Wednesday, April 16, 2014

dream BIG

We keep moving forward, 
opening new doors, 
and doing new things, 
because we are curious, 
and curiosity keeps leading down new paths. 
                                                                             -Walt Disney

A few years ago I purchased a journal at Indigo Books entitled, "The Next Big Thing."  There was something about it that instantly captured my attention.  I was especially drawn to the blank white pages, which appealed to my artsy side and would allow me to visually represent some of my ideas.  I also appreciated that every page included an inspiring quote.  

A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere. 
                                                                                                                     -Joyce A. Myers

This journal has been sitting on my desk, however, as I have been waiting to fill it with something important: "My Next Big Thing." I knew that it needed to be something BIG, something worthy of this journal…  A dream of sorts that had the possibility of becoming something real or attainable.  

Creativity is inventing,
taking risks,
breaking rules,
making mistakes,
and having fun.
                                                                                       -Mary Lou Cook

So I took a risk, and applied to continue my studies at the doctoral level, with the hope that it might allow me to further my knowledge and scholarly research.  

Teaching, collaborating, mentoring, researching, blogging, and presenting at conferences have strengthened my passion for education, leadership, innovation and commitment to lifelong learning.  It is my goal to remain an advocate for Early Learning and inspire as many educators as possible.  My professional and academic experiences over the past eight years have been transformative.  Educational practices and research are always changing, and I want to stay current and stimulated.  My journey has just begun, as I feel that I have merely scratched the surface of my academic goals.  I am eager to continue to transform educational practices in Early Childhood and I have great hope that that spreading these powerful messages about Early Learning will have an impact on a greater number of students in Kindergarten and beyond.  I have many unanswered questions and it is my distinct privilege to continue to study at York University, a leading provider in academic research, learning technologies, and excellence in educating young children.

My dream came true with my recent offer of admission to York University's Graduate Program in Education, where I will be beginning my PhD in the Fall. 

I wanted to share this new milestone in my academic career with my loyal blog followers and thank you all.  If it weren't for your support, I would not have an audience to share my new discoveries with.  Your comments, emails, and face-to-face interactions have motivated me to continue this important work about Early Childhood Education. THANK YOU!

On the inside of my new journal it writes, "Da Vince, Einstein, Edison, Newton, Galileo-- so many great thinkers, innovators, and artists were doodlers.  The simple act of doodling random, free-flowing shapes, squiggles, and words jump starts the right side of your brain, sparking creativity, and unlocking the door to new possibilities.  Rethink inspiration.  What's your next big thing?

DREAM BIG!  Anything is possible…

Go forward
and make
your dreams come true.
                                                -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Photo captured by Annawithlove when we interviewed a real photographer for our wedding project.

Don't hold back
on the size and scope 
of your dreams.
Whatever you dream
you can do.



Dream as far
as your heart
can see.
                                         -Carlton Cards

Special thank you to my fiancĂ©, family, friends, colleagues, students, and three references: My supervising professor Dr. Isabel Killoran, my Principal Kim Smith, and the Dean of the Faculty of Education at York University Dr. Ron Owston.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Full Inclusion: How Inquiry-Based Learning Levels the Playing Field for ALL Children in FDK

This is a presentation from the "ETFO ...and still we rise" conference on Thursday, March 27th, 2014 that was inspired by my learning from the Librarianship Part 2 course. I learned to collaborate with team members on their varying stages of their inquiry journeys and created this video as a resource to help them understand the layers of inquiry with an example of an inquiry from our class. It is meant to be a conversation starter, for educators to reflect upon, rather than a formula to be copied.

I strongly believe that inquiry-based learning levels the playing field for ALL children.  I am looking forward to researching this further!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Purplicious: Thinking colourfully and reflecting deeply

As you may have noticed on Instagram, we try to collect photographs of our everyday life in the classroom to add in each student's portfolio.  When they have been printed out, it is a great opportunity for us to discuss their play-based and inquiry-based learning.  After our oral conversations, I extend our talk by encouraging the students to visually represent their thoughts in a drawing or guided writing lesson.  At the end of Senior Kindergarten, the families get to keep this portfolio, as a record of our time together.

Last week a special moment occurred that I wanted to capture in a blog post, rather than tucking it away into the student's documentation portfolio.  In addition to sharing this child's successes, celebrating his growth throughout his two years in our class, I wanted to write about it in relation to my new learning from the Ontario Reggio Association's conference entitled, "Documentation as Relationship."  

Karyn Callaghan introducing the keynote speakers for the ORA Conference April 11-13th, 2014.

During the conference, I was inspired by the keynote addresses made by Dr. Garfield Gini-Newman, Lella Gandini, Daniela Lanzi, and Laura Rubizzi.  For the purpose of this particular post, I would like to make reference to some of Daniela's insights around pedagogical documentation.

Daniela Lanzi is a very passionate and knowledgeable pedagogista from Reggio Emilia, Italy.  She emphasized that pedagogical documentation is an ethical and democratic experience.  It is an exchange that makes visible an individual, group, and educator's decision making.  Documentation is seen as research, a quest for meaning, and a way of making sense of our daily experiences through reciprocal listening.  She argued that we should live pedagogical documentation in real time.  This idea really resonated with me, as did her comment about documentation not only being used for a follow-up aimed at reconstructing a finished process, but rather that documentation needs to occur during the learning process as well.  Daniela explained that if you complete documentation only at the end, then it is not documentation, it is visible communication. 

At first, I wanted to prove what the student (A.S.) had learned from his earlier days in Junior Kindergarten when he first began to explore making various marks on paper (see the binder images below) and later progressed to intricate flower drawings.  I realized after having listened to him that this was not the only piece of his story.  It was about much more than his growth as a writer and I hope that this post highlights his process of thinking and the possibility of future discovery...

With this in mind I wanted to showcase some traces of experiences that I collected to make A.S.'s process of learning visible.  I hope that we can study this moment in time together and you might consider leaving a comment about what to plan next for this child whose learning continues...

Ms. Babalis: Why did you decide to draw the flowers today during Thinking and Learning Time?

A.S.: That's cause they are so pretty and I like them for the wedding.  There can't be a wedding without flowers!  I wonder why flowers are so pretty.

Ms. Babalis: Oh!  How come?  Why do all weddings need flowers?

A.S.: That's cause it would be wrecked.  The princess wouldn't like it!  Princesses like something pretty and flowers are pretty.

Ms. Babalis: What kind of flowers should I have at my wedding?

A.S.: I will bring you real purple flowers that don't have water.  I will use a watering can to water them for you.  They only come in Spring!

Ms. Babalis: We might have a problem, A.S., because my wedding is in the winter.  What kind of flowers can I have in the winter time?

A.S.: If a flower has shelter it will still grow in the winter.  Only if you keep it warm, so you can have purple flowers at your wedding.  I will bring them!

Ms. Babalis: Talk to me more about your drawing.

A.S.: They are purple flowers and they are called tulips.  I call them Purplicious like the book we have in our classroom!

Ms. Babalis: How did you draw them so beautifully?

A.S.: I took my time and I focused.  I had to look at the flowers carefully and then draw them.  Now I am going to draw the white flowers!  You have to take time to be good at drawing flowers, like me!

According to Daniela Lanzi, documentation does not exist until it is made visible.  Be courageous and begin documenting today, because I couldn't agree with her more when she states that a school is a privileged context for listening to our students' ideas, questions, and theories!

"The research and everyday life of a child and school go together.  Every moment is important."
-Daniela Lanzi