I began my artist-in-residence work today at Davis Magnet School. I am team teaching a unit titled, “Davis on the Map,” with second grade teachers Beth West and Kim Hansen. I introduced myself (many of these students were familiar with Wolfsnail because I read it to them last year on Read Across America Day), read my new book (Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature), and introduced them to the work of Roland Freeman. We broke the students into four groups so we could have more interactive discussions. This meant I went through my talk four times back-to-back. I was tired by the time it was all over, but I enjoyed the students’ observations and questions.
How do you get a good picture when people are moving? (I actually misunderstood this question). I told the student that taking a good (clear, focused) picture of moving people depended a lot of having enough light. But that with enough light, the camera would be able to capture an image and freeze the action. He pushed me further, pointing out that in one of Roland’s photographs a drummer’s hand is blurry, making it a good picture of movement. In that case, Roland wanted the blur and made sure the aperture was open long enough for the camera to capture the hand in different spots along its movement.
Why did you use a drawing and a photograph in your book to show the spiral on the nautilus? I used the drawing because I wanted to make clear the connection between the Fibonacci numbers I had introduced at the beginning of the book and the way the spiral on the nautilus grows as its shell grows. I think the diagram of different colored squares makes it easier to see the how the Fibonacci sequence relates to the spiral in the photograph on the following page.
I do like the teaching/learning/inquiry practice the teachers at Davis employ. They have t-charts all around that have two columns labeled with two columns: I notice …. and I wonder …. As we talked, the teachers wrote down the students’ observations and questions on sticky notes and placed them in the appropriate columns on the chart. We will reflect on these as we go along in the unit. The students who weren’t with me spent their time working on two activities with some other teachers (gifted teachers and teachers’ assistants). They made frames and simple how-to manuals for the digital cameras they will use to photograph their neighborhood.
The next time we get together we will be taking a walk in the Davis neighborhood, gathering ideas about the people and places we will photograph.