Within Reggio Emilia, there is a high focus on the environment of the classroom and allowing students to speak in their “100 languages”. While allowing students to document learning in different ways is wonderful for their learning it can be difficult if you are looking from a traditional grading perspective. So what can be done?
One of the very important aspects of Reggio Emilia that I have found that gets passed over very often. People use many different ways to document, to me technology makes it the easiest.
The addition of iPads into the classroom has made it very easy to communicate and document learning. With students using art and the spoken word and even acting to show their learning how are we supposed to show parents the learning. With technology, we can take photos, videos, audio recordings and many other ways to document learning. You do not need to be using a Reggio approach to implement technology into documentation, but it helps a lot with a Reggio approach.
I have learned a lot about Reggio Emilia throughout this inquiry. Specifically what I want to include in my teaching pedagogy and how I can add different aspects of different approaches.
Finding resources that talk about bringing Regio Emilia concepts into an older class are few and far between. I found a teacher in Victoria had done her masters degree in just that topic! What was so amazing was that I found that she found what worked best for her was to include “Genius Hour” as a way to create a space for open-ended questioning and wonder. She also included makers space
By bringing in these techniques it allows for the creative and open-ended learning that Regio Emilia stands for. It does not look the same as what a Regio Emilia class would look like in lower primary classes, but it still uses the same techniques. What is important is viewing the classroom as the third teacher.
If you are aware of the importance of the environment as part of what teaches the students then that is what really matters with Regio Emilia. Thinking of how your lessons and provocations will work in the classroom will lead to a strong feeling of calm to your students.
What I feel is one of the major aspects of Regio Emilia would have to be provocations. That begs the question though, what is a provocation. In the most simple descriptions, a provocation is just something that provokes. That could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To me and what I have seen a provocation is something that draws the students in and makes them want to engage in the learning you have set out.
When I first started looking into Regio Emilia I was overwhelmed with this idea. How was I going to engage with what it is that I want them to learn set up in an aesthetically pleasing way? I can barely get my own decor to be aesthetically pleasing and now I have to make my lessons aesthetically pleasing? It seemed to truly impossible. What I didn’t think about was the fact that I just had to think small.
With Regio Emilia, it is important for there not to be too much going on with the provocation. The table shouldn’t be crowded and should only have what is needed for the activity. Instead of using regular plastic bins, use wooden or metal bowls from a thrift shop that are interesting or look like a part of nature. Doing this automatically makes it look better and it makes students want to see what is going on with it.
Provocation does not have to complicated, it does not have to be super beautiful. provocation is just a simple way to help to engage students in their own learning.
Setting up the first one so students who need help to start have an idea.
Other possibilities that I would love to explore in an intermediate setting are:
- An interesting photo, picture or book,
- Nature (e.g. specimens)
- Conceptual (e.g. changing seasons, light)
- Old materials displayed in a new way,
- An interest that a child or children have,
- An object (e.g. magnets, maps)
- New creative mediums,
- Questions (from any source – i.e. What is gravity?)
- An event (e.g. a presentation, a holiday)
I am sure that many of you are wondering what is Regio Emila? When I first walked into my practicum classroom last year I was thinking the same thing. I felt calm immediately as I walked in the door of the room. The lights were half off, there was calm music in the background and the placement of everything in the room clearly had a purpose. I knew immediately that I wanted my room to be exactly like this. When my sponsor teacher told me she followed a Regio Emila inspired classroom I just stared at her. She told me to go home and do some research and let her know how I felt about it. The next day I showed up and was over the moon! All of a sudden everything in her classroom made so much sense. Every beautiful little detail had a purpose.
Regio Emila approach is named for a school in a village in Italy that was formed just after WW2. Residents of Regio Emila saw all the destruction of the war and wanted to bring a new sense of joy and happiness to the children would not have to live through the same horrors they saw. Regio Emila as a pedagogy is student-centred and constructivist. It uses self-directed, experiential learning in relationship driven environments. The program is based on respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery using a self-guided curriculum. One of the main beliefs of Regio Emilia is that students have “a hundred languages” in which they can show their learning and what they want to know. Some of these languages are drawing, painting, sculpting, drama, building etc. These languages are used to help teachers and students to better understand each other.
Another important aspect of Regio Emila is the role of the three teachers. The first of which are adults, the second is the other children, the last being the classroom itself. The classroom would incorporate natural light and indoor plants as a way of bringing the outside world. The classroom incorporates aspects that increase the aesthetics of the classroom that increase the chances of students being drawn into the learning that will be happening.
Throughout the rest of my inquiry, I will be looking at how this looks in an actual classroom as well as if I am able to bring it to higher grades.