Liked To Theme or Not to Theme: That is the Question (Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research)

The difference between a theme method and a curriculum with an emerging focus is that that what children actually know about the subject or topic is as relevant as their interest in that content. The message being communicated through the use of themes is that there is a great deal of information to be consumed by children through a transmission model of learning. Themes related to the seasons, alphabet, numbers and geometric shapes are accepted as important concepts for children. What is missing is the empowering possibilities of co-constructing learning with children. Moving beyond themes to experiences that encourage deep thinking while making learning visible will give voice to children.

Liked Pedagogical Documentation: Sharing Stories of Meaning (Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research)

According to Rinaldi (2004) documentation, does not mean to collect documents after the conclusions of experiences with children but during the course of these experiences. It is not about recording memories for archiving but a way to create and maintain the relationships and the experiences. In Reggio, “we think of documentation as an act of caring, an act of love and interaction”. When I think about documentation as an act of love, Rosalba Bortolotti’s documentation of the Tomato Project stands out. The annual tradition of making tomato sauce as a way to build relationships within the community is documented in Beautiful Stuff from Nature: More Learning with Found Materials edited by Cathy Weisman Topal and Lella Gandini. Rosalba will have her documentation on display at the February 15th, 2020 event. We know that the opportunity for dialogue inspired by the documentation will be rich. Evident from these four examples, are the voices of the children as they theorize and narrate their understanding of the natural world.

Liked Have Your Third Teacher Meet the First Teacher: Bringing the Inside Out (Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research)

When you visit the schools of Reggio Emilia, you are asked not to take photos of the indoor environment, not only to protect children but to prevent others from trying to duplicate in an inauthentic way. As Howard Gardner said in 1997:

I think that it’s a mistake to take any school approach and assume, like a flower, that you can take it from one soil and put it into another one. That never works. This doesn’t mean at all that [we] can’t learn a tremendous amount from it, but we have to reinvent it. … We have to figure out what are the aspects which are most important to us and what kind of soil we need here to make those aspects thrive.

Bookmarked Child-Initiated Play and Learning: Teacher-Framed Documentation and Reflection by Diane Kashin (Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research)

When photos are added there is another layer of documentation to interpret. Photos alone are not enough. Photos with interpretation of learning that includes the voices of the children should provide the teacher with enough data to reflect. The key is to be reflective and to interpret. Take initiative to go beyond making statements that the child enjoyed or had fun during the experience and consider what the child was thinking and what interested the child during the experience being recorded. What was the child curious about?

Diane Kashin highlights that documentation is not about the technology, but rather the reflection and interpretations.
Bookmarked Learning in and with Nature: The Pedagogy of Place by Diane Kashin (Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research)

From the beach as place to the forest as place, what is important is the meaning making. Cumming and Nash (2015) discovered that not only do children develop a sense of place from their experiences learning in the forest, they also form an emotional attachment to place that contributes to place meaning. Place meaning can help to explain why people may be drawn to particular places. Place meaning helps to support the development of place identity, and to promote a sense of belonging. I am grateful for the opportunity this summer to experience the beach and the forest. It is my hope that children will be given the gifts of these places too.

Diane Kashin discusses her interest in nature as a space to learn and play. She shares the story of collecting beach glass on the shores of Lake Huron. This reminds me of Alan Levine’s reflection on ‘106‘ and Amy Burvall’s focus on looking down. Kashin’s story of collecting that which was once rubbish reminds me of Shaun Tan’s picture book The Lost Thing. Actually, most of his books can be appreciated as noticing space, place and belonging.

Bookmarked The Quest for the Possible: Overcoming Dubious Practices that Limit (Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research)

When the wall of old habits and customs is broken down the quest for the possible can begin.

Diane Kashin’s description of what is ‘possible’ seems in contrast to the picture of education offered by Andrew Laming and planning for learning once a term.
Liked The Back to Basics Conundrum in Early Learning: Reflecting on the Past to Move us Forward (Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research)

I invited participants to create a story based on their stick and stone creations, using Tier 2 words and other literary techniques. This is a complex way of looking at a basic part of every early childhood educator’s practice – reading to children and supporting emerging writers.