For the past three months I've been involved in a professional development
project in a New York City public school that seems very applicable to
this dialogue. I have been brought in to train four teachers (kindergaren,
first, second and fourth grade) in the use of improv to create a more
collaborative learning environment in their classrooms. I introduced
myself to the classes as their teachers performance coach and asked them
to help me train their teacher to be able to help them work more as a
team. The children responded with enthusiasm and refer to me as Ms. So and
So's coach when I walk in the room. Each week we have done a series of
improv activities and had philosophical discussions about what an ensemble
is, how well they work together, what's hard about it etc. There is so
much I could say about this, but I wanted to share an experience that was
very interesting this week and challenged even me to be much more
optimistic about what children are capable of, even in large groups, and
even in very constrained environments.
I had taught a game called I am a Tree to the First Grade (29 children)
several weeks ago. In this activity, one person comes out and strikes a
pose and says, "I am a (whatever they are pretending to be)" Then another
person comes out and strikes a pose in relation to this person and says,
"I am a (something that has a relation to that person)." For example, the
second person might lie down under the tree and say, "I am the grass."
This continues until three or four people are in the "scene" and then they
step back and a new scene starts.
The first time we played it, in traditional teacher fashion, I had the
children go in order so that everyone had a turn and it didn't get chaotic
etc. This time I said that I wanted their help to play the game more
creatively and with the group taking more responsibility. I said that
anyone could start the scene at any time and that anyone could step out
next. I asked their help to make sure it didn't get out of control and the
children suggested that if two people step out they should look at each
other and without talking one of them should step back and wait. The other
rule they came up with was that no one should step out for a second turn
until everyone had one turn. I have to say, it was a beautiful thing--the
ensembleness was almost palpible. There was not a single fight or argument
and no one was left standing in the middle without someone coming out to
help them complete their performance (something that often happens in
adult improv classes). My favorite scene was when someone came out a said,
"I am a fish" and immediately someone else came out and hugged them and
said, "I am the water."
Something about this story seems of use to me in thinking about the
current dialoge. Hopefully it will be to the list as well. I am someone
who has worked to create more inclusive, creative zpds in educational
settings for years, but this work in this very traditional, inner city
public school in Brooklyn has really pushed me to see how much one can ask
of children in terms of helping us create a zpd for the group to learn in.
Sure Lois, take us along this path because it seems to me one of the
> important ways to go, if not the
> only way. But 31 potential contributors are likely be brownian motion
> get the teacher fired if they
> are not organized in some way(s). What ways? Which will work in what
> The 30:1 transmission classroom template has been there for about 6000
> by my rough calculation.
> We can, and should, argue that it is a great way to create
> power.knowledgedifferentials and stunt development.
> But we also have to provide alternatives that work and then alternatives
that work in publically viable settings.....
> like ps2 or whatever in NYC or most any school in San Diego.
> I just left a setting in the community where kids between the ages of 2 and
> 15 and undergrads and a couple of
> community adults and three visitors from Japan and a couple of others
> think of themselves as associated
> with UCSD were busy co-creating development. Existence proofs are
> Spreading that "virus" seems
> equally important.
> On 3/18/06, Lois Holzman <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>> What if the teacher is not working one on thirty, though? There are, after
>> all, 31 zoped creators in this situation, 31 contributors to creating
>> environment in which the teacher (along with others) can facilitate
everyone's learning. Can we see the teacher's work as supporting that
>> > From: "Mike Cole" <email@example.com>
>> > Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
>> > Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2006 08:45:20 -0800
>> > To: bb <email@example.com>
>> > Cc: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> > Subject: Re: [xmca] chat analysis of ritual
>> > The whole issue of how a teacher working one on thirty can create
>> > approximating a zoped
>> > is worth a lot of discussion.
>> > mike
>> xmca mailing list
> xmca mailing list
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