I had mixed feelings from my day of attending Barbara Brann's Workshop. I really enjoyed the first hour where she explained a lot of behind the scenes and the way that she founded and researched this approach.
I too was quite surprised by the number of skills children need to require in order for them to be curriculum ready. 400 skills! However it was good to see and hear how quickly these gaps children have can be identified and remedied.
From the hour talk there were a few things/ideas that stood out to me:
- Framework not a programme,
- Children learn from doing - information comes from our senses. They learn by doing, playing, touching and investigating not by being told!
- Building blocks should look different everywhere as it is not a programme it is a framework
- Every Child enters the road to literacy in a different place
- Place for explicit teaching
- Beginning level of the framework is really important as if we start children at the skills level we run the risk of the children not having the prior 200 skills in place
- Literacy doesn’t exist in little boxes here and there it is involved in everything we do.
- Needs to be contextualised e.g.pencil grip used throughout the day not just at handwriting time, sight words - children need to be able to recognise it in print, form a sentence
- Listening domain focuses a lot on rhythm - have lots of music and moving, be able to feel the rhythm by moving e.g pull a word apart and then pull together
With the building blocks framework there are three keywords that Barbara kept referring back to:
After Barbara had presented to us we got the opportunity to see Barabara do the Listening and Talking domain in a classroom with quite capable year 0/1 students. The work she was doing with the children was amazing but it left me thinking (How will this work with MY students and I wished she had been able to come to our school and use our children as a model).
I was disappointed however as I saw how excited and eager Rebecca and Alison had come back from their day at the course. It appeared that the ‘in class work’ they saw Barabara doing was quite different to our day with her. Barbara kept referring back on the previous day so I felt an injustice as I was not aware of what she was on about. To me the day I attended built on the previous days workshop. Alison and Rebecca were lucky enough to see Barabara doing Casey the Caterpillar - This is the one thing I really wanted to see Barbara doing, as my group I had been doing this with in class was struggling to do it and understand it. I wanted to see how she delivered it and be able to ask her all the questions I had. I know Kerrin an RTLB filmed different parts of the previous days workshop so I am hoping she had managed to film the Casey part.
It was good being able to see and hear Barbara in person as we had tried to watch some of her videos that go with this framework but we found them hard to watch. It was interesting to hear from others teachers at other schools who also felt the same from these videos but found her talk in person to be so different and engaging!
At school in the afternoons we have started doing the moving part of the building blocks which focuses on children’s gross motor skills. After attending this I feel like we could put this part into our daily fitness programme and have our two afternoon group that operate working on one of the other domains. I am looking forward to the meeting we have as a team this Wednesday afternoon with Lisa and Kerrin to discuss our next steps and where we feel like we need to go next.
Overall it was really good to be able to meet Barbara and hear the background to the framework but I felt disappointed that I didn’t come back to school buzzing like Alison and Rebecca did. I feel let down. I know if I had seen the parts that Rebecca and Alison saw I would feel quite differently.
Barbara is due to come back in September, I feel it would be really good to be able to talk to the RTLBs and see if she can use our school and our children as models.