Monday, January 5, 2015

The Chart of Possibilities: #miyfeet Primary Project Day 1, Part 1

I had my first workshops with K-2s today! In all I'm working with about 80 kids, most of them first and second graders, every Monday through mid-March. My investigation focuses on the following initial questions. I'm sure I'll have more:
 How can the Math in Your Feet program be adapted for meaningful use in primary grades (K-2)?
What are the particular challenges and abilities of these younger learners (socially, physically, cognitively, mathematically) in the math/dance making setting?
What part(s) of the original MiYF program can/should be used with younger children?
How much of the established activity sequence and mathematical inquiry can be used in lessons with K-2s? 
How can we focus on sameness and change (symmetry) with kids where Left and Right is still a murky concept? 
Here's a conversation I had with one lovely kindergarten student about what she was doing on the reflection sheet I provided:

Me: So can you tell me about your picture?

Kindy girl: [Pointing to each little picture in the big square] There’s me, and there’s Oliver and then there’s you on that board over there. Then, that’s that camera thing over there. And that’s the thing that you were dancing on. [Pointing to the word] and there’s clogging.

Me: So that’s what *I* was doing!

Kindy girl: Yeah.

Me: Are you going to write anything else?

Kindy girl: No I was just learning new words that I haven’t learned yet.

Me: Awesome, thank you!

Here are a few more representative K-2 kid drawings (both from kindys, for some reason). Lot's of kids drew the layout of the space and/or themselves inside their square dance spaces.

I wrote a lot of new words on the board. "Center" (used in context with the less formal "middle") was a big hit with many.

Another thing that was true for all three groups I worked with (and also really similar to how upper elementary students think): When kids start to learn a few patterns in their feet, their interest IMMEDIATELY goes to making up their own. Crazy exciting.

At the end of the K-2 workshop I asked: 

"When you came in you noticed a lot of things about the space and you noticed a lot of things about my equipment. But now I'm wondering if you could tell me what you noticed about what we did."

Kid 1: Jump Jump Step Step

Me: Oh, so we did some movements! Cool!

Kid 2: We did a lot of jumping and clapping.

Kid 3: Jump jump clap clap, step step clap clap

Me: So what word up there says what that was? Does anyone know what it's called when you do something in order and you can keep doing it?

Lots of kids at the same time: Patterns!

Me: A pattern! Let's all clap that! [clapping out syllables] but we can also clap it in a new way (whisper, sliding hands). What other ways could we clap that word? (responding to a child's movement) Oh! We can go up and down! Let's all do that. Good!

Kid 4: Oh I know one! (flips hair) "Pa.." (touches nose) "tern" [We all do that as a class.]

Me: What else did you notice about what we did today?

Kid 5: Well I was thinking we could do jumping jacks and then then we could step.

Me: Okay you're thinking of other patterns we could do! Do you want me to show you something?  THIS is my Chart of Possibility. Next time I visit I will put it up. It will show you some more possibilities for making your OWN dance patterns. [Cheers from the kids.] Right now those possibilities are covered [with tape] but you will start to see that we will have all sorts of options for making new patterns in our feet in a way that a tap dancer and a clogger does.

Kid 6: Can we UNcover one of them now?

Me: Tell you what. Next week I will ceremoniously uncover the new words we are going to use!

Stay tuned for weekly installments through mid-March, including Part 2 of this post where 2nd graders investigate permutations out of their own curiosity! I can already tell it's going to be an incredible adventure.

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