From facilitated tours to study group to conferences and college level courses, there was a variety of professional development opportunities for visitors.

Facilitated Tours

Guided by the Project Zero training and protocols, facilitators guided groups of visitors through the exhibit to deepen the conversation around the content of the exhibit. This reflection supported visitors’ ability to make connections between the values and experiences represented in the exhibit and those of the children, educators, and families in educational communities.

Introductions to Reggio Emilia

Our most popular overview; offered monthly, June-November hosted by BARIN, Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Child Development and other local universities, these two-hour-long sessions offered participants the opportunity to gain an introduction to the ideas behind Reggio Emilia’s early childhood programs and to view the exhibition with knowledgeable educators from the Boston area who have been inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach.  The same content was offered each month, taught by members of the Wonder of Learning Boston Professional Development Committee.  Early childhood educators from across all sectors, administrators, and families attended.

Study Groups

Wonder of Learning 101: This was a 10-hour course for participants new to the Reggio Emilia approach offering the fundamental values and principles that focused on an image of a child who is curious, intelligent, and engaging.  The purpose was to explore how the Reggio approach can help deepen and extend learning, for learners of all ages.  Participants considered topics including their image of the child; the learning environment and materials; emergent curriculum; and children with special rights.

Wonder of Learning 102: These 10-hour courses served as an intensive study group for educators to develop a deeper understanding of the Reggio Emilia approach with an emphasis on the tool of documentation.  Using the Wonder of Learning: Hundred Languages of Children exhibit from Reggio Emilia as its primary “text,” the course sessions had a dynamic relationship to the documentation displayed at the exhibit.  Drawing on the documentation in the exhibit, educators considered the image of the child, the learning environment and materials, and the provocations posed by teachers to spark children’s interests.  Reflection on teaching practice was emphasized; educators shared their classroom documentation in order to question, discuss, learn from each other, and make shifts in their teaching practice.  Each educator prepared drafts of documentation and will consider sharing this publicly in a future display. It included Documenting Elementary & Older Learners, Study Group for Educational Learners, Cambridge Public Schools, and Documentation in the Boston Public Schools.

Workshops and Series

Project Zero Facilitator Training for Educators: Project Zero, BPS and BU Wheelock College of Education and Human Development, joined together to host a facilitator event for  educators serving diverse populations.

Dialogue with Materials with David Ramsey, Marina Boni, Maggie Van Camp, and Marina Seevak: Educator workshops on the potential of open-ended loose parts and the theories behind their use and how they facilitate learning. With this training, educators learned how to create inventive experiences with found materials for the children and families in their own environments and were encouraged to host “Materials Days” or “Material Workshops” in their contexts and communities.

Wonder of Science with Yvonne Liu-Constant: Exploration of the exhibit through the lens of STEAM. What do the children in Reggio Emilia wonder about in the realms of science, math, and engineering, and how do the teachers so seamlessly integrate technology and art?

The Wonder of Learning with Infants: Learning and Being with our Youngest Citizens: 3-session series dialogue about the incredible potential of infants and toddlers, our youngest citizens with local experts who have been influenced by Reggio Emilia in their work with young children for decades. Facilitated by Maggie Van Camp of Lesley University with keynotes Barbara Acton from the Radcliffe Child Care Center, Melissa Rivard from Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child and Project Zero, and Kim Lee Ripley from Hampshire College Early Learning Center with other local practitioners from Smith College, Peabody Terrace, and the Family Cooperative.

Dialogue with Spaces: Space Speaks with Hilary Odoy from Newtowne School: An interactive session in which educators reviewed the importance of the environment’s role, reflected on examples of how challenges in spaces were addressed, uncovered ways to enhance their classroom space, and reflected on key elements like color, texture, lighting, and elements of the natural world.

Materials, Environments, and Small Group Work in a Reggio-Inspired School with Mark Weltner from Lincoln Nursery School: Dialogue around materials and environments addressing questions such as – What materials and environments might be found in the youngest (2.9 yrs) and oldest (5-6 yrs) classrooms in a Reggio-inspired school? How are materials chosen in the context of small group work? How is small group work made visible to the rest of the class, and what language do the teachers use in facilitating this? Are expensive and specialized materials necessary in a Reggio-inspired setting?

Dialogue with Material: Paper with Atelierista Katie Higgins-White: Inspired by Dialogue with Material section of the Wonder of Learning Boston 2018, this workshop gave participants time to explore paper without the usual tools associated with it (such as pens, paint, scissors, tape) and with the sole “tools” of hands and bodies to work with, participants discovered the multiplicity of paper, the benefits of taking time to learn and teach about a material, and possibilities for making space for “messing about” in the teaching process.

Documentation by Design: Using Strategies from the Design Studio with Stephanie Cox Suarez & Kristina Lamour: A three-hour workshop for educators with advanced documentation experience to see how their design choices are meeting their intention. Participants brought documentation for feedback and exploration to consider how to improve the design. This was an opportunity for educators to go deeper both in the Wonder of Learning exhibition and design studio to strengthen visual communication skills by seeing and doing through design.

Social Justice Teaching through Reggio-Inspired Practices: Stories from the Advent School: A presentation and discussion about teaching principles of social justice through Reggio-inspired practices. The Advent School, a Reggio-inspired school with a social justice mission for children from PreK-6th Grade, shared stories of long-term investigations and projects from PreK, Kindergarten, and Third Grade classrooms. Participants learned how they infuse contemporary issues about power, gender, and race into conversations with young children.

Inventing Beautiful Worlds: How Making Spaces Inspire Ideas at Beginnings Nursery School: A workshop led by teachers from Beginnings Nursery School, a Reggio-inspired school located in New York City, shared stories of how they support children as they make their ideas come to life in their classroom mini-studios. Participants learned techniques for how to present ordinary items in beautiful engaging ways and curate work with and for children.

Children as Citizens in Alternative to Public School Settings: Event about children as citizens in the context of self-directed learning, alternatives to public schools, and home schooling facilitated by Maggie Van Camp of Lesley University. Speakers included: Peter Gray, Research Professor of Psychology at Boston College, author of Free to Learn who presented Mother Nature’s Pedagogy:  How Children’s Natural Curiosity, Playfulness, and Sociability Serve Their Education; Kerry McDonald, local author, blogger and unschooling mom of four; Ben Draper of Macomber Center: A self-directed learning community in Framingham, MA; Christine Heer, director, and Lisa Henderson, assistant director, of Sprouts Farm and Forest Kindergarten in Millis, MA. Proceeds benefited the Alliance for Self-Directed Learning.

Pop-Up Atelier Family Materials Playdays: Clay, Wire, and Rocks: Families and children enjoyed the “Dialogue with Material” part of the exhibit and played and created using clay, wire, and rocks.

Placing Relationships at the Center: What happens when the social learning becomes the project?: Presented by Lucinda Burk and Cris West, Beginner Teachers from Buckingham Browne and Nichols, participants explored using identity work and the role of the teacher as researcher in creating a culture of inquiry and understanding around emerging social challenges to build, support, and maintain healthy relationships in the classroom.

Teacher’s Studio Night: Playing With Multiple Modes of Representation with Mary Geisser and Meg Kuker: Working with multiple modes of representation supports the development of expressive skills, communication skills, and emergent literacy. In this workshop, participants explored how to get started using multiple modes of representation through drawing, loose parts, wire, and clay. Questions such as, “what do the different materials have to ‘say’ about the concept we are representing?” and “what are the expressive advantages and disadvantages of each medium?” were explored.

Integrating Inquiry and Reggio-Inspired Practices into Physical Movement: Educators from the Advent School shared how their Physical Education program is inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach and how this work impacts students (ages 4 through 12). Movement and a love for play is an innate part of a child’s development. The Advent School believes in building and expanding on this foundation by investigating the variety of complex movements the body is capable of through an inquiry-based approach. Students explore the science of exercise, sports skills, and physical play with a lens of discovery and empowerment. Curiosity is fostered through risk-taking and question asking, which in turn supports an emergent curriculum that inspires the imaginations of young learners.

Early Childhood Education Political Advocacy at Wonder of Learning: Presenter Teddy Kokoros, who works as a Pre-K teacher at Transportation Children’s Center, presented on his own experiences in advocacy and facilitated a discussion among attendees in which others shared their experiences and ideas related to early education advocacy. Topics discussed included how classroom and public displays of children’s work are part of advocacy, talking to family and friends about ECE, building relationships with media and politicians, and using social media.

Stepping into the Wonder of Learning: The Practices of Mindfulness and the Reggio Emilia Philosophy Presented by Michelle Bissanti and HeartSeed Wisdom Practices: Workshop on how the practices of yoga and meditation support children to be ready for learning, to arrive at the present moment with awareness, clarity, and an open mind. Participants learned about the history of these practices, how they connect with the Reggio Emilia Philosophy, and techniques to share with students.

Intentional Teaching through Complementary Curriculum Approach with Lisa Kuh and Iris Ponte: In this session, Iris Ponte and Lisa Kuh shared their work on a Complementary Curriculum Approach which bridges the work of Reggio Emilia, Montessori, and the theories of Vygotsky and Dewey.  They presented their framework for Four Intentions to support more intentional teaching that meets the needs of teachers and children as they build community, independence, and confidence each day.

An Evening with Project Zero at the Wonder of Learning Exhibit: During this 90-minute program, researchers, Megina Baker, Mara Krechevsky, Ben Mardell, Melissa Rivard, Steve Seidel, Terri Turner, and Daniel Wilson, from Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, guided visitors in small groups through the exhibition, facilitating conversation and sharing insights gleaned from the Making Learning Visible project, the long-term collaboration between researchers at Project Zero and Reggio Emilia educators. Participants in this session explored the powerful examples of learning that are documented in the exhibit and discussed key features of classroom practice that make children’s learning visible, including the teacher-learner relationship, the role of the learners in shaping their own learning, and documentation strategies that honor and amplify the learner’s voice.

Conferences

Making High-Quality Early Childhood Education a Public Priority: A Community-Policy Dialogue: Inspired by “A Democratic Square,” we opened the exhibition with this full-day event bringing together policy-makers, early childhood educators across school-based and community-based settings, advocates, and members of the higher-education community for dialogues about early education practices and how they can draw inspiration from the best models in the world.

NAREA Conference

Crossing Cultures, Contexts and Communities: Reggio Inspiration from Head Start at Chicago Commons: For more than 25 years, Commons has paired its Reggio Emilia inspired approach to help thousands of children strengthen their skills, develop self-sufficiency, and foster intellectual curiosity. Commons offers a rich educational approach to families and communities with limited resources and adapts its programming to the needs of the people and communities we serve. This conference included an overview of the Reggio-inspired approach at Commons, a reflection on the exhibit, and a presentation on head start as a case study.

Inspirations from the Wonder of Learning: Exploring Documentation as a way to Make Learning Visible: Inspired by “Conversations around the Exhibition,” local educators discussed how documentation can support teacher-research and teaching and learning. Panel discussions included educators from the Documentation Studio at Wheelock, Design School at Lesley, Making Learning Visible at Harvard’s Project Zero, and local museums. Afternoon small groups included presentations on the many ways educators are documenting in their local context, culture, and communities.

Curiosity and Learning Conference: Inspirations from David and Frances Hawkins to Mess About: This annual conference is an experiential “unconference” where educators visit over 20 hands-on stations to explore play and consider ways to nurture curiosity for themselves and children, and was hosted at the exhibit in 2018. Educators engaged with faculty from education, science, math, art, humanities plus colleagues from area museums and education groups such as the Boston Children’s Museum, deCordova Museum, Beautiful Stuff, City Sprouts, and experts in maker spaces.

Book Talks

Bringing Reggio Emilia Home with Louise Cadwell: Lousie Cadwell guided a discussion of her book, which was the first to integrate the experiences of one American teacher on a year-long internship in the preschools of Reggio, with a four-year adaptation effort in one American school. The lively text includes many “mini-stories” of preschool and kindergarten-age children, teachers, and parents who embark on journeys of learning together. These journeys take shape in language, in drawings, in tempera paint and clay, in outdoor excursions, and in the imaginations of both the children and adults.

The Most Important Year: Pre-Kindergarten and the Future of Our Children with Suzanne Bouffard: The Boston School Finder hosted this conversation with author Suzanne Bouffard about quality preschools. Participants learned what really matters for young children, what to look for when you search for a school, and how to help a child make the most of preschool.

Children at the Center: Transforming Early Education in the Boston Public Schools with authors Betty Bardige, Megina Baker, and Ben Mardell: This book provides a closely observed account of a decade-long effort to reshape the scope, direction, and quality of the Boston Public Schools’ early childhood programs. Drawing on multiple perspectives and voices from the field, the authors highlight the reflective, collaborative, inquiry-driven approach undertaken by the program and share lessons learned.

Leading for Change in Early Care and Childhood with Anne Douglass and Amanda Wiehe Lopes: Improving quality and advancing the field of early care and education depends on the leadership voice of early educators. In this talk, authors spoke about new strategies for developing inclusive and entrepreneurial leadership for ourselves and for our work with other early educators.  Participants engaged in a dialogue about structuring our field to cultivate early educator leadership.

School Visits through BARIN

  • Buckingham Browne and Nichols, Pre-K Classrooms
  • Cambridge Ellis
  • Charlestown Nursery School
  • Family Cooperative
  • Lincoln Nursery School
  • Radcliffe
  • Stony Brook
  • The Advent School
  • Belmont Cooperative Nursery School
  • Early Childhood Learning Laboratory, Boston University
  • Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Preschool
  • North Shore Nursery School

Connected College Courses

BU Wheelock SED EC506: Current Issues in Early Childhood Making Learning Visible with Drs. Megina Baker and Stephanie Cox Suárez

Lesley University EDUCC 5815-01: The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education and The Wonder of Learning with Maggie Van Camp

Film Screening

No Small Matter with Strategies for Children: In collaboration with Strategies for Children, Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children, Council for a Strong America and New Profit, the exhibit hosted a screen of this film. No Small Matter is the first feature documentary to explore the most overlooked, underestimated, and powerful force for good in America today: early childhood education. Through poignant stories and surprising humor, the film lays out the overwhelming evidence for the importance of the first five years, and reveals how our failure to act on that evidence has resulted in an everyday crisis for American families, and a slow-motion catastrophe for the country. Viewers engaged in a discussion on a plan for action after watching the film.

Convenings with: