Sunday, May 29, 2016

So What?

My teachers often ask, "How do I know if an experience or interest or theory is worth exploring?"
Naturally, I'd like to say follow them all but the truth is it is impossible.
Here are a few of my guidelines.

To begin you should consider,
The What
What did you see, hear and observe?
What is the child's interest, thinking and theory. Is it just a passing thought or moment or is it an opportunity to dig deeper?

The next step is the 
So What
It is here, in the ability to identify the So What, that decisions are made to move forward or not.

What is it about a particular interest that stands out above others?
Is there an opportunity to scaffold learning, support development, explore the 100 languages, to assist the children in bridging their thinking to a new level of understanding, to provide real life experiences, involve families, community.....
If the answer to all or a few of these questions is yes then we proceed. 

Once this is done we look at the 
Now What

We gather the protagonist(s) and have a discourse to discover what he, she or they may already know and think. Here is where the art of asking good questions kicks in.

Once this is done we consider the potential path of our shared journey of learning and discovery; where do we hope to go? What do we seek to accomplish? Although we may have a plan it does not always come to fruition as each day brings new twists and turns and we end up in many unexpected places. It is here on this meandering road that magic happens!
A living web always comes in handy to keep everyone focused and returning to the questions and formulating new ones.

The Final What
What we do to bring the project or experience to a close.
We review the work with the children; to ensure we have covered all the questions initially posed and those that evolved as they engaged in the 100 languages; to revisit thinking and theories, old and newly formed.
When it is all said and done and we have exhausted all possibilities, we look to the finale, a culminating event,
an opportunity to showcase our journey of learning. 

Let us not forget that along the way we use the powerful tool of documentation, to not only share our work, but to fuel the next steps.
That is a discussion for another day!

The What
Bianca found many fallen tree branches and twigs during a morning walk through the forest. She gathered a few for the classroom.
Her comment delivered a powerful message.
~You shouldn't hurt nature or the world will be sick. 

The Journey began....

~We are grateful that we have been blessed with the opportunity to own the schools that are Reggio Kids. Every day is a new adventure! 
We have found our joy!

Friday, May 27, 2016

When a Child's Voice is Heard

Long ago when themes ruled the classrooms every child produced a carbon copy of work and teachers believed they all had one voice. The truth is they had no voice and no choice. They existed in a space that set clear guidelines.
The teacher's role was was to fill the child's empty cup with facts.
The child's role was to listen and follow.

The pebble of change was cast into the water many years ago, when educators began to hear the whisper of a better way to engage with children in the classroom; the Reggio way. Call it what you will inquiry based, child directed, inspired learning. You can write the documents in any which way but it all comes from the wonder of learning that is Reggio.
We will all find our own way of bringing Reggio home. There is no right way or wrong way-just your way of taking the guiding principles of this unique approach and melding it with your own beliefs.
However, in order to truly embrace change there must be one fundamental shift, the child must be respected as a contributor, participant, and co learner in the journey of learning, instead of an empty cup.
If you master this then the rest will come.
All children have powerful voices. 
It is a wondrous moment when the teacher finally hears them.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Community

What is Community?

This year's JK-Sk class spent the first part of the school year exploring the concept of community and all it entails.  Community has always been part of our school life.
More that just a place to live it is a place of people, voices, shared space, rituals and customs. Coming form the Latin term  meaning "with gifts" the term suggests a general sense of humanity, reciprocity and a shared practice of doing good for others that comes from working together for a joint purpose.

Communities help generate a shared language,
rituals and customs, and a collective memory of those that join the group.

If we give credence to the old African proverb that “it takes a village to raise a child” then we can
understand the impact that community has in
helping us raise our children.

Children need more that just supportive parents. As they branch outside the home they require a larger support network to grow into healthy citizens.

It is a child’s right to expect the community to provide them safe neighbourhoods, adults who are good role models and dedicated teachers and politicians who keep children's rights at the forefront.
When children feel a connectivity to their
community they are more apt to develop a sense of civic and social responsibility. They build trust, learn to resolve conflicts peacefully and have a genuine sense of caring for others.

Here is a peek at some of the children's work. The entire project is too long to post so we welcome questions.

 What is community.
~There are lots of houses and tall buildings.
~A community is a place where you walk to.
~There are streets.
There are apartments.

The Places in Our Community

Our Customs and Rituals

Community Celebrations

Global Responsibility 

What we bring to the Community

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Thinking About Children's Thinking!

Thinking about Children's Thinking

Now that's a brain full isn't it?
There simply aren't enough hours in a day to reflect on all the thoughts that spin around in a classroom.  It would be wonderful if we could pause at every turn to delve into the children's thinking on the hundreds of topics they encounter.

This was an interesting experience.

Taylor and Sophie constructed a "Royal Tent."

The teacher asked, "What does Royal mean?"
Taylor ~ You need something sparkly and colorful to make it Royal.
Sophie~Royal means there are beautiful things like dresses, flower dresses, bows and bracelets, earrings, makeup, tiaras and crowns.
Teachers ~Who wears crowns and all these beautiful things.
Sophie ~A princess, Sleeping Beauty, Kings and Queens.
Teacher~So then Royal means you are a King, Queen or Princess. What else makes them a King, Queen, Princess or Prince.
Taylor ~They wear pink, royal blue, bows and sparkly things.
Teacher ~Can you think of anything else that makes them Royal?

Teacher ~ What is the difference between Kings, Queens, Princesses and Princes?
An answer was not provided.
~Your're a princess because you wear pretty dresses and a crown.
~You have to live in a castle to be a princess.
~You go to big parties and you dance with the prince.
~You eat good food on fancy dishes.

Their responses demonstrated how they associate royalty with accessories and not heritage.
In instances such as these we see the influence of media and pop culture on how children compartmentalize life. 

We considered how we could jog their thinking to give them a better understanding of what it truly means to be Royal.

The next day the teacher asked the girls if they knew of a real Prince and Princess.
Taylor ~ I saw Kate on TV. She was wearing a wedding dress. She's a real Princess!

Teacher ~Do you think Royal people, like Princesses, Princes, Queens and Kings wear clothes like you and me?
Taylor ~No that's silly.
The teacher suggested they have a look at Kate and William on the internet. Much to their surprise they saw the Royal couple wearing casual clothes.
At this point a few other children joined in.
Olivia ~Hey they wear clothes just like us!
Teacher ~ Are they still a Prince and Princess in these clothes. are they still Royal?
Oliva ~ Yes they are.
Teacher ~When do you think they wear their pretty clothes and crowns then?
Sophie ~They wear them for parties and special days just like we do!
 Teacher ~ So what makes them Royal if its  not just their clothes?

The girls were stumped.
Teacher ~ Do you think that a Prince or Princess has a mommy and daddy?
Sophie ~Everyone has a mommy and daddy.

Teacher~ If a Prince and Princess have a mommy and daddy, are they also Royal?
Sophie ~ Yes I think they are all Royal.

Teacher ~ So then being Royal means that your family is also Royal?
Olivia ~ Yes everybody is Royal

Since the children in the classroom had been discussing family trees this was a perfect tie in to the next step.
The next day the girls took the time to look at Queen Elizabeth's family tree.

It all begins with the grandmother and grandfather, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.

They have a son named Charles and he married Diana. She was a princess.

They had two sons Prince William and Prince Harry- Prince Harry is not married but Prince William married Kate and now she's a princess.

Prince William and Kate have two children Prince George and Princess Charlotte

At the end of this experience the girls came to some new conclusions about the meaning of being Royal.
Teacher ~ So tell me what what makes a Princess a Princess or a Prince a Prince. Is it the clothes they wear?

Sophie~Someone is a Queen or King or Princess and Prince if they have a mommy or daddy who is one.  They can wear the fancy clothes when it is for something special.