Monday, 18 January 2016


A few of us from SD67 have been attending an inquiry in SD53.  A group of early learning and primary teachers led by Melia Dirk have been meeting together to talk about provocations, and how to build classrooms that foster inquiry.  At this last meeting, teachers shared how they have used different materials to stimulate play, curiousity, writing, building and story.  We saw examples of tables covered with nature materials, shells and sand, jewels, animals, art supplies.  Some teachers put the materials on mirrors or light tables to add different kinds of exploration.  Other teachers used story stones to stimulate writing and story telling; one teacher is taking her class outside every Wednesday to explore nature and write about it. Last week her students investigated animal tracks in the snow. 
Nature materials in a Strong Start Classroom

Materials used to stimulate connections and memories

This kind of learning has been around for a long time in many pockets in the world, and is certainly becoming more evident in classrooms around B.C.  The provocations that SD53 are exploring are based on the Reggio Approach, which is being explored in districts throughout B.C. Many teachers are visiting the Opal School in Portland to see it in action.

“The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy focused on preschool and primary education. It was developed after World War II by a teacher, Loris Malaguzzi, and parents in the villages around Reggio Emilia in Italy. Following the war, people believed that children were in need of a new way of learning. The assumption of Malaguzzi and the parents was that people form their own personality during early years of development and that children are endowed with "a hundred languages" through which they can express their ideas. The aim of this approach is teaching how to use these symbolic languages (eg., painting, sculpting, drama) in everyday life. The program is based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum.

When I watched some of the video clips from the Opal School I was intrigued with how well it connects with Through a Different Lens; Younger kids, but a similar approach.  Opal School seems proud that they are addressing the needs of all students – and doing it by allowing them to express their learning in many different ways. That sounds very familiar to many in SD67.

We are in an exciting time in education - so much to learn and be curious about ourselves.

submitted by Judith King