Cameron Paterson reflects upon a recent study tour to Reggio Emilia. Some of the points that stand out is that in Italy children are not labelled as having special needs, but rather special rights, tests are replaced with documentation and the focus is on collaboration and co-construction.
Some simple ways to begin practicing documentation include:
Sharing a short video clip of documentation at the start of class or a meeting by displaying a brief clip and then asking students their thoughts about it. Taking a photo of an especially powerful learning moment to revisit with students by using the classroom walls to display the documentation. Jotting down a provocative or insightful quote from a student to share with the class via speech bubbles on the walls.
Cameron Paterson provides a useful introduction to Ron Ritchhart’s Cultures of Thinking and the notion of documentation. Along with Silvia Tolisano and Diane Kashin, I have written about Project Zero and the routines of thinking before. I was also left thinking about the power of documentation during a recent session with Amy Burvall, where we critiqued our creative thinking. However, Cameron’s post also left me wondering about the place of thinking and documentation outside of the classroom?
Shadowing is not about evaluating classes, teachers, or the student. Indeed, it is a good idea not to tell the teachers that you are coming to their class so they are not tempted to put on a show. The goal is to immerse yourself in the student’s experience, preferably commencing as soon as they arrive at school in the morning. Recording and documenting your observations and taking pictures and videos throughout the day to support your observations are a key part of the shadowing experience.
What might pedagogies for supporting civic agency look like? How do students investigate civic issues? What are the complexities of gathering information in a networked age? How do students learn to talk across differences, imagine new possibilities, and cultivate skills to develop a social change agenda?