My AP was giving me a hard time when I made my latest board ("O is for octopus") because my highest group was asked to phonetically spell out octopus.
Obviously, this a very difficult task. I got “oktopas, “octapus,” “oktopos” and “octopas.” And one brilliant, amazing, incredible little darling who had to repat this year (had her last year too) spelled it: “octopus,” bless her heart. They did this independently which is ~INCREDIBLE~ for a group of pre-K students, especially since most of them came in not knowing their letters at all. All I did was stretch the word, make the sound, and then they wrote the letter they thought it was.
My AP wants to know… “Why did some of them spell octopus wrong?”
So this is what I made in response to her idiocy and it’s going smack up on the board as soon as I get back to work tomorrow:
Big accomplishments with Little Kids
As part of working towards my degree in early childhood education, I have to do field work. Let me say, there is A LOT of it.
Can I also say something else? As tiring as it is sometimes, its the BEST parts of my week. I come up with the best stories. I’m realistic. It’s frustrating when a child I’m tutoring isn’t getting it, but I still get through it because the end product of me helping it click is so worth it.
Anyway so I have to share one of my stories. I was in a classroom Tuesday morning with this child I am doing a case study on. He is four years old and has a speech IEP in preschool. Now, he knows what he is saying but has trouble actually saying it since up until a year ago, he was tongue tied. (the tissue connecting his tongue and his mouth was too far forward) so he is still learning how to form words. Well, I must always pay attention to him so he does not get frustrated if I don’t know what he’s saying. On Tuesday in paticular, they were drawing on paper with chalk. The chalk powder started to pile up when he moved on to his next color. As he was coloring with his second color, he begins freaking out. Excited. I have never seen him so excited. He looks at me going on about something as I start to understand what he’s saying. Picking up both chalks he goes “this and this make new color!”. He had discovered that the two colors mixed made a new one. I was very proud of him and he spent the whole day telling other students about it. Students who usually were unsure of what he was saying excitedly tried his new experiment.
If you read that, I appreciate it. I just to make public the pride I felt in this child and how glad I was that he was proud of himself.
"That's very interesting..."
I went to the public library the other day and was waiting for the person I was meeting. A young boy approached me and asked if I could please tell him how to say a word in his book he was reading. The word was invertebrates and he was reading about sea animals. I asked him what he was working on and he said he was doing a report for first grade. We chatted for a while, but then he told me, “I don’t really like to learn about sea animals.” So of course I asked him why he chose the topic and he said his teacher “made” him. “I really wanted to do it on alligators because I’ve seen one of them.”
He proceeded to tell me all about alligators and why they are “so cool.” He knew all kinds of things, but he said there was a lot more to learn about them. When he started to wind down I said, “that’s very interesting, you really do like alligators. Do you know what the difference is between an alligator and a crocodile? I’ve always wondered.” He said he didn’t know, but that was something he should find out about because “that would be interesting.” Then he sighed dramatically, ”but noooooo, I’m stuck with sea animals. Sooooo boring!”
We really need to consider the interests and desires of our students. This project could have been so much more meaningful to this child if he’d been allowed to research what he wanted to find out about. I’m sure the teacher had her reasons, but sometimes those reasons really shouldn’t outweigh what the needs of our students are. Give children choices whenever possible, especially in the early years of school where cultivating academic habits and a love of learning is so crucial.
What student teaching has taught me...
I’ve been finished with student teaching for a little over a week. Just reflecting on some of my major takeaways from the semester.
- Words count! This is something I will work on continuously…how to phrase things positively, making sure to give “that one kid” more positive praise than negative, watching voice inflection, intonation and volume. Hard work, but worth it.
- Genuine concern and interest in a child can go a long way in creating positive relationships.
- PreK children are hilarious.
- Be organized, prepared, have documentation of everything and BE CONSISTENT.
- Apparently I am really good at making children cry….although I think they all still ended up liking me in the end! ;)
- A really good Cooperating Teacher makes all the difference.
- I got a couple of gifts from students as I left student teaching (from my PreK placement)…one was some chocolates (super yummy!) & drawings, in particular this awesome butterfly (see photo). My unit was on spring & gardening and we did an intensive butterfly study. This student decided to show me how well he understood symmetry..I seriously thought my heart was going to burst with pride!
- I love teaching.
Build a Boy Friendly Classroom
Oh yes, I was that teacher. You know, the one who took on all of the loud and obnoxious “troublemaking” kids who in reality, were a lot like myself. I’ll admit that my classroom was usually loud and even obnoxious at times, but I prided myself on having a teaching style that kids who hated school could get into and enjoy. One day another teacher said that my class was the “boy friendly” one and I liked that term so much I adopted it. Here are just a few quick tips to get started in developing a boy friendly classroom for next year (it takes time, so think about working it out over the summer break).
1. Alternate loud and quiet(er) activities.
Intentionally plan your days to do this. If you don’t plan it out you are going to find large stretches of quiet activities, and this will be your downfall. My regular daily schedule looked like this:
8:00-8:30 Greet children / learning centers
8:45-9:00 Potty, wash hands, brush teeth, etc.
9:00-9:15 Morning Circle
9:15-10:00 Outside Play
10:00-10:15 Whole Group Instruction
10:15-11:15 Small Groups / Learning Centers
11:15-11:30 Physical Movement Activity
12:00-12:15 Potty, wash hands, brush teeth, etc.
12:30-1:30 Rest Time
1:30-2:30 Learning Centers
2:45-3:00 Potty, wash hands, brush teeth, etc.
3:00-3:30 Outside Play
3:30-3:45 Afternoon Circle Time
3:45-4:45 Small Groups / Learning Centers
Transitions were predictable and children counted on them to navigate through their day. The first week or two was a struggle, but eventually we got into sync with one another and the days flowed well. Once they realized they wouldn’t be expected to sit forever and that activity times were coming, they didn’t find it as hard to sit for group times or quiet activities.
2. Prepare for the Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence.
I want to make it clear—Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence IS NOT hyperactivity nor does it cause inattention issues. Children with high levels of this intelligence can focus and concentrate, but they learn best through hands-on activities and movement. The area of kinesthetic intelligence is located in the cerebellum and concerns the thalamus, main ganglions and others parts of the brain. The brain’s motor cortex controls bodily motion and children with this intelligence display dexterity and skills for fine motor movement.
Children with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are called “body smart” and tend to enjoy active sports, constructing, dancing, hands-on tasks, working with technology tools, etc. These types of activities require a deftness, coordination and using fine and gross motor skills. Children with this intelligence learn and express themselves through various physical activities.
You will need to adjust your way of thinking and reacting to these children. Rather than ridicule children with kinesthetic intelligence and who are very fidgety and tend to fiddle with stuff, it is better to give them tools and equipment to manipulate in class. Rather than stopping them from moving, it is better to let their bodies develop through expression. They need you to provide many opportunities to learn by acting things out and moving about. Don’t expect them to sit quiet for long and listen to something without experiencing it physically as this is unrealistic and will cause frustrations to arise.
3. Plan for Conflict Management.
Boys do not think and act the same way girls do in a conflict situation. The problem with this is that the majority of early childhood educators are women who think like girls and not boys. They get angry and frustrated when boys don’t act in “pro-social” ways. I was able to learn a few tricks over the years that help reduce some of the initial problems. I arranged the room into small chunks with each center allowing 3-4 children at a time. I also had individual spaces and spaces for pairs to work. I provided placemats for table activities that signaled others that the child wanted to work independently. There were carpet squares for individual floor activities and beach towels for children to use in pairs. Whenever possible I had more than one of a popular item. I put hooks on each center and they moved their photo to the center they were using to avoid overcrowding—when the hooks were full so was the center.
I could go on, and probably will in future posts. However, for now, this is enough to get you to start thinking about how you are going to improve your classroom for boys and for ALL children in the future.
Child, Family, School, Community: Socialization and Support
“… provides a foundational education on (American) kids and families collectively accompanying hopeful resolutions to one of the vital the most important better policy issues these students will no doubt come face-to-face together with of their careers.”“… potentials of the ebook are the inescapable, horny writing and the clear organizational construction using Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Model.”“Rather than offering a simplistic abstract of socialization, Berns does a actually perfect work of discussing the intricacies of what is identified and yet unknown on matters related to socialization..Child, Family, School, Community: Socialization and Support
I just had the most interesting and unproductive PD ever. Pre-K teachers in this city are M-A-D spells MAD about the new expectations being put on our grade level. I’ve never seen so many 30-year veterans and first-year teachers united about anything. They really let the Early Learning office facilitators have it about how it’s outrageous to be expecting 4 year olds to be adding numbers, understanding tens frames, and writing sentences with proper capitalization, punctuation and spelling, on lines. Like, uh, DUH! We were supposed to be learning about Common Core and how “it’s coming” to pre-K, but there aren’t even common core standards for pre-K since not all districts have it, so I think it’s really ridiculous. The standards are basically the same as for kindergarten and even those are, some of them outrageous. I listened to several 20+ year veterans talk about how unhappy they were with the new curriculum and the changing expectations for early learning. There’s hardly any time for play and everything is just… so… serious. I have seen when play goes too far in the opposite direction, but there is an in between and people were happily meeting it before NCLB came along.
We, as the teachers, shouldn’t have to rise up and basically stage a revolt to get people to hear us. No one has ever asked us, just, generally, what works or doesn’t work for us with our age group. The people who design the curriculum seem to read all the latest research and then instruct us to do the exact opposite of what it says. Some people are lucky enough to have administrators who can take this grain of salt, who have some understanding of ECE, but most of us aren’t that lucky. Including, of course, me.
These unfounded, rising expectations, when coupled with the lack of evolution or reform when it comes to what designates children as deserving of special services, along with the lack of focus on social development and life skills, makes me not want to be a pre-K teacher anymore. I don’t know what pre-K is like in other places, and teachers in my PD group were saying that other pre-Ks are not so absurdly rigorous and pencil/paper/assessment/test/high stakes/preparing for the standardized test Bmore kids take in first grade. But I just don’t know.
All I know is, for once, I wasn’t the most outraged person in the room. It felt awesome to have people with 20 years experience on me voicing my exact same opinions. Makes me think there’s some merit to our struggles.
When I am building in the block room, please don’t say I’m “just playing”. For you see, I’m learning as I play, about balance and shapes. Who knows, I may be an architect someday.
When I’m getting all dressed up, setting the table, caring for the babies, don’t get the idea I’m “just playing”. For, you see, I’m learning as I play; I may be a mother or a father someday.
When you see me up to my elbows in paint or standing at an easel, or molding and shaping clay, please don’t let me hear you say, “He is just playing”. For, you see, I’m learning as I play. I’m expressing myself and being creative. I may be an artist or an inventor someday.
When you see me sitting in a chair “reading” to an imaginary audience, please don’t laugh and think I’m “just playing”. For, you see, I’m learning as I play. I may be a teacher someday.
When you see me combing the bushes for bugs, or packing my pockets with choice things I find, don’t pass it off as “just play”. For you see, I’m learning as I play. I may be a scientist someday.
When you see me engrossed in a puzzle or some “plaything” at my school, please don’t feel the time is wasted in “play”. For, you see, I’m learning as I play. I’m learning to solve problems and concentrate. I may be in business someday.
When you see me cooking or tasting foods, please don’t think that because I enjoy it, it is “just play”. I’m learning to follow direction and see differences. I may be a cook someday.
When you see me learning to skip, hop, run and move my body, please don’t say I’m “just playing”. For, you see, I’m learning as I play. I’m learning how my body works. I may be a doctor, nurse or athlete someday.
When you ask me what I’ve done at school today, and I say, “I just played”, please don’t misunderstand me. For you see, I’m learning as I play. I’m learning to enjoy and be successful in my work. I’m preparing for tomorrow. Today, I am a child and my work is play.
I agree with this. :) After a week in a early intervention preschool classroom, I realize the importance of play!