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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

He's back!

Spring and  The Hungry Caterpillar are two fast friends.
Each school year, the children find interesting ways to represent this furry little creature.

So save those lids because you never know when they will come in handy!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Do Things with Passion!

On Friday, I traveled to Windsor to celebrate my future daughter in laws graduation from law.
As we sat through the proceeding, a number of prestigious professionals took to the podium to offer their words of wisdom. 
One of them spoke of passion; the driving force behind success and happiness.
 If we live what we love then we find great satisfaction in our pursuits. 
I listened and reflected on my life all the things that bring me joy; career, family, friends.
There is never a day when I do not find great joy in our work with the children and the relationships that we have forged over the last thirty years.
Even a simple beautiful bouquet of flowers leaves us feeling excited.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Reggio Inspired Teacher Is....

In recent years, many teachers have come to visit our preschools. The most asked question,
 “What do I need to do to be a Reggio Inspired Teacher?”

I could probably go on for days and never fully answer this question. Even after 20 years, I am still evolving in this pursuit.
First and foremost, you must be mindful! Mindful in the manner in which you pay attention to the children in your classroom. Mindful of the experiences you share so they challenge theories, test limits, honor the thoughts of the children. You must be mindful of how you treat children and colleagues; be respectful, and honestly engaged. You must know the materials and their potentials before you engage the children. However know that the children will give new meaning to them as they work.  Be mindful of your environment, for it is your third teacher.  It is a living entity and will evolve, change and need modifications. Most of all do not be hurried and remember that your intent should be to support children’s dispositions. Teaching too much too soon can harm a child’s development.

Remember that your documentation is not only a visual trace of what the child does it is an evolving testament to the development of each child in collaboration with his peers teachers, families and the community.

Be a relationship builder, with children, their families, your colleagues and the global community. It is in relationship that we flourish. It is here that I discovered how my work has inspired many educators. No man is an island!

You will wear many hats; photographer, researcher, teacher, co learner, facilitator, scavenger, philanthropist, nurturer, nature lover……

Give yourself over to the journey and relinquish your fear of failure. There is no perfect formula. It is in the journey that you will discover the true meaning of being Reggio Inspired.

The children make their representation of what they would see on a drive through the country.