Program Central: The Anatomy of a Reggio Inspired Kindergarten Program Binder
Hello to all of our followers,
We receive a lot of requests from visiting teachers to share our programming process. We keep information and documentation notes together;organized in a binder. We don’t necessarily use the binder to program our curriculum, but we use it as central location to organize our go to materials, resources, and completed plans.
As a Reggio Emilia inspired school, we program by listening to the children and extending their ideas in various ways, including adding materials to the environment, having discussions to deepen the children’s thinking, and creating new provocations related to the current inquiry. We recognize that as teachers we influence the direction of curriculum through provocations and invitations.. We plan collaboratively during meetings between teachers and the school director. As we listen to the children and observe the directionof their interests, foci, our program develops organically. Through discussion we decide what ways we will extend and challenge the children’s thinking. These meetings occur on a daily basis in the morning before the day starts and at the end of the day as we reflect on the children’s experiences and our own.
One of the challenges we have faced was trying to keep all of our observation notes, provocation ideas, and materials together in an organized way. Often times, we would have an “aha” moment, jot it down on a sticky note, and never see it again. Our classroom moves so fast, we needed a central location to keep all of our material.
Alas, the conception of Program Central (our binder). We chose this title to represent because this binder because it holds more than program plans. It essentially became the central location for all of our classroom programming materials.
Below are pictures and explanations of how our binder is laid out and a few pictures of what’s inside.
This is where we record our ideas of what programming we will do with the children. Cathy, has cleverly named it Kindergarten Possibilities because these plans are always transforming. During our end of day meeting, Cathy and I might decide on something to provoke the children’s thinking for the following morning and record that on our Kindergarten Possibilities chart. The next day we may need to scratch off the original idea and change it based on what the children are telling us, or what we see. These plans are very flexible and change everyday, several times a day. We leave the week’s plans on display for parents to see what we are busy with through out the week. Once the week is over we store it in Program Central.
This is what we used to implement before we had the Kindergarten Possibilities chart. We used to meet at the end of the day and record mini observations and teacher reflections, as well as ideas to extend the children’s thinking, questions we have, and curriculum connections. Although this was great reflective practice, it became very tedious. We found that we couldn’t find the time to write such detailed notes and therefore made the shift to the Kindergarten Possibilities chart.
In this section we keep our various observations notes. They are separated by each inquiry project. We generally keep our notes from smaller inquiries in here. Once the notes start to collect and become too much for Program Central, we move them to their own project or inquiry binder.
Here we keep a collection of observation notes on various curriculum areas. These are customized for each child. This is what our assessment form looks like. We then use the assessment form to support our portfolio writing at the end of each term.
We have a section for professional articles that support our professional learning as well as documentation write ups and portfolio development.
Perhaps some may say that having a ‘planning binder’ is too far off the “Reggio” path: too structured, or not what you would typically see. I’ll admit that when we first started talking about creating the binder I was hesitant and felt the same. However, there is still a need for organization and planning in order to have an effective program. As teachers we need to be prepared and ready to take on any challenges that the day brings.
We would love for you to share ideas and pictures of what you do in your classroom to plan and organize..
Until next time,
Just wanted to say that I love following your blog! Thanks for this post; it is always interesting to hear how other teachers organize their documentation! You have a lot of sections in the binder! Do you keep sections in your binder for past inquiries that the children have done, or are those moved out of the binder?
Thanks again for sharing 🙂 I wish I lived closer to you so that I could attend one of your workshops one day!
Thank you! We are always happy to share ideas. To answer your question, we have separate binders for our larger inquiries where most of the children’s work and documentation is stored before creating a documentation panel. We keep smaller inquiries in the binder and organize them with a label of the inquiry. Please share some of your strategies, it’s great to hear ideas from the broader community!