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Using pedagogical document to build early childhood educator capacity to support children's outdoor play… Hatten, Cheryl 2018-03

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    USING PEDAGOGICAL DOCUMENTATION TO BUILD EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATOR CAPACITY TO SUPPORT CHILDREN’S OUTDOOR PLAY EXPERIENCES    by   CHERYL HATTEN  B.A., University of Lethbridge, 1994   A GRADUATING PAPER SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF  THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF   MASTER OF EDUCATION   in   THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES  (Early Childhood Education)    We accept this graduating paper as conforming  to the required standard   …………………………………………………….   …………………………………………………….   THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA  [March 2018]  © Cheryl Hatten, 2018    ii  Abstract In this capstone project, I explore using pedagogical documentation to build ECE educator capacity to support children’s outdoor play experiences. Outdoor play experiences are declining, and this is a source for numerous physical and emotional health concerns. Research indicates unstructured play, and in particular, outdoor risky play, has numerous benefits, including increased social opportunities, increased activity levels, and positive mental and physical health outcomes. ECE educators are in a position to promote opportunities for children’s outdoor play experiences; however, many educators are unsure of their role and may require further education to discover how to support such experiences. In this project, I address the following questions (1) In what ways can ECE educators transform their understanding of the philosophy behind outdoor play into their daily practices? And (2) In what ways can the use of pedagogical documentation support ECE educators as they develop strategies for supporting children’s outdoor play experiences? I draw on social constructivism, and Vygotsky’s notion of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) to explore learning as a social process occurring within a social context. I explore pedagogical documentation as professional development, reflective practice, and a means to promote theory-practice transfer. In connecting the review of this literature with practice, I developed an Outdoor play Support Plan for use with in-service ECE educators with content related to outdoor play benefits and delivered using pedagogical documentation principles. Based on the findings of this review, I recommend further study on the benefits of pedagogical documentation for both pre- and in-service ECE educators.   Key Words: pedagogical documentation, outdoor play, risky play, early childhood education, educator capacity, theory-practice transfer    iii  Table of Contents  Abstract ........................................................................................................................................... ii Table of Contents ........................................................................................................................... iii Acknowledgements ........................................................................................................................ vi CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................. 1 Key Terms ....................................................................................................................................... 1 Context and Personal Background .................................................................................................. 2 Overview of the Theoretical Framework ........................................................................................ 4 Approaches and Methods .................................................................................................... 4 Introduction to the Review of the Literature................................................................................... 5 Rationale and Importance ............................................................................................................... 6 Purpose and Significance ................................................................................................................ 7 Guiding Questions .......................................................................................................................... 7 Summary and Organization of Project ............................................................................................ 8 CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW ................................................................................. 9   iv  Theoretical Frameworks ................................................................................................................. 9 Reggio Emilia Approach............................................................................................................... 10 Documentation .................................................................................................................. 11 Review of Literature ..................................................................................................................... 12 Role of Pedagogical Documentation ................................................................................ 12 Pedagogical Documentation as Professional Development .................................. 12 Pedagogical Documentation as Reflection and Reflective practice ..................... 13 Pedagogical Documentation to Promote Theory-Practice Transfer ..................... 15 Outdoor Play ..................................................................................................................... 16 Benefits of outdoor play and risky outdoor play .................................................. 17 Role of Educator in Supporting Outdoor Play and Risky Outdoor Play .......................... 19 Attitudes, beliefs, and practices that support outdoor play ................................... 19 Attitudes, beliefs, and practices that support outdoor risky play .......................... 20 CHAPTER THREE: CONNECTIONS TO PRACTICE ............................................................. 24 Learning as a Social Process ......................................................................................................... 25 Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and Scaffolding .................................................. 27   v  Social Context ................................................................................................................... 29 Pedagogical Documentation as Reflective Practice ...................................................................... 30 Collaborative Dialogue ..................................................................................................... 30 Journaling and Reflective Writing .................................................................................... 32 Video-Recordings and Analysis. ...................................................................................... 33 Pedagogical Documentation as Professional Development .......................................................... 34 Connections between Pedagogical Documentation and Social Constructivist Theory .... 35 Outdoor Play Support Plan: Purpose and Description .................................................................. 36 CHAPTER FOUR: CONCLUSIONS........................................................................................... 39 Summary and Reflections ............................................................................................................. 39 Concluding Thoughts .................................................................................................................... 41 Limitations and Recommendations for Future Study and Practice .............................................. 42 References ..................................................................................................................................... 46 APPENDIX A - Outdoor Play Support Plan .................................................................... 52 APPENDIX B – Consent Form ........................................................................................ 94    vi  Acknowledgements I would like to thank all of those individuals who inspired and supported me through this three-year journey. Without all of your support, this journey would not have been possible. First, I would like to acknowledge and thank my advisor, Mari Pighini for her on-going support, edits, and encouragement through this capstone project. Your support has been invaluable. I would also like to thank my co-workers, past and present, at Lethbridge College. Your support and encouragement helped be continue on my journey. A special thank you to the FPDC, without your support, this would not have been possible.  A special thank you and acknowledgement to Beverlie - had I not met you and ‘drank the Kool-Aid’, this project would not have been what it is. Finally, I would like to thank my family. Special thanks to my mother, for spending hours playing with my daughter so I could read, study, and write. My wonderful husband Keith – thank you for giving me the time and space I needed to do this, for listening to me when I needed to vent and for picking up the slack around the house. My precious daughter Olivia – thank you for putting up with your busy, distracted, and exhausted mother for almost half your life so far, I promise to spend more time focusing on you moving forward. If not for all of you, this would have never been possible.1   CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION  In this paper, I examine ways that early childhood education (ECE) educators who are beginning to support children’s outdoor play experiences can receive support through using pedagogical documentation. More specifically, I seek to gain an increased understanding of ways to support ECE educators as they begin to transform their outdoor play practices.  Outdoor play for children, and more specifically outdoor play experiences, is often an overlooked part of early childhood education. With the recent recommendation from the Canadian Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play to increase opportunities for self-directed outdoor play in all settings (Tremblay, et al., 20151), an increased need exists for ECE educators to gain knowledge and skill in supporting young children in those outdoor experiences. As a college ECE instructor, I am interested in using pedagogical documentation to build the capacity of ECE educators as they begin to transform their understanding of outdoor play philosophy and to develop their own strategies for supporting children in their outdoor play experiences. I intend to explore pedagogical documentation and the various ways it can support educators in their construction and transformation of knowledge into practice. I also intend to explore the role of the educator with regard to outdoor play experiences for young children. I begin by defining some key terms that are integral to the content presented in this project. Key Terms The following definitions clarify the terminology used within this Capstone Project. They are listed here in alphabetical order. Outdoor Play is active, unstructured, self-directed play that occurs outdoors in all settings, including home, school, childcare, community, and nature (Tremblay, et al., 2015).                                                  1 APA 6th edition online states first author et al for 6 or more authors 2   Pedagogical documentation is “a process for making pedagogical (or other) work visible and subject to dialogue, interpretation, contestation, and transformation” (Dahlberg, 2012, p. 225). A similar definition by Stacey (2015) positions pedagogical documentation as a means for educator reflective practice, whereby educators can ask questions about teaching and learning. Reflective Practice is the process of examining the ways one practices and asking questions of oneself as well as those one works with (Wurm, 2005). Risky Play includes challenging or thrilling forms of play involving a risk of physical injury and includes exposing oneself to hazard (Sandseter, 2007). The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is a construct identified by Lev Vygotsky that refers to the difference between what an individual can do independently and what he or she can do with the guidance or support of others (Vygotsky, 1978). Vygotsky designated the more skilled peer or adult who provided the guidance of support as the more knowledgeable other (MKO). Context and Personal Background Outdoor play has become a topic of great interest to me for several different reasons. First, I am the parent of a very active six-year-old daughter who prefers playing outdoors to many other activities. She has spent time in several different early childhood settings, and has experienced a variety of outdoor play experiences with regard to type offered, support given, and time offered. In most cases, there was little to no time spent outside, little support, and little evidence the educators had any understanding of the importance of outdoor play. Second, in my role as an ECE instructor at a college, I have been involved in several initiatives relating to outdoor play. I was recently involved in an applied research project funded by the Lawson 3   Foundation, where we, in partnership with another college, developed and delivered a 36 hour on-line and face to face outdoor play course. Through my involvement with this project, my college has begun its own applied research strategy with a focus on outdoor play. The ECE team and I received training on assessing children’s outdoor play environments and subsequently assessed the outdoor space at the childcare program located on-campus. A team of landscape designers created a plan to transform the existing play space into a natural outdoor play space that would offer an environment for children that was highly conducive to quality outdoor play experiences. Additional to this transformation plan, is the development of a strategy for use of that outdoor play space and the attached childcare program to become the demonstration program for our ECE program. Finally, the ECE program underwent a program review last year and we will be changing our curriculum to add an outdoor play course. As these initiatives begin to take shape, we need to think about the educators in the child care program located on campus, and how they can be supported through the proposed changes. This capstone project will inform my practice both with my college students and with the child care program staff. Through my experiences as a parent, as well as with my involvement in the applied research project, I have developed a passion for outdoor play and I believe that it is every child’s right to have daily access to outdoor play opportunities. Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes the right that states all children have the right to play, leisure, and culture (OHCHR, 2017). Added to this passion is the knowledge of the decline in the time today’s children have to play in the outdoors. The increase in physical and emotional health concerns from this decrease, has led to a call for, and a need to, increase time and opportunities for outdoor play (Tremblay, et al., 2015). With many children spending a portion of their day in early childhood programs, ECE educators are in a prime position to effect 4   a change in the time children spend outdoors and increase their opportunities for outdoor play experiences. In my role as a college ECE instructor, I am in a key position to increase ECE educator, both pre-service and in-service, capacity for supporting children’s outdoor play experiences through our college curriculum, my ways of teaching, and through my existing relationships with ECE educators in ECE programs. Overview of the Theoretical Framework A social constructivist worldview informs this project (Creswell, 2009). Social-constructivism posits that individuals construct meaning based on the contexts and people that surround them. I consider that ECE educators build their knowledge and understanding of outdoor play philosophy as they develop strategies to support children’s outdoor play experiences. More specifically, through the use of Vygotsky’s social cultural theory’s notion of ZPD, described earlier in this chapter, I consider that ECE educators working in a team will mentor and support one another’s learning as they work together to develop strategies to support children’s outdoor play experiences.  Approaches and Methods I draw from the pedagogical approaches found within the Reggio Emilia philosophy as they pertain to pedagogical documentation (Edwards, Gandini, & Forman, 2012b). The Reggio Emilia approach has its roots in a small city in northern Italy, bearing the same name. In post-World War II Italy, Loris Malaguzzi, philosopher and founding director, began the process of building a public system of childcare and education that presently consists of over 30 infant toddler centres and preschools for children under six years of age (Edwards, Gandini, & Forman, 2012a). This world-renowned educational system is innovative and inspirational in the field of ECE. Since its inception, a distinctive and innovative set of pedagogical propositions, 5   organizational methods, and environmental design principles have evolved to become known as the ‘Reggio Emilia experience’ (Edwards et al., 2012a). I explore the use of pedagogical documentation, as described earlier in this chapter, to support ECE educators as they develop strategies for supporting children’s outdoor play experiences. Pedagogical documentation is a tool that can support educators as they move through the process of developing strategies for supporting play experiences in the outdoors. Dahlberg, Moss, and Pence (2007) consider pedagogical documentation as both a process and the content generated within that process. The content refers to the material created by the educator, that makes the learning, of the children, and the educator, visible. The process consists of using the created materials “as a means to reflect upon the pedagogical work and to do so in a very rigorous, methodical and democratic way” (Dahlberg, Moss, & Pence, 2007, p. 148). This suggests pedagogical documentation is a learning process that educators can engage in, either alone or collectively, to inform and change practices In the next section, I provide a brief overview of the review of the literature on outdoor play and pedagogical documentation to illustrate how they support a connection to the topic. Introduction to the Review of the Literature In this capstone project, I review the literature pertaining to pedagogical documentation and the role it serves in supporting educators. I also review the literature as it relates to the benefits of outdoor play, more specifically risky play, and as it relates to the role of educator attitudes, beliefs, and practices, that support outdoor play and risky play.  Findings from the extant research on pedagogical documentation from authors including Bowne, Cutler, DeBates, Gilkerson, and Stremmel (2010), McNaughton and Krentz (2007), and Wong (2009) show connections with the social constructivist and sociocultural theories 6   introduced earlier. These same studies also position pedagogical documentation as a useful tool for professional development and reflective practice. In addition, Bayat (2010) demonstrated that pedagogical documentation promoted theory-practice transfer.  The literature surrounding the benefits of outdoor play is extensive, with different researchers examining different types of benefits. Waite, Rogers, and Evans (2013) examined social benefits, Gray et al. (2015), McCurdy, Winterbottom, Mehta, and Roberts (2010), studied mental and physical benefits while Burdette and Whitaker (2005), Kemple, Oh, Kenney and Smith-Bonahue (2016) and Tremblay et al. (2015) examined outdoor play in a more holistic manner. When considering risky play, researchers Brussoni et al. (2015), Brussoni, Olsen, Pike, and Sleet (2012), Little and Wyver (2008) and Sandseter (2009), all demonstrate that its benefits outweigh the risks.  I delve further into the research on pedagogical documentation and outdoor play in the review of the literature in Chapter 2. In the next section, I provide my rationale as to why it is important to build educator capacity for supporting children’s outdoor play experiences. Rationale and Importance I argue that through Vygotsky’s social cultural theory and the notions of ZPD and MKO’s, Bruner’s notion of scaffolding, and the use of various forms of pedagogical documentation as described by the Reggio Emilia approach, educators, and guiding mentors, can support one another in the process of understanding outdoor play theories and philosophy and putting them into practice. Through this process the educators work together to build their capacity with regard to support children’s outdoor play experiences. Findings from the literature on the role of attitudes, beliefs, and practices that support outdoor play from researchers Dyment and Coleman (2012) and McClintic and Petty (2015) 7   indicate educators are not always sure how best to support outdoor play. With regard to risky outdoor play, research from Little and Wyver (2008), Stephenson (2003), and Waters and Begley (2007) demonstrate that beliefs about risk and risky play have a significant influence on teaching practices and play opportunities for young children. These research findings highlight the importance for educators to have access to education about outdoor play, and more specifically risky outdoor play that will influence their practices.   Purpose and Significance The purpose of this capstone project is to inform my practice in three different ways. First, it will inform my practice as a college ECE instructor. By delving into this project, I aim to generate a better understanding of how to build capacity, in both pre-service and in-service ECE educators, to support outdoor play opportunities. Secondly, as my college moves forward with its outdoor play initiative and gets closer to transitioning the existing on-campus childcare program into a demonstration program, this project will inform my practice with the educators in the childcare program during that transition process. Finally, through this project, I also I will create a resource, in the form of an outdoor play support plan, that could be valuable for other post-secondary educators, program administrators, or ECE educators who share a similar interest in building capacity for outdoor play. Guiding Questions I focus on the following guiding questions in this capstone project: (1) In what ways can ECE educators transform their understanding of the philosophy behind outdoor play into their daily practices? And, (2) In what ways can the use of pedagogical documentation support ECE educators as they develop strategies for supporting children’s outdoor play experiences? 8   Summary and Organization of Project In Chapter One, I have outlined my topic and explained key terms, introduced its personal and theoretical background, rationale, purpose and guiding questions. In Chapter Two, I expand on the theoretical framework, the Reggio Emilia approach, and model of pedagogical documentation guiding this project, and expand on the literature pertaining to pedagogical documentation and outdoor play. In Chapter Three, I connect my findings to my practice and link specific personal and professional examples to theoretical frameworks and research. I outline the development of an Outdoor Play Support Plan containing components of education and mentoring on several aspects of outdoor play, based on the findings of the research. Finally, in Chapter Four, I provide a summary of this project and conclude with final thoughts, limitations, and recommendations for future research and practice.    9   CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW In this chapter, I delve into the theoretical framework where I further examine social constructivism, sociocultural theory, Vygotsky’s notion of ZPD, and Bruner’s idea of scaffolding as they relate to building educator capacity for outdoor play programming. I also describe the Reggio Emilia approach and the model of pedagogical documentation.  Theoretical Frameworks As outlined in Chapter One, a social constructivist worldview underpins this project. Such a worldview theorizes that individuals seek to understand the world around them and ‘construct’ their understanding and knowledge within the social constructs they are surrounded by (Creswell, 2009). Grounded within a social constructivist worldview is sociocultural theory, a framework supporting the understanding that development and learning are socially and culturally situated and knowledge is socially constructed (Vygotsky, 1978). All individuals make sense of their environment through their on-going interactions with others around them within their social and cultural contexts.  More specifically, I draw from Vygotsky’s (1978) notions of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) and the more knowledgeable other (MKO). Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976) expanded this notion of ZPD (introduced in Chapter One) and coined the term ‘scaffolding’ to refer to the process where social interactions between an individual and a more capable peer guide the individual, through supportive instructional techniques, to learn within his or her ZPD. Using age-appropriate scaffolding techniques the MKO is able to engage the individual in the learning process within his or her ZPD.  Within the framework of sociocultural theory is the understanding that both the interactions between individuals and the contexts where those interactions occur promote 10   cognitive development and learning (Rogoff, 1998). Rogoff suggested interactions occur within three interacting contexts, or planes of analysis: personal, interpersonal, or community, simultaneously. Rogoff (1995) further proposed that within each of these contexts also exist differing processes for cognitive development and learning: participatory appropriation (individuals transform understanding through their participation), guided participation (mutual involvement and collaboration in collective activities), and apprenticeship (systematic interpersonal arrangement designed to create more knowledgeable participants). Each of these processes can be a strategy employed in the learning process.  Sociocultural theory, and more specifically Rogoff’s (1998) notion of planes of analysis, aligns with this capstone project as I aim to identify strategies through which ECE educators are able to transform their understanding of the philosophy behind outdoor play into their daily practices and programming. Using the processes of guided participation and apprenticeship, ECE educators should be able to engage in participatory appropriation and demonstrate their understanding of theory through their daily practices. The Reggio Emilia approach, described next, is well rooted within the social constructivist worldview and framework of sociocultural theory. The pedagogical approach utilized within the Reggio Emilia programs focuses on the collaborative relationships between the children and their communities to support children’s learning opportunities (Edwards, 2003). Reggio Emilia Approach The Reggio Emilia approach draws heavily on the principles of social constructivism and according to Malaguzzi, “relationships and learning coincide within an active process of education” (Gandini, 2012, p. 44). Relationships are integral within the system and are a dynamic combination of elements, including the expectations and skills of children, the 11   professional proficiency of educators, and the educational process in general, that combine and interact towards a collective purpose. Further, the Reggio Emilia approach recognizes knowledge construction is a gradual process whereby individuals learn from one another, take a questioning approach toward one another’s initial constructs, and genuinely endeavour to integrate one another’s primary perspective (Forman & Fyfe, 2012).  Documentation  One of the distinguishing elements within the Reggio Emilia approach is the process of documentation. Documentation refers to many elements, including the process of gathering artifacts or evidence of what is occurring, the actual collection of artifacts and evidence, the reflection and analysis on the collection, as well as the presentation of the collection (Wurm, 2005). Rinaldi (2012) discussed documentation in relation to a ‘pedagogy of relationships and listening’ whereby listening (documentation) is viewed as being accepting of differences and seeing value in points of view other than your own. When viewed in this manner, documentation can serve as a tool to reflect on your values, embrace uncertainty, and live within the ZPD. In reference to documentation, Rinaldi (2012) stated “Only when I have doubts can I welcome others and have the courage to think that what I believe is not the truth, but instead only my own point of view. I need the point of view of others to confirm or change my own point of view” (p, 236). This reflection connects with social constructivist theory as it recognizes the significance of the social context in relation to the construction of knowledge. As discussed in Chapter One, pedagogical documentation makes visible learning (Dahlberg G. , 2012) and provided opportunities for reflective practice. Situated in practice, pedagogical documentation takes the form of educators documenting what is occurring, including one’s own actions and words. These notes then serve as a foundation for discussions 12   with a variety of people (e.g., parents, co-educators, coordinators, or principals) and in a variety of forums (e.g., staff meetings, workshops, or conferences) that become an integral part of educator professional development (Edwards, 2012).  Examining the principles of documentation is important in this project because through pedagogical documentation, educators have the opportunity to engage in professional development and reflective practice (Bowne, et al., 2010; McNaughton & Krentz, 2007; Wong, 2009). Furthermore, using pedagogical documentation in this manner can serve as a tool for increasing the ability of educators to put theory into practice. I next examine pedagogical documentation and its links to professional development, reflective practice, and its use as a tool to increase educator capacity to put theory into practice, in the review of the literature section. Review of Literature  In this first section, I review the literature related to the role of pedagogical documentation for educators, including pedagogical documentation as professional development, as reflective practice, and as a tool to increase theory to practice transfer. In the next section, I explore the literature related to outdoor play, including the following subtopics: Overall importance and benefits of outdoor play (including risky play), and the role of the educator in relation to supporting outdoor play and risky play. Role of Pedagogical Documentation Within early childhood settings, pedagogical documentation can serve many purposes. The following is a review of literature pertaining to three specific subtopics relating to pedagogical documentation as it relates to the educator’s construction of knowledge. Pedagogical Documentation as Professional Development. Within the Reggio Emilia approach, continuous professional development supports educator growth, whereby educators 13   engage in the pedagogical documentation process and learn to make sense of the on-going process, rather than evaluating results (Gandini, 2012). Through this process, educators come to understand that “professional growth comes partly through individual effort, but in a much richer way through discussion with colleagues, parents, and experts” (Gandini, 2012, p. 49), highlighting once again the strong ties to social constructivist ideologies whereby the educator is constructing her own knowledge and understanding based upon these discussions.  Wong (2009) examined the practice of dialogue engagements, time and space created for ECE educators to engage in dialogue about documentation, as a “social, collaborative, and dialogic approach to professional development” (p. 25).Wong followed six ECE educators over an eight-week period as they met to study and discuss documentation. Each week the participants collaboratively examined one documentation piece. Within these weekly dialogue engagements, Wong took on the role of participant, facilitator, researcher, and co-worker. Wong reported on one particular week of dialogue engagement where the participants’ abilities to observe and listen more attentively, introduce questions leading to deeper thought, and construct connections to inform planning and teaching practice were highlighted. All participants considered the project a valuable learning experience and felt empowered to translate their experiences from the dialogue engagements into their classrooms, practices, and curriculum: However, they believed they needed more support from their program supervisors to be able to continue the process. Wong concluded it was critical for program supervisors to support educators in the process of on-going professional learning and recommended they begin to engage in conversations on how to create time and space to foster such activities. Pedagogical Documentation as Reflection and Reflective practice. Reflection, and more specifically reflective practice, entails examining the ways you practice and the process of 14   asking questions of yourself and your colleagues (Wurm, 2005). When educators commit to this, they are taking responsibility for their on-going professional development by engaging in constant reflection, collaboration, and questioning. Reflective practice is a part of pedagogical documentation as defined by Stacey (2015). Bowne et al., (2010) examined the impact of the use of tools of inquiry, including collaborative dialogue and pedagogical documentation, with pre-service early childhood educators. They were interested in learning in what ways collaborative dialogue and perspective sharing facilitated the student’s learning and/or teaching. This longitudinal, qualitative, reflective inquiry collected data from approximately 100 pre-service educators over a period of two years. Bowne et al. used multiple data collection methods, including video and audio tape, weekly student reflections, teaching team reflections, interviews, and final student reflections that allowed for the triangulation of the results to confirm the findings. Bowne et al. (2010) concluded that to facilitate learning, collaborative dialogue must be emphasized and utilized to exchange ideas, problem solve, share understanding, and create documentation to make learning visible. This finding demonstrates how dialogue is an essential part of pedagogical documentation and how engaging in dialogue with co-educators will provoke questions, ideas, and beliefs in a collaborative quest for meaning making, allowing educators to make sense of their experiences and use their new understandings to transform practices and curriculum. Documentation of pre-service educator’s learning is a tool to improve upon their learning and practices.  In related research, McNaughton and Krentz (2007) examined the transformation of early childhood educator practice and utilized conversation, collaboration, and documentation to enhance participants’ understanding of their influence on reflective educator practice. 15   McNaughton and Krentz worked with a combined group of 16 undergraduates and 4 post-graduates during a summer intensive course that met over four weeks for four half-day sessions per week. The authors followed Reggio Emilia principles whereby as the course evolved they created space for the participants’ ideas. The postgraduates took on the role of pedagogistas and worked collegially with the participants to guide their learning and provide links between practical professional knowledge and newly constructed theories. Participants engaged in dialogue and reflection through table groups (consistent small groups to allow for established relationships), a talking circle, and authentic experiences. The authors found the pre-service educators were better able to question their assumptions and invest greater value and meaning into their work. Additionally, all participants, students and researchers, gained greater awareness of their professional and personal development and a better understanding of the significance of building knowledge through practice.   Pedagogical Documentation to Promote Theory-Practice Transfer. Theory-practice transfer involves using theoretical knowledge to inform practices. When educators can take the theoretical knowledge they have learned about a topic and transfer that knowledge to their practice, they have successfully achieved theory-practice transfer. For example, Bayat (2010) looked at productive reflections, an analytical type of reflection likely to lead to knowledge integration, with pre-service educators. Bayat sought to discover whether pre-service educators were able to have productive reflections using dialogue journals and video-recordings, and if those productive reflections were able to assist those educators to connect theory to practice. Journaling was one way to promote meaning making and provide an opportunity for reflection. Video-recordings of student teaching experiences provided opportunities to engage in reflection, analysis, evaluation, and improve upon practices. Four major and several minor themes emerged 16   from the data. One major theme related to the theory-practice relationship was ‘I have much to improve on’ (Bayat, 2010, p. 167). The combination of journaling, video-recording, and analysis processes stood out as opportunities to productively reflect on practices and subsequently make improvements with regard to their practices when working with children. Bayat concluded that the combined use of on-line dialogue journals and video analyses was a powerful tool to encourage productive reflection, expand teaching practices, and connect theory to practice.  Outdoor Play Many adults fondly recall their childhood outdoor play experiences, yet children today are spending less and less time engaging in the same kinds of outdoor play experiences. Richard Louv (2008) introduced the world to the idea of “nature-deficit disorder” in his book Last Child in the Woods, wherein he described how several factors have aligned to create a generation of children who spend more time indoors or in structured sports than they do in active, unstructured outdoor play. Louv also described the consequences of this shift, including physical and emotional health concerns and the creation of the first generation of children since World War II who are likely not to outlive their parents. The Canadian Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play (Tremblay, et al., 2015) echoes many of the sentiments discussed by Louv in terms of the causes and consequences of not spending enough time in unstructured outdoor activity. Tremblay et al. stated, “Access to active play in nature and outdoors – with its risks – is essential for healthy child development” (p. 12), and offered a recommendation to increase opportunities for self-directed outdoor play in all settings. With this recommendation in mind, a literature review follows that examines the benefits of outdoor play, and more specifically risky play, as well as the role of educator attitudes, beliefs, and practices in support of both outdoor play and risky outdoor play.   17   Benefits of outdoor play and risky outdoor play. Extensive research exists in the area of outdoor play and the benefits for children, that focuses on specific aspects like social development (Waite, Rogers, & Evans, 2013), and mental and physical health (Gray, et al., 2015; McCurdy, Winterbottom, Mehta, & Roberts, 2010). Other researchers have examined the benefits in a more holistic way (Burdette & Whitaker, 2005; Kemple, Oh, Kenney, & Smith-Bonahue, 2016; Tremblay, et al., 2015) looking at benefits across several aspects rather than one specific area of focus.  The idea of ‘risky’ play in the outdoors adds another element to the discussion on outdoor play. Not only are opportunities for children to play outdoors declining, but opportunities for young children to engage in risk-taking behaviour within their outdoor play opportunities are also diminishing (Brussoni, et al., 2015). Sandseter (2007) described risky play as challenging or thrilling forms of play, involving a risk of physical injury, and include exposing oneself to hazard, and described several risky play behaviours/categories including play at great heights, at great speed, with dangerous tools, around dangerous elements, rough and tumble play, and play where children can disappear/get lost. This type of play generally occurs outdoors and is valuable for the growth and development of young children (Brussoni, Olsen, Pike, & Sleet, 2012).  In this review of the literature, I first focus on two literature reviews pertaining to outdoor play and outdoor risky play.    The Position Statement (Tremblay, et al., 2015) introduced above was informed by two separate literature reviews. The first review, conducted by Gray et al. (2015) examined the evidence related to the relationship between time outdoors and physical activity, cardio-respiratory fitness, musculoskeletal fitness, sedentary behaviour, and children’s motor skill 18   development (age 3 – 12). Twenty-eight studies from nine countries with a cumulative sample of over 13,750 participants were identified and reviewed. In the majority of the studies, physical activity was an outcome and several included at least one other behaviour or fitness outcome. This literature review reported a positive relation between outdoor time and physical activity. As the amount of time outdoors increased, there was a greater likelihood of achieving higher amounts of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Additionally, there was greater physical activity in the outdoors as compared to the indoors, with several studies indicating the difference to be as much as 2.2 to 3.3 times higher in the outdoors. Overall, these findings led to the understanding that increasing the amount of time spent outdoors is a strategy that can increase children’s activity levels.  The second literature review conducted by Brussoni et al. (2015) looked at the relationship between risky play in the outdoors and children’s health. The purpose of this review was to gain a deeper understanding surrounding the benefits and harm of risky play. Twenty-one articles from eight countries with a cumulative sample of approximately 50,000 participants were identified and reviewed. One of the criteria for inclusion in this review was the measurement of the risky behaviours identified by Sandseter (2007) described above. Overall, positive effects of risky play on health were reported. Several studies pertaining to play where children can get lost or disappear reported increases in both acute and habitual physical activity as well as increased social health. Play at great heights was not associated with increased injuries. Engaging in rough and tumble play was not associated with increased aggression, but did lead to increased social competence for boys and popular children. Overall, an increase in physical activity and decrease in sedentary behaviours was associated with risky play supportive environments. Such environments encouraged increased playtime as well as behaviours like resilience, creativity, and 19   social interactions. The evidence offered from this literature review suggests positive effects of risky outdoor play exist. Further, supporting children’s risky outdoor play opportunities is a strategy to promote children’s health and active lifestyles.   Based upon the two reviews above, Tremblay et al. (2015) advocated when children engage in outdoor play in minimally structured, accessible environments, socialization among peers is facilitated, feelings of isolation are reduced, opportunities exist to build interpersonal skills, and healthy development is facilitated. Further, when children engage in active, outdoor play in natural environments, they exhibit resilience, self-regulation, and acquire skills to assist with dealing with stress later in life. These overarching benefits set the stage for the importance of providing outdoor play opportunities for young children.  The literature reviewed on outdoor play clearly points to the conclusion that myriad of positive benefits exist for young children when they engage in active, unstructured play in minimally structured environments in the outdoors.  Role of Educator in Supporting Outdoor Play and Risky Outdoor Play The attitudes, beliefs, and practices of ECE educators play an important role in supporting young children’s outdoor play and outdoor risky play, as described in the sections that follow.  Attitudes, beliefs, and practices that support outdoor play. McClintic and Petty (2015) examined the beliefs and practices about outdoor play of 11 ECE educators in an urban early childhood centre in this single-program qualitative case study. Through interviews, observation and documentation of educator interactions, and educator journal writing, the researchers sought to determine, (1) the educator self-reported beliefs and perceptions of outdoor play practices, and (2) how they facilitated outdoor play in the environment. Overwhelmingly 20   educators reported their primary responsibility was keeping children safe while providing minimal guidance to minimize educator intrusion. The educators had some awareness of the importance of outdoor play, including the health benefits, opportunities to explore different environments and socialization benefits. While educators stated they believed in the importance of outdoor play, and often connected it to their own childhood memories of freedom, creativity, and imagination, there existed a “philosophy-reality variance” whereby their beliefs did not translate into practice. The educators’ limited knowledge about outdoor play environments and the importance of the outdoors as a learning environment contributed to the imbalance between their childhood memories and their practices. The researchers concluded these results led to an understanding that further educational opportunities related to supporting outdoor play were necessary. In related research, Dyment and Coleman (2012) examined educator’s actual and perceived roles during outdoor play time and found similar results with educators indicating their primary roles were supervision and safety. This study, at four Australian preschools, included the use of observations and interviews to collect data from the 16 participants. The educators believed the supervisory focus, lack of training and low confidence excluded them from engaging the children in activity, leading the researchers to conclude increased educational opportunities around supporting outdoor play were necessary. The findings from the two studies described above indicate ECE educators are often unsure of their role in outdoor play and that greater educational opportunities may help educators discover what is necessary to support children’s outdoor play experiences. Attitudes, beliefs, and practices that support outdoor risky play. The provision of safe and healthy risk-taking opportunities has long been recognized as a vital component of 21   quality outdoor play (Heninger, 1994). While risk-taking is important for children’s learning and development, adult responses to such situations vary greatly. Often ECE educators accept and encourage children in challenging themselves mentally yet view physical risk in a negative light and as something to avoid (Little & Wyver, 2008). Educator views about risk-taking influence the provision of such opportunities for children. Stephenson (2003) and Waters and Begley (2007) both emphasised the idea that how risk is viewed by the ECE educator has an impact on subsequent opportunities for positive risk-taking in the early childhood environment.  Waters and Begley (2007) examined the differences in risk-taking behaviours between the natural wild environment of a forest school, facilitated by forest school practitioners, and their school outdoor play space to explore if the environments supported positive risk-taking behaviours. This small exploratory case study was set in South Wales and collected data from two children (both aged four years and four months) selected by the educator as the child most likely to take physical risks (Child A - risk seeker) and least likely to take physical risks (Child B - risk reticent). Data was collected through direct naturalistic observations of the children’s free play sessions of at least 30 minutes duration in both settings on two occasions, two months apart. Child A displayed a greater variety of risk-taking behaviours in the forest school environment than in the school play space. Child B engaged in risk-taking behaviours in the forest school environment but not at the school play space. An inconsistent application of safety rules was also observed in the school play space: However, in the forest school space, there was a consistent application of permissiveness related to physical challenge. Both children displayed a variety of risk-taking behaviours in the forest school environment but not in the school play space. This disparity in behaviour between the two spaces has two possible explanations, the contrast between the physical affordances for risk-taking behaviours at the forest school environment and 22   the lack of affordances at the school play space; and the differences in attitude toward risk between the forest school practitioners (permissive) and the educators at the school play space (rule-bound). Although this study looked at the physical affordances of the space rather than educator attitudes and practices, the permissive attitude toward physical challenge conveyed by the forest school practitioners likely played a role in the resulting risk-taking behaviours of the participants.  Sandseter (2012) explored Norwegian ECE educator’s perceptions of risky play and their practices in a kindergarten setting. Two kindergarten settings, one typical kindergarten, and one outdoor kindergarten, in Norway were chosen for the long amounts of time both spent in the outdoors. The seven participants took part in semi-structured interviews exploring “aspects of outdoor play opportunities and pedagogy, including perceptions and experiences with respect to children’s risk-taking in play, injuries and safety, and their teaching practices with a particular focus on play” (Sandseter, 2012, p. 88). The participants evaluated risky play as positive and shared the understanding that it enhanced children’s development and learning. When handling risky play, Sandseter noted that the ECE educators viewed rules in a more fluid manner. The participants stated there were no common rules surrounding what children could or could not do with regard to risk-taking, but there were some ‘unwritten-rules’. Further, despite the existence of those tacit rules, the ECE educators individually evaluated each risk-taking situation; “They considered each child individually according to the child’s competence and risk mastery” (Sandseter, 2012, p. 94). This individualized approach to evaluating risk and risk-taking opportunities is one method of pedagogical decision-making with regard to risky play and risk-taking. Sandseter also found positive support for risk-taking where risk was viewed as an unavoidable part of learning for children. The participants in the study recognized they likely had 23   less tolerance for risk than the children did but that they did not stop risky behaviour simply because it might result in minor injury.  The results from these studies indicated that ECE educators beliefs surrounding risk and risk-taking significantly influence their teaching practices, and in turn, the types of environments and play opportunities provided for children in terms of risky play. In Chapter Three, I draw from the theory and research reviewed to establish ways to increase ECE educator capacity to support young children’s outdoor and risky play opportunities.    24   CHAPTER THREE: CONNECTIONS TO PRACTICE  In Chapter Three, I draw from my professional experiences as a college ECE instructor, informed by theoretical perspectives and the literature reviewed, to connect pedagogical documentation and reflection with the development of strategies to support children’s outdoor play experiences. I connect my experiences to theory and research to develop an Outdoor Play Support Plan (see Appendix A) that includes continuous professional development, mentorship, and significant amounts of pedagogical documentation and reflection techniques. I anticipate that this Outdoor Play Support Plan will provide educators with opportunities to transform and integrate their understanding of the philosophy behind outdoor play into their daily practices. Furthermore, the extensive opportunities to engage in pedagogical documentation and reflection will in turn assist the educators in identifying, developing, and implementing strategies to support and enhance children’s outdoor play experiences. As discussed in Chapter One, it is a goal of my ECE program to collaborate with the childcare program located on-campus to move towards becoming our demonstration program, especially with regard to outdoor play. In order to do this, it is important that staff members within the childcare program is able to embrace the ECE program philosophy and support children’s outdoor experiences in ways consistent with the theory behind the philosophy. Through this Outdoor Play Support Plan, the staff within the childcare program would have the opportunity to participate in on-going professional development and receive support and mentorship from the ECE program to assist them as they transition to becoming a college ECE demonstration program.  In the following sections I discuss how the theoretical perspective of social constructivism and Vygotsky’s notion of ZPD, critical elements within my proposed support 25   plan, offer opportunities for linking theory and philosophy to practice. I also explore, through my experiences, how the process of pedagogical documentation and specific elements such as collaborative dialogue, journaling, and video-recordings can be valuable techniques in the transfer of theory into practice. Learning as a Social Process  As a college instructor who teaches both on-line and on-campus courses, I see evidence of learning as a social process in the differences in the understanding and application of knowledge between on-line and on-campus students. While my colleagues and I make every effort to engage students with one another in on-line courses, little interaction and discussion occurs among them with regard to the concepts and theories taught in the classes. On-line discussions are present, however they contain little depth and minimal participation. On-line classes are comprised of students across Canada and internationally and often within a class, students do not know one another nor have they taken another course with any of the other students. In contrast, in on-campus classes, many opportunities exist, both in and out of class, for students to engage in conversations about what they are learning. Students attend courses as a cohort and with rare exceptions, are in most classes together. I have overheard many conversations from on-campus students where they were sharing and discussing their perceptions of course content. Opportunities for this do not exist in the same ways in the on-line courses.  In our second practicum course, students demonstrate their understanding of emergent curriculum through planning and implementing an emergent curriculum – putting theory into practice. The concept of emergent curriculum is present in several courses and students have multiple opportunities to practice this kind of planning. In the on-campus environment, most opportunities occur as group projects where together, students plan, prepare, implement, and 26   evaluate curriculum. When these students enter practicum, they engage in the planning process again, this time independently. We do have weekly seminars where they have opportunities to share ideas and help one another through the process. In the on-line environment, students are required to complete the same or similar assignments surrounding emergent curriculum. However, they complete them individually due to the constraints of the on-line environment as described above. While they may have opportunities to share ideas with co-workers, it is not comparable to the on-campus environment where the students are learning together as a social group.  I have supervised students in practicum who have come from both learning environments and it is there where I notice the biggest difference between the two groups. In my experience, on-campus students are overall much more prepared to put theory into practice, especially with regard to curriculum planning, than on-line students. On campus, students have had opportunities to talk about the theories, ask questions of one another, and engage collaboratively, whereas on-line students have not had those same opportunities. On-line students tend to struggle with putting theory into practice, possibly because they are often learning in isolation and have not had a social context to explore those ideas. Currently we have a local on-line student invited by her college supervisor to attend the weekly seminars held for on-campus students. I met with this student after her second seminar, and she thanked me for allowing her to attend. She mentioned she had been struggling to put what she had learned into practice. She stated the seminars were giving her that missing piece, those opportunities to listen to and share thoughts and ideas, to ask questions and to hear the questions of others, and the opportunity to engage in a discussion with someone else who was in the same situation (J. Christie, personal communication, January 2018). The missing piece for that particular on-line student, and perhaps for others, is the social 27   aspect of learning that resonates with the social constructivist theory that posits that learning is a social process. More specifically, I notice how aspects of Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory are evident here because on-campus students, and this specific on-line student, appear to be making sense of their practicum environment and expectations through their on-going interactions with those who share their social context. Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and Scaffolding  Through my experiences as a college practicum supervisor as well as a practicum site mentor, I have witnessed firsthand the benefits of grouping students with mentors who are there to support and guide their learning. When my college students attend their first practicum, they spend the first few days observing their practicum site mentor and ask many questions about the things they observe. Similarly, the practicum site mentor observes the student’s interactions with children to determine areas of strength and weakness, and provide support and guidance as necessary. This relationship between the practicum site mentor and the student is similar to the scaffolding relationship described by Wood et al. (1976) with the mentor being the MKO who scaffolds the students learning within that student’s ZPD. The mentor and student engage in dialogue about the student’s performance and the mentor models appropriate educator-child interactions, overall professional behaviour, and planning processes. Likewise, the relationship between the college practicum supervisor, who visits and observes the student several times, and the student is one where scaffolding occurs within the student’s ZPD. During de-briefing sessions between college practicum supervisor and student, the college practicum supervisor encourages the student to consider their interactions and behaviours through a process of guided questioning and dialogue whereby the college practicum supervisor is scaffolding the student’s learning and understanding. It is through these two different relationships that the student 28   engages in the learning process and begins to understand the processes involved in putting theory into practice.  One of the on-campus students I am currently supervising in practicum is struggling with the curriculum planning process. This particular student achieved minimal passes in most courses in the previous semester, including the course where students learned the planning process. After communicating with her instructor, I learned her participation in the group curriculum planning assignment was minimal. Her choice not to engage fully in that assignment has created gaps in her knowledge and understanding of the curriculum planning process. The student has been seeking out extra meetings and feedback with both her practicum site mentor and me. I have also spoken with the practicum site mentor and together we have discussed the most effective strategies to work with this student. In my last meeting with the student, we discussed the curriculum planning assignment from the previous semester and considered the similarities between the two assignments; I simplified the process to the most basic elements and then modelled the completion of specific elements. From there, I encouraged her to complete those same elements with her own ideas. Her practicum site mentor engaged in a similar process with her. Through this scaffolding process, the student has been able to complete the required curriculum planning process at a basic level. It is likely that when she moves to the next step of the process, she will still require support, but it will probably be content intensive and require less time on the part of the program supervisor and I. Without support and scaffolding, this student would have been unsuccessful in navigating the curriculum planning process. Now she can move forward and utilize those strategies modelled for her to be successful. This example demonstrates how the integration of mentoring and the support of a MKO, the practicum site mentor and I, within this student’s ZPD, has given the student the tools to move forward in her 29   understanding of the planning process. The example also demonstrates the effectiveness of utilizing Vygotsky’s (1978) notion ZPD and Bruner’s notion of scaffolding (Wood, et al., 1976) to encourage the transfer of theory into practice.  Social Context  In May of 2017, I had the opportunity to co-teach an outdoor play course to a group of 11 ECE educators. This course took place over a six-week period with two three-hour sessions each week consisting of large amounts of time spent engaged in group activities including the hands-on creation of provocations, collaborative discussions, and opportunities for reflective journaling about specific questions. Within this group, three educators worked at the childcare program located on the college campus. In my work, I am closely involved with this program and at the time, I was involved as a parent, as my daughter attended the program. Throughout the course, I was able to make many observations of the changes I began to see within the outdoor play space, the way the educators talked about the children’s outdoor play, and the way the educators responded to the children during their play. While overall there was a great deal of outdoor play occurring before the outdoor play course, it was mainly unstructured and viewed as a way for the children to burn off excess energy. As my office overlooks the play space, I often observed the educators grouped together talking or otherwise uninvolved in the children’s play. I rarely observed the educators intentionally setting up activities or provocations within the environment, and if the weather turned inclement, the children went inside. As the outdoor play course continued, I began to see and hear about changes from the educators and within the environment. I began to observe the educators more often engaged with the children and rarely standing around talking or being uninvolved. New items appeared in the environment including hanging ribbons on the fence to catch the wind and opportunities like painting on the walls outdoors 30   became more frequent. I also observed the children playing outside one day in the rain, splashing in puddles, and, in fact, they came outside after it had started to rain so I understood this was an intentional choice on the part of the educator. This she confirmed during the next session. As I spent time in the program, I overheard the educators talking about what they were planning to do and sharing ideas and knowledge with one another. My observations led me to believe that the fact that three staff members were receiving the same information at the same time led to opportunities for them to collaborate, support, and scaffold one another’s learning. I believe this led to greater learning opportunities than if only one educator had attended the course and been expected to bring back the information, as is often the case with regard to professional development. Their social context allowed for a greater impact on their learning. In this particular situation, the three staff members were also utilizing various techniques of scaffolding, as described by Wood et al. (1976) to help one another learn, and to help those staff members who had not attended the outdoor play course. Further, these educators were exemplifying Rogoff’s (1998) notion that learning occurs both as individuals interact with one another and interact in a variety of contexts.  Pedagogical Documentation as Reflective Practice  In my professional experiences, I often use a variety of forms of pedagogical documentation as reflective practice. For example, I use collaborative dialogue, journaling or reflective writing, and video recording. Below I discuss my professional experiences with each of these forms of pedagogical documentation. Collaborative Dialogue  I frequently utilize collaborative dialogue within my professional practice, whether it is with my college students in a college classroom, with the participants in the outdoor play course 31   I co-taught, or when I am offering professional development workshops to ECE educators working in the field. Using provocative questions designed to promote reflection on theory, knowledge, and practice, I encourage small groups to discuss and document their thoughts on paper. Once groups have the opportunity to document their own reflections, I often ask them to share with another group or with the whole class, in order to continue the dialogue with new perspectives. In my experiences, these opportunities for collaborative dialogue often result in ‘aha’ moments for those involved as they have opportunity to hear other perceptions, ideas, and insights, often having a profound effect on their understandings. As well, these dialogues create opportunities for collaborative problem solving and a forum to exchange and discuss ideas.  Recently, in my “Development through Play” class, we discussed parental preferences for academic focused programming over play-based programming. The students took notes while watching a video, and then had a few minutes to compile their thoughts. In small groups, they created statements that they could share with parents to inform them about the values of play based programming. This activity created a lively discussion and several students expressed that they found the activity useful in that it gave them powerful statements they could then utilize in their practice when speaking with parents who were asking where the worksheets and learning activities are. This experience resonate with what Bowne et al. (2010) concluded about collaborative dialogue, that the utilization and emphasis of such dialogue to exchange ideas, problem solve, and share understanding, will help to facilitate learning with pre-service educators. Further, these experiences also resonate with McNaughton and Krentz (2007) who concluded that participation in dialogue and reflection in small, consistent groups led to greater understanding of constructing knowledge through practice. 32   Journaling and Reflective Writing   Journaling and other forms of reflective writing, like writing prompts and reflective questions, are techniques I use regularly as a college instructor. In my experience, offering students time to put their thoughts to paper allows them to deconstruct ideas and concepts and encourages them to reflect on their own understanding. Often, out of these reflective writing opportunities come meaningful questions and rich dialogue. One specific example of journaling and reflective writing from my professional practice occurs with practicum students. In practicum, students are required to complete a daily reflective journal as well as midpoint and final self-reflections on their professional practice. The intent of these assessments is for students to reflect on their practices as well as those they observe, and then utilize those reflections to decide how to make improvements. Additionally, the reflective practice process gives opportunities for students to make sense of what they see occurring in the program. It is a place for them to question and analyze what they see as only the students and their college practicum supervisor see the journals. The journals offer a starting point for college practicum supervisors to engage in dialogue with students as it becomes clear through reading the journals what the student struggles with and where they need to focus. I often bring humour into my conversations with students and tell them that because I am unable to read their minds, the journals are my way of knowing what learning is happening for them. This example highlights the idea put forth by Dahlberg et al. (2007) that it is through pedagogical documentation that the student’s learning becomes visible.  A second example comes from my experience co-teaching an outdoor play course. In one of the sessions, the participants reflected in their journals on a series of questions surrounding loose parts and their use outdoors. Loose parts are materials, both natural and manufactured, that 33   moveable within the environment, can be designed and redesigned and that offer infinite play possibilities and creative opportunities for young children (Daly & Beglovsky, 2014). Once the participants had spent some time engaged in the reflective task, as a group we began to discuss the questions and our individual perceptions. As the discussion progressed, several participants began to share that their understanding of loose parts was changing and evolving because of the reflective activity and discussion. After the class, one of the participants approached me to say she had appreciated they had been given time to consider their own answers and perspectives in the writing task and through the sharing and dialogue aspect she was able to see so many other perspectives she had not ever considered. She further stated she was going to take this kind of exercise back to her program director for use at staff meetings as she felt it had been very useful for her own professional development and understanding of loose parts theory and practice.  Both of the above examples highlighting the use of journals and reflective writing resonate with Bayat’s (2010) conclusion that suggested journaling was an effective tool in connecting theory to practice. In fact, it appears as though the combination of reflective writing and journaling, with conversation and collaboration, helps make learning visible, that is, as Edwards (2012) identified an integral part of educator professional development. Video-Recordings and Analysis.  The use of video-recordings and the subsequent analysis is another type of pedagogical documentation I use within my practice as a college instructor. All students in practicum are video-recorded several times over the duration of their placements. After each recording, they view the recording and complete a written, self-reflective analysis of the contents of the video. For many students, this process is challenging, but also worthwhile. Students often discuss their epiphanies surrounding certain practices and describe how being able to see themselves 34   objectively helps them tremendously. Once students have been able to see the benefits of video analysis, their practices improve and they are typically better able to continue to reflect on their practice, even without the aid of a video. Personally, as part of my own professional development and teaching assessment, I have chosen to be video-recorded, both as a preschool educator and as a college instructor. In both situations, I had specific aspects of my practice I was focusing on while watching the recordings. Having the opportunity to choose a specific facet of my teaching practice and to be able to view it from another perspective was immensely helpful for me in improving that piece of my practice. These examples resonate specifically with Bayat’s (2010) conclusions surrounding the combined use of video analysis and journals as influential tools in the expansion and improvement of teaching practices as well as in connecting theory to practice.  Pedagogical Documentation as Professional Development As a college instructor, I often teach the same courses from semester to semester, whether on-line or on-campus. I use a small notebook for each class where I record my lesson plans. At the end of each class, I take a few minutes to document, reflect upon the class, and make notes on anything that I believe may need revision for future offerings of the course. At the end of the semester, I do the same but with a more comprehensive perspective of the semester. Because of these notes, I often find myself looking for new content, new readings, or new and innovative ways of presenting or assessing content. This on-going pedagogical reflection and documentation allows me to evaluate the teaching process in much the same way that Gandini (2012) suggested, with regard to educator development, that such documentation helps to support continuous professional development.  35   In addition to my own personal documentation of my classes, as an ECE team we meet regularly throughout the semester to engage in reflective discussions about student progress. Such discussions include identification of troublesome concepts and content, individual personal struggles, and any on-going issues or concerns. The discussions help us support students as they move through our program. These discussions also highlight the areas where we may need to seek out new information regarding content, how to support students facing specific life situations, or how to deal with chronic absenteeism. Overall, these discussions pinpoint professional growth and development needs within our faculty and without those opportunities to engage collaboratively, those needs may go unidentified. This example also resonates with the work of Gandini (2012) surrounding pedagogical documentation and reflection as professional development. Connections between Pedagogical Documentation and Social Constructivist Theory  In all of the examples provided above, a strong connection exists between the use of various forms of pedagogical documentation and the improvement of teaching practices as well as in the ability to connect theory to practice. Further, the examples provided also support the idea of scaffolding by a MKO as put forth by Wood et al. (1976) as well as Vygotsky’s (1978) notion that learning is socially situated. These connections suggest that utilizing a MKO, such as a mentor, as well as a variety of forms of pedagogical documentation, within a single ECE program with all program staff, including the director, may offer increased opportunities for learning for the educators. This would also offer increased support in the development of teaching practices that demonstrate an understanding of theory, illustrated in the Outdoor Play Support Plan described next. 36   Outdoor Play Support Plan: Purpose and Description The Outdoor Play Support Plan (see Appendix A) offers support to an entire ECE program with the aim of increasing capacity in the area of supporting children’s outdoor play experiences. I developed this plan with the current initiative of my college to transform the childcare program located on the college campus into an outdoor demonstration program, as presented in Chapter One, in mind. It is important to involve the entire program, from part-time educators to the director, as all individuals must be involved for such a transformation to occur. Further, as discussed earlier in this chapter, the greater the number of individuals involved in the professional learning opportunities, the greater the social context and social process for learning will be.  This Outdoor Play Support Plan will extend over the course of one calendar year. Each month will focus on a different aspect of outdoor play and will guide the educators in developing strategies to support children’s outdoor play experiences in their ECE program. There are three main components to this program: 1. Professional Development/Education – On-going professional development, in the form of a monthly three-hour workshop, on a variety of topics related to outdoor play allowing for many opportunities for educators to engage in collaborative dialogue. 2. Mentoring and Modeling – A support plan facilitator will work directly in the ECE program with educators to model appropriate outdoor play support strategies and mentor educators. 3. Reflective Practice - This component will consist of the following activities: a. Collaborative Dialogue - Educators will have opportunities to engage in large and small group discussions on a variety of topics related to outdoor play  37   b. Reflective writing/Journaling – Educators will respond to writing prompts, reflect on, and record their outdoor experiences. c. Video-recording analysis and reflections – Educators will analyze and reflect on videos of their interactions with children in the outdoor setting. d. Pedagogical Documentation - Educators will create various forms of pedagogical documentation to make visible their learning and the learning of the children.  The outdoor plan support plan as outlined incorporates several of the elements of pedagogical documentation and reflection discussed throughout this capstone project. Many opportunities exist for collaborative dialogue within the continuous professional development component of this plan. It would also be likely that since all staff members are involved in the plan that collaborative dialogue would extend into their daily practice. Reflective writing and journaling opportunities are also numerous within this support plan and occur within two components. The support plan facilitator will read the educators reflective writing and provide feedback, spurring further reflections. Pedagogical documentation will offer opportunities for the educators to make connections between theory and practice. In addition to the pedagogical reflection and documentation elements within the support plan, elements relating to social constructivism and Vygotsky’s notion of ZPD are included. With the entire program being involved in this support plan, learning will become a social process and a social context will be created that will serve further to engage the educators in this learning process. The plan facilitator will act as a model, a mentor, and a MKO: however, as the plan progresses, the educators may also begin to model for and scaffold one another’s learning.  I have developed this Outdoor Play Support Plan to take educators with little to no skill or ability to support outdoor play experiences and guide them through a yearlong process 38   designed to build their capacity. The goal of this support plan is to create a program and educators worthy of being an outdoor play demonstration program. In Chapter Three, I connected my experiences as a college instructor to the social constructivist perspective and Vygotsky’s notion of ZPD and the literature reviewed in Chapter Two related to pedagogical documentation. I described the development of an Outdoor Play Support Plan designed to build ECE educator capacity to support children’s outdoor play experiences. In Chapter Four, I present my reflections and concluding thoughts on this project, limitations, and outline recommendations for future practice.  39   CHAPTER FOUR: CONCLUSIONS   In Chapter Four, I revisit the guiding questions articulated in Chapter One of this project. I present my reflections on those questions as well as some concluding thoughts. Finally, I address some limitations and recommendations for future study and practice. Summary and Reflections Outdoor play has become significant within my personal and professional world as a postsecondary ECE instructor. Recognizing both the importance of outdoor play for young children and the decline in the opportunities for young children to play in the outdoors, has made the promotion of outdoor play a significant focus in my professional practice as well as within my role as a parent. With the many initiatives surrounding outdoor play occurring in my college, including the on-going partnership with the on-campus childcare program, discovering ways to ensure that educators, both pre-service and in-service, receive the education and support they need to support children’s outdoor play experiences is of paramount importance. Furthermore, as the parent of an active six year old, finding ways and making time to ensure she has opportunities for unstructured play in the outdoors is also of great importance. My first guiding question was, “In what ways can ECE educators transform their understanding of the philosophy behind outdoor play into their daily practices?” In seeking to answer this question, the literature presented connections between the use of pedagogical documentation as reflective practice as a way to promote theory to practice transfer (Bayat, 2010). In particular, I am now aware of how the combined use of productive reflections, in the form of dialogue journals and video-recording analyses may offer pre-service educators with opportunities to reflect on current practices, make improvements, expand teaching practices, and connect theory to practice.  40   The notion that using pedagogical documentation could improve upon educator practices and assist in the theory to practice transfer led to my second guiding question of, “In what ways can the use of pedagogical documentation support ECE educators as they develop strategies for supporting children’s outdoor play experiences?” In answering this question, the literature reviewed presented the view of pedagogical documentation as reflection and reflective practice and as professional development. More specifically, the provision of time and space for educators to engage in dialogue about documentation empowered educators to translate experiences into their practices and curriculum, as per Wong’s (2009) findings. At the same time, using tools of inquiry, including collaborative dialogue and pedagogical documentation, allowed pre-service educators to make sense of their experiences and subsequently transform practices and curriculum (Bowne, et al., 2010). By engaging in dialogue and reflection in small, consistent groups, talking circles, and authentic experiences, pre-service educators expanded their understanding of their personal and professional development and of the importance of building knowledge through practice (McNaughton & Krentz, 2007).  Equipped with the knowledge gained surrounding pedagogical documentation from the literature review in Chapter Two, I was able to examine my professional practice and reflect on the ways I was already utilizing a variety of forms of pedagogical documentation in my day-to-day practices with my students. This examination expanded my understanding of pedagogical documentation and the role it can play in educator development. Before beginning this project, my primary understanding of pedagogical documentation was that it was documentation created to make the children’s learning visible. The notion that pedagogical documentation could be used in other ways to promote educator development opened up possibilities to me in terms of both teaching my college students and in devising ways to educate and support those in-service 41   educators and led directly to the development of the Outdoor Play Support Plan described in Chapter Three. Concluding Thoughts  My inquiry into the ways that ECE educators can transform their understanding of theory into daily practices and the ways the use of pedagogical documentation can support those educators in the development of strategies for supporting children’s outdoor play experiences has expanded my understanding of what pedagogical documentation is and how it can be used. The review of the theoretical framework underpinning this project has provided me with a renewed understanding of how individuals make sense of their surroundings and construct their understandings of the world. My improved understandings that individuals do not learn in isolation, that learning is socially and culturally situated, and that knowledge is socially constructed (Vygotsky, 1978) provides a strong foundation for my on-going practices with college ECE students moving forward. I have gained a greater recognition of the value of students engaging in collaborative dialogue, working together, and of providing the students with authentic experiences where they can put into practice what they have learned.  My review of the literature on the benefits of outdoor play and in particular risky outdoor play has transformed and energized my desire to continue to look for ways to support both my college students as well as in-service educators, as they begin to develop and utilize strategies for supporting children’s outdoor play experiences. The combination of the positive effects of risky outdoor play reported by Brussoni et al. (2015), and the recommendation put forth in the Canadian Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play (Tremblay, et al., 2015) to increase opportunities for self-directed outdoor play, has had an effect on my own views surrounding outdoor play, both as a parent and as a professional. In my college classes, I am examining ways 42   that I can connect our curriculum to the outdoors and have taken classes outdoors for classes and experiences whenever possible. At the same time, as a parent, I have increased my investment in ensuring my daughter is playing in the outdoors, ensuring this time, even in our cold winter season. The research has renewed the course of my professional and personal path to a significant degree. Through the development of the “Outdoor Play Support Plan” (see Appendix A), I gained insight into how to put all the varied types of pedagogical documentation together into a coherent and actionable plan. As I examined the literature, it became clear to me that all of the varied forms of pedagogical documentation complemented one another and would fit together into a cohesive support plan. Developing this plan provided me with an opportunity to revisit adult learning strategies when devising how to put the plan into action. The result of this has been a renewal of some classroom practices that has certainly been helpful for me as well as refreshing for my students. Additionally, in pulling from the literature on pedagogical documentation, I have been able to utilize some old strategies in new ways through combining adult learning strategies with pedagogical documentation and reflection techniques. While the process was difficult in many ways, it has certainly broadened my teaching practices with my college students as well as those educators to whom I deliver professional development. Limitations and Recommendations for Future Study and Practice Most of the literature reviewed for this project focused specifically on the use of pedagogical documentation with pre-service educators in four-year undergraduate programs. Although it is not explicitly stated in most of the literature reviewed, it appears through the examples presented that the preservice educators were in their third or fourth year of study, as that is often when students typically begin their field experiences in undergraduate teaching 43   programs. These students would have had two or three years of post-secondary experiences to draw for their pedagogical documentation and reflection. Additionally, they would have had a greater number of opportunities to engage in such reflective practice. In contrast, I work within the two-year college system, primarily with students in their first year of college. Given the demographics of our ECE program, with approximately 60-75% of our students being recent high school graduates, the students with whom I work with will have had much fewer post-secondary experiences to draw from when engaging in pedagogical documentation and reflection. Being only in their first year of post-secondary study, they will have had fewer opportunities to engage in such reflective practice. These differences in exposure to and opportunities for pedagogical documentation and reflection may mean that the level of pedagogical documentation and reflection produced by my college students may differ from that of the pre-service educators in the literature in terms of depth of reflection. One could expect that with more experiences and exposure, both depth and quality of reflections will improve. Furthermore, within Alberta, ECE educators working in childcare programs have a variety of educational credentials ranging from a 50- hour course to a two-year diploma, creating a very uneven level with regard to exposure and experiences with pedagogical documentation and reflection.  In terms of the Outdoor Play Support Plan, a recommendation may be to include an introductory section on pedagogical documentation as reflective practice at the beginning plan. Such a section, along with activities and information, might bridge a gap that may exist for some educators. Regarding using the various types of pedagogical documentation with my college students within my teaching practice, a recommendation is to make very clear the expectations surrounding the techniques. Offering opportunities for modelling and scaffolding within the 44   classroom and authentic experiences would assist the students in building their exposure to, and experiences with, pedagogical reflection and documentation gradually and with support. A second limitation revolves around the fact that the majority of the literature reviewed focused on pre-service educators rather than on in-service educators. While the literature clearly demonstrated the influence of pedagogical documentation on theory-practice transfer and on the practices of pre-service educators, there were insufficient studies pertaining to in-service educators. Through my graduate studies, I have gained a greater awareness of how the experience of being an ECE student is different from being an ECE educator in how differences in responsibility, usage of time, and expectations exist. Students are responsible to complete assignments, including those surrounding pedagogical documentation and reflection, according to timelines and specific expectations. Educators have a greater number of responsibilities surrounding the care and education of the children within their program and often spend time outside of paid working hours fulfilling those obligations, leaving little time to engage in pedagogical documentation and reflection. The Outdoor Play Support Plan (see Appendix A) as developed is intense and designed to increase educator capacity for supporting outdoor play a large amount in a short time. It is possible that the plan is too intense and that programs, as well as individual educators, may not be willing, or able to invest such a large amount of time into such a plan. Further review of literature surrounding in-service ECE educators and their use of pedagogical documentation may offer new insights with regard to the structure of my Outdoor Play Support Plan. Furthermore, it may be worthwhile to share this support plan with several program directors and in-service educators to get a better sense of how realistic such a plan may be. 45   Moving forward, as the ECE program continues to develop its partnership with the on-campus childcare program, I aim to present the Outdoor Play Support Plan to the program director and propose that we partner together to pilot the support plan. It is my hope that the program director will agree to this partnership and together we can transform the program into a demonstration program for outdoor play at my college.      46   References Bayat, M. (2010). Use of dialogue journals and video-recording in early childhood teacher education. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 31, 159-172. doi:10.1080/10901021003781247 Bowne, M., Cutler, K., DeBates, D., Gilkerson, D., & Stremmel, A. (2010). Pedagogical documentation and collaborative dialogue as tools of inquiry for preservice teachers in early childhood education: An exploratory narrative. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 10(2), 48-59. Brussoni, M., Gibbons, R., Gray, C., Ishikawa, T., Sandseter, E., Bienenstock, A., . . . Tremblay, M. (2015). What is the relationship between risky outdoor play and health in children? A systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12, 6423-6454. doi:10.3390/ijerph120606423 Brussoni, M., Gibbons, R., Gray, C., Ishikawa, T., Sandseter, E., Bienenstock, A., . . . Tremblay, M. (2015). What is the relationship between risky outdoor play and health in children? A systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12, 6423-6454. doi:10.3390/ijerph120606423 Brussoni, M., Olsen, L. L., Pike, I., & Sleet, D. A. (2012). Risky play and children's safety: Balancing priorities for optimal child development. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 9, 3134-3148. doi:10.3390/ijerph9093134 Burdette, H. L., & Whitaker, R. C. (2005). Resurrecting free play in young children. Archive of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 159, 46-50. 47   Creswell, J. W. (2009). Chapter 1. The selection of a research design. In J. W. Creswell, Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods (3rd ed., pp. 3-21). Los Angeles: Sage. Dahlberg, G. (2012). Pedagogical documentation: A practice for negotiation and democracy. In C. Edwards, L. Gandini, & G. Forman (Eds.), The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia experience in transformation (3rd ed., pp. 225-231). Santa Barbara:CA: Praeger. Dahlberg, G., Moss, P., & Pence, A. (2007). Beyond quality in early childhood education and care: Languages of evaluation. Routledge. Daly, L., & Beglovsky, M. (2014). Loose Parts. St. Paul: MN: Red Leaf Press. Dyment, J., & Coleman, B. (2012). The intersection of physical activity opportunities and the role of early childhood educators during outdoor play. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(1), 90-98. Edwards, C. (2012). Teacher and learner, partner and guide: The role of the teacher. In C. Edwards, L. Gandini, & G. Forman (Eds.), The hundered languages of children: The Reggio Emilia experience in transformation (3rd ed., pp. 147-172). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. Edwards, C., Gandini, L., & Forman, G. (2012a). Introduction: Background and starting points. In C. Edwards, L. Gandini, & G. Forman (Eds.), The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia experience in transformation (3rd ed., pp. 5-26). Santa Barbara:CA: Praeger. 48   Edwards, C., Gandini, L., & Forman, G. (Eds.). (2012b). The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation (3rd ed.). ABC-CLIO. Edwards, S. (2003). New directions: charting the paths for the role of sociocultural theory in early childhood education and curriculum. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 4(3), 251-265. Forman, G., & Fyfe, B. (2012). Negotiated learning through design, documentation, and discourse. In C. Edwards, L. Gandini, & G. Forman (Eds.), The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia experience in transformation (3rd ed., pp. 247-271). Santa Barbara:CA: Praeger. Gandini, L. (2012). History, ideas, and basic principles: An interview with Loris Malaguzzi. In C. Edwards, L. Gandini, & G. Forman (Eds.), The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach in transformation (pp. 27-71). Santa Barbara:CA: Praeger. Gray, C., Gibbons, R., Larouche, R., Sandseter, E. H., Bienenstock, A., Brussoni, M., . . . Tremblay, M S. (2015). What is the relationship between outdoor time and physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and physical fitness in children? A systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12, 6455-6474. Guskey, T. R. (2002). Professional development and teacher change. Teachers and Teacheing: theory and practice, 8(3/4), 381-391. Heninger, M. L. (1994). Planning for outdoor play. Young Children, 49(4), 10-15. Kemple, K. M., Oh, J., Kenney, E., & Smith-Bonahue, T. (2016). The power of outdoor play and play in natural environments. Childhood Education, 92(6), 446-454. 49   Little, H., & Wyver, S. (2008). Outdoor play: Does avoiding the risks reduce the benefits? Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 33(2), 33-40. Louv, R. (2008). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature deficit disorder. New York: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. McClintic, S., & Petty, K. (2015). Exploring early childhood teachers; beliefs and practices about preschool outdoor play: A qualitative study. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 36(1), 24-43. McCurdy, L. E., Winterbottom, K. E., Mehta, S. S., & Roberts, J. R. (2010). Using nature and outdoor activity to improve children's health. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, 5, 102-117. doi:10.1016/j.cppeds.2010.02.003 McNaughton, K., & Krentz, C. (2007). The construction site project: Transforming early childhood teacher practice. Theory into Practice, 46(1), 65-73. OHCHR. (2017). Convention on the Rights of the Child. Retrieved from United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner: Rinaldi, C. (2012). The pedagogy of listening: The listening perspective from Reggio Emilia. In C. Edwards, L. Gandini, & G. Forman (Eds.), The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia experience in transformation (pp. 233-246). Santa Barbara:CA: Praeger. Rogoff, B. (1995). Observing sociocultural activity on three planes: participatory appropriation, guided participation, and apprenticeship. In J. V. Wertsch, P. del Rio, & A. Alvarez 50   (Eds.), Sociocultural studies of mind (pp. 139-164). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Rogoff, B. (1998). Cognition as a collaborative process. In D. Kuhn, & R. S. Siegler (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology, Volume 2: Cognition, perception, and language (pp. 679-744). New York: Wiley. Sandseter, E. B. (2007). Categorising risky play - how can we identify risk-taking in children's play? European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 15, 237-252. doi:10.1080/13502930701321733 Sandseter, E. B. (2009). Charactersitics of risky play. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 9, 3-21. doi:10.1080/14729670802702762 Sandseter, E. B. (2012). Restrictive safety or unsafe freedom? Norwegian ECEC practitioners' perceptions and practices concerning children's risky play. Child Care in Practice, 18, 83-101. doi:10.1080/13575279.2011.621889 Stacey, S. (2015). Pedagogical documentation in early childhood: Sharing children's learning and teachers' thinking. St. Paul, MN: Red Leaf Press. Stephenson, A. (2003). Physical risk-taking: dangerous or endangered? Early Years, 23(1), 35-43. doi:10.1080/0957514032000045573 Tremblay, M. S., Gray, C., Babcock, S., Barnes, J., Bradstreet, C. C., Carr, D., . . . Brussoni, M. (2015). Position statement on active outdoor play. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12, 6475-6505. doi:10.3390/ijerph120606475 51   Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. (M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman, Eds.) Cambridge: MA: Harvard University Press. Waite, S., Rogers, S., & Evans, J. (2013). Freedom, flow and fairness: Exploring how children develop socially at school through outdoor play. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 13(3), 255-276. Waters, J., & Begley, S. (2007). Supporting the development of risk-taking behaviours in the early years: An exploratory study. Education 3-13, 35, 365-377. doi:10.1080/03004270701602632 Wong, A. C. (2009). Dialogue engagments: Professional development using pedagogical documentation. Canadian Children, 34(2), 25-30. Wood, D., Bruner, J. S., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 17, 89-100. Wurm, J. (2005). Working in the Reggio way: A beginners guide for American teachers. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.  52    APPENDIX A - Outdoor Play Support Plan 53   54   55   56   57   58   59   60   61   62   63   64   65   66   67   68   69   70   71   72   73   74   75   76   77   78   79   80   81   82   83   84   85   86   87   88   89   90   91   92   93    94   APPENDIX B – Consent Form  


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