Showing posts with label Reggio Emilia Inspiration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reggio Emilia Inspiration. Show all posts

York University Kindergarten AQ Course - Teachers & RECE's - Begins March 29th 2018 + New learning from Reggio Emilia Italy coming to the blog March Break!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Happy March Break to all the educators and safe travels to those who are venturing off to Reggio Emilia this week on the Ontario Reggio Association's study tour!

Studying documentation of a 3.5 month old!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

On Saturday I attended one of the Ontario Reggio Association's (ORA) Documentation Study Sessions hosted by Ellen Brown at York University.  You might ask, well what does the above image have to do with this learning opportunity?  As a new mom, and one who continues to be strongly influenced by the Italian educators from Reggio Emilia, I have already started to document  my young son.  It has been very interesting to take all that I have learned and tried to apply in my Kindergarten context to an infant.  My hope was to create a provocation for Sebastian, so that together we could begin exploring paint.  Bringing in this photograph for a group of us to study, proved once again the power of pedagogical documentation.

Here is what I believe is the process of studying documentation, based on my learning inspired by Dr. Carol Anne Wien in our graduate courses on the Reggio Emilia  approach:

It is important to note that the protocol we used was altered slightly by Carol Anne from the Harvard Protocol (initially adopted by Project Zero which originally came from Feldman, a visual art expert), and that she started using it in the 80's when she taught at MSVU in Halifax.  The course she instructed at the time was entitled, Art and the Young Child.  Oh how I wish I could have enrolled in such a course!

Below is how I have made sense of and continue to use this process in order to inform my teaching and learning.  I have also been inspired by Ellen Brown and how she facilitates the ORA study group meetings.  Together with other educators we are involved in serious research and professional development. 

How you might study documentation:

Step 1 - What do you see?

*By looking more carefully at the images, what do you notice visually? If a participant jumps to what they "think" and makes an inference, re-phrase the question by asking "why do you say that?"
*Pause for a minute and try to "re-see" by either looking away or moving around the table to view the documentation for a second time from a new perspective.

The participant who brought the documentation (in this case myself) remains quiet until Step 4 and may take notes of what the others say.

Step 2 - What do you wonder?

*What questions do you have after reading the transcription or viewing the images/video?  What puzzles you most or makes you feel curious? 

Step 3 - What do you think?

*What are your theories, hypotheses, or inferences, about what the students are saying, doing, thinking, representing, or learning?  How are you interpreting this documentation?

Sometimes when you get to this point, new questions arise or you may see something you hadn't before in the documentation.  In this case, you may wish to go back to Step 2 or Step 1.

Step 4 - What happened in actuality?

*After hearing the wonders and theories from your colleagues, what actually happened during the time of the documentation?
*The person who brought the documentation can finally share, by beginning to answer the questions or reveal what really occurred.

Step 5 -  What might the next steps be?  

*What suggestions might you offer, as the inquiry project or research continues?  How might the experience be changed or improved?

Step 6 - What are some reflections?

*How did studying the documentation shift your thinking?  What are your reflections about this process?

When I arrived at the session, I informed the group that I had brought some documentation of my 3.5 month old son in three different formats.  The first was the single image that I shared above, a short write-up of the experience using several images (below), and a snapchat story which I had saved and included music, photographs, audio recordings, and video all threaded together.

I wondered if the way that we study our documentation or our interpreations change, based on the format of what is being shared.

Through my experiences with documentation, I have come to realize that a single image of the process can be more powerful than a series of photographs that retell the beginning, middle, and end.  Whenever there is an end, there may also be a product that is driving the work.  This kind of documentation (like below) is a more traditional way of looking at learning.  It still frames learning from the point of view of assessment.  Pedagogical documentation on the other hand, frames learning as an ongoing process that we study and research.

If I had only brought the above format with me, I feel as though our discussion would have lacked the depth.  Perhaps the educators would have seen the frame of toe printed hearts (a product) and thought "how cute," which might have ended their analysis or studying of the documentation.

Instead, I never showed them this write-up (that was intended to be given to Sebastian's grandmother's on Mother's Day), and presented them with only the photograph from the bottom left hand corner.

Here is what came from our time together using the steps that I shared within this blog post:

Step 1 - What do you see?

*a baby - three fingers on his nose, hands touching his face, lines on his forehead, eyes squinting, feet in different positions, blue on feet, some parts of the soles of the feet do not have as much paint on them, wispy hair
*paint - three shades of blue paint, tiny jars, paint on onesie, paint on feet, colour streaks/mixing
*mirror - sunlight, reflection
*sticky notes

Step 2 - What do you wonder?

*Is the brown area the floor? Is the white area a table, shelf, or is it low on the ground with mural paper?
*Is this a footprint activity? Did he make marks on a piece of paper to document the experience?
*What was this experience like for him? I wonder if he is liking it? Is he feeling something that he never felt before?  Is he making noises? Is this a giggle?  Is this his reaction to the person taking the photo?
*Is he sucking his thumb? Does he have paint on his fingers? Why is he looking at his hand? Or is he looking somewhere else?
*Is he moving a lot? Why is he squinting?
*I wonder how paint got on his onesie? Was the onesie specifically chosen for that day or was he just wearing it?
*Was he fed before?
*Was he held up and dancing in the blue paint?
*Was the blue paint on the white surface a print? Did he make a stamp with his feet?
*Was this a sensory experience? Did the paint smell like something?
*When was this photo captured? At what point is this in the process? The beginning, middle, or end of the experience? What was the sequence of events?
*What was the intent? Was it for Easter? (I see the word Bunny on his top).
*Why are all of these other objects around him? Are the colour markers, sticky notes, jar with brushes all part of the task? Why were the frames there? Will these other materials be used later?
*Was the colour blue chosen specifically? Was there a purpose for the three shades of blue? Was the colour intended to match the baby's eyes, gender, or the favourite colour of the person who created the task? Was the paint mixed?  Were two colours used on his feet?  Is the colour intended for contrast? I wonder if he will do this with another colour.
*Were the paints purchased for this task?  Were they non-toxic? Were Is this his first paint experience or paint experiment? Was the paint warmed up before it was used?  How did the paint get on his feet?
*Why was a mirror selected for the paint to be placed on?
*Was there paint on his hands?
*Does the green seat the baby is in rock or is it stable?
*Does he put his feet in his mouth?
*Is there one person taking the photos or are there more people around?
*What is the atmosphere like?  Is there music playing?
*What time of day did this occur?
*Is there something going on with the computer? Music?
*Is this happening at home? Within an art studio? A different location?
*What age was the baby during this time?
*Is he able to grab or use his fingers?  I wonder if he tried to grab the jar. Did he grab the wipes?
*Did he get a whole bath after this occurred? 
*Did the blue paint come off of his onesie?
*How long did this experience last?

Step 3 - What do you think?

*I think the baby's mom is taking the photographs and he is looking at her.
*I think that this happened on top of a low table that was covered with white paper.
*There were two colours of paint on his feet.
*I think the baby took wipes out to play with them. The mom used the wipes to clean the baby's feet and her hands.
*The markers are not part of the opportunity, but the frame was used to put his footprint inside.  Since this might have been an ordinary day, the parent didn't mind the mess around with other materials. 
*The baby was happy.  He was squinting, because the paint tickled his feet.  He is communicating with gestures and facial expressions.
*I think that this was intended for an Easter gift, because he was wearing the Easter onesie.  Or perhaps it was an activity to share on the blog.  A precious moment to photograph that was a cute memory.
*I think that he is making sounds, like cooing noises with his mouth.
*His fingers are soothing him, that's why they are in his mouth.  His hands are clean from the wet wipes.
*I think that he is getting tired and this is right before a nap.  He might need a diaper change, because it looks quite full.

Step 4 - What happened in actuality?

Since I had to stay silent until Step 4 I was quickly recording everything down that I heard being shared (I see, I wonder, and I think).  It was very hard for me to keep quiet!  I began to reveal what happened by answering some of the questions and also setting up the context for the photograph.

*This photograph was captured on a sunny morning in my home art studio, just after Sebastian had been fed.  I used the white counter top of my large desk, and placed the baby in his green plastic bath chair.  He is used to this seat and very comfortable in it.  In the background I had some Disney music playing on my computer.  The song zip-a-dee-doo-dah is one of Sebastian's favourites, and often makes him smile or laugh.

*The intention for this task was to introduce my baby to his first painting experience.  I wanted to create a provocation for an infant (the way that I would have in FDK) and to document it.  I was curious to see if what I learned in teaching kindergarten students would apply to my infant, and if what I tried with my infant might deepen my understandings for when I return to the classroom.  

*Sebastian wore his Easter onesie, since he had two of them and we didn't need to worry about the mess.  This painting provocation occurred at 3.5 months old or 15 weeks.  The original motivation was to create a heart print for his grandmother's on their first Mother's Day with him.  Using his hands would not be possible, as he was more interested in sucking them.   He made slurping sounds and cooing noises throughout.  When the paint was put onto the mirror, he kicked the paintbrushes and the colours mixed together.  I started to use the paintbrush to apply the paint onto his tiny toes and he continued to kick them.  Eventually the kicking motions put some paint onto his onesie, as well as on my hands and shirt.  Sebastian did not react to the paint on his feet.  He preferred to look at my books, grab the wet wipes, or the paint brushes in my jar.

*We created three heart prints using the imprints from his blue feet.  The prints were placed within the white frames.  I used the wet wipes to clean Sebastian up and later gave him a bath.  By the end of this experience, he had been so stimulated by the music, colours in my studio, and all of the photographs, that he fell fast asleep!

*I recognized through this painting provocation that he is communicating with me and is very capable of learning.  Even though I had an initial intention or goal, by documenting the experience I could follow an emergent curriculum.  If Sebastian preferred to grab what was around him, or look at the colourful books then perhaps I could use this information to plan the next provocation.

Step 5 -  What might the next steps be?  

*Try offering different colours of paint and see his reaction.  Try more mark making without a final goal in mind.
*Use something edible when he is a little bit older for him to touch, grab, and mix with his hands (e.g., mashed strawberries for their bright red colour, etc.).
*Since he is interested in his hands, provide more sensory opportunities with various textures (e.g., sand on his feet, water, sponges, grit in paint, etc.).
*Experiment with different coloured materials from various visual perspectives and monitor his reaction.
*Have him explore colours while looking in a mirror.
*Try an assortment of experiments to see what he likes (e.g., light, colours, music, silence, textures, temperatures, etc.) in various conditions (e.g., from different heights, angles, etc.).

Step 6 - What are some reflections?

*Consider what Sebastian is communicating.  He communicates in many ways, even though he is non-verbal (e.g., his sounds, what he looks at, his facial expressions, body movements, etc.).

*Record more of his sounds and facial expressions within documentation notes of observations.

*Videotape or audio record parts of the experience to interpret later.

*One photo can be an entire blog post or piece of documentation for the wall/portfolio.  There does not need to be this pressure for a production!

*Retelling with photographs is documenting, but it is more traditional.  It becomes a tool for assessment and tracking. Pedaogical documentation on the other hand is a learning moment that we can study and learn from.  By interpreting part of the process, we can plan our next steps.

In our discussion, we spoke about documenting infants and that sometimes a photo might be misinterpreted.  Perhaps in the future I will bring  a video clip for us to study.  Ellen Brown reminded me of the Reggio Emilia resource known as, The diary of Laura, which I plan to re-visit.  This book documents Laura's first weeks in an infant/toddler program.  Perhaps I will save my findings for a future post, as this is getting quite lengthier than I had initially planned!

Ellen also shared that documenting is seeing teaching and learning in a different way.  It can go past all boundaries depending on our image of the audience who is reading it.  In addition, documentation is research that is open for interpretation and re-interpretation.  This is a process of thinking, sustaining of learning, and relationships, which is not product driven.  Therefore, if we centred our study that day on the retelling of events (my second series of photos that depicted the beginning, middle and end of our heart footprints) it would have limited what we would have seen or planned.  Rather than this being the end of an experience, the documentation can be used to inform what can occur next.  

I continue to value the process of learning (what happens during the learning experience), rather than the final product.  The finished frames that we created did not teach us anything about what my son could do.  Instead, it proved that his mommy could stamp his feet perfectly to create a heart shape.  In many ways, had I not considered what he actually did or communicated during the provocation, the experience would have been more like a generic craft.  Generic crafts (such as a cut and paste turkey for Thanksgiving or cookie cutter tasks that all the students try to copy), provide limited information on a child's thinking and learning.

A helpful article to read more about pedagogical documentation is called Learning to document in Reggio-inspired Education, by Dr. Carol Anne Wien with Victoria Guyevskey and Noula Berdoussis.  Please stay tuned for an upcoming post where I review her book, The power of emergent curriculum and give a copy away to a lucky blog follower!

I digress...

In closing, I strongly suggest finding some colleagues to go through this process with.  My network #CTInquiry that meets once per month is beginning to study documentation.  More details can be found here.

Thank you Carol Anne, Ellen, and ORA for continuing to inspire my thinking around pedagogical documentation! 

Children are making meaning from birth.  

Documentation is a valuable resource that allows 

us to listen carefully to their communication. 

It offers an opportunity

to study their capabilities and competencies.

                                                                                                     -Ellen Brown

Children with special rights and the value of differences.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I attended the Reggio Emilia study tour in Italy for a second time, so that I may have the privilege of going deeper with specific principles of their early childhood philosophy.  An area of strong interest for me, are questions around how students with exceptionalities are being supported and represented within the learning environment, emergent curriculum, and pedagogical documentation.  On the first day of lectures, I worried that the information might be repetitive from what I had heard four years prior, however, was pleasantly surprised that new content was being shared.  Within in our first hour, the topic that I had hoped to learn more about was shared with extensive detail.  A pedagogista named, Maddalena Tedeschi and physiologist named, Ivana Soncini presented about the image of the child and valuing the differences of all children including those with “special rights” (children with exceptionalities or special needs).  I was immediately engaged by their discussion, and recall feeling quite satisfied that I had returned to Reggio Emilia.

Tedeschi spoke about, “children as the bearers of rights” that are the responsibility of the community (Tedeschi and Soncini, 2015).  One of these rights is for all children to have equal access to an education.  Soncini argued further that this commitment of not letting our children down was both a political and ethical commitment (Tedeschi and Soncini, 2015).  She spoke of the institutions from the 1970’s and 1980’s when historically children who were different were locked up or put away.  In Reggio Emilia they have embraced an inclusive model for the past forty years with a progressive pedagogy that continues to believe that encountering children with special rights is a gain to all children and educators (Tedeschi and Soncini, 2015).  Furthermore, their view of the school is one of a laboratory or workshop for all children and adults that is held together by education, research, and learning (Tedeschi and Soncini, 2015).

There were many points that resonated with me from this lecture, most especially the idea that every child brings with them differences, as do the adults that work with them (Tedeschi and Soncini, 2015).  Who are we to say what is normal?  Is there even such a thing?  I appreciated being reminded about our image of the child, how we see children as capable and knowledgeable and strongly agreed with the point that a “clinical diagnosis cages us in and stops us from seeing the possibilities” (Tedeschi and Soncini, 2015).  In fact, it limits our focus to what they cannot do and as a result, we begin to make judgements (Tedeschi and Soncini, 2015).  Instead, we can look closer at “the child within the child of special rights” (Tedeschi and Soncini, 2015).  And as summarize nicely by Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio Emilia approach, the “role of pedagogy is to dare to go beyond and see beyond the walls” (Tedeschi and Soncini, 2015).

If it hadn’t been for children with special rights, the Reggio Emilia educators admit that they may not have been led to the hundred languages with different materials and ways of expressing themselves (Tedeschi and Soncini, 2015).  We can celebrate the differences with documentation, and make visible what students are able to do rather than what they cannot achieve.  I therefore, am inspired to spend even more time documenting students with special rights to show the world their special gifts and empower them all as experts in their own right.


Soncini, I., and Tedeschi, M.  2015. Lecture on the values of the educational project of Reggio Emilia, the image of the child, and the value of differences.  May study tour, Reggio Emilia.

Every CHILD is a different kind of flower,

and all together,

make this world

a beautiful garden.

                                                                           -Author Unknown 

Visiting the famous "Diana School" in Reggio Emilia

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Flowers that I encountered on my walk over to the Diana School in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

The Diana School is undoubtedly the most famous school in Reggio Emilia, Italy.  Most international visitors studying the philosophy for a week in the small town, are always hopeful that they will have the opportunity to go inside its mysterious walls.  Upon arrival to the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre, where daily lectures were held, I too found myself yearning to visit the school in the middle of a park completely hidden away from the world by its glorious green trees.  To my disappointment, my name tag did not read “Diana School” as part of the tour, and I assumed that, once again this special place was off limits to me.  When I discovered that in fact it was open to some of the participants, I quickly traded my name tag to finally have my chance!  It was a pinch me kind of moment, similar to the feeling that one gets when they arrive in the Reggio Emilia train station.

The Diana School certainly did not disappoint any of its visitors that day.  To start off our tour, we were provided with a short introduction to the school by the educators and parents.  As I sat listening to them and looking around the lobby, I couldn’t help but notice the famous giraffe creation from one of the projects that I head read about.  After they shared the context of what we might see throughout the school, we were given the green light to wander around the classrooms.  I often paused in complete awe of the spaces, the materials, the children, and the project work.  Physically, the school had an aesthetic beauty like non-other that I had ever witnessed in North America.  However, more than just the external appearance, it was evident that the learning and history ran quite deep.  My natural reaction to everything that I saw was this intense desire to bottle it up and transport it straight into my own reality.

I could not help but wonder… How can we begin to create more of these places within our school boards that allow children in the public system to have similar experiences to the fortunate children in Reggio Emilia, Italy?  Why is this approach so easily embraced within the private systems and can it be achieved on a smaller budget?  Of course, on my own accord I have slowly tried to transform my practice to be Reggio-inspired in a mainstream classroom, and hopefully have started to prove that it is indeed possible.  That being said, I have been faced with my share of challenges and obstacles throughout the years.  Though I am trying to plant seeds of inspiration with my blog and social media accounts, I cannot help but fear that the Reggio Emilia approach, the "environment as third teacher," emergent curriculum, pedagogical documentation, etc., are a band wagon or trend that some educators are currently on.  I on the other hand, am convinced otherwise…

The Diane School taught me some important lessons.  Firstly, I recognized the importance of having evidence of daily learning and educator beliefs throughout the school.  It is not enough to have beautiful artist studios and expensive resources for children to experience.  One must be intentional with their selections and be able to articulate their goal, while making the learning visible.  Secondly, if we ever hope to make a difference in students’ lives then collaboration should be at the heart of our process.  Collaborating with other colleagues, parents, and visitors will give us multiple perspectives.  None of what they have achieved in Reggio Emilia has been accomplished in solitude.  Finally, slowing down our day to day demands can allow us to enjoy spending time with students, building relationships, and going deeper with learning experiences.  These insights or lessons do not require an extensive budget, but rather, a shift in mindset and priorities.  I am thankful for my time in the famous Reggio Emilia school and see the potential of extending this into our own context.  My personal mission will continue to be the sharing of such messages, and the defence of the Reggio Emilia approach as a way of “being” that can be the foundation of our teaching.  Once this is internalized, the notion of “reggio-inspired” as a trend can fade into the distance…


               Diana School Visit. 2015. May study tour, Reggio Emilia.

We value space, to create a handsome environment 

and its potential to inspire social,  

affective and cognitive learning.  

The space is an aquarium that mirrors the ideas and values 

of the people who live in it.
                                                                                                                             -Loris Malaguzzi

What does it mean to be Reggio-inspired?

Friday, August 14, 2015

So it's been a week, and quite honestly I haven't really left my new TransformEd Consulting Services: Studio Office Space... (I promise to blog more about this creative place in a separate post!).

When I heard that there would be another Reggio Emilia Study Tour, I thought that I would ask York University for special permission to have it count as part of my PhD.  I discovered that graduate students could indeed create their own directed reading courses and even collaborative inquiries with their colleagues.  It therefore, made sense that I followed up my trip to Reggio Emilia, Italy, which consisted of rich lectures, school visits, and cultural experiences with further readings.

My goal was to blog about my findings each day and share with you a glimpse into my reflections.  However, what happened to me, is something that often occurs when I am surrounded by amazing Reggio Emilia and Reggio Emilia-inspired resources... I become totally engrossed with the incredible approach and possibilities... It is almost as though I am transported to another time or space.  Lost in thought within a place where childhood and learning are at their best!!! And I didn't stop after reading just one article, or a single book to gather my thoughts, instead, I got sucked in and kept on going - text after text, until I become completely awe-stricken or overwhelmed!  It's a trance like state that I suppose I can't really describe, but I'm hoping some of you who are familiar with this philosophy would understand...  Once you begin to learn about it, you continue to crave more and more information!!!

Loris Malaguzzi often spoke of learning as a tangle of spaghetti, rather than a linear path.  Well my mind certainly feels this way, especially when I am inquiring, reading/researching, thinking, interpreting, and reflecting.  I find the inquiry process similar to the research process.  First you are curious...  You begin with many wonderings.  You start to dig deeper... and deeper... Your theories and questions become more and more complex or foggy at times...  I believe that we must all go through this experience of sifting through the tangles and being okay with the muddiness.  Once we embrace this part (the messy/uncertain part or part we fear), we are better able to bring some of our ideas together or begin to interpret them.  And perhaps after reflecting, it might lead us down the road of more wonderings than we even began with, but we not matter what, we are always thinking and learning!  Why stop, because we are afraid to be wrong?  Is there such thing as being wrong?  Is it the product or the process that we are seeking?

We all know a process takes time... "Uninterrupted time," as they say in Reggio Emilia.  And that is just what I plan to do... Take my time and process my thoughts...  

I am Reggio Emilia-inspired, as I genuinely admire their great respect for children and the learning process (among so many other things!).  Truthfully, a single blog post, or even series of blog posts would not do justice to my appreciation for the Reggio Emilia philosophy.  The Italian approach and educators have influenced my thinking, my teaching, my interactions with children, and even the way that I look at the world.  

I came across a few beautiful short selections in the book Insights and inspirations from Reggio Emilia (see full reference below) by authors that I admire about Reggio Emilia that I wanted you to read and enjoy with me:

(Gandini, L., Etheredge, S., & Hill, Lynn (Eds.). (2008). Insights and inspirations from Reggio Emilia: Stories of teachers and children from North America. Worcester, MA: Davis Publications, Inc.)

What does it mean to be inspired by Reggio?

"Reggio is a metaphor and a symbolic place.  Being in relation with Reggio allows people to hope,
to believe change is possible.
It enables you to cultivate dreams,
rather than being in a utopia.
Because a utopia is something very good but perfect;
instead dreams are something that you can have one night.
And there is also a feeling of belonging to something that is about education in its widest sense,
as a hope for human beings.
And Reggio is a place of encounter and dialogue
and not only with Reggio but with many related protagonists.
So Reggio makes room for people to dialogue, 
it provides an excuse to do this."

                                                                                                            -Carlina Rinaldi

The City of Reggio Emilia

"When I came to visit Reggio Emilia,
invited to see its world-famous preschools,
I expected another "small city miracle."
But I was not prepared for what I found.

It was not just that they were better than anything I have ever seen...
What struck me about the Reggio preschools was how they cultivated imagination and,
in the process, how they empowered
the children's sense of what is possible."

                                                                                                            -Jerome Bruner

Loris Malaguzzi Founder and Philosopher:
His Image of the Child

"One of our strong points has always been to start from an explicit declaration about the very open image of the child that we hold.

An image, in the sense of an interpretation, strong and optimistic about the child; 
a child who is born with many resources and extraordinary potentialities that never fail to surprise us; 
a child with autonomous capacities to construct thoughts, ideas, questions and attempts to give answers.
(A child) who has high capacity to dialogue with the adult,
to observe things and to reconstruct them entirely.

We see the child, every child, as a gifted child from whom there has to be a gifted teacher.  
This consideration has led us to the condition and also into the responsibility to always proceed with teachers unifying moments of theoretical research,
of theoretical values,
with the ones of practical experience."

                                                                                                            -Loris Malaguzzi

Since I am struggling to get some of my ideas down on paper,  I thought that I would share with you a few of the Reggio Emilia-inspired resources that have influenced my developing understandings about early childhood education.  They can all be ordered easily through websites such as Amazon, and are written by several North American authors who have visited Reggio Emilia Italy or learned about the approach and tried to bring it back to their own context.  In addition to the books I am sharing today, I have a whole pile of Reggio Children resources created and published from Italy, but I will save those too for another post. They are a little more difficult to get your hands on!

You probably are familiar with my love of colour and should not be at all surprised that I grouped these recommendations in rainbow fashion:

Of course there are more Reggio Emilia-inspired resources available on the market, and perhaps some other titles that were tucked away on my shelves that I might have missed!!!  No matter how many books I own and how hard I try, my Amazon wish list of "must have" resources just keeps on growing and growing!  

The newest book in my collection is Pedagogical documentation in early childhood: Sharing children's learning and teachers' thinking (photographed above with some of my documentation essentials-notepad to scribe student talk or to make observations, digital camera, and traces of student learning a.k.a. a work sample).  I would like to thank the author Susan Stacey for mentioning my blog within her writing, and for kindly sending me my own copy! Once I complete my book review, on what I already believe to be the professional text of the summer, I will post it for your reading pleasure!

Even my Ruby couldn't resist all of these amazing Reggio Emilia-inspired resources!  She often likes to get right into my photographs when I stage books or educational materials.

Have you written a resource or created an educational product that you believe my blog followers would benefit from? Please email me for the potential of being featured!  If I agree with the content, and it matches my philosophy of early childhood education, then I would be more than happy to write a review and share it with my audience.

A toddler walks out of our centre with his father.
Puddles from a winter warm spell lie in wait.
Kyle walks directly into the biggest puddle and stops, transfixed.
He looks for a long time--long enough for me to capture this moment with my camera.

Kyle's father looks on, intrigued, 
understanding Kyle's need for time.
What is Kyle thinking? What is he noticing?
What are his questions?

A seemingly ordinary moment fraught with potential can disappear easily.
But the gifts that have come from Reggio have changed the way I see children, and the way in which I live in the world.

                                                                                                             -Cathy Weisman Topal

Reflections from Reggio Emilia

Monday, August 10, 2015


For those of you who have followed the blog since 2011, you might recall that I had the opportunity to travel to Reggio Emilia, Italy, and learn about their famous early childhood approach...  

While visiting the small town and schools, as well as listening to the lectures given by the Italian educators, I felt inspired and extremely overwhelmed.  How would I ever achieve something remotely as beautiful or complex as this philosophy that I was so privileged to see in action?

Upon my return, I struggled to separate what I saw and wished for, with what would be possible and realistic within my own transformation.  Through my readings, courses, and the study tour experience, I developed a strong sense of respect for the Reggio Emilia approach.  It was never my intention to replicate it, however, I desperately wanted a small piece of it to live on in my daily reality.

For months, I wondered, how I might honour the Italian philosophy, while staying true to my unique beliefs and context.  Four years later, and a lot of dabbling and inspiration still heavily rooted in the Reggio Emilia approach, I returned back to the world renowned schools...

My second visit to Reggio Emilia, Italy, would be a chance for me to re-explore the approach, think more critically about it, in hopes of going deeper with my developing understandings. I didn't spend as much time sketching every material and classroom layout within the schools or ferociously jotting down entire lectures...  Instead, my focus shifted from the "how" they had accomplished such rich learning environments and programs, to the "why" they believed what they did and the way it translated into practice.

I used the study tour trip, lectures, school tours, and my personal reflections, as a means to spark further inquiry into their notion of an emergent curriculum.  What was of particular interest to me was who became involved in project work, how the Italian educators supported students with varying abilities (children with special rights), and the home and school connection.

Please follow along this week (and perhaps next!), to read more about my reflections and experiences in Reggio Emilia, Italy, while I continue to study the approach within my Canadian context.

I read;

I travel

I become.

                                    -Derek Walcott