About me

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Materials available in the classroom

What choices are we making and why? The materials that we choose to have available to the children reflect our image of the child. If we believe children are capable, what resources are we providing them with?

In my classroom the children have access to a variety of materials such as clay, wire, recycled materials, and a variety of other open ended resources for them to express their ideas with.

I have a strong sense of sustainability and recycling, so there are many different types of materials that are collected and available to the children.

Children are given time to explore many different types of materials in order that they will become familiar with the characteristics and properties of these materials. The children are then able to select the materials they want to use to represent their ideas.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

What is a project? Curriculum perspective

Where is the project coming from? Is it something that the children have shown an interest in? Is it a requirement?

Why do you think this is an important project for the children?

A project encompasses core values, key competencies, habits of mind, building learning power skills etc A project's underlying objectives is to teach the children how to learn.

A project may challenge you as a teacher to let go of your pre-conceived ideas about where a project should be heading. Sometimes you have to let go of initial ideas that you had about a project.

My projects are not planned out from the beginning to the end. My project planning is a living document.

Some projects I have not known what the main curriculum focus would be because in the initial sates of the project I was still gathering information about the children's ideas and theories. One particular project that was sparked by the children's interest in butterflies could have a been a Science - living world project, however I discovered that most of the children already had a good understanding of the life cycle of a butterfly. My curriculum focus then became a Technology focus, with a minor focus on the life cycle.

Other projects like one that was sparked by our school show, had a clear arts focus from the start. However it did have a minor focus on social studies and geography as the children showed an interest in countries from around the world, maps, and atlases.

Being open to the possibilities is key for me - letting go of 'this is the way we have always done it'. I don't keep any unit plans from previous projects because each project is unique to the group of children I am working with at a particular point in time. There is documentation of the project (something I will talk about later) but I have moved away from replicating the same learning experiences year in and out.

Another big change inspired by this philosophy, has been not to teach themes for example it is autumn so we are all going to learn about autumn. I do still embrace these sorts of 'world around us' topics but the way the topics emerge is so different each year.

"Each individual can thus not only learn how to learn, but also become aware of the value of learning as a quality of life itself, in order to organise and multiply the learning opportunities as well as enjoy them and find pleasure in learning together with others." Carla Rinaldi

Monday, 6 August 2012

What is a provocation?

In the Reggio Emilia approach to teaching and learning the educators talk about provocations.

What is a provocation?

Provocations can come from the teachers, children or external sources such as the community. It is something that sparks questions, interest, ideas, theories, discussion, debate and engages the children's thinking.

Provocations could be:
  •  A concept i.e. change
  • A problem i.e. children touching chrysalises and damaging them
  • An object i.e. a map
  • Nature e.g. children's fascination with sticks
  • A question from the teacher
  • Questions from the children
  • Song lyrics
  • An event
  • A book
  • An interest that a child or group of children have
  • A requirement i.e. the school show

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Classroom displays - the learning journey

A few years ago I decided that it was important to show how the teaching and learning in my classroom integrated many different curriculum areas. This meant moving away from having designated maths, writing and reading areas framed with different borders. This was a big change for me because I had traditionally always had a wall for writing, a wall for maths, a wall for reading and a wall for art.

How is the learning journey displayed in your classroom?

Displays are a powerful thing. I recently attended a lecture by Guy Claxton, where he challenged the audience to think about what we were displaying in our classroom. He spoke about displaying authentic work that demonstrates the learning process for example draft writing. Guy Claxton believes it is important for children to see what good learners do and that mistakes are a normal part of learning.