Re: [xmca] Artifacts, tools and classrooms

Date: Sat Jan 21 2006 - 14:11:22 PST

To bb re the literacy artifacts. When my colleague Jo
Higgins and I saw the classroom you had photographed we both
said "That's just like a New Zealand classroom." The last
time I was in one, the walls were completely covered with
children's work but the open plan had acquired room dividers
consisting of lines of string on which were pegged more
work. I had to keep ducking to move about the room.
The interest for me in written artifacts lies in how
children come to understand them and, broadly speaking, how
they acquire institutional knowledge in the form of typified
action sequences, the norms and rules applying in specific
settings such as homes or classrooms, and children's own
judgements of success or failure in achieving understanding.
They know how well they are doing. The state of their minds?
Tools may hinder performance, "My pencil always breaks". "My
black felt missing - Jason stealed them all."
The action sequence with the written artifact reported in
our paper could be interpreted in two different ways; as
reading practice, or as an exercise in authority with
surveillance by the child as teacher. Only the second
conformed to Wartofsky's third category of artifacts. The
episode could have been interpreted in other ways of course
because it opens up the whole area of the role of writing in
both culture and learning. Look forward to hearing your
results bb.

----- Original Message Follows -----
> -------------- Original message ----------------------
> From: Geraldine McDonald <>
> > I appreciated the child's eye view of the classroom
> > provided by bb. Lots of artifacts on the walls. Do they
> > function as wallpaper? Or, do they function as
> mediating tools? (Treat these as proxy questions for the
> AERA presentation!)
> In the panorama, scroll to the far right and you'll see in
> the blue corner the set of rules for behavior acceptable
> in the classroom that the children created with the
> guidance of the teacher. It is their text. Scrolling
> left, the shark is an historical artifact from an earlier
> class with a prior teacher. It's there perhaps because it
> takes no effort to leave it there, and it does not occupy
> space that could otherwise be used.
> On the windows are child-created artifacts. These kinds
> of artifacts are constantly appearing and dissappearing
> from public display around the room. They are part of the
> shared literacy practices through out the school (and in
> many elementary classrooms across the US where firecode
> can be supportively interpreted). "Reading the room" is
> an independent reading lesson where children use
> supportive materials such as a pointer or cardboard tube
> to go around the room and read everything that is readable
> in the room! The complex arrangement of textual artifacts
> is highly functional. Thanks for asking!
> bb
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