Knowledge Building

It was a short week for me at Nature School as I attended a two day institute titled “Making Authentic Inquiry Work.”, presented by Natural Curiosity and Learning for a Sustainable Future. As always with professional development, my mind is now in a state of disarray as I sort through the huge amount of ideas and information this wonderful group of educators generated. Although we are doing a lot of this work at Nature School already, the Institute not only supported and reinforced our work but also provided me with some news ideas, one of which I would like to share with you.

As we know, language is important; the words we use, how we use them and when we use them. At the professional development workshop, we were introduced to the idea of a ‘Knowledge Building Circle’, which is different than a ‘Sharing Circle’. It is a time we can all contribute and build on each other’s knowledge, helping us to find pathways into our inquiries and further our possibilities. I fell in love with this term! I think there is  a time and place for using the ‘Sharing Circle’ terminology; when we share feelings, events from a weekend, a story etc. But when we are looking at a big idea that we are exploring, we can use the term ‘Knowledge Building Circle’. In excitement, I discussed this idea with Kate briefly and will dialogue with our whole team to see how they feel about this term and if they can see a place for it with our students.


The Eagles meet the Culinary students from Northwest Culinary Academy. There is so much learning that takes place in programs such as these; learning how to be brave and be with someone you don’t know, finding ways to connect with each other and building community. It also allows our children to demonstrate to others how their experiences on this land have shaped who they are, what they care about and their knowledge. As Mr Lai told his students, “These are your Elders today; they know more about this land than you do.”


Damon and Eric want to partner together for some weeding. Damon is very, very excited when he finds out we are working with the Culinary students for the morning. I wonder if it is because he himself likes to cook and pretend to be a chef?


Nathan and Kevin use the magnifying glass to investigate what lives in the garden.


Indira and Anjouli take a moment to talk with Esuh. Big and small buddies are tasked with sharing 3 things about themselves, what they already know or what they want to know.


Playing out “Goldilocks” in the play area leads to new stories, imaginary play and cooperation. Theia and Rafe discuss how much food should be in each bowl.


Quiet drawing time in the Studio allows Avery, Araceli and Keaton to get some thoughts on paper.


Levi uses loose parts to tell a story.


Hayden and Nicholas take turns with the veggies while pretending to sell them.


Will and Ariel proudly looking through their documentation binders. Since the shelf was moved, we notice more children readily going to their binders.


Elsa is creating an elaborate story that captures Avery’s attention ( she is playing something else but stops to listen to Elsa). Will Avery leave her own work and ask to play with Elsa?


Kaya is upset she has no ‘wand’ so Nell pipes up “I will cut mine in two and then we can both have one.” She breaks it with her hands and feet and then passes it to Kaya.


The Eagles gather to go over the rules of the Owls and Crows game.


Tyler is hard at work, patiently fixing his building when something doesn’t balance properly.


Ty shows a keen interest in writing letters and reading so out comes the chalk board! He asks to write the name of the vegetables beside him. He sounds out each letter, enjoying his own work immensely!


Barry brings in salt and photos from his trip to Death Valley; he is building on the children’s interest in volcanoes and expanding their knowledge.


Laying out our tarp for the soil delivery proves to be an incredible learning opportunity in many ways; problem solving, ownership of action, expression of feelings and making connections. This is an exciting moment for all us as it really shows the children’s capacity!


Watching a dump truck pour its load out for Mary’s Barn. Look at their expressions of delight and wonder!

‘Till the next post,