Friday, July 17, 2015

Reggio Emilia: Progettazione or Projected Curriculum

Have you ever met a child that decides that he or she likes something and then wants to learn EVERYTHING there ever was to know about that subject or item?  Surely you have. :) 

Like the pre-kindergartner that can label and discuss all the dinosaurs.. 

Or like when my oldest daughter, Maddie was in early elementary and she learned about the Fibonacci number sequence. Maddie carried a notebook around with her for YEARS where she would add numbers to her sequence. She finally grew out of the phase when the number pattern would take up an entire line of her spiral. Really. She was adding 20+ digit numbers together. It was amazing.

This focus was done on her own and completely child paced. We helped her when she asked. Like she needed us to help her find out the name of a 24 digit number. Septillion. 

Anyway, watching a child totally engrossed in a learning is fun. The joy and concentration is amazing. 

So often as parents and educators, we forget about this innate quest children have to learn. We push and prod and poke for children to learn the way WE want them to learn. We fuss and threaten and then wonder why they don't care!

I really think it's because we have forgotten to engage their sense of wonder. Basically, we have forgotten about that they are kids and NEED to be be challenged in their own way. 


We want them to do math or science. From worksheets. 
And then we bemoan that they don't care and that test scores are low.

So how do we get them care? 

Well... what if we engaged their sense of wonder through the use of Projected Curriculum?

Projected Curriculum is a Reggio Emilia mindset that uses teaching strategies that challenge students to research and explore real world topics. Students decide on the topic (with a little supervision and direction), become the expert and share their learning with others. These investigations can be done in a small group or individually.

Some of the investigations include projects, but Projected Curriculum is NOT a series of arts and crafts days! (I know, my pictures that I have included look "crafty.")

Going back to the Reggio mindset, Progettazione means to project to the next steps.  Teachers are to watch, observe and listen FIRST and then a help students take the next step in a learning journey. This journey might take 10 minutes or it could take months. It's a flexible approach. Yes, I said the big bad word flexible.  So much of life in public school does not seem flexible.  But really, providing individual learning opportunities doesn't have to be time consuming. Nor does it have to be outside of the bounds of what we are already doing.

For example, as a late elementary student (4th-6th grade), I was totally obsessed with reading biographies on American Presidents and the President's children. I read all of the books our local library had and any others I could find. This was done completely on my own and no grades were ever given. I don't think my teachers even knew that I was interested in reading biographies. But can you imagine the tie-in to established classroom curriculum that I could have had if projected curriculum had been offered. 

So why this post? Because as I work through lesson plans and ideas for this next school year, I am going to be more flexible. That doesn't mean that I am going to through my curriculum bundles out the window! But I am going to be more intentional about OBSERVING and LISTENING to students in order to engage their interest and sense of wonder.

It's my job to make sure that when students leave my classroom that they have the knowledge of the subject. That's it. It's not my job to force all students to learn in a cookie cutter way.

Through investigation and exploration, I'm going to let students take the lead on their learning this year! 

And sometimes that learning will be take shape via arts and crafts. 

And sometimes science experiments LOOK like arts and crafts but really teach the scientific method and in the end make AWESOME digital art work! :) Thanks Lexi for a great science lesson on food coloring, dish soap and milk.

Want to read and learn more about Reggio Emilia? Here are some great links:  

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