Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Hundred is There and Now is The Time to Listen

The child is made of one hundred.
The child has a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
a hundred, always a hundred …
(See below for entire poem)

From The Wonder of Learning Website

No Way. The Hundred is There” has been one of my favorite poems for many years now. Hearing it was one of the things that inspired me to study abroad in Reggio Emilia, Italy, where the author, Loris Malaguzzi, worked with teachers to design a unique approach to early care and education. I truly believe that young children have a hundred languages and “(and a hundred, hundred, hundred more)” to express their ideas and emotions and to interact with the world.

It was really my experiences with educators in Italy and coming to understand the vast capabilities of very young children, including the depth of reflection they can engage in, that pushed me to get a master’s in International Training and Education. This passion for early childhood education, as well as my focus on technology, is what has driven my capstone work, which is the culminating project for my master’s program. I have been designing a website for early childhood educators to use as a resource to learn more about the reasons and ways to create global learning experiences in their classrooms using technology. The site provides information about the fields of  global education, educational technology, and early childhood, as well as specific technology tools that can be used in the classroom.

My hope is that the website will be accessible and easy for teachers to use, providing them with relevant and readable information. To make the site valuable for teachers, I have been conducting an online survey asking early childhood teachers for information about their current practices with technology and about what resources they would like to have to better understand and create global learning experiences. I plan to use their responses when selecting what content to add to the site. For example, one teacher has requested a sample lesson plan so she can get a better sense of what a lesson would look like that incorporates technology to create a global learning experience.

What has been frustrating, is that while I have found some great resources about global education and technology tools for collaboration, there are limited sources available that combine these ideas together. And there are almost none, that discuss creating global learning experiences with students before they enter Kindergarten. I have been lucky to have access to some amazing examples of global collaboration and exchange by being part of the #kinderchat community on Twitter. These teachers have provided me with some great stories and are fabulous models for global learning in early childhood.

But I’m still left deeply disappointed. If we believe young children can speak hundreds of languages, why do they have to enter formal schooling before they can have opportunities to express all of those languages and to learn others from children around the world? Preschoolers in Reggio Emilia have been valued and respected enough to be entrusted with designing the city’s theater curtain or creating an amusement park for birds in one of the city parks. Yet in most schools in the U.S., we restrict these young children from using technologies like SkypeVoicethread or Twitter to connect, share, learn, and collaborate with other young children around the world. Why?

I’m left with the mantra Malaguzzi used to end his poem “The child says: No Way. The Hundred is there.” The child perseveres, even after teachers, parents, and society try to separate ideas and opportunities for discovery from the child and to dissuade the child from believing. So that it what I too will do, by creating this website and hoping that more early childhood teachers can begin introducing opportunities to children before they reach kindergarten for global collaboration and exchange. If we can support the inclusion of global learning experiences at this early stage in a child’s life, I believe we will open up exciting and inspiring opportunities to learn about multiculturalism, multilingualism, and diversity both with and from these young children.

The child is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.

A hundred.

Always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.

The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.

They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

-Loris Malaguzzi
Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach
Translated by Lella Gandini 

Global Tech Courses Are Not Built in a Day

Everyone has heard how “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and I can now confirm that graduate courses on Technology as a Global Learning Tool are certainly not either!

I have devoted an inordinate amount of my time recently to creating and preparing for this grad course that I will be teaching on March 3-4th. I knew that designing my own course would be time-consuming but I underestimated the amount of time I would want to put into building the course wiki, where I have compiled related articles and resources for at least forty different tech tools.

The longer that I work on the wiki, the more I realize that there is just so much content that I could cover! There is a seemingly endless number of technology tools on the web that teachers, trainers, international development and exchange workers and others in the field of global education could use for global collaboration. I want to share them all! But I know that’s not possible. So I have worked to streamline the content to include tools that I feel will be most valuable for the participants, based on a needs assessment I conducted about their learning goals, and based on the ease and usability of the tools.

I want to prepare and empower my students to begin using any of the new tools we will discuss (e.g., Voicethread, Google Docs, Lino boards) as soon as the course is complete and yet I also do not want to overwhelm them with too many new technologies and websites. I have struggled to balance the more boring “how-to” type aspects of learning new tools with opportunities for student participation and involvement, and active discussions of the practical applications for these tools. Additionally, I have scheduled time for us to discuss sustainability and ways for course participants to continue using their new skills and tools after the course has ended.

I think one of the things that I am most excited about is the course community I hope to establish with students and then keep alive via our newly formed digital networks. The course is built around a private wikispace that will house all of the resources and assignments but it will also be a space for collaborative exploration and learning. The hope is that the wiki itself will be a new tech tool which participants can learn and practice with and then use with future global learning projects. By using a wiki, which everyone can add to and edit, students will have an opportunity to truly take an active role in shaping our course space and contributing to the content and discussions. Additionally, I will be introducing the class to Twitter and using a hashtag (#T4GL12) throughout the course so that students can begin to explore the vast, global network that a platform like Twitter provides. Through class activities and tweets, students can begin learning more about the sharing of resources, support, and ideas that can occur on Twitter. Since both Twitter and our wikispace are virtual platforms, even after the course is finished and students are no longer together, my hope is that we can continue sharing and exchanging resources and building on our new relationships with one another through these mediums.

To me, those relationships are what help shift a standard exchange of knowledge and resources from a single “sage on a stage” to the students below to more reciprocal exchanges of teaching and learning. I am eager to see what the participants of my course can teach me about different technologies they use or new ways of seeing and using the tools that I teach them. By forming a community of learners who want to find ways to use technology as a global learning tool in diverse setting around the world, we can ideally create a group motivated by curiosity; united by our goals of global exchange and education; and inspired by one another.

Now, back to making the final touches on the course schedule and wiki!