To launch the 2018-19 season of our ongoing professional learning series, Creating Spaces for Playful Inquiry, we created opportunities for educators to have encounters with charcoal and make connections to teaching and learning across the BC curriculum. Inspired by our learning from Opal School in Portland to use different materials to explore ideas and emotions through an aesthetic dimension, we chose charcoal specifically as we believed it was a material that educators might need some support with, in understanding the material in new ways.
We shared a blog post from the Opal School Blog: Thinking with Charcoal
and shared the Canadian books The Art of Land-Based Early Learning (volumes 1 and 2) that can be found HERE.
I actually experimented with making my own charcoal. I trimmed some willow branches from my backyard, tightly wrapped them in cheesecloth and then aluminum foil (to eliminate any oxygen inside) and put them in our fire pit. I didn’t have enough wood to maintain a high enough heat for long enough (researched needing about an hour) so I “finished” the packages the barbecue. They worked out quite well but next time, I will strip the bark off the twigs first.
We curated a collection of charcoal and related materials from DeSerres and Phoenix Art Studio
and invited educators to engage with materials, ideas and concepts.
Our resource document about charcoal, including the questions provided to provoke educators’ thinking can be found here:
Some educators commented that it was their very first time using charcoal themselves and they reflected on what it meant to explore a material for the first time, how that made them feel both curious and vulnerable and also sparked many connections and ideas for using charcoal with their students.
Two of our playful inquiry mentors, Sharon and Christy, shared experiences and stories from their classrooms
and then after dinner together, we broke off into mentor group to share ideas and think together about ways to engage with playful inquiry this school year.
We have been growing our playful inquiry community in our district for several years now with both our own initiatives and projects as well as continuing to nurture our relationship with Opal School and it is exciting to continue to welcome teachers into our conversations. Our next district event will be an open studio at the district conference on February 15 and a playful inquiry symposium on the afternoon of the district pro-d day on May 17.
~Janice, on behalf of the playful inquiry mentors