Monday, September 29, 2014

Interesting Patterns!

When you look at this child's work you know she understands simple patters. However, there is a great deal of complexity in her work. She first stacked the large spool to make two three tier to towers. She then began to place the smaller spools around the base of each large spool in one of her towers. Then each small spool welcomed one wooden stick. Those that didn't fit were tossed over her shoulder (which was quite funny. The teacher asked her to drop them into a bucket instead) Once the first tower was complete she proceeded to work on the second tower, this time using translucent cups. Each cup welcomed one wooden disc or plastic button topped off with one mosaic tile. A total of two hours of work. She also had to figure out how to reach the top towers. She asked that a stool be placed on top of the table!













Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Begin at the Beginning!

Where do you begin?
Naturally you must begin at the beginning!
You have a new group of preschoolers or kindergarten children, your environment is ready, the room is full of loose materials, provocations....
The children arrive and chaos erupts.
Your materials are everywhere. Dumped, disposed, and disheveled best describe your classroom.
And you wonder how and why this happened.
Aren't the children supposed to know how?
Did you?
Extraordinary work, must be supported by solid foundations. Begin slowly, introduce your hundred languages, one at a time. Children like artists needs skills to create masterpieces.

After 15 years of this work, we now find ourselves back to basics, as we have lost most of our proficient  ECE teachers to school board full day kindergarten.
It is somewhat discouraging to have to begin anew, teaching teachers to work in the "Reggio Inspired" way but we forge ahead committed to the process.
Rome was not build in one day!








Wednesday, July 23, 2014

There's a New Kid on the Block

There's a new kid on the block and his name is 
Pedagogical Documentation!
So what's all the fuss about?
I can see from all my email questions that many teachers are feeling out of sorts, having just mastered some form of documentation, they are now being asked to consider pedagogical documentation.
Let's think of it this way.
The very fundamental nature of documentation asks us to capture moments of doing, thinking and questioning. 

 At the most basic level, by the very act of taking photographs of our life journey and keeping mementos we assume, unknowingly, the role of "documentor", keeper, historian. 
Unlike before, when these memories remained within the context of our family, social media has provided us with the forum for sharing the photos and inviting comments.
Presto, we are officially leaving traces; another key element of documentation.
Leaving traces of our work with the children, creating context and history,
is this enough?
Not really. Now we must consider another element. 
Pedagogical documentation asks us to find the meaning in experiences, to interpret them, to find understanding in order to move toward new ways of thinking and knowing, of wondering, of planning the next step, all in conjunction with the children.
In the midst of all of this, as children construct their theories and work through them, we are given glimpses into how each child is meeting developmental milestones, a perfect non intrusive method of getting to know our students and doing assessments. In highlighting these milestones, developmental areas, domains, we are adding another dimension to the documentation.
It is a complex process. In order to do this well we must be vested in our children and in our own educational journey. 

Here are some questions to consider.
1. What was the child thinking or feeling in this experience?
2. Did the child have prior knowledge with the topic or focus of the experience?
3. Did the child have questions?
4. What were your thoughts or comments?
5. Where could you go next?
6. Was it an isolated experience or did it offer possibility for new discoveries, new directions, or the  deconstructing of the child's initial thoughts to create new thinking.
7. What developmental areas were engaged or could be engaged?
8. How many of the "hundred languages" might the child choose to use to express his thoughts and theories?














Friday, July 18, 2014

The Simplicity and Complexity of Patterns

The photos in this particular experience serve to tell the story of Sara's thinking as she works through a variety of pattern options. She is not limited in her decisions as she has a sufficient number of cups of each color to work with.
Sometimes a shortage of materials limits a child's thinking so we are mindful to keep an abundant amount on hand.










Monday, July 14, 2014

A Growing Repertoire of Materials for our Outdoor Classroom

There are many discoveries to be made when we keep our minds open to the possibilities offered by loose parts outdoors.  In the hands of young children these materials take on new form, design and structure. Is this not the work of architects and engineers?
This first photo speaks volumes as these two young girls think on the possible uses for the reel.










Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Outdoor Classroom

Many years ago we began to consider our outdoor playgrounds as an extension of our classroom.
Having already spent a great deal of time in the "forest" behind our schools we understood too well the importance of connecting children to the natural world.
What would happen if we began a collection of outdoor loose parts to add to our growing repertoire of  what we call "unconventional playground items"?
Could children do more than run about?
As always they exceeded our expectations. I find myself on a constant quest;seeking new items to add to a blossoming collection.
We garden, we invent, visit far away places, we think, make theories, build and rebuild.
Most of all we find joy in all that we do.
And we wonder what tomorrow will bring.