Summer Suggestions

What are you reading this summer?  If you are anything like me, you must have a huge pile of new books and even old ones you are hoping to re-visit before school starts!

I would therefore, like to dedicate this blog post to some summer suggestions, from both myself, and from any of the amazing followers who are able to include their own in the comment section below!  I am curious what is currently inspiring you these days.  Please consider sharing the resources that you recommend with our blog community. 

Here are some of the books that I have been reading since the Spring:

Here are some books that I often refer back to and recommend for beginners:

A book that I would like to highlight today is Carol Anne Wien's (2014) The power of emergent curriculum: Stories from early childhood settings.

When I taught the Kindergarten Additional Qualification Course at York University, we used this text for our book study.  I thought about writing a formal review, but instead will share with you in a more practical way some of the amazing features and quotes that resonated with me.

Dr. Wien was one of my professors during my graduate studies.  She gave me an introduction the wondrous world of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education, and for this reason,  I will forever be indebted to her!  Learning about this philosophy not only changed my teaching, but has also had a profound effect on my life. 

Within Wien's (2014) book, I appreciated the visuals and overall format that she used.  It was almost written in the form of a dialogue, whereby stories would be discussed and later were followed by a response.  I found this, and the reflections to be especially helpful in my role as a classroom educator and facilitator for the Kindergarten AQ course.

As a side note, I will be returning to my position as an AQ instructor very soon.  I had a meeting with York University and we are just coordinating our dates before posting what will be offered on their professional learning website...

After reading Wien's (2014) book, I was also pleased to discover that some of the content from her previous articles had been incorporated.  For instance there was mention of ideas from Untiming the curriculum: A case study of removing clocks, From policing to participation: Overturning the rules and creating amiable classrooms, Designing the environment to build connection to pace, and A mommy breast and a daddy breast: Encountering illness as emergent curriculum.

Here are some quotes that have me thinking:

"The pivot point of change is to understand children's right to their own experience as the foundation of their lives.  Children, as protagonists of their own lives, will make their own meaning from their experience.  This complex idea contains the notion of the image of children as competent, resourceful, and full of possibilities alongside the corresponding obligation of adults to support their right to experience their lives" (Wien, 2014, p. 3).

"Aesthetic sensibility is also very much an aspect of educators' responses, and we can sense from the tonal quality of environments whether the teachers have thought through design of an environment beyond the traditional ordering from a catalog…How should this room be arranged to support children's inquiry and engagement?  Where should the traffic paths be?..." (Wien, 2014, p. 5).

"Emergent curriculum as an approach to planning that [begins] with observing children's interests.  An approach that begins with listening to children, rather than beginning with expectations or standards to be met, asks first what are the children learning, thinking, feeling?  What meaning are they constructing in their daily lives? Such curriculum begins where the children are, and turns in their direction first.  Such planning implies a suspension in which reflection helps determine responses to children's ideas and interests" (Wien, 2014, p. 6).

Wien (2014) explains the four qualities known as "aesthetic responsiveness" (p. 6).  They include, authenticity, attentiveness, appreciation, and empathy (Wien, 2014, p. 6-7).

"Unfortunately, in many other classrooms and for many children, unhurried time and sustained attention in activity is being threatened by a 'production-schedule' organization for time… In these early childhood settings, the clock dictates when activities change. The teacher dominates because she is the timekeeper, marking when activities stop and start" (Wien, 2014, p. 14-15).

"How do teachers decide what to plan, what resources to have available, and what to offer as supportive scaffolding when engaging in emergent curriculum?" (Wien, 2014, p. 87).

"What conditions encourage empathy for others?" (Wien, 2014, p. 71).

"The firestorm of positive energy for creating, something, that Carol Anne calls the 'windhorse effect,' is a major consequences, in her view, of emergent curriculum.  This effect occurs whenever the children understand in their bones that their own good ideas will be accepted and supported by their teachers" (Wien, 2014, p. 112).

"Do male teachers respond differently than female teachers in the interests and activities of children in child care? And in particular, to boys?" (Wien, 2014, p. 114).

"Pedagogical documentation, then, serves, as an important advocacy role in communicating that children are respected citizens and that early learning spaces house important activities" (Wien, 2014, p. 62).

This book can be found on the naeyc website.  To purchase your own, click here.  Carol Anne Wien has generously donated a copy of her book for a special summer giveaway contest.  The full details will be on the blog and my instagram page over the weekend.

Thank you Carol Anne for your contributions to my learning journey, and that of many others in the early childhood field.  I have been fortunate to participate in your lectures, hear you speak at conferences, as well as read all of your insights on the Reggio Emilia approach that continues to inspire me.  You have undeniably made visible the power of early learning!

We learned to continue to trust the remarkable

energy of the children to create out of their group intentions,

to design a culture that was both invention and reflection of the global world.

The windhorse of energy beneath their creative

production once again illustrates the 

extraordinary capacities of children, if adults 

will but listen. 

                                                                                                 (Wien, 2014, p. 115).

Share your thoughts :

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  2. Thank you for these great recommendations. I will be adding to my book list. I will plan to check out a couple of these titles over the summer.

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