Saturday, December 28, 2013

1st Grade Counts

For our Cultural Heritage study on Native Americans, 1st graders learned about Winter Counts. Winter Counts are histories or calendars used by the Lakota to record events. The “count keeper” added a new picture for the most memorable event of each year, winter to winter. 
After learning about Winter Counts, 1st grade students created drawings of a memorable event for each year of their life. Some came from personal memories and some were added after completing their “homework” of asking family for stories about them during infancy and toddlerhood.

I messed up and should have either used this lesson with an older grade, or simplified it for 1st. A lot of students couldn't remember or didn't know stories of things from when they were little. This might also be an issue with my student population. A lot of my students are in foster care or have had pretty rough lives for as young as they are. I gave them a "planning sheet" on the first day with a slot for each year, trying to help. I always seem to forget that most 1st graders are just learning to write at the beginning of the year! I said that they could sketch a quick picture for each age or write it out. Most of them took that to mean that they had to write a sentence for each year and they go sooo hung up on the writing! I tried to tell them that in art class it's more important just to get the idea down but despite me practically begging, most spent 1-1 1/2 classes just writing! The problem then is most couldn't read or remember what they wrote in the next class. :)
After 4 classes, I said enough's enough, last day! I ended up with probably 2/3 finished. Next year, I RESOLVE to remember that 1st grade at the beginning of the year is a LOT different than 1st grade at the end of the year.
It would have gone much better if I had just asked them to draw a memorable event from their life, instead of one from each year. That, friends, is my suggestion to you, should you do a Winter Count project with younger students.

Most of the Winter Counts I have seen are arranged in a spiral. We used a different arrangement to try to focus on the idea more than an imitation.

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