“Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water.” -Loris Malaguzzi

Tag: BC Early Learning Framework

Generating Encounters for Change

“The teaching of any arts subject […] is a cognitively sophisticated and demanding activity. It involves a subtle attention to detail, nuance and implication; the ability to exploit the unpredictable in the course of the work; the confidence to shift both educational and artistic goals where appropriate; and the security to deal with disappointment and possible failure.” (Dunn, 2016, p. 129)

As I venture into the last fews classes of my summer intensive course, Drama Education in Early Years, thoughts and ideas articulated during the composition of its two assignments, linger at the edges of my thinking. They move alongside questions, new thoughts, experiences, mingling and conversing with previous notions and those enkindled through my concurrent participation in Development and Implementation of the Curriculum in Art.

For the purpose of meeting the expectations and requirements of the above courses, I delved into an examination and overview of arts integrated activities meant to support children to think and learn with more-than-human-others (eg. trees, plants). As I had been previously acquainted, in both my research and practice as an early childhood educator, with notions of thinking “with materials” (Pacini-Ketchabaw et al., 2017, p. 1) and eradicating contradistinctions between human and natural worlds (“About the Collective”, 2020), it had been the content gained through Drama Education in Early Years that triggered questions, incited connections, and engendered new lines of thinking.

Questions, considerations:

The story-drama structures outlined in the course syllabus and required text, as well as the drama practices and exercises described in the course’s first required reading, incited the question: Can these structures and techniques be translated into my own teaching-learning environment? After encountering that first work from Lundy and Swartz (2011), whose drama techniques closely resembled those I had been acquainted with in high school, I wondered at the value of such within my free-flowing, malleable, inquiry-rich, emergent work with young children (see The Blog). However, further readings, class-work, and knowledge gained during research for the course’s first assignment, demonstrated the multifaceted, process focused, boundless nature of drama education. Soon, my concerns regarding the benefits of drama structures, were exchanged with considerations connected to how, when, with whom, where, and within what context could they be supported and implemented.

Making connections:

At the same time as I had been thinking and learning with Drama Education in Early Years, I had been thinking and learning with arts education and its required text. As I reacquainted myself with the material encounters of Pacini-Ketchabaw et al. (2017), I became acquainted with process drama through the work of Brown (2017) and Kana and Aitken (2007). At once, cross-curriculum experiences began to formulate, while connections in experiential, art, and drama theory and practice took hold. Progressing further into the course, more hypotheses, documentation, understandings framed those inclinations.

A material encounter (Pacini-Ketchabaw et al., 2017), as well as a process drama experience,  generates space, setting, and opportunity for children to collectively, confront, construct, organize, challenge, and naturally expound predicaments and tensions, knowledge and experience, ideas and typical modes of understanding (p. 36; Brown, 2017, p. 165; Kana & Aitken, 2007, p. 700).

Brown (2017) has written:

“Role-playing through process drama activities promotes taking on multiple perspectives and provokes genuine open-mindedness; it facilitates construction of more fully elaborated and unique problem-solving models, and encourages cognitive and personal flexibility.” (p.169)

Within BC early learning (2019) contexts, educators are researchers and collaborators, rather than purveyors of knowledge. In process drama or a material encounter, the typical transfer of knowledge is altered, educators are supported to join in and become a part of the learning experience. Accordingly, children become active, rather than passive, participants in those moments of tension, problem solving, collaboration, understanding (McNaughton, 2004, p. 154)

Early childhood educator, Linda McDonell, in the below short video,  briefly and fluidly articulates her transformation from expert to guide and the value of not knowing:

In a process drama experience, children are engaged and drawn in only when educators are prepared and willing to be spontaneous and take risks, to be equally immersed and affected by the experience, and to learn alongside them (Dunn, 2016, p. 129; Kana & Aikten, 2007, p. 700). Educators do not decide or hope for a particular outcome, but direct the focus of children’s experience by determining what materials to set out, which role to play, or seeking to answer a specific question.  For this reason, neither a process drama, nor a material encounter, should be understood as a demonstration of what either should look like. As Dunn wrote: “Simply using the strategies of process drama does not constitute doing process drama!” (p. 134). Instead, the unknown, unexpected, unpredictable are exploited and embraced, and the aim is to engage children in encounters, moments, scenerios that might encourage them to develop an understanding and awareness of other perspectives, to support them to think critically, and generate space for them to further inquire, question, consider (Dunn, 2016, p. 129; Kana & Aitken, 2007, p. 700; Pacini-Ketchabaw et al., 2017).

New contexts for change:

The process of overviewing numerous arts and drama resources, aimed at supporting children to think and learn with plants and trees, apprised me of the potential for drama practices to promote social change and environmental awareness.

Pondering over drama activities and diving into research, I became  immersed in a variety of imagined drama scenerios. I formulated structures that offered children opportunity to become plants or those creatures that live amongst them. I pictured myself generating “Formal Gatherings” (Booth, 2005) to save the plants with the children, . We’d ask ourselves: How can we help plants? What type of behaviours are respectful of plants? Together we’d facilitate a pretend protest to help save the plants. What would our signs say? What we would say? How would we say it? Who could the protesters be? What part would everyone else play? I reflected on these structures, wondered at these storylines: Would they more deeply engage children in learning and support them to think with the lives of more-than-human-others?  Could they inspire change?

“The power of the drama is not simply that it teaches facts about the environment but that the narrative is a metaphor for environmental issues.” (McNaughton, 2004, p. 154)

In response to current environmental crises that include “climate change, species extinction, risks to […] food and water supplies, [etc.]” (BC Ministry of Education, 2019, p. 29), many pedagogical approaches have been reformed and reconsidered. The First People’s principles of learning and common worlds research collective have been introduced into BC’s updated Early Learning Framework (2019) in order to respond to both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (2015) and pressing environmental issues.

Some of the First People’s principles include:

  • Teaching and learning that is relational, patient
  • Focuses on connectedness and place, that supports family and community
  • Involves recognizing the responsibility in one’s actions

(BC Ministry of Education, 2019, p. 14)

While, sustainability curriculums in Scottland include competencies such as:

  • Sensitivity to and appreciation of the social and natural environment
  • Knowledge/understanding of the social environment
  • Skills to find out about and explore environmental issues

(McNaughton, 2004, p. 141)

Like McNaughton (2004), I began to carefully notice and consider the possibility that drama strategies might benefit teachers and learners by addressing many of the above principles and outcomes (p. 141).

In their work, Kana and Aitken (2007) explored the value of process drama in examining issues surrounding cultural exclusion and social injustice. They found that when exploring ideas related to injustice, such as the un-heard voices of specific Peoples or more-than-human-others, is it pertinent that both educator and student take on a range of positions, through role play, so that the complexity and diversity inherent in such issues might be recognized (p. 701). In addition, by providing oppportunity for learners to become immersed in dramatization they are able to develop a fresh perspective on the real-life situations resembled within (Kana & Aitken, 2007). While Brown (2017) also wrote, “the experience of believing and delving deeper into role can facilitate the development of empathy by provoking a deep awareness of other’s perspectives.” (p. 169)

Green (2017) also examined how role-play can support children to engage in empathetic reasoning, “to think about how it might feel to be someone or something else” (p. 14). By engaging children in role-play and encouraging dramatization, children are supported to carefully notice and pay attention to the characteristics of their environment and how they interact with it (Green, 2017, p. 6). Green felt that perspective taking and role-play orchestrated outdoors would generate further social engagements, stories, and dramatic play scenerios that incorporate elements of the natural world (p. 14).

These understandings, ideas, imagined scenes lingered, and continue to inch their way back into my reasoning as I move into different thoughts, am introduced to new ideas, and continue in my every-changing, emergent work with young children.

Until next time,


Coming up…  My final reflective post connected to Drama Edcuation in Early Years. I will look more closely at how my learning might affect my current practice as an early childhood educator. 


About the collective. (2020). http://commonworlds.net

Brown, V. (2017). Drama as a valuable learning medium in early childhood. Arts Education Policy Review, 118(3), 164-171. https://doi.org/10.1080/10632913.2016.1244780

Booth, D. (2005). Story drama (2nd ed.). Pembroke Publishers.

Dunn, J. (2016). Demystifying process drama: Exploring the why, what, and how. Nj: Drama Australia journal, 40(2), 127-140. doi:10.1080/14452294.2016.1276738

Green, C. (2017). Four methods for engaging young children as environmental education researchers. The International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, 5(1), 6-19. https://naturalstart.org/sites/default/files/journal/ijecee_5_1_green.pdf

Kana, P., & Aitken, V. (2007). She didn’t ask me about my grandma: Using process drama to explore issues of cultural exclusion and educational leadership. Journal of Educational Administration, 45(6), 697-710. http://doi.org/10.1108/09578230710829883

Lundy, K., Swartz, L. (2011). Building community. In K. Revington (Ed.) Creating caring classrooms: How to encourage students to communicate, create, and be compassionate of others (pp.13 – 44). Pembroke.

McNaughton, M. J. (2004). Educational drama in the teaching of education for sustainability. Environmental Education Research, 10(2), 139-155. doi:10.1080/13504620242000198140

Ministry of Education (2019). British Columbia early learning framework. Victoria, B.C. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework

Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., Kind, S., & Kocher, Laurie L. M. (2017). Encounters with materials in early childhood education. Routledge.

Reframing My Thoughts: Are Frameworks and Philosophies Merely “Slow to React”?

Before I venture further into my inquiry, specifically the “maker movement” and the MakEY Project, I would like to take a moment to reframe and reconsider my thinking thus far.  I took a moment to step back, read, and leave room for learning. I discovered that perhaps I needed to look at why, rather than how, digital technology is being addressed by both the BC Early Learning Frameworks and the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Learning.

The first article that altered my focus came in the form of an occasional paper on digital media and learning by Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton, and Robison (2006), entitled Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. I drew an immediate connection from the following excerpt to the frameworks and philosophy I had examined prior:

“Schools as institutions have been slow to react to the emergence of this new participatory culture […] programs must devote more attention to fostering what we call the new media literacies:” -Jenkins et al., 2009

Jenkins et al. (2006) presented two new terms in their report: Participatory Culture and New Media Literacies. Jenkins explains participatory culture and his concerns about education in the following video:

Jenkins et al. (2006) pointed to a growing body of research that suggested that the various forms of participatory culture undertaken by young people outside of school have the potential to generate: “opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, a changed attitude toward intellectual property, the diversification of cultural expression, the development of skills valued in the modern workplace, and a[n…] empowered conception of citizenship” (Jenkins et al., 2006). They also highlighted the fact that many scholars believed that children and youth developed such skills regardless of pedagogical interventions. However, Jenkins et al. believed that three concerns denoted the nescesity for curriculums focused on helping students develop the skills needed to fully participate in, and contribute to, online communities. The three concerns were:

  • The Participation Gap — the unequal access to the opportunities, experiences, skills, and knowledge that will prepare youth for full participation in the world of tomorrow.
  • The Transparency Problem — The challenges young people face in learning to see clearly the ways that media shape perceptions of the world.
  • The Ethics Challenge — The breakdown of traditional forms of professional training and socialization that might prepare young people for their increasingly public roles as media makers and community participants.

Consequently, a central focus of their work aimed to draw attention away from considerations regarding technological access towards opportunities in teaching and learning associated with participating in a digital realm (Jenkins et al, 2006). Unlike the BC Early Learning Curriculums, the primary recommendation by Jenkins et al. (2006) was that an effective pedagogical strategy be developed specifically for media education. However, while reading the report presented by Jenkins et al. (2006), I couldn’t help but notice how many of the New Media Literacies naturally flow into the expectations for deep learning explicated in BC’s New Curriculum (2019) and are instinctively touched on in an approach such as Reggio Emilia.

The three Core Competencies of BC’s New Curriclum are “Thinking (creative,critical), Communication, and Personal and Social”. According the Curriculum Orientation Guide, the Core Competencies are groupings of abilities that learners should develop in order to take part in deep learning. The Competencies should be evident and used when learners are engrossed in “doing” in any area of learning (BC’s New Curriculum, 2019). Consequently, if digital technology is considered an area of learning then learners should be interacting with it in accordance with the Core Competencies and engaging in deep learning.

Similarly, the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Learning aims to engage children in rich learning experiences. Reggio invites children to engage in an area of learning holistically: by offering many different modes, presenting an assortment of tools and mediums, incorporating various locations and perspectives, by avoiding timelines, and by actively listening. However, unlike BC’s New Curriculum, Reggio Emilia centres follow an emergent curriculum. Though there may be a shared “intent” amongst several centres, “hypotheses” (focus of learning) are generally constructed by a community of learners based on observations of the needs, skills, values, interests, and challenges of a specific group of children. Below is the Reggio inspired curriculum pathway we follow at our centres:

In my previous post, I voiced the opinion that digital technology often rests on the periphery of the deep learning that takes place within the Reggio Emilia approach. However, as Apler (2011) suggests in her work, Developmentally appropriate New Media Literacies: Supporting cultural competencies and social skills in early childhood education, several of the New Media Literacies described by Jenkins et al. are already “reflected in the interplay between digital and non-digital media within Reggio Emilia-inspired teaching and learning” (Alper, 2011). In addition, if digital literacy happened to be a core component of an “intent” or “hypothesis” within a Reggio program, it would be approached with an aim to generate digital fluency.

Again, similarly, if BC educators regard digital literacy as pivotal knowledge for their learners than their learners should be thinking creatively and critically with and about it, they should be connecting, engaging, and collaborating with their peers through and with it, and they should be considering their personal well-being and the well beings of others with and in connection with it. However, as I highlighted in my post BC’s Stance on Digital Technology in Early Years Education digital technology is not explicitly outlined as an area of learning in either BC’s Early Learning Framework or in BC’s New Curriculum (K-5).

Therefore, perhaps BC’s Curricula and the Reggio Emilia approach are not so dissimilar with regard to their position on digital technology. Possibly, institutions within both locations are simply “slow to react to the emergence of this new participatory culture” (Jenkins et al., 2006). It seems clear that neither BC, nor Reggio Emilia, Italy consider digital literacy imperative for their young learners.

However, BC educator, Alison Galloway, also recognized the similarities between BC and Reggio Emilia, Italy, specifically with regard to BC’s movement towards a more child-centred approach to learning (Galloway, 2015). Drawing inspiration from the Reggio Emilia approach, BC’s education plan, and the “maker movement”, Galloway (2015) created a learning environment capable of generating rich teaching and learning experiences connected to digital technology.

In addition, in her MEd Project entitled Bringing a Reggio Emilia inspired approach up the grades- Links to 21st century learning skills and the maker movement, Galloway (2015) critically examined many of the same aspects of education as Jenkins et al. (2006). Galloway advocated for education that focuses on competency and values students’ voice and choice (Galloway, 2015), while Jenkins et al. promoted education that treats young people as citizens deserving of the skills necessary to become valued as such (Jenkins et al., 2006). Galloway wrote:

“If, as educators, we want children to be inventive and resourceful, we need to provide opportunities for open-ended learning that challenges students to come up with their own questions and solutions.” – Galloway, 2015

Still, Galloway’s (2015) research did not specifically focus on digital literacy, rather it outlined the potential value for teaching and learning generated within a Reggio Emilia inspired “Makerspace”.

It is my intent, however, to highlight the fact that the literature I have encountered with regard to the “maker movement” explicitly highlights the value of the approach in contributing to digital fluency or “critical literacy”.

Until next time,



Alper, M. (2013). Developmentally appropriate new media literacies: Supporting cultural competencies and social skills in early childhood education. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 13(2), 175-196. doi:10.1177/1468798411430101

Jenkins, H (2006). Confronting the challenges of Participatory Culture: Media education for the 21st century. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: Chicago, IL. Retrieved from  http://www.oapen.org/download/?type=document&docid=1004003

Galloway, A. (2015). A reggio emilia inspired maker space. Retrieved from http://reggioinspiredmakerspace.weebly.com/reggio-emilia-background.html

Galloway, A. (2015). Bringing a reggio emilia inspired approach into higher grades- Links to 21st century learning skills and the maker movement. MEd Projects (Curriculum and Instruction): University of Victoria, BC.

Ministry of Education (2015). BC’s new curriculum. Victoria, BC. Retrieved from https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca

Ministry of Education (2019). British Columbia early learning framework. Victoria, B.C. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework

BC’s Stance on Digital Technology in Early Years Education

In my last post I suggested that incooperating digital technology into early years education is not a priority in BC.  Is there evidence out there to support my assumption?

According to the government of BC website: “Digital literacy is an important skill to have in today’s technology based world.” The BC’s Digital Literacy Framework, first published in 2015, describes in detail what children age 5- 18 should be able to do, understand, and critically think about with regard to digital technology.

The framework outlines six main characteristics of digital literacy: research and information literacy, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making, creativity and innovation, digital citizenship, communication and collaboration, and technology operations and concepts. It also outlines some ways technology and digital resources might be incooperated into learning experiences for children age 5-8:

  • Illustrate and communicate original ideas and stories using digital tools and media-rich resources. (C, T, CC, CI)
  • Engage in learning activities with learners from multiple cultures through e-mail and other electronic means. (C, CC, TOC)
  • Independently apply digital tools and resources to address a variety of tasks and problems. (T, CPD, TOC)
  • Demonstrate the ability to navigate in virtual environments such as electronic books, simulation software, and Web sites. (TOC)

Despite the clear and expansive nature of the Digital Literacy Framework, BC does not specifically include digital technology in its Early Years curriculums.

Technology is not explicitly included within  BC’s updated Early Learning Framwork Principles, though the principles do leave room for interpretation and the Framework itself promotes the incorporation of many modes for through which children can express and inquire. However,  the Framework does include digital technology in Section Three: Living and Learning Together under the heading Communication and Literacies. Here the Framework highlights the fact that digital technology is part of most people’s everyday lives, that it can support and promote creative inquiry, and that there are complicated concerns surrounding its inclusion in the childhood experience.

And yet, digital technology appears to reside under Communication and Literacies only as a point for conversation and as a mode for communication. There are no specific examples provided in the Framework for how digital technology might be incooperated in Early Learning environments (besides its current primary use in Pedigogal Narration). Instead, it is suggested that educators take time to reflect on the potential creative and negative aspects of technology. It is clear that Early Childhood Educators and the BC Early Learning Framework are still pondering over whether digital technology should actually be included in Early Learning Environments.

BC’s New Curriculum defines technologies as tools that extend human capabilities and includes technology under the heading Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies K-7“. However, the term “computational thinking” becomes included under the heading “Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies” starting with 6 and 7.  Computational thinking appears to be quite extensive and includes an awareness of coding, computer hardware and software (including troubleshooting), Internet safety, digital self-image, citizenship etc. By including specific learning outcomes regarding digital technology for the later grades, the BC Curriculum elucidates the expectation that British Columbian children be digitally literate, while at the same time it suggests that digital technology remain absent in Early Childhood.

Image retrieved from the Website of School District 47

It is clear, as I assume is the case with many of us graduate students, that British Columbia isn’t quite sure where it stands on the idea of digital technology in Early Learning. Such is not surprising as we currently live in a time that allows us access to a endless wealth of information, which generally leads us into an endless cavern of contradictions.

Until next time,



Ministry of Education (2015). BC’s new curriculum. Victoria, BC. Retrieved from https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca

Ministry of Education (2019). British Columbia early learning framework. Victoria, B.C. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework

Ministry of Education (2015). Digital literacy framework. Victoria, BC. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/teach/teaching-tools/digital-literacy?keyword=Digital&keyword=literacy&keyword=framework