Upcoming March Conference!

Co-Constructing Contexts for Meaningful Engagement
Sat., March 2, Charles Sturt University

This year's conference will focus on the contexts and relationships that support a transformation of our view of children, e.g., moving from a model of teachers-learners to a concept of co-learners; expanding the notion of ‘classroom’ to include the role of resources, materials, and the environment in promoting engagement.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Lilian Katz

A well-known early childhood leader and role model, Lilian Katz has lectured in all 50 U.S. states, all the provinces of Canada and in 55 countries. Professor Katz  has held visiting posts at universities in Australia, Canada, England, Germany, India, Israel, the West Indies and many parts of the United States. She readily shares information on the early childhood practices she observes in other cultures, such as those in Reggio Emilia, Italy. She is a recipient of numerous honours. Lilian’s interests include dispositions as a goal of education, mixed-age grouping, and the Project Approach. She both informs and challenges our conventional wisdom. Few others have contributed so much to the early years landscape. 

Intro 8:45 a.m.
Keynote – Lilian Katz  9:00
Break 10:30
Breakout Sessions (in-depth discussions re keynote)
Plenary (opportunity for questions/response with Lilian Katz) 11:30
Lunch 12:15 p.m.
Workshop Session 1  1:15-2:30
Transition 2:30
Workshop Session 2  2:45-4:00
Invitational Plenary/summary of day  4:00

 Workshop 1: 1:15-2:30
 A. The Outdoor Classroom: Joanne Abraham, RECE; Shelley DaSilva, RECE; Stephanie Houghton, RECE, Supervisor, Margaret Drive Child Care Centre, Halton Region
Learn how three child care centres were transformed through a Reggio Emilia-inspired, emergent curriculum approach. Together natural outdoor environments and carefully structured indoor classroom environments shape children’s learning experiences.
B. The Role of Technology in Inquiry and Co-Constructed Learning: Anne McNeill and Colleen Walsh, and Christine Spotswood, FDEL-K partners, Halton Catholic DSB
The use of Smartboards, IPods and IPads, desktop computers and other forms of technology has moved beyond the skill and drill applications of the past to programs that support meaningful, inquiry-based opportunities in our classrooms. Using technology as a tool to promote co-constructed learning has enriched our program and increased engagement in the classroom.
C. The Active Role of Material, the Aesthetic Role of Educators: The Development of Emergent Curriculum at Peter Green Hall Children’s Centre, Halifax: Dr. Carol Anne Wien, York University
From first steps into new processes to the embrace of difficult knowledge, we follow one centre’s development of emergent curriculum, focussing on materials as active agents in shaping what happens.
D. “Feeling at Home at School”: Meaningfully Constructing ‘Learning Community’ with Home Language: Dr. Kimberly Bezaire, George Brown College
Our curricular frameworks recognize the importance of home experiences & languages – but putting these principles into practice can be challenging! Participants will explore the latest pedagogical strategies for bridging & building upon the linguistic-cultural richness of classroom communities.
E. Environment as Third Teacher: Diana Linardic and Gina Marion, Early Years Academic Consultants, Dufferin Peel Catholic DSB
This workshop will address rethinking the classroom learning environment and offer possibilities for opening up the environmental space and materials to support inquiry, self-regulation and student engagement.
F. A Classroom that Reconnects Children to Nature: Inviting the Outside In, Moving the Inside Out: Dr. Farveh Ghafouri, Fanshawe College
In this hands-on workshop, participants will explore the possibilities to create contexts that deeply and authentically engage children with the natural environment. Documented dialogue, photographs, video, and children’s art from the experience of one kindergarten classroom will be shared.
G. Setting the Context for Learning in Full Day KindergartenWendy Goulden, Consultant; Loa Zilles, Learning Support Teacher, Waterloo Region DSB
We will share our learning journey during the implementation of Full Day Kindergarten. Some of these experiences include strategies for supporting engagement and establishing learning environments that support the learning of young children. Connections will be made to key messages in the Full Day Early-Learning Kindergarten Program (2010).
H. Engagement, Inspiration and Learning: Living the Potential of Intentional Relationships: Jill Fortney, RECE, M.ED., ECE.C., Program Support Services Consultant, Halton Region Children’s Services.
Responsive, intentional and nurturing teacher-child relationships are essential for engaging children’s learning and regenerating the teacher. Participate in this critical dialogue of the skills, dispositions and practices for creating relationships that engage learning.
I. How Can Teachers Provide Play-based Learning that Supports Children’s Meaningful Engagement? Dr. Gretchen Reynolds, Algonquin College, Ottawa
Intentional teachers in child care and preschool/kindergarten programs provide environments with open structure materials, tools, schedules, and experiences. They choose whether to play with children, or alongside them, and how they will observe. Teachers plan open ended learning experiences that are child-directed, and when appropriate, they offer teacher-guided activities framed by principles of play-based learning. Teachers as scribes and communicators plan for children’s successful play-based experiences in literacy, math, and science.

Workshop 2: 2:45-4:00

J. Making Learning Visible in Creative Dance Education: Marc Richard
This workshop will feature an exhibit of pedagogical documentation panels that match several of the conference themes (e.g., teacher/student as co-learner, the environment promoting learning, relationships) with which participants will engage, followed by a discussion.
K. Click, Click, Click! Victoria Armstrong, Early Learning Facilitator, Milton Community Resource Centre.
This workshop will share the story of what happened when preschool and kindergarten children were given the freedom to use and explore a digital camera on their own. The children’s perspectives and use of this delicate material offer educators much to consider.
L. Children’s Treasures: Toys and Tinkering as Powerful Entries for Curriculum and Research: Joanne Babalis, FDK teacher, York Region District School Board
When students’ treasures are welcomed into the classroom, they provide endless possibilities for meaningful engagement, inquiry, and learning. Participants will embark on our toy inquiry journey, and gain insights around what emerged after students brought in their spinners and Lego characters to school.  
M. Teacher + Early Childhood Educator + Materials = Meaningful Engagement: An Administrative Perspective: Wendy Spence, Principal, Halton DSB
Deepen your understanding of the importance of the classroom materials and design as the third teacher. Learn how to promote and support emergent learning and engagement beyond the traditional walls of the room by developing partnerships with both community and home.
N. Connecting Children to the Outdoors: The Importance of Natural Play Environments: Alka Burman, Early Literacy Specialist for the Region of Peel
In this workshop participants will learn about theories around nature deficit, biophilia and biophobia, and develop strategies for learning and literacy through multisensory natural play environments. Participants will also use children’s storybooks to develop program curriculum that connect children to outdoor learning. Suggestions around the use of natural, found, and open ended play materials will also be discussed.
O. Take It Outside: Learning Beyond the Classroom: Andrea Bolton, Kindergarten teacher; Michele Cavanagh, Teacher Librarian, Credit Valley Public School, Peel DSB.
Children have a fresh uninhibited zest for exploring nature. Discover the benefits of outdoor play and be given practical strategies to meet expectations, improve student’s self-regulation and foster a love for nature.
P. What is Curriculum: Emergent Ideas meet Standardized Curriculum…is this possible? Tracy Pickard (Teacher), Sarah Andrade (R.E.C.E) and Cheryl Emrich (R.E.C.E), Waterloo Region DSB
Our team will guide participants through our personal journey from didactic, teacher- centred learning to co-constructors of learning experiences and projects with children. We will share examples of emergent projects and learning experiences from start to finish!
Q. Social Justice: Examining Meaningful Engagement in Creating Socially Just Early Learning Communities: Vidya Rampersad and Saima Sheikh, Faculty, Humber College, University of Guelph-Humber
This workshop is intended to stimulate, provoke and arouse various forms of thinking while reflecting on traditional and current practices that promote meaningful engagement in creating responsive Early Learning Communities. Participants will examine professional practice and documentation to understand the various influences that support social transformation. Discussions will focus on responsibilities, strategies, attitudes and various perspectives that guide inquiry, into issues of social justice, create awareness and encourage meaningful engagement with children, families and others.
R. “Walking the Walk” Mentoring as a Model for Professional Education: Lois Saunders, RECE, Project Manager ASCY
A Professional Education Consulting team’s story of adopting the Emergent Curriculum cycle as a model for planning and delivering Professional Education and mentoring educators in their practice.

I feel very fortunate to be presenting at this conference, amongst such incredibly inspiring educators.

If you are interested in hearing me speak, I will be presenting about "Children's Treasures: Toys and Tinkering as Powerful Entries for Curriculum and Research."  Looking forward to seeing/meeting you there! :)

Register now before the spaces fill up!

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