Reggio Emilia North American Study Tour: Day 6 Implementation in the Primary School Part II

As the morning progressed, the ideas that our hosts presented began to become more clearly articulated and understood. Here are highlights:

  • Teaching as well as learning changes throughout the grades.
  • We must reject the idea of sequential learning.
  • We must develop a culture of developmental readiness where the learner is central, where the curriculum serves the student, not vice versa.
  • Learning involves process as well as product.
  • Teacher + context of experience + context for elaboration + grouping strategies = learning.

Grouping in Reggio classrooms is considered paramount. In these primary classrooms the small (3-5 maximum) learning group constructs it own content. All members contribute. Through dialogue, the group collaborates with the teacher. All groups may not arrive at the same set of understandings on any given task. This means teachers need to have a vast working knowledge of a variety of concepts, know the children well, and anticipate next steps.


Small Grouping Is Paramount

Dialogue between the teacher and the small group is key. Teachers revisit “codified” knowledge, and, through questioning, activate research or discovery to generate new knowledge. The pathway to this new knowledge depends entirely on the make-up of the group. Therefore, it is supremely important that teachers group students in a most intentional way, that they make children’s thinking visible through documentation, and that the analysis of documentation provides the lesson plan or direction for the following day’s activities. Approaching learning in this fashion capitalizes on children’s competencies and activates the 100 Languages of Children.

Unknown-2Subjects are NOT knowledge. Children’s interactions with the subject matter – the epistemological approach – IS education. Therefore investigation into Big/Essential Questions, Design Thinking, and 21st Century skill development – all parts of our curriculum delivery methodology at our small school in Los Altos, California – are allowing us to glimpse that ‘holy grail’ of education: continuity and a pluralist way of knowing.


The Reggio Emilia North American Tour was a insight producing and gratifying experience. Reggio Emilia Province in mid-May was lovely. I wish to thank my school for sponsoring my attendance. My learning objectives were met. I got what I came for … and then some!


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