What are some ways we can incorporate Reggio Emilia inspired approaches to classrooms? Post your thoughts below...
The Reggio Emilia approach leads me to the debate between teaching and learning. Should our focus be on teaching our children or helping them to learn? The demands of the curriculum seem to point toward us needing to teach them in order to cover all the expectations. But, what would happen if we decided to cover less of the curriculum and give our students more experiences to learn? My one issue however with the Reggio Emilia approach is that it continues to focus on the earlier years of education.
The website had three words that resonated with me - Wonder Curiousity Capability. Students should have opportunities to wonder and be curious about things around them like coding. Even though there are practical and curriculum connections that we can use with coding, students need the opportunity to just try coding to learn new things and things about themselves. This self-directed learning has always been a key component of Reggio Emilia. Capability is important because tasks should be age appropriate but also give students the chance to push the limits and try new things.
I also like the idea that teachers should be co-learners along with the students. Sometimes our need to be teachers and leaders limit our attempts to take risks and learn as our students learn. With coding, everyone is going to make errors. We need to share our ideas and solutions with our students and our students need to do the same with us.
Now you are talking my language! Kindergarten educators have been given the best gift of all, a new K document that is Reggio Emilia inspired. Our Ministry has finally recognized the importance of play based/inquiry based learning. The world is changing and the jobs available to new graduates will be based on collaboration, innovation, creativity, problem solving and initiative. Are you “teaching” any of these skills today? Our K teams are. We have a program not curriculum and our reporting system is a 4-frame communication of learning not a report card. This changing of the language used to support our early learners, gives us the permission to create learning spaces that honors Loris Malaguzzi’s view, that all children are competent and capable. We let the learning unfold naturally. Our classroom (learning environment) belongs to the children in it. They explore, investigate, document and reflect on their own learning. Reading, writing, science and math happens everywhere, not just in one block of time or centre. There is a strong emphasis on relationships: adult to child, child to child and child to environment. We, the educators are guides or facilitators. We provide open ended materials that create opportunities for collaboration and extending the learning. We bring the natural world inside and spend half our time learning outdoors. In our classroom, there are many different building materials and they are encouraged to create the small and large structures. We have an art studio fully stocked with “real” art materials that they can freely create what ever they are inspired to create. We believe in the maker space movement. There are also quiet areas to rest, reenergize and self-regulate.
The other grades may be inspired to lose the desks in favour of tables to allow collaboration and movement. Flexible seating is the new desk! When is the last time you visited a Kindergarten classroom?
I hear you! "Teacher as facilitator" is a mantra of mine. Encouraging students to pursue their interests in depth has much potential in terms of promoting deeper and more authentic learning. This approach is still used by my daughter in her own personal projects, and she is 19 now ! She and her fellow Reggio classmates continue to learn and pursue their own interests for the sheer joy of it. What more could we want as teachers?
Thanks for sharing some photos Christy - the children are so engaged with their investigations! I love the snail table...I know that is where I would be
I am both thrilled and frustrated by the new use of Reggio inspired curriculum in kindergarten. Years ago, my eldest had a great deal of trouble with the very rigid kindergarten model of 15 minute centers with no day-to-day continuity, and endless identical "art" pasting projects, such that we eventually pulled her out and took her to a private Reggio preschool instead where she thrived. Fast forward 15 years, and we could have avoided much stress and turmoil from that period in her life.
I think that many aspects of the philosophy lend themselves to older grades as well. Genius Hour and Passion Project activities are essentially an extension of the project work, and provide opportunities for student choice, collaboration and cross curricular learning. Growing Success encourages ongoing assessment much in the way that Reggio asks teachers to become co-learners. Collaboration and community connections are common to both the Ontario curriculum and Reggio. While there is academic curriculum to follow, much of the curriculum requirements can be met within the Reggio approach. Supplementary lessons can be added to fill in any gaps not specifically addressed in this way. In many ways, Reggio allows for greater authenticity and opportunity for student ownership for their learning than we have seen before in the public school system.
Suffice it to say that I am a huge fan of the Reggio approach, and I see much potential for this in the school system.
I couldn't have said it better than Christy in her post! We are Reggio inspired in Kindergarten. It is a space that is inviting for children to think and to create. It is a space where the children speak "100 languages"- meaning they represent, communicate and express their thoughts by many different means. They are allowed to choose their own materials, where they would like to play and with whom. Materials are open ended and teachers provide invitations and provocations for students which may or may not be taken up by the children. Teachers do not provide the answers to the questions, although that would be easier and faster. Teachers discuss, ask questions, probe, guide, and research along with the students in order to discover. I read in one of the articles found on the Reggio site about experiences being" multisensoric that build in a synesthetic fashion - one sense adding to the experiences of the other senses thus providing a rich discovery process."
The way we document student learning is Reggio inspired. Pedigogical documentation involves observing, recording and sharing and this process guides our next steps as teachers and learners. One important sharing takes place when the students come together to revisit what they have done. They may share a drawing, an experiment, a photo of a structure they have built - tell their classmates about their choices , discuss and perhaps come up with additional questions. This is powerful and I know that we should do more of this.
We are fortunate in Kindergarten in that our Program is for 2 years. It gives us an opportunity (or should) to slow down and enjoy what Reggio refers to as "rich normality". "For it is the stringing together of ordinary moments that ultimately gives shape and quality to human life over time." The ordinary miracles make Kindergarten a magical place!
I found reading about the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education quite fascinating, if somewhat removed from my experience in older grades. I can definitely see its value in those critical years of early learning, as children first attempt to make sense of the world around them in a formalized educational setting. As the years (and the grade levels) pass, there must of course come more formal instruction, and a gradual movement toward more of a middle ground between the Reggio Emilia model on one extreme and that of a lecture-based form of instruction at the other extreme. On a personal level, I have found my own experiences with such a gradual-release-of-responsibility learning model to be somewhat frustrating. Administration may frequently pay lip service to their enthusiasm for inquiry-based learning, but they seem to have far less to say when it comes to requests for the financial resources necessary to make such a learning model possible (especially in terms of the hands-on material and information technology necessary to make true inquiry-based learning possible). Furthermore, the Ontario Provincial Report Card reporting template has not undergone fundamental changes of any real significance (other than in the Learning Skills section, in order to better align itself with the "Growing Success" document) since it was introduced 20 years ago.
By that, I mean to say that the Ontario Provincial Report Card remains rigidly structured in terms of requiring reporting on distinct subject areas. As such, teachers have to carefully structure inquiry learning opportunities within a framework that provides for teacher opportunities to assess and evaluate student learning accordingly.
I'm very impressed with the photos of the learning taking place in Christy's kindergarten classroom. What a dynamic learning environment. I would be very interested in learning how the necessary materials are obtained. Is the money provided by the school board or are individual schools responsible for fundraising and/or soliciting donations in their local communities?
Approaching new ideas and learning opportunities with an open mind. Think like a Jk/K student, imagining what they would see when encountering a new challenge. Obstacles they may encounter and ways they may find success. Don't be afraid to break outside of your traditional teaching comfort zone of 'morning message', worksheets and counting on the carpet. Try anything.
Reggio Emilia inspired approaches can be easily incorporated into our classrooms because as Christy, Laura and Jane have said beautifully above our Kindergarten curriculum is "Reggio Inspired." It allows for students to explore, create, explore, discover through meaningful play and inquiry. We can incorporate Reggio Emilia inspired approaches to our classrooms by making sure that students have many open ended ways and chances of expressing themselves. This could be through exploring with loose parts, using recycled materials at the art centre, painting still life portraits, or building with blocks that they choose to explore with. This year we sent home note and a paper bag asking students to bring in "beautiful stuff" from home to donate to our class. It was a big success and the children enjoyed creating stories with the "beautiful stuff" they brought in and their friends brought in. Below are some photos of some Reggio Emilia inspired approaches from my class this year:
Using loose parts to make designs
Making patterns with some of the beautiful stuff donated by families
Growing and tasting our own lettuce as a class
Going on nature walks and using recyclable clipboards made out of cardboard to document what they saw, thought, and wondered
What beautiful examples of children being engaged!
Although Reggio is developed for primary learning, the same philosophy can be applied to higher grades. As an intermediate teacher, I value its authentic, creative and deeper learning philosophy. I think Inquiry and flip learning approaches will encapsulate the key points of Reggio philosophy. An intentional learning experience that require careful planning, a sound knowledge of curriculum and most importantly knowing the learners.
The challenge is to balance the restraint of time and curriculum requirements. I would love to hear how others maintain the balance.
It is that balance that is hard to achieve. I try to incorporate hands on activities for my grade 7 students as much as I can; learn by enquiry, task cards, QR codes, real world math problems to solve, etc. However, the more I incorporate these activities, I find myself in a lack of time to follow the curriculum requirements. What to do?
From the web site:
DISTINCTIVE TRAITS INCLUDE
I like the intense co-participation of families. It reinforces the importance of relationships as well as consistent high expectations of home and school. Educational documentation and listening is always a great foundation for increased learning and supporting learners towards achieving to the best of their potential. I had to google Progettazione and found this article: https://goo.gl/ZXw3hZ.
I liked the author's breakdown - first concentrate on the child, the teacher, the environment (third teacher), pedagogical documentation (sound familiar? ) and then what I interpret as inquiry based learning (progettazione).
"“Projected curriculum” or progettazione is complex and hard to define/translate. Progettazioneemerges from the reflection/interpretation of pedagogical documentation. It helps a teacher decide on next steps but the next steps do not necessarily end up being a project. If projects do emerge they “do not follow rigid timetables but rather meander slowly at the pace of the children”
How I interpret this is that the student interest projects the next steps for the learning journey, which happens due to consistent clear dialogue between students and teacher. Learning is facilitated in an authentic, purposeful way. Although I need to learn more, Reggio sounds familiar and the art and science of current teaching suggested pedagogies today.
I didn’t realize there was a ‘name’ for the play-based learning that happens in K! I would have to agree that the kindergarten program (and now report card) lends itself very nicely to the program and allows teachers the freedom to carry this through. I am a grade 2 teacher so I do see that this can still happen in the older primary grades. Particularly and especially through math and science. I do see the validity of some of your other posts though regarding the older grades. The report card really limits the way we assess and ‘teach’ in some ways. We have to apply a grade, and in intermediate, a specific percentage. It could be difficult to assess and evaluate a child’s creativity and interests. I have worked to bring this idea into my class (even though I didn’t realize it was a ‘thing’) over the last 2 years. I have told myself it was STEM based learning, but maybe it’s a combo of both? I don’t know enough about either to say for sure. I think I will continue to look into this!
From Piaget to Papert and now to Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia municipal education project, it becomes evident how important play based learning is for children. At the root of its success is the ability of the teacher to learn along with the students. We see the success this learning brings to students within the kindergarten classes. It is evident, through the posts and pictures provided, just how interactive and engaged students are in a play based environment. This approach to learning needs to be adopted globally throughout all grade levels. I am a junior/intermediate teacher who is dedicated to fostering a constructivists teaching approach, providing rich, problem solving inquiries across all areas of the curriculum. I believe and have witnessed how students achieve through investigations, inventions and inferences, reflections and cognitive conflicts and collaboration. When I speak of collaboration this does not solely include the learner but refers to parents and colleagues. It is important for parents to see the value of this learning approach in regards to the success it offers their children. Maybe then parents wouldn’t look first at marks but focus on the learning skills of the report card. Assessing and reporting on the learner’s competencies should be valued more than a grade level. When teachers, parents and administrators are working as a unit, bringing the best practices to learners, success is inevitable. A powerful statement that stood out during my reading, “we envision a world where all children are honored and respected for their potential, capabilities, and humanity.”
I teach at the secondary level so some of this is actually lost on me. Having said that, I know that The Hawn Foundation has a similar program in MindUp although here they are using meditation to help students understand their feelings and how to react in a positive way. I think this, and play based learning becomes a deeper and more engaging style of learning because it is not forced upon the student in the way rote learning is. Students interact more with the learning rather than sitting passively. This is similar to our goal oriented and inquiry based learning in secondary school.
This approach gives teachers permission to create an environment where we become co-learners. This is important because it gives us an opportunity to stray from the comfortable and practiced approach to an inquiry based approach where they can learn alongside the students. Coding to support mathematical concepts and critical thinking is an example.
The child centred approach also implies that as teachers we create a learning environment that is challenging, engaging, current, and relevant. There are many ways to do this. Coding activities, connected to authentic learning goals, is one opportunity for teachers to facilitate this.
Looking at this site, I would have to say that there are both pros and cons to their system. I believe that there is a strong push towards breaking the traditional teaching model and allowing teachers the ability to become co-learners with their students. One of the problems that can be seen with incorporating a system such as this, or any system, is that it is difficult for others to understand the learning taking place. The administration is still very much result based and bases the results on assessments which are non-reflective of the skills and the learning potential of the students. There needs to be an emphasis placed on trial and error and experimental learning, instead of on what it should look and feel like.
Just do not have time to look at one more alternative, new, ground-breaking approach....to education. I am sure it is wonderful, if it has been endorsed by Teach Ontario, et. al. Thank you for your understanding.
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