which was folded in half.
Students seemed to enjoy creating these images.
After they created the outlines they added color.
When the coloring was done we folded the paper, and attached some pagesto the fold so that the students had a nice book to take home. The kids seemed to like this project and made some lovely books, but I ended up feeling like there wasn’t anything particularly interesting going on with this project in terms of explorations of building with shapes. So …
…the next day I brought in colored papers that were printed with rhombuses, as well as some white paper printed with a hexagon shape. Each student filled in their own hexagon with 12 rhombuses.
My plan for this project was to have each student make their own individual hexagon then put them all together on a wall so that it would be reminiscent of a quilt.
Here’s our paper quilt made from 22 hexagons!
The next day, Day 5, was my last day at this program. I liked the engagement with and results of how the students worked with shapes when they were given structure. There’s a balance that I try to honor of providing structure while allowing individual choices. For my last day, then, I decided to give the students a page that I created that is based on the geometry that uses intersecting circles and lines to create patterns.
If you look closely at the photo above you’ll see many different lines and curves overlapping and crisscrossing.
I asked students to look for shapes that they liked, to use the lines that they wanted to use, and to ignore the lines that they did not want. It was interesting to watch how the students worked; I was particularly interested in seeing how some children chose to start looking at designs starting in the center, while other children gravitated to the outside edges first.
Some students filled areas with color, while others were happy to make colorful outlines of shapes.
Some drawings were big and bold.
Some drawings were delicate and detailed.
I think that every one of the teenage counselors sat and made their own designs, right alongside of the students. Actually, I think that my favorite unexpected outcome of the week was how involved the teenagers got with the projects.
This last project of the week was my own personal favorite (though the quilt project runs a really close second). I had never done anything quite like this before with students, and was really surprised to see how much they enjoyed this work, and how differently they each interacted with the lines and curves. This kind of surprise is what’s so great about summertime projects.
After finishing up my little pamphlet on How to Make Stuffed Grape Leaves I was determined to make another little book, but this time with a lighter touch. I spend lots of time designing book structures and book projects for classes, and not much time attending to content. Lately I have been thinking more about content. I know that the only way I will get to where I want to go with what I am thinking about is to just get to work in a small way.
So, I am happier with this book than the last one. There are still many things that I am critical of, but these are the things that I will address in the next little book.
I am consciously incorporating some of the photoshop and illustrator skills that I have been trying so long to acquire. My big moment in this book is turning the photo below….
…into the following image.
Another reason that I am playing around with making these little books is that I want to bring some fresh thinking to a class that I will be teaching at The Center For Books Arts in NYC later this month. The class is designed with classroom teachers in mind. After I wrote out the class description, which included words like “brings together structures that are infinitely useful, infused with fun, and aim to inspire… and ways (of) linking projects to curriculum ” I was asked what to name the class. I suggested calling it “Binding and Booking the Common Core.” which I thought they would completely reject, but that’s what they used!
It was a beautiful day here in the country today. It’s a good thing I have a dog or I probably would never have gotten outside.
The day lilies are blooming. Or at least they were, hours ago. They’ve long since finished their day…now it’s time for me to finish mine.