A few weeks ago, I was invited to join Lorella Lamonaca and her colleagues for a study tour of Reggio Emilia schools. Planning this trip to Italy was a bit frenzied, as the invitation came on the heels of two quick professional learning sessions that I hosted for Heathcote Elementary School teachers in Scarsdale, New York. This event took place just weeks before their tour was scheduled, and I never imagined what would come out of it.
“It’s Reggio inspired,” I explained, surprised and delighted all at once. Few of the American teachers that I support have an awareness of the Reggio Emilia approach, let alone a passion for it. “My writing studio in Buffalo was Reggio inspired as well. And so are the pop up studios I lead in other schools.”
“Have you ever visited?” she asked, and of course, I hadn’t.
“I know how hard it is to gain approval for a visit,” I explained, and Lorella confirmed this for me.
That’s why I jumped at the chance to join her group when she offered me the opportunity several days later.
I spent five days in Reggio Emilia, attending presentations, participating in dynamic learning experiences, and touring the schools and the recycling center there. I filled two sketchbooks full of notes, left long, rambling updates in the Building Better Writers group, and posted as many photos as I could on Instagram in other social networks as well.
Still, there is no way to capture or share what I experienced there with any real integrity.
Instead, I plan to spend the next several weeks crafting a series of posts that offer reflections on my greatest learning and applications that other teachers might appreciate. All of them have to do with creating intelligent contexts for learning at every level and in every content area.
These are the questions I intend to explore, one post at a time:
- How might we help learners create compositions that depend less on the hand and more on the power of their conceptual understandings?
- How might perspective and point of view become far more powerful forces for learning?
- How do we enable learners to communicate the complexities of their thoughts when print creates a barrier?
- How might we get better at hanging implicit questions in the learning environment, rather than interrogating learners with those that are explicit?
- How might we use contemporaneous activity to elevate the complexity of learning?
- How is weaving a powerful metaphor for rich learning experiences, and how might we inspire it?
- How might we inspire learners to pursue conventionality as creatives, and why does this matter?
- How are errors an important resource?
- How and why might we approach aesthetics in the classroom?
- How might we create far more intelligent contexts for learning?
I plan to share a new reflection each Friday for the next ten weeks, and if this interests you, I hope you’ll join me in conversation here, on Twitter, or on Facebook. I’m looking forward to reflecting and processing all that I learned with you.