Thursday, January 23, 2014

Beginning the school year - the importance of observation in learning

Drawing of a bird  that hit the classroom window ( age 10 )


Observation is an important skill in all areas of learning - all too often students look but don't see.


Link to excellent article.


Close observation encourages a slower pace of work which assists student memory.

Once the skill of observation is in place it can be used throughout the year in all learning areas.

A good introduction is bring along a simple leaf ( in NZ a kawakawa or pepper tree leaf is ideal) to draw. Give students a small piece of paper and get students to draw the leaf - give no instruction. Usually the drawing is completed in a few seconds - students take a quick look and draw without real looking - unless they have been previously taught.

On a second piece of paper get the students to draw the same leaf but encourage them to take their time, to look at any patterns they can see and then to draw. The key strategy is to encourage them to 'look -draw- look -draw'. The secret to drawing is 'good looking'. Encourage them to invent marks/lines to represent what they can see. Allow 10/15 minutes.

As they near completion ask students what thoughts have come to their mind while drawing - encourage them to use their imagination? What questions have come to mind about the plant? These small thoughts can be recorded.

Display as 'before and after' drawings. Ask them what they have learnt about drawing.


Many schools have photos of animals or plants that could be used to develop observation skills.


A small environmental study can be based around such a drawing. Go for a quick walk and collect some some small wildflowers, or bring along a flax flower to draw.



Students  could describe the the plant selected complete with measurements - they might pretend that they are the first person to discover the plant and are recording information to share with others.


Make use of observational drawing skill as required during the year.


To develop imagination get students to draw 'magic' leaves ( or whatever has been drawn) for an art activity.
Observation enriches the imagination.


Beginning of school year blog