Numbers are serious

This week, in their explorations of numbers, the children have shown ways in which they try to construct their own knowledge and achieve understanding within the context of reciprocal relationships with their peers and their teachers to create important connections for themselves. The process of learning involves making connections and relationships between feelings, ideas , words and actions. Through the course of making these connections, and guided by the belief that learning is a spiraling process in which ideas, opinions, and thoughts must be expressed again, children consolidate their ideas, thoughts and feelings into meaningful and cohesive wholes. Having good number sense involves an understanding of the many relationships that exist among numbers, but also the children show how they connect feelings and have empathy with and for numbers. I find it so beautiful the ways in which children, as they learn, don’t separate imagination from cognitive or the emotional from rational.

Some thoughts and images about numbers from the children:

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What images does ‘ten’ make in your mind?

“10 cupcakes at home.”
“A clock, 10 o’clock.”
“10 smiley faces.”
“10 circles.”
“10 on the number chart.”
“10 butterflies.”
“10 triangles.”
“10 lego men.”
“5 triangles and 5 triangles, so 10 triangles.”
“I see a 3D ten.”
“5 columns of two triangles to make 10 triangles altogether.”

What do you know about two digit numbers?

“Like 2 digit numbers are like 2 numbers joined together into one number.”
“2 digit number is like a 1 and 1 is eleven.”
“It’s like maths, 2 numbers sticked together, like 89.”
“It helps you to learn about different numbers, like 1 and 8 makes 18. You make different kinds of numbers, very hard numbers.”
“How about a 1 and a 2, it is twelve.”
“2 digit numbers start from 10 and end at 99. Then there are 3 digit numbers. And before 10 there are 1 digit numbers.”
“After 2 digit numbers comes 3 digit numbers like 100. After 3 digit numbers comes 4 digit numbers like, 3025. 4 digit numbers are very serious. I like numbers.”
Digit numbers keep on going. Numbers never end.”

Numbers are lovely…..

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A beautiful, important and interesting design

So we had four possible designs with common threads of friendship, dancing and beautiful things such as rainbows, flowers and insects. I was excited to see what the children would decide for their chosen design.

The designs were placed in front of us all and the children were asked to comment on them, maybe offering a definitive choice of what we should use – although with trepidation because exclusions is a delicate situation.

The children were very complimentary of all the designs. It was agreed that Amon and Violet would take all of the elements that were considered to be important and construct a design to include ideas and images from all. A challenging responsibility but one which they rose to with care and sensitivity.

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“Shall we do it butterflies dancing on top of the rainbow?”

“This is the daddy and the flowers, and i’ll make a beetle.”

“What about flowers?”

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“And the baby flower, where is the baby?”

“And I’ll make a ladybird here.”

“Maybe I draw a bird here. Tree for bird and nest and eggs. Apples. I’m making an apple tree. Worm getting out of the apple.”

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Amon and Violet shared their proposed design to the group which meet with approval and acknowledgement that they had successfully included a little bit of everybody’s suggestions.

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“It makes me happy.”

“It makes me hot.”

“Lots of colours.”

“Beautiful.”

“It’s not really my favourite.”

“This one is squares.”

‘It has lots of colours, and it makes me feel a bit silly, like the blue and the orange.”

“The one with lots of colours that make me feel too excited. When we did the butterflies we learnt about colours that make me feel calm and colours that make me feel excited.”

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“Calm.”

“Nice.”

“The second one is my favourite because it makes me feel calmer.”

“This one is more beautiful with fresh trees.”

“Calm and sleepy.”

“The green one is nice and calm and I like it.”

Colour and emotion – what is the relationship?

We can take make suggestions from artitsts and take a moment to look at products to catch the suggestions that artists, give us with their super sensitive antennae. The children are sensitive to the nature of colour and how colour sings and expresses itself through various hues  Showing the children some examples of how other artists use colour helped them to consider their ideas about colours and emotions and then make the connection to how they would like to feel in our class library. I suppose that particularly to the children, a colour is not a colour unless it possesses an expressive identity. There exists a certain poeticness to colour and children can be excited by their evocative , expressive power.

“We should do a calm one. Calm one had blue, green.”

“We wanted to feel calm in the library, not running around.”

“I would use blue green and blue violet because they look beautiful together.”

“You could use a green pencil and a blue pencil on it, use it sideways, light.”

“It needs to feel fun.”

“Calm.”

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This discussion helped the children to make thoughtful and intentional choices about the colours they chose for the design of the mosaic. This exercise in colour shows that the children have a natural love of colour and respond to it spontaneously. Their choices offer to us a design with  harmony, serenity, attractiveness, luminosity and cheerfulness. They gave  preference to a modulation of hues, half-tones, hybrid colours.

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Combining images

How can these images be combined in such a way as to produce a meaningful relationship?

“Put all of them in a circle and have a vote, like we did with the books.”

“In pieces of paper write it then you put the name like Amon’s beetle or Violet’s butterfly and put it in a line and see what people stand behind and see what people want.”

“Combine the ideas. If Violet’s was here, if they made bits of a sun they could combine them, like a puzzle.”

“Maybe we could just agree to each other. Talk to each other.”

“What if we take one butterfly for Violet , one piece of drawing from  everybody and put it together. Choose from everybody and take the thing that we like.”

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The composition phase is most delicate. The various subjects conceived at the beginning by children as a large collection need to enter into a meaningful relationship, a procedure that is made more difficult by the collective design process.

We used the traditional method of photocopying the drawings, changing the size, cutting them out and placing them on base sheets to try out different compositions. In small groups the children began constructing their draft designs. The children could move the pieces around in the space, trying out different relationships and compositions. Glue was only used when the composition considered most suitable had been chosen. We also took photographs of the trials.

So we had four possible designs with common threads of friendship, dancing and beautiful things such as rainbows, flowers and insects. I was excited to see what the children would decide for their chosen design.

The designs were placed in front of us all and the children were asked to comment on them, maybe offering a definitive choice of what we should use – although with trepidation because exclusions is a delicate situation.

The children were very complimentary of all the designs. It was agreed that Amon and Violet would take all of the elements that were considered to be important and construct a design to include ideas and images from all. A challenging responsibility but one which they rose to with care and sensitivity.

 

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“We can make it calm and beautiful!”

Every day the children experience a myriad of encounters with materials where they explore how  materials behaviour, how they can use them and possibilities to change them. The children bring a wealth of experience to the mosaic project. The idea for the project arose when the children were constructing butterflies to hang in the library to create an atmosphere of warmth, beauty and comfort. As we embarked on our focus on materials and their properties it seemed timely to draw on this suggestion from the children and delve into it more deeply. This is a project that we worked on over two months in collaboration with Jen Krembs our Atelierista. This project connects with so much of what we have been thinking about over the year – including our unit of inquiry into the properties of materials, continuing ideas about making the library a beautiful and welcoming space, finding ways to learn with and through each other and finding ways to collaborate and relate to others.

What materials could we use?

The children initially offered suggestions about possible materials and ways of working in order to construct a mosaic. An interesting discussion ensued and below are some of the comments,

“Cement is very hard and you can not even break it.”

“It’s hard, like stones because stones are strong just like cement.”

“Iron is harder. Iron or stone for making it. We can make a stone thing and put the cement in the stone.”

“We need to make the parts really stick. We could put these materials on it and then put iron on it. Iron can make these kind of materials stick.”

“You could put some stuff on it and put plastic on it and put melted plastic on it. Melted plastic might stick to wood.”

“We can paint the stones.”

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“We should have all of us make it so it’s fair.”

“Wood. Whenever me and my friends go to the Atelier we use wood and plastic.”

“We can make a design, we can make swirly stuff. We can use rocks. Paint them and put them on and put iron.”

“But how could we stick it?”

“But I know how to choose the thing to stick. We just have to agree together. Which ones (materials) the best ones? We can find the materials.

“How can we stick everything on the back of the thing? I have a good idea for the spiral, these glass.”

“Baby rocks and sand.”

“Sand is a good idea.”

“Jewels.”

“For the metal, glue the magnet to the wood. When it is dry you can put the metal on and pull it off. It could be like a puzzle.”

“We can use these stones, tiles.”

“With clay we can make tiles. I can make tiles with clay.” (Kaiwen)

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The conversation took a different turn as some of the children reflected on the colours that had been carefully chosen for the butterflies that are already hanging in the library space.

“When we were going to make our butterflies we choose two colours.”

“We choose calm colours.”

“Blue , green and purple and violet. It was light colours.”

“The bright colours make us too hot, the blue colours make us calm, the other colours make us happy.”

“We should put the sunset colours in the background.”

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Why do you like to spend time in our library?

I felt that it would be useful to ask again about the library and how this space makes us feel, why do people like to read books in our library or spend time there?

The children describe it as a welcoming space and a place where they can enjoy reading.

 

“Because I like to read to read books and its fun.” (Haein)

“I can read a lot of books and study hard to read books.” (Jie Qi)

“Because I like the butterflies in it because it is pretty. It’s calm.” (Jaya)

“I feel calm.” (Malak)

“Because I like to read books. I like to read books so much and see what the story is about.” (Kshitij)

“Because I like reading books and the pigeon drives the bus.” (Nalin)

“Because we get to pratise reading and we get to sound out the words.” (Grace)

“Because I can read.” (Tale)

“Because there’s lots of books and everybody can read now and everybody can take turns at reading to everybody else and there are books about birds and flying and the big year book and funny books. It feels nice and calm because of the colours of the butterflies and there are the pictures of everybody in the class. I like how the shelves are ABC and the stands for the books.” (Violet)

What are your ideas about the design?

I wondered what kind of subjects might be suitable for the mosaic?

What is the most suitable image for the mosaic?

The children were invited to  draw their ideas, subjects often acquire a clearer identity through the process of drawing

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“Butterflies, like 100 butterflies flying around. stripy animals are really poisonous. And then three caterpillars. Sunset in the background.”

“The butterfly is flying into the flower and drinking some flower soup. One caterpillar was on the leaf and they became friends. The caterpillar has spikes.”

“There is two butterflies and they were friends and they went to the park together.”

“To make lots of insects and butterflies and flowers.”

“A spider web between bushes, a lady bird on a leaf. A worm on the grass. A butterfly and a sun.”

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“First I’m going to draw the grass. Then I’m going to draw a tree.”

“I’m going to put a sunset colours and flowers and trees and I’m going to draw the sun going down.”

“Flowers and trees and grass and a sun. The sun set is going down and the stars come out.”

“Beetle, worm, ants, tree, sun, star, grass.”

“A house, people, butterfly, flower and ants on the grass.”

“A house and my mum and my dad and then I will put some butterflies.”

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“The butterfly is flying in the garden. The birds have a lot of eggs. And the caterpillar is trying to eat the flower. And the tree is growing growing. The sun is still shining. The butterfly has beautiful wings. The flower is getting more and more beautiful. The bird like the butterfly. The bird be friends but they can’t play together because the bird has a baby. The tree already growed. And then it becomes a beautiful garden.”

“The sun is going down. The butterflies are trying to think what to do for their butterfly garden. They went to school and told the teacher why are the butterflies growing up so quickly.”

“The butterflies are trying to think what to do. They go to school. The teacher give them something, a seed to grow the flower. The flower grow and grow. The butterfly is happy and drink it.”

“I am making an aeroplane and a hotel and a person and a green mountain and a blue sky and a sun.”

“Flowers, paper stars to stick on, sun and wind, sky. I’m going to do some more and apartments.”

“I drawed stars, cloud, sun, butterfly, my dad and my mum and flower and a tree with birds, apples and spider.”

“I did a pattern on the caterpillar and a snail. A flower blocking the ants and the caterpillar.”

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The children represented things they consider to be beautiful, important and interesting.

We seemed to reach a clearer definition of the image that could then be developed. The important elements seemed to be that it would be beautiful, that the colours should be predominately blues, greens and purples to blend with the butterflies that are already hanging and nature seemed to be an underlying theme. Images of butterflies, beetles, ladybirds, caterpillars, all the creatures the children delight in finding in the gardens outside and of flowers and plants.

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“The year book is for everyone! Even the teachers!”

A Learning Community

“Education will vary with the quality of the life that prevails in a group.” 

John Dewey, Democracy and Education

Much, if not most of the learning that goes on in and out of schools happens through interactions of groups. The desire to learn from and with others is so powerful that children find ways to learn from and with one another. Recently we have been discussing our pages for the Year Book and through these discussions I really got a sense of how the children understand that they are part of a learning community and that we can learn from each other. The opportunities we provide for detailed dialogues, conversations and commentaries between children and children and adults have changed the nature of the relationships and interactions. The children are willing participants in discussions we make in the class and they can lead and share responsibility. With great seriousness they embarked on the collaborative task on making decisions about our Year Book pages.

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We began by thinking about what a year book was,

“Yearbook is a thing that you all did. You have to write it down. Like a diary or something.”

“It has year pictures and stuff and it’s a book about the year and people get to sign on it. People can sign their names because I signed my name on someone I know.”

“A year book is very important. You can learn with it.”

“Everybody gets one.”

“I know now, I have one at home!”

The children made a democratic choice about the layout by organising a people graph and interpreting which layout was the most popular. The children who did not get their choice accepted the class decision.

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We had been asked to construct some statements about learning in our class. The children made thoughtful contributions which showed how much they have grown over the year. The children are speaking up more in small and large group activities and in other situations.What is more noticeable is that their talents and capabilities are becoming more visible and the growing understanding that they each contribute to the learning of the group.

“Making friends and playing together. I was trying to make lots of friends. They help me to make something.”

“Important is learning and doing drawing and books.”

“When the High School came to measure us was important.”

“Making friends, sharing stuff and playing together. Shaking hands. Dancing together. Hugging and friends are important.”

“I learn to be kind to everybody and help them when they fell down. I found it out, how to be kind.

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“I learn from the music room, how to sing.”

“I learn good because I do home school links.”

“I learn in KB sharing and talk nicely.”

“When the High School came and helped us learn to measure.”

“Make exercise and play and swing together and having fun.”

“Building aeroplanes.”

“Learning with friends. When I don’t know something I can ask my friends.”

“Learning with new friends and on the monkey bars.”

“I learn because I listen and everybody listens too.”

“Playing outside makes you learn. Getting more energy so you are not tired and it’s good for your brain.”

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The next step was to consider the types of photographs the children would like to be featured.

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“We need all of the people even you (Clair). Pictures of our buildings and stuff.”

“In the big one we can have all of us together and the teachers.”

“Us singing.”

“Dancing.”

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“Outside being a Chinese dragon.”

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“Playing on the monkey bars. Me and Aahana.”

“Playing outside.”

“Doing some stuff.”

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“Pictures of sharing and playing together.”

Some of the children borrowed a camera from the library and worked hard to photograph each member of the class. Photographs were selected from many and shared with the group. The children were really appreciative of their friends photography efforts and showed genuine delight in the images chosen.

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“I really like the pictures of me and Jaya and Malak and Tale. I like the shots and I like Violet’s and the backgrounds.”

“I like Jaya’s picture because it’s like sunset colours. It’s a little bit dark. And Jaya looked very nice in that picture. Jaya’s was the mostest goodest.”

“Grace’s picture is nice and Jaya’s. I like it. I think Haein’s picture is nice. The first picture of Haein and Aahana was good too.”

“I like Jaya’s and Grace’s because they are smiling.”

“I like Grace’s and Jaya’s because Jaya’s is shiny. I like the first one, Aahana and me. I like Kshitij is silly in the whole wide world. And Maya carefully reading the picture and the word. The pictures so beautiful and nice.”

“I like Jaya’s face because it was different colours. It was bright and dark and I like all the smiling faces.”

I was touched by the sensitive and mature way the children made decisions about their Year Book pages and the way in which they seemed to sense the beauty of being a member of a learning community. Individuals who learn to listen, who acknowledge and respect diverse points of view, who work with others to solve problems and who can interpret and understand the world in increasingly complex ways will make for a brighter future.

 

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Reading Memories

Inspired by a photograph of Harry reading at home, I decided to ask the children about their favourite reading memories?

What were the children’s best ever reading moments, when reading felt really good for them?

The children learn such a lot about reading at home before they start school and this showed in the children’s responses about favourite reading memories. It is a credit to their families all that the children already have such fond memories of reading.

“ When my mum reads in the afternoon when I get back from school and sometimes at night too.” 

“Sleeping with my dad and he reads me stories.” 

“When my mum reads to me in the morning.”

“When I was in my bedroom, I fall asleep and I dreamed go to the library to take one book and I read it.”

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“My dad read a bunny book and I dream about bunny and I saw the stars and I eat carrot with the bunny in the dream. I play with bunny and I go to bunny house and she has a lovely mum and dad. And it was so fun.” 

“My mum always reads me a silly book called the little silly person. Its a long story. I fell asleep.” 

“In my bedroom, sitting on the chair, reading a book.” 

“I have a bed and you have to climb up it. My dad or my mum reads a book. I like that. I like it when my mum and dad read stories because they tell the story in a funny way.”

“When my mum reads to me on the chair because she reads the funniest book I ever heard.” 

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“I am sleeping. I am reading on my bed.” 

“I like reading with my sister at bed time. I read to myself.” 

“Reading in my bed because my mum reads my books to me.” 

“Reading with my dad.” 

“My dad change and he gets a book from the bookshelf and he reads it to men and I fall asleep. It is peaceful in my room. He sometimes sings to help me sleep.” 

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“When my wa wa makes me read. I like that but I get tired.”

“Before sleeping I read 30 books and I read more than 30, I read 31.”

“I like to read at night classic fairy tale bed times with my daddy.I like to learn how to read hard books like first grade ones. I try hard.” 

“Bed time stories when my dad reads to me.” 

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Early reading is a partnership of mutual pleasure. All the things you would have done when your child was very young such as making opportunities for your young child to contribute to the reading experience, to touch the page, smile, slot in an appropriate sound-effect, name a character or join in with a repeated phrase or chorus have all helped to foster a love of books and reading in your child. Hearing print brought to life by a familiar voice is such a significant reading lesson and supports young children’s awareness of the sound system of the language and its relationship to written symbols. Sitting comfortably on a lap or very close to a caring adult, sharing a well known favourite book is a pleasure for both adult and child. As parents you are your child’s first and most enduring educators. When families share books with their children at home they make a huge contribution to their success at reading. Most of all they need to know that someone who loves them believes in them totally and knows that one day they will be a reader.

“Books are sources of shared and repeated pleasure, of insight and new knowledge and of new possibilities of living.”

(Wade and More, 1993, Book Start in Birmingham: a description and evaluation of an exploratory British project to encourage sharing books with babies)

 

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Rendering the Word and the World

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We began this week by reflecting on our January learning journey. Kaiwen explained that he had learnt a lot about reading. This led me to wonder what understandings the children had about reading.

We believe in constructing an environment that is filled with the pleasure of a wide range of languages for the child to develop a love of learning, listening and communication.

Claudia Giudici explains that,

“When we speak of languages we refer to the different ways children (human beings) represent, communicate and express their thinking in different media and symbolic systems; languages therefore are the many fonts or geneses of knowledge.”
(Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia, 2010)

We seek to enact many moments and spaces of inter textuality demonstrating how we forge connections with the word and the world. Reading and writing in context also means that we extend meanings of what reading, writing and literacy mean. We enact many literacy events that provoke the children to wonder at language and literacy at all levels and through many forms and media or materials. Everyday the children are using many languages, and spaces together with their own experiences, to form their literacies and interpretations of the world. With every layer giving greater richness and completeness of thought. The space of a book contains a universe of meanings, connecting up things within and outside of its cover on many levels, literally and figuratively.

We try in Kindergarten, to demonstrate the joy and usefulness of ‘writing’ and ‘reading’ the word and the world….

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What is reading?

“Reading is when you read a book or reading letters. you are reading when you are writing.”
“Reading is like you read some words and you’re reading a book.”
“When you, if you have done writing you must check if thats what you mean or if thats not what you mean. You have to read some writing.”
“Reading is reading the numbers and reading is reading something like books.”
“Reading is something that you make a word and then you have to try to read it , then you have to practise reading too.”
“For example, you read words in books and messages.”
“I like to do it.”
“When we write something or books, we have to read it.”
“When we read we can find books and you look at the book and you find the activity book and we read it. It is very interesting and you can read it all.”
“When you take a book and open the first page and read it in your mind.”
“I love to read and someone choose any book and just read it.”
“If the book doesn’t have any words you can see the pictures and make it up with your mind from the picture.”
“If someone cannot read then someone teach them to read. You have to try hard.”

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How do you read?

“Sound out the letters and reading makes you remember how to read. Like if you like to read books like me and my friends and reading helps you to learn about stuff.”
“I sound out the words and if words don’t make the words we have to just remember, like ‘the’.”
“Sound out the words and try very hard to concentrate and anyone to make noise.”
“Reading helps me to know more stuff. Reading is leaning.”
“You have to know all the letter sounds before you start reading. You have to know the letter sounds to be able to sound it out.”
“Reading is like take your time and read real slow.”
“When you write, you read.”
“I read the word in my head.”
“In my brain.”
“‘Laugh’ , it was weird. I looked at the pictures to help me to guess.”
“I look at the pictures too help too.”
“Reading is remembering words.”
“Reading is the eyes and the ears sending it to your brain and then to your mouth to say the words.”

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Who reads?

“I read and my sister reads.”
“My dad, he reads any kind of books that he really likes. And I like books with no pictures and just words too.”
“If there are no pictures you have to imagine.”
“I like to hear the words.”
“I like to see the pictures.”
“My daddy sometimes reads to me and last night I read so much books. I read all the books from the book swap and ‘The Frown’ and so much bed time stories.” Violet
“My sister reads a lot. She reads books with no pictures. She really likes them. She can read all of the pages.”
“Sometimes I read. Sometimes my mum reads. My mum reads pictures. She reads Iranian language and English.”
“My sister reads lots of thick books like ’39 Clues’. She doesn’t finish in one day.”
“Me. I read. Sometimes I read to my mum and dad and sometimes I read to my sister even though she is bigger than me. Sometimes I read to my whole family and they listen. I have all the ‘Piggie and Gerald’ books at home but now I have different books.”
“My sister reads a lot. She likes to read chapter books. And my mum likes to read books on her Kindle.”

So I was delighted to discover that the children knew an awful lot about reading and view themselves as readers as well as valuing reading as a worthwhile endeavour worthy of their effort and attention. The children were reflecting on their own strategies for reading and how they work out unknown words. They appreciated that getting better at reading can be challenging and that you should try hard, yet reading books has the power to open up new avenues of knowledge and pleasure. They really do view reading and writing as joyful and useful.

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What is the effect of digital technologies on engagement and complexity of thinking of the explorations of 5‐6 year old children in a Reggio inspired setting?

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What is the effect of digital technologies on engagement and complexity of thinking of the explorations of 5-6 year old children in a Reggio inspired setting?

Action Research

 Clair Weston

December 2013

 

Abstract

Twenty four Kindergarten students attending Jakarta International School participated in an action research study exploring the question, “What is the effect of digital technologies on engagement and complexity of thinking of the explorations of 5-6 year old children in a Reggio inspired setting?” A two-group pre-test and post-test design measured student engagement and student complexity of thinking after a seven week intervention. The experimental group consisted of one class of Kindergarten students who were exposed to opportunities for using iPads as a language of expression, as a device for creation. The control group consisted of a second Kindergarten class who were exposed to opportunities for using iPads in the traditional way, as a device for consumption. Results indicated that after the intervention period, although the scores of both groups increased, the level of engagement and the depth of thinking of the experimental group was higher.

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The Image of the Child

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In 1996, the Reggio educators described children as rich, strong and powerful.  In the following year, the image of the child was revisited and this spoke of the child as rich, powerful and competent.  This has been revised again to hold an image of the child as rich, powerful and a possessor of rights – rights as a citizen and rights to realise his/her potential.

Carlina Rinaldi, in her book,  In Dialogue with Reggio (Routledge, 2006), writes of the possibility for many different images, highlighting what the child is and has, can be or can do, or on the contrary emphasising what the child is not and does not have, what he or she cannot be or do.

Each of us holds deep down an image of the child.  This image has many reflections.

The following is the image of the child as written by Loris Malaguzzi, revisited by Carlina Rinaldi (Rinaldi, 2006, p.83).

“One of the focal points of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, as Loris Malaguzzi wrote, is the image of a child who, right from the moment of birth, is so engaged in developing a relationship with the world and intent on experiencing the world that he develops a complex system of abilities, learning strategies and ways of organising relationships. This is:

A child who is fully able to create personal maps for his own social, cognitive, affective and symbolic orientation.

A competent, active, critical child;  a child who is therefore ‘challenging’, because he produces change and dynamic movement in the systems in which he is involved, including the family, the society and the school.  A producer of culture, values and rights, competent in living and learning.

A child who is able to assemble and disassemble possible realities, to construct metaphors and creative paradoxes, to construct his own symbols and codes while learning to decode the established symbols and codes.

A child who, very early on, is able to attribute meanings to events and who attempts to share meanings and stories of meaning.”

The image of the child from the Reggio educators’ perspectives sees that child as connected with adults and other children, a constructor and co-constructor of knowledge, identity and culture.

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I have been reflecting on my ideas about the image of the child and how this impacts everything that happens within our class.

What is my image of the child?

Over the years of working with young children I feel that my image of the child has evolved. Perhaps as a new teacher I viewed children as a person but did not appreciate as well as I do now the amazing potential of all children with all of their richness, their talents and their understandings and views of the world. This was visible in my classroom, where I as the teacher defined the curriculum and prepared the environment, believing that the children were entitled to an education and care but where school was mainly done to the child.I think now I place more value on reciprocal respect, listening and time. I hope now that I am better at co-constructing the curriculum with the children, that the children have a voice within the daily happenings and that the schedule and spaces promote exchange and development of relationships. I hope that now a visitor to the class would be able to see that the children are viewed as capable, competent have a right to a caring and respectful educational experience I think that this time spent listening to children has helped to change my image of the child and has changed my understandings and perspectives about how and what children learn.

What is the image of the child held in my current cultural contexts? 

One of the challenges in our setting is the differing images of children held by different participants of our school community. There are many children who are over protected by their parents and nannies, these parents appear to have a very low opinion of what their children can do, for example have no belief in their abilities to climb, to use equipment such as spades and even to be able to feed or dress themselves. Even within the school staff there are many examples where children do not seem to be deemed capable of being involved as partners in their own education. There are episodes where children are so closely watched in our playground and reminded about potential hazards and having their play limited through adults that do not believe in the children’s capabilities. There are school events and gatherings which are almost teacher performances, when I am sure that the children would be able to run them, for example school assemblies. I feel that this is slowly changing and that the culture of the school will be able to eventually view the children as rich, resourceful and full of potential.

How can my image of the child be made visible?

Our documentation shows that we try hard to listen carefully to the children and try to interpret what they are saying, not treating their theories as ‘cute’ or merely funny but understanding that these are real theories worthy of our attention. The children see us writing down what they say, showing that we care deeply about their ideas. They see us recording their work and showing a genuine interest in what they do. The adults listening to the children will lead to an increased awareness of their value and worth. The documentation is shared through class blogs, displays and portfolios. Making the children more visible in this way will hopefully encourage the school community to reflect on their own image of the child. My Kindergarten class of children were so proud of books they had published that they asked to be able to invite their families to school to share their learning. Events such as these I hope will increase the involvement and understanding of parents in their child’s learning and open up more dialogue. If parents can have opportunities to talk more to their children and as the children become more confident in sharing their views, ideas and thinking more openly, parents would be amazed at their children’s capabilities.

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