About me

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Aesthetics of the learning environment - the value of calmness

In many Reggio Emillia inspired centres that I have visited the value of calmness is very apparent in their environment, thus creating a calm space for children to interact with.

Decisions from the colour of furniture, to wall coverings, to what is put on the wall and display tables often reflect this value of calmness.  

One school I worked at had neutral colours and wall coverings. The overall effect was calming but it also ensured that the children’s work was not competing with bright colour backgrounds and boards.

Another school I worked at encouraged teachers to think very carefully about what they were displaying, how and why they were displaying it. Creating a soothing calm learning environment was a high priority.

When I first started teaching, 11 years ago, one of my favourite tasks was creating wall displays. Layer upon layer of colour, boarders and children’s work all competed for audience attention. Looking back I cringe at the visual chaos that was going on in my classroom. I hope that now I am a lot more thoughtful about  the aesthetics and visual impact my environment has.

Here are some inspiring pictures of calming environments; 

2013/2014 Project Planning - A year long focus 'The City'

There are many different approaches to project planning. The two approaches I have experienced are; term by term with specific curriculum areas to be covered in the project. For example in Term 2 we are focusing on the 'Arts' curriculum which will drive your project. 
·      The second approach I have been involved in is a year  long project and curriculum areas are integrated at discretion of teacher, but the expectation is that by the end of the year all curriculum areas have been covered. 

This year, 2013/2014, we are following a year long project approach. Our umbrella topic for Year 1 is ‘The City’ which is a great concrete topic for this age level, also applicable as we live in the city!

While we don’t follow a direct ‘model’ of inquiry, there is naturally a general order to how things flow. In the initial stage of the inquiry we are gathering the children’s ideas about the topic of 'the city'. There are many ways we set up provocations;  sometimes through direct questioning, questions to think about for show and tell i.e. bring in a photo of something you see in the city, looking at books, and pictures. This stage is the perhaps the trickiest stage because there are so many possibilities with the direction the project can go in. Careful consideration of the children’s ideas, theories, hypotheses and opinions give pathways forward. The children's ideas are gathered through the recording of their conversations, photographs and graphic representations of their thinking. 

We reflect upon the children's ideas and think about the educational value of what we are doing; Why are we doing this?  And what do we want the children to learn? We are also looking for concepts as opposed to specific knowledge objectives. A concept might be 'diversity' vs a specific knowledge objective ' identify physical elements in a city'.  We brainstorm possible concepts and  use this as a 'road map’ to help guide us in our decision making and planning.