Tag Archives: Reggio Emilia

Honoring Everyone: Integrating More Than Technology

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Last week, I attended a one day conference with Marc Prensky where we discussed “Digital Wisdom.” Prensky defined digital wisdom as combining things our brains do well with what computers do better.

This ability, to be digitally wise, is available to everyone today who is willing to integrate technology into her or his life, including students. In fact, students may find themselves having digital wisdom more naturally than others because technology is the only context they have ever known. Students have not had to immigrate from a context of no or minimal technology into a technology-rich context. Instead, students today have been born into a world where technology is constantly available at their fingertips, no longer just a “click” away but literally a touch.

With that in mind, it seems reasonable to question how well we honor students’ experience, knowledge, and expertise with digital wisdom. Especially when students are constantly using technology for a range of tasks in school and in life. Prensky made a comment that any professional development day without kids in the room is a big mistake. Yet, most PD days are scheduled specifically so that students do not attend. Imagine what could happen if we focused not just on integrating technology into the classroom but also students’ perspectives and ideas about technology.

Thought Bubble

I’m inspired by the idea of trying to honor all perspectives: teachers, students, administrators, and families, in regards to innovative teaching methods, which today, often include technology. This fits nicely with my Reggio background and the belief that all children, from a very young age, should be honored and respected as contributors of meaningful and insightful ideas and reflections. As we work to make our early childhood classrooms more child-centered and responsive to young children’s ideas, reflections, and suggestions (about technology in education), we can also be working towards the same goals in older grades.

My hope is that over time, we can strive to honor everyone in a classroom, from the quiet, three-year-old to the verbose, digitally wise student who would like to have her ideas for technology incorporated in the week’s lesson plan. Over the past few years, many schools and teachers have been working hard to integrate technology into their classrooms but maybe in the push/rush to do this, we are forgetting the lessons we teach our students: problem solve, ask for help, collaborate, research, and learn something new everyday. Let’s apply the same lessons to ourselves and with our peers. Our schools are full of digitally wise students (and families, teachers, and administrators!), let’s utilize and honor all of their expertise and experience to integrate not just technology but a range of ideas, passions, and perspectives about how to integrate and why to integrate technology. Maybe then we can have more responsive, passion-directed teaching and learning in our classrooms.

What does your classroom footprint look like?

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