Friday, July 28, 2017

Conformity or Change

Are you riding the wave of conformity or going against the grain?

Conformity is so easy. No hurtles, no obstacles, just riding the wave of what is common and easy. 

Imagine what it would feel like to be a teacher who sets new standards, someone who dares to challenge the norm and gives rise to a new reality of working with children.

Taking the challenge to change will bring about an infinite amount of experiences like the one you see below.

Ultimately, the change has to happen for the right reasons. As teachers and people we have to be true to what we believe. We cannot jump on the wagon because everyone else is doing so. 

I was never one to conform to practices that did not work in unison with my vision of what an educational system for young children should be.

For me shattering the bonds of conformity was liberating!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Questions are not Always the Answer

Over the course of the last year, I've been listening carefully to the discourses that transpire between children and teachers. 
My observations have led me to question the process of questioning young children while they work.

Many times the teacher's chattering, about much of nothing, overshadowed the children's work. Other times the silence could be sliced like a piece of cake.
Then I wondered, do we question other adults incessantly like we question young children or do we observe them to discern what they are doing and thinking? After all aren't our actions conveyors of messages?
Perhaps meaningful observations are what we should focus more of our time on. 
Of all the scenarios I observed, 
few had thoughtful 
 context, common sense and respect for the intelligence of the child. Not because the teachers didn't care but more because they didn't  know how.
Meaningless questions and empty discourse does more harm than silence.

Questions such as what colour did you use in your painting hold little sway in sparking an intelligent exchange. 

What is the answer then to the dilemma of asking good questions.

The truth is the focus must lie on thoughtful provocations, intelligent materials, a sound knowledge in child development so key areas can be easily identified without prodding the child for obvious answers. We must know our students and the hundred languages they engage to know the world and make sense of their experiences.

If teachers master this then the rest comes easily and learning truly happens.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Next Day

We returned to our loose part studio the next day to continue our work on the story,
The Giving Tree. The girls decided they wanted to make a life size representation of the tree. They selected materials that were made of wood keeping in line with our original provocation of using only gifts offered by trees.
When they finished the tree, they turned their attention to making the boy. They agreed that he would have to be large enough to fit under the tree.
It was interesting that Hannah drew a heart on his shirt.
~Why did you place the heart there. He doesn't have one in the book?
Hannah~I put it there because he should learn to have a heart. That way he can be happy for all the gifts the tree gave him and love the tree. Then he won't be selfish!
Venus~That's right because the tree sacrificed herself for him.
When the tree was done and the boy was placed beneath her branches, I asked the girls if we were done our work or did they want to continue on.
They told  me they were done. And so we ended the experience. 
As their teacher was I content with the outcome?
Most certainly I was. We had spend two days together discussing the value of the gifts offered by nature. We read a loving story and engaged in the use of loose parts. That all afforded me insight into their level of thinking and understanding.
A few days well spent!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Nature's Gift

The Love of A Tree
April 25, 2017

Yesterday Venus and Emma worked in the studio. There was no plan for the morning so I offered them an invitation.
~Can you find materials made of only wood?
They were receptive to the suggestion and pieced
together a wood totem using cardboard cylinder, wood slabs, tree bark, wine corks, and a few other pieces.
As they worked,
I asked~Where does wood come from? 
The girls thought about it for a moment but were not
I knew they knew the answer but nudged them a little.
~What grows in the forest, is tall and full of leaves? 
~Trees, wood comes from trees~ Emma
 ~Nature offers us so many beautiful things doesn’t it?
When the girls were done they returned to their classroom with the promise of continuing the work the next day.
The next day I asked the original girls as well as Hannah to meet me in the studio where we read.
The Giving Tree
The discussion, after reading the story, outlined how the girls understood the gifts offered by the tree; the shade of her branches, the fruit that she bore, the wood to provide the shelter of a home and the trunk of her tree to fashion a boat.
They learned a new word, sacrifice. The tree offered all she had for her love of the boy.
We talked about how selfish the boy was because he cared only for himself.
The girls drew representations of the story. 
Join us tomorrow as we plan to make a loose part representation of the story line.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


For those of us who are seasoned in working in an authentic inspired learning context, it's often frustrating when we encounter, for a lack of a better word, copy cat work.
Social media is as much as tool as it is a hindrance to teachers.
Images inspire us to want to do the same work with our students but work without context and meaning offers very little to children.

Similarly taking courses and participating in workshops may often leave teachers feeling more frustrated and "lost" than inspired.
My thinking is that the best teachers of teachers are those who have worked in the trenches.

To know a methodology well you must live it, practice it and believe in it before you can teach it to others.

Perhaps adopting this mindset can help you in your quest.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Teachable Moments

There are many moments during the course of a day when teacher's find, what is called, teachable moments. They are embedded in the ordinary, in the things that children do simply because it is wonderful to be a child.
Such was the case when this group of children put together their snowman, Snowcone.
He could have been just a snowman. Instead the teacher took the opportunity to entice the children to give their snowman a sense of identity and to create a short story.
The art of telling a story that comprises of a main character, a setting and plot is key in the development of literary skills.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Meet the Monsters

Meet a few of the Monsters of Reggio Kids.

Why give voice to an interest such as monsters?

 After all, are they not just imaginative creatures that are best left in story books? 
Children's fascination with monsters, mystical creatures and superheros is unprecedented, something that pop culture manipulates through movies and toy sales.

Monsters capture the attention and imagination of young children because of their odd appearances and super human traits. When children create monsters through drawings, clay, or loose parts they feel empowered. Sometimes this helps them to conquer their own fears and inhibitions.

 Further to this, these spectacular creatures provide a perfect opportunity to support literacy through rich dialogue and story telling. Often times stories told using monsters as the main characters, end up containing battles over right choices, kind acts, good verses evil, building on children's moral character.

As we work through the stories with the children we get insight into what makes them tick!

Is their monster a reflection of themselves or a struggle they are experiencing?
Does their monster possess power over the elements; fire, water, wind-lending us a peak at children's scientific knowledge.

Their monsters may know their shapes, alphabet,or phonetics.

The children are currently working on a story board using their monsters as the characters. The moral of the story; everyone is different and they should not be excluded because of the differences.
Instead unique qualities are what makes them, monsters included, so very special!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Silliness-It's A Must

How often do we hear teachers telling children to stop being silly?
What's wrong with silliness?
Isn't it the right of children to be silly?
After all they are the masters of finding humor in the simplest of things; a funny face, an absurd noise, or a joke. They all evoke peels of laughter.
As we age we forget how to be silly, often taking ourselves far to seriously. We become disconnected from our childhood and all the wonderful memories of our carefree days.
All that silliness nourished our souls, allowed us to live abundantly and without reservation.

I for one, at the age of 56, still have my sillies.
This gives me the ability to connect with children.

So stop taking yourselves so seriously and have some fun.