By Sharon Sloat
I first learned about Reggio-inspired classrooms after my administrator returned from Reggio Emelia, Italy, with a renewed passion for learning. At the time, I was teaching in an elementary school in Medicine Hat that offered programming for pre-K to Grade 4. Being a small school where collaboration occurred frequently, we were all intrigued by Reggio education and excited to embrace it. Thus began the process of incorporating the Reggio philosophy into our classrooms.
Reggio education developed in Reggio Emelia, Italy, after World War ll. The town was in shambles and had to rebuild. Parents came together and decided the best way to prepare for the future was to invest time and money into their children’s education. They wanted stimulating programs where spontaneity and emergent curriculum were accepted. A new style of teaching and learning transpired, and since then Reggio pedagogy has received world-wide recognition.
A Reggio program is intense, layered and multi-faceted and cannot be given justice in this piece. I suggest reading the many on-line articles that are available. Being the all- encompassing program it is, one of the easiest steps to developing a Reggio- inspired classroom is to first start with the classroom environment. Reggio environments are distinct. They are uncluttered and open, have a neutral colour palette, and utilize natural and loose objects for learning. The environment is considered a third teacher and is presented with beauty and order. Different types of lighting besides natural lighting is incorporated such as, ambient, task, accent and magical lighting. Focus in the classroom is on children’s creations and documentation demonstrating their learning. Some of the questions to consider when organizing the classroom space are:
Do you provide real and authentic materials?
Do you have space for collaborative work? Are there open spaces for children to work together?
Are the areas of your centers built with beauty and order?
Do you have clearly defined areas in your learning space?
Do you have varied materials for children to express their ideas?
Is children’s work displayed in a beautiful way?
Is documentation visible in your learning space?
Are families visible in the room – photos, contributions, etc?
This is only the tip of the iceberg. If you would like to learn more, please join us at any of our monthly Reggio Collaborative meetings. We discuss topics addressing environment, documentation and provocations, and continue the journey of discovery. The next meeting will be held at St. Mary’s School on Tuesday, April 21st. Please watch for specific details through the district e-mail.
This blog and resources website has been developed through the work of various AISI coaches in PHRD. The lead collaborative teachers for the 2015/2016 school year, Cheryl Frose, Christine Quong and Tammy Tkachuk will continue to update this site. If you have resources you would like to share or would like to contribute to the blog, please contact us.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.