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Apr 18

Child Directed Projects in Nitzanim

Over the last four weeks in Beit Nitzanim, we’ve been experimenting. We wondered what it might look like for 1st/2nd grade children to design their own projects?

Here are three aspects of the way we structured this four-week process:

Chavrutah and small group work.

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Small group and chavrutah (partner) work allowed children not only to practice their conversation skills, but also to help each other. Confident readers read aloud for emerging readers. Children learned new ideas from each other. Small group work also allowed me to rotate around the space to see where I could be most helpful.

Research notebooks.

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Children chose to fill their pages with writings, drawings, small sketches, and sometimes codes and symbols. Some children asked me or a partner to do their writing for them, others wrote in phonetic spelling. The research notebooks allowed children to continue to reference their previous ideas and notes as they designed and produced their projects.

Choice.

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Once children had identified their final interpretation for pesach, matzah, and maror, they were given a choice of how they’d like to present their ideas. Some children chose to write and illustrate their ideas. Other children made dioramas or puppets. One child even made a series of recordings about his ideas. What joy there was in giving first and second graders the opportunity to identify their own interpretations and choose how to present them!

Over the course of the year, we’ve been building the skills that we hoped would facilitate this kind of work. We’ve practiced our chavrutah skills, used writing and drawing to explain our ideas, and we’ve had the opportunity to own our interpretations. In the last few weeks, children have demonstrated a readiness and capacity to work together, make decisions about their projects, and feel confident about their interpretation.

The children are so proud of their projects because they are uniquely their own!

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