Welcome to my blog about my experiences working in early childhood. I have called it Nurturing Forests because I believe that raising children is not a isolated activity but takes a whole community.

As early childhood professionals, we are actively involved in this process but we also need to work closely with the children, parents, community as a whole and other allied professionals.

I hope you enjoy my site. I also have a facebook site of the same name where I provide links to useful sites for teachers, parents and others interested in the early childhood: www.facebook.com/nurturingforests

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Documentation & the Project Approach

One of the things I am still experimenting with is documentation. I know this was what my practicums were meant to help with but those documents were VERY labour intensive and don't quite suit my current situation (though i can see myself possibly using them anyway for awhile and then trimming them down).

I have just been searching through what i was using for my prac and found a clever little document that one of the uni girls was using - I would love to share it but need her permission first.

But to give you a rough idea  - it is a wheel where the idea/interest/project is in the middle and then the areas from the NSW Curriculum Framework - social child, thinking child etc etc. Its a way of thinking about the curriculum and trying to plan for the 'whole child'.

However, a lot of the literature talks not taking this approach and the fact that often we are artificially separating and segmenting how learning occurs by taking this approach. Often if a project is well planned and provisioned for by following the direction of the children (but note here not doing nothing - but providing provocations and leading the learning by showing the children where to access the information and scaffolding experiences) it will meet all of these componentss of the children.

A site I have found very reassuring and inspiring is Early Childhood Research and Practice. It is a completely online (and free) journal -http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/index.html. It was founded by Lilian Katz (and some others) from The Project Approach books. You will notice in each issue is an example of a project that has been done in practice e.g. the latest issue follows the journey of 3-5 year olds exploring and investigating car a wash.

I think I will be spending tonight collating a group of documentation approaches including pedagogical documentation (which I still have a long way to go with), learning stories, anecdotes, mix murals of pictures taken over the last month, jottings categorised by outcomes (I might do one template for the NSW Curriculum Framework as that's what my colleagues are familiar with and one for the EYLF) and maybe some things from the Curtis and Carter books.... OK maybe I wont be able to achieve all of that tonight but hopefully over the next few weeks. For a number of reasons - to challenge myself, to enable my colleagues to challenge their perceptions of the children and to ensure I am truly seeing the child.

One other gem I wanted to share from my ECA meeting on Friday. Melissa reminded me that with the EYLF don't use the outcomes and forget the rest of the document. Instead look at what you are doing in your practice and ask yourself why? The examples of the educator's behaviours will naturally lead to the outcomes.....

So when you go to work tomorrow and set up the room
 - ask yourself why did i put that there?
- why is that book in the book case?
- how is what I'm doing for group integrated into what the children are doing?
- how is the way we behave at transitions and meals reflect our beliefs about the child and our philosophy of learning?
- how is our documentation showing the diversity of learning in our centre?

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