NAREA Summer Conference 2009

The Fifth NAREA Summer Conference

in collaboration with Reggio Children and Riverfield Country Day School

“Dialogues for Quality in Education: The School as a Place of Relationships and Connections”

in connection with “The Wonder of Learning – The Hundred Languages of Children” A New Exhibit from Reggio Emilia, Italy – North American Version

June 27-28, 2009: The Values of the Reggio Approach June 29-30, 2009: Advanced Study June 27-30, 2009 Comprehensive Experience

Tulsa, Oklahoma


Presentations by Paola Cagliari, Pedagogista, and Massimo Ghirardi, Atelierista, Preschools and Infant-Toddler Centers, Istituzione of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia

  • “The Values Inspiring the Pedagogical Experience of Reggio Emilia”
  • “‘The Hundred Languages of Children’ and the Educational Experience of Reggio Emilia
  • “Introduction to the Exhibit as a Tool for Professional Development”
  • “Observation, Interpretation and Documentation: Introducing the Ray of Light Atelier (Experiences of children from 0 to 10 years of age)
  • “The Richness of the Daily Life at an Infant-Toddler Center and at a Preschool”
  • “The Value of Listening: An Approach to Literacy”
  • “Introduction to the Exhibit “The Wonder of Learning – The Hundred Languages of Children” – Conceptual and Communication Structures”
  • “The Participation of Parents in the Life of the School: Experiences in Dialogue”

Presentations by North American Educators

  • “Creating Continuity Between Parents, Teachers and Children: The Development of Common Agreements” – Joni Reynolds and Anna Bartholome, MacDonald Montessori School, St. Paul MN
  • “School As Studio: The Life of an Atelier Inspires Change in an Urban Neighborhood” – Jennifer Strange and Cyndi Hebenstreit, Maplewood Heights Early Childhood Center, St. Louis MO
  • “A Reggio Approach to Supporting Parents: Developing Multiple Levels of Collaboration” – Carol Ann Stowe, Angela Fowler and Jane Cecil – Columbia College, Chicago IL
  • “Toward a Collective Identity” – Patti MacDonald, Catherine Hant and Jennifer Armstrong, Junior School, The Bishop Strachan School, Toronto ON
  • “Dialogues with Community: The Holiday Neighborhood Through the Eyes of Children” – Lauren Shaffer and Ellen Hall, Boulder Journey School, Boulder CO
  • “The School as a Place of Research: Creating Spaces of Learning” – Lily Schwartzman, Shannon Welsh and Sheri Hunt, Google Children’s Center, Mountain View CA

Additional 2009 NAREA Summer Conference Experiences

  • Tours of “The Wonder of Learning – The Hundred Languages of Children” Exhibit
  • Tour of Riverfield Country Day Schools
  • Large and small group discussions

Summary of Evaluations of NAREA Summer Conference Participants

Insights, Reflections, Provocations, Curiosities… From “The Values of the Reggio Approach” Session Participants:
  • Information was wonderful. Very hard to follow with interpreter. Too hard for me to get everything I could have if they spoke English. I did begin to understand it a little more in the afternoon.
  • Thanks for bringing a little of Reggio to Tulsa. Great conversations.
  • Everyone very friendly & helpful.
  • For people who had to leave early, they need to give opportunities for people to visit the Riverfield Country Day School throughout the conference. Also have shorter sessions with presenters and in smaller groups. Need some rest time.

From “Advanced Study” Session Participants:

  • It was a wonderful experience!
  • Earlier time during the day to see the school due to driving home afterwards. Have more “breakout” sessions. Too long in main hall.

From “Comprehensive Experience” Session Participants:

  • What an experience! The dialogue was powerful, the exhibit was insightful! It would have been nice to see presentations from Riverfield to give more visibility to the school we were touring. It would have been interesting to have CDs of the sounds of Reggio with poetic voices and musical interpretations of their experiences. Also, it would be so interesting and insightful to explore the Reggio Emilia children’s insights and wonderings about the exhibit and their work being shared around the world.
  • I would like to suggest that we should not overlook or diminish the importance of conversation and dialogue between and among the participants. Though there was a context suggested for group discussions, I found that the process needed to have a more intentional design. Perhaps, a design similar to the international model “café conversation” might have generated a more intense dialogue with attention to specific questions that would have provoked us to think in patterns that would have enlarged our thinking on some of the speakers and workshop topics. An intentional model for dialogue and conversation would have lent itself too, to participants sharing with others who had different points of view, backgrounds, ideas rather than continuing a dialogue with members of sameness, and, more specifically, with members we attended the conference with. It is amazing how much our cultural models influence our ways of acting. We talk often of teacher-directed learning and forget many times that this talking down model so evident in our education system influences even those of us who know better in the most subtle of ways. So, it is very important to be intentional when we want the participants to have significant and useful dialogue builds upon what trickles down to us.
  • I’m curious what Italian educators have gotten from us in their travels. What stands out as memorable in our work with young children? Would have liked to have seen; bulletin boards available for communication/collaboration, a wall for a weaving, a memory of our time together, a relationship of connections. Thank you for a stimulating four days.
  • A fellow teacher asked me if I was really getting something out of this conference since I have been exploring the Reggio approach for quite a while. I responded that I always get something from the presenters, whether it is a new insight for the new place that I’m in since the last time, or a reminder of the way I want to be or reinforcement that what I am doing is important. Thanks for organizing these types of opportunities so that I can continue to learn and grow and help others to do so as well.
  • Really liked St. Louis Public School story of transformation. Riverfield Country School was amazing, really reinventing the Reggio approach well. Loved Infant/Toddler room and birthday committee. All staff was very hospitable. Sunday afternoon’s presentation: description of Ray of Light (Max) was excellent. Parents workshops on storytelling. City of Stone. How extraordinary!
  • I’d like to thank the Riverfield staff for all their hard work at their school and the conference. The school was beautiful. I felt the history of the school and all your work. You were great hosts. I was here for 4 days. I thought the first 2 days were more advanced study. The last 2 days, especially Monday, was a refresher course. I was very sleepy at some sessions because of the long day. I’d recommend finish at 5:00 and pick a hotel that is close to restaurants that are in walking distance. I really did enjoy myself. I can see all your hard work. Thanks for the experience.

Comments about Presenters From “The Values of the Reggio Approach” Session Participants:

  • Massimo Ghiradi, Paola Cagliari. Completely appreciate their time and preparation they put into their presentations.
  • Were great but I want more break-out sessions to learn more and more time for those kind of things. I had a very hard time staying focused just listening to Max & Paolo. I think they were speaking over my head.
  • Great!
  • Very informative
  • I am in my 5th year of my journey into Reggio inspired practice. The presenters have once again inspired me. Their real life stories give me lots of hope.
  • I was tremendously inspired by Paola and Max’s presentation and insights. My break out session about parent involvement wasn’t what I expected.
  • Information given by speakers was important. Listening to Italian language great but lectures a little too long.
  • They were interesting. Power Points were good.
  • Beautiful visuals, thoughtful, organized fabulous translation.

From “Advanced Study” Session Participants:

  • I really enjoyed Paola and Massimo and their introductions to each presentation. Far more theoretically advanced – lovely images. I would have liked some more advanced material. The Google presentation was SO BASIC it was deadly. The point of breaking the conference into two parts seemed to be lost on the way that things were presented.
  • Excellent – enjoyed all.
  • Great – very knowledgeable.
  • Paola and Max were very informative and gracious. I very much appreciated their work with children.
  • The information was great but sitting at the lengths of time that we did was too much. I struggled to stay awake.

From “Comprehensive Experience” Session Participants:

  • The information was great but sitting at the lengths of time that we did was too much. I struggled to stay awake.
  • Excellent job!
  • Italians – excellent – American presenters – okay. Please suggest to presenters NOT to have everyone in the room introduce themselves and waste precious time.
  • They showed us all their hard and meaningful work with children, parents, other teachers and community personnel.
  • The presenters and translation were excellent. I enjoyed their presentations both verbal and electronic.
  • I found all the presenters to be outstanding.
  • Provided excellent documentation.
  • The presenters were outstanding. Paola and Max are so inspirational! I found myself with a lot of emotions throughout the four days; exalted, inspired, scared, curious, overwhelmed, fulfilled, joyous, laughter and filled with love. The insights, knowledge, continuation of ideas and dialogue were so present in each dialogue. Thank you for coming to the U.S. and sharing your dialogues from Reggio Emilia. You both will be in my heart forever and while I create dialogue with my colleagues in the U.S.
  • Paola and Max are brilliant! They expertly weave all our questions and wonderings together in a comprehensible and cohesive way. I am amazed and appreciative of their giftedness as presenters. They also seem to have great sense of humor.
  • Very knowledgeable and provocative. Presented ideas that will be continually reflected upon. Thoughtful and respectful.
  • The Italians are always good. I thought the first 2 days were more informative than the last 2. The presenters looked tired. Jennifer Strange and the Google group were the most informative. The parent group was a flop and Boulder Journey was ok.
  • These seemed backward: Google presentation (though good) was very simplistic. Maplewood presentation should have been later, it was much more complex.

Suggested Topics for Future Conferences From “The Values of the Reggio Approach” Session Participants:

  • Thought provoking questions to inspire children to think and produce the experiences presented. How to get children to that point of discovery.
  • What does a “day” look like? Is there a schedule, etc.? More on Reggio with older elementary children – maybe a breakout session. Meshing a “required curriculum” with R.E. approach. When do kids in R.E. “transition”, or do they transition to a more traditional setting? How does that occur, etc.?
  • Infants & toddlers and long terms project work
  • Documentation and beginnings in Reggio Emilia
  • Examples of spaces for best outdoor play – philosophies of what to put in outdoor play area for Reggio experience. How to “re-do” an old school. Self contained classroom in order to make available the best Reggio experience.
  • Explaining Reggio to parents in order to reassure them that learning is being met.

From “Advanced Study” Session Participants:

  • Education of less privileged children using RE inspiration – urban and/or rural children.
  • More primary experiences

From “Comprehensive Experience” Participants:

  • Teacher education and professional development. How teachers of Reggio are prepared. The history of Reggio in a cultural sense. How its beginning has influenced the philosophy and its conception.
  • Thanks for offering the comprehensive experience. It really helped in the unfolding of the intricacies and complexities of the theme and provided the context and impetus I needed for moving forward with this value. This was a wonderful experience for me.
  • I will never get tired of presentations about projects and always enjoy seeing well thought out schools.
  • Some of the problems in American schools, ie. testing, and the lack of play.
  • I would have liked an introduction of where everyone was from just in case there were more people from our state. I was curious about why we would not buy Reggio approach books? I would have liked a physical tour of the exhibit.
  • Materials – maybe Jennifer Azzaritti presenting.
  • The role of the Atelierista and Atelier. How to get one organized and started a big one and mini one.
  • Other ways in which Reggio inspirations are affecting children in the U.S. Also less privileged!
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