So this post is about how I have interpreted projects and how I have embarked on projects with children.
This post will also link to previous posts I have written on the subject which you will find at the end...
For me a project is a bit like the stage for a performance... there is so much that goes on behind the scenes... and on the stage the children play, explore, sing, dance, learn, experiment and interact while we teachers do the work behind the scenes to enable this... as Malaguzzi writes above... "the central role of the adult is to activate, especially indirectly, the meaning-making competencies of children as a basis for all learning" - the project "activates".
Or you could say it is like the microphone/megaphone - it give the child's voice more power to be heard - it gives them a focus to explore complex ideas, and for us as educators to learn with them.
Or that it is an adventure... a learning journey that can be of short or long duration and with detours here and there too to explore mini-projects and ideas and interests.
I have had projects that have been a week long, some that last a few weeks or a month or several months.. or even a year or more... a week long project is maybe more of a detour within another project... and it could be like yesterday's post about connecting dots... sometimes these mini-projects connect to the original long term project but you simply do not realise it until afterwards when you reflect on it and see that the children have been exploring the same ideas just from another perspective/theme.
In the posts below I have also linked in observation and also pedagogical documentation as posts to explore to better understand a "project". There is a lot of information exploring projects, my reflections on them - before during and after... so you get to see the whole process in a way.
Thinking about projects - exploring projects from the perspective how much is a teacher allowed to direct/lead a project, exploring the image of the teacher and not just the image of the child. About being open and also perceptive... about working with the children. About the project being the work of the educator... the children play and learn.
Progettazione - this is the word used in Italian in Reggio Emilia settings... and it has been translated into project... but it does not quite translate directly like that... so take the time to read about it... as it is almost a project for the teachers to learn about the children, about pedagogy etc... but this is done with the children too.
Observations... easier said than done - this post explores the start of a project... our observations of the children - to see what they are interested in, how they are evolving, what support they need, and what kind of project frame would allow us as educators to meet all these needs...
Raw Planning - once I have observed the children, know their interests and understand their needs... then I will start collecting ideas and questions and sort them by the curriculum (of course some ideas are not just one part of the curriculum but are cross curricula). This is a first initial collection of questions and ideas that then got expanded... I also know that not all these ideas will be used... but that I have them ready to work with the children. I also know beforehand how all the ideas connect to the curriculum to make sure I am giving the children a good foundation in accordance with the Swedish School Law
Reflecting on a week - spending time to regularly reflect on the course of the project is important... to ask yourself more questions about how the children are reacting to the project... what ideas are standing out the most, and why? do we need to change direction or not... can new ideas be incorporated into the current project concept? and what have I learned as an educator so far about the children, the way the week is designed etc
Reflections on a project - this post is my reflections of a project that lasted from mid August to the end of December... and shares that sometimes a project is more of the wrapping paper, or the outlet for deeper learning... in this case the magic powers project was more about the children being empowered.
Reflection on Through the Eyes of the Child prototype week - this was just a one week project that nestled itself within the International Fairy Tea Party exploration.
Beginners guide to Pedagogical Documentation - this is one of five posts... but if you click on the youtube version of the film you will also find the links to the four other sections of exploring pedagogical Documentation and how it can support you in your projects with children.
I hope these links gave you an insight into the potential of a project... it is not simply following the children's interests, but utilising those interests to frame their ideas, the development, their learning, their play. It is most certainly a collaboration with the children where the educator is as important as the child... that all voices need to be heard and respected. That we empower children to make decisions, to participate, to take responsibility, to play and learn... but we have the bottom line responsibility... in what we choose to provide for them, how we see ourselves as educators, how we view the child, being aware of the impact of all our decision making... keeping the children safe so that they can take risks.
Below are some quotes for further reflections
To the right you can see in the list of tags various projects that I have done while I have written this blog... you are welcome to check them out...