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EDWORDS: Latest Blog Posts

  • Play: Learning in Motion

    I read in the Washington Post today about a preschool classroom in Arlington.  In the column, the teacher, Launa Hall, describes her struggles to teach reading skills to preschoolers while feeling guilty about not being able to allow them to play. The Pre-K standards she uses are doable in a play environment, but the mandated curriculum in which they are delivered, as we say in the trade, are not developmentally appropriate. The joy of childhood is a secondary characteristic, no ...

    0
    by Gail Multop
    Sunday, 25 January 2015
  • photodune-1867786-children-listening-to-music-xs

    Music Listening Changes Children's Lives

    So much is said today about “music playing” as a gateway to improving academic skills and expanding emotional intelligence.  The scientific scientific and empirical research validates these findings.  But what about music listening: how does it fit into the equation and affect children’s  lives?  And when you think about it, just about every kid listens to music. My “Contemplation Music Writing Project” which began in the 70s shows how listening to music takes students ...

    0
    by Jeffrey Pflaum
    Friday, 23 January 2015
  • Keeping Your Cool for Your CDA Observation

     The thought of someone coming in to observe you at work is unsettling for some and downright       disturbing to others. You may fear that your regular, everyday routines will suddenly become a         disheveled chain of events, as you struggle to stay focused. And that’s just you– but what about the children? Ah yes, the children. How will they act that day? Will they sense your nervousness and become    ...

    by Debra Pierce
    Tuesday, 13 January 2015
  • One of the saddest stories of 2014

    I found it in in Valerie Strauss's column in the Washington Post, with the title, "Kindergarten show canceled so kids can keep studying to be 'college and career ready.' Really." It makes me want to scream in frustration every time I read it.    Here’s the letter, sent by the school’s interim principal and four kindergarten teachers, to parents upset by the cancellation:   We hope this letter serves to help you better understand how the demands of the 21st ce ...

    by Rae Pica
    Monday, 12 January 2015
  • Badges...badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!

            On the left is a picture of a powerful symbol. I am not talking about police in the news, here. I am talking about a symbol of power to a four year old boy.In a preschool classroom there might be one or more boys obsessed with superheros, police, firefighters, and the like. These same boys, these days, are also obsessed with guns, firepower, and other armaments. Boys will make a gun out of anything. The hardcore badge-and-gun aficionado wil ...

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    by Gail Multop
    Sunday, 11 January 2015
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Posted by on in Early Childhood

I read in the Washington Post today about a preschool classroom in Arlington.  In the column, the teacher, Launa Hall, describes her struggles to teach reading skills to preschoolers while feeling guilty about not being able to allow them to play. The Pre-K standards she uses are doable in a play environment, but the mandated curriculum in which they are delivered, as we say in the trade, are not developmentally appropriate. The joy of childhood is a secondary characteristic, not a primary one, in public Pre-K programs. 

 

In our program, children are given multiple opportunities to construct their own knowledge. During our early morning, late afternoon, and outside times, when we set the environment for learning, they do just that! 

 

...

Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

photodune-1867786-children-listening-to-music-xsSo much is said today about “music playing” as a gateway to improving academic skills and expanding emotional intelligence.  The scientific scientific and empirical research validates these findings.  But what about music listening: how does it fit into the equation and affect children’s  lives?  And when you think about it, just about every kid listens to music.

My “Contemplation Music Writing Project” which began in the 70s shows how listening to music takes students beyond the educational benefits connected to music playing.  The studies, in regard to music listening, support the results I found empirically about the effects/affects of music, contemplating, writing, and discussing their inner experiences.  

One area the research misses is how music listening increases children’s awareness of the present moment, and that is significant for teachers working in today’s classrooms.  By listening to their favorite or “preferred music,” my students released emotions and thoughts hindering them from concentrating on learning, particularly in the afternoons between 1 and 3 p.m. when energy levels and attention spans declined rapidly.  The combined musical and contemplative experience revived spirits so they could continue to think clearly and learn at an optimal level.

“The Music Technique” stemmed from my own experiences with music listening: After a difficult day in the classroom, I played music while relaxing on a sofa mainly to drown out the psychological chaos stirring in my head.  But a funny thing happened on the road to sanity.  All the pictures mentally recorded from that day came back and flooded my mind with feelings and thoughts I’d rather forget.  Once I realized that I needed to stop fighting my self and let things be, I calmed down and felt moments of inner peace.  This change took time to develop, to re-view carefully or contemplate the mind-pictures from the day’s events, to release any negativity by getting into it, and getting it out, and to move on to the present-moment with greater lucidity, openness, and self-awareness.

From these experiences came an original, creative, and challenging “self-help activity,” an “internal education,” that included music, contemplating experiences while listening to music, and following up by writing, describing, and talking about whatever happened inside.  

...

Posted by on in Early Childhood

 The thought of someone coming in to observe you at work is unsettling for some and downright       disturbing to others. You may fear that your regular, everyday routines will suddenly become a         disheveled chain of events, as you struggle to stay focused. And that’s just you– but what about the children?

Ah yes, the children. How will they act that day? Will they sense your nervousness and become     uneasy, as well? Now, your imagination begins to run wild! Children who are usually calm and          well-behaved will act out and become unruly. Those children who are normally a handful will totally test your limits, recognizing your demeanor is a little off and someone else is in the room.

And what about the activities you’ve planned and the daily schedule? Will you even be able to       remember your plans and keep things running smoothly... or will the whole morning start to     unravel?

As these scenarios race through your head, you find it hard to get that good night’s sleep you need the night before. Well, all of this can be avoided. With a little planning and preparation, you can feel calm and fully prepared for a great observation.

First, think about your typical weekly schedule. Choose a day for your observation that is usually smooth and low-key… not one that has a number of changes or special activities. Avoid a day when some of the children usually   arrive late or leave early. These types of change-ups can just cause waves and unpredictable situations you don’t need!

...

Posted by on in Early Childhood

I found it in in Valerie Strauss's column in the Washington Post, with the title, "Kindergarten show canceled so kids can keep studying to be 'college and career ready.' Really." It makes me want to scream in frustration every time I read it.   

Here’s the letter, sent by the school’s interim principal and four kindergarten teachers, to parents upset by the cancellation:  

We hope this letter serves to help you better understand how the demands of the 21st century are changing schools, and, more specifically, to clarify misperceptions about the Kindergarten show. It is most important to keep in mind is [sic] that this issue is not unique to Elwood. Although the movement toward more rigorous learning standards has been in the national news for more than a decade, the changing face of education is beginning to feel unsettling for some people. What and how we teach is changing to meet the demands of a changing world. 

 The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers, and problem solvers. Please do not fault us for making professional decisions that we know will never be able to please everyone. But know that we are making these decisions with the interests of all children in mind.  

There are so many things wrong with that letter that it's hard to know where to start. But let's begin with the clear implication that the arts are considered of so little significance as we prepare children to become “college and career ready” that even in kindergarten children are learning there are only certain skills worth having.  

...

Posted by on in Early Childhood

 

 

 

 
On the left is a picture of a powerful symbol. I am not talking about police in the news, here. I am talking about a symbol of power to a four year old boy.In a preschool classroom there might be one or more boys obsessed with superheros, police, firefighters, and the like. These same boys, these days, are also obsessed with guns, firepower, and other armaments. Boys will make a gun out of anything. The hardcore badge-and-gun aficionado will make badges out of paper and stick them to themselves. They will be listening for any mention of law enforcement, or the use of it, in any conversation or story. Was Goldilocks arrested for breaking and entering? If you (teacher) died, would they call the police?I want to report on the marvelous path we have taken in our classroom to derail the guns/badges obsession, at least for a while. We are producing a newspaper. One early morning (between 7 am and 9 am) my teaching partner set several children up with clipboards and pens. She asked them to be reporters, to question other children about what they were doing, and to write "stories" (enter pretend cursive scribbling, here). The children, both boys and girls, ran around "covering" stories. "What are you doing under the loft? Who is there with you?"Certain children wanted to know if reporters had badges. We talked about press passes. Close enough!A school mom, who works for The Post, came to share about her job. This is how we include families in our emergent curricular process, and it is a powerful tool. Her visit energized the children for the process of creating a newspaper.I have always taught the elements of story as "who, what, when, where, why". I applied these questions to fairy tales, and asked children to write their own with creative results. How easily these questions, the basis of a good news story, fit our newest project. Granted, newspapers themselves are dying, to my grief, but enough of the children have parents who read either print or online Washington Post articles. When I brought in a bagful of them, they were attracted like moths to a flame. The children investigated how newspapers were laid out, how there were various type sizes and fonts, and that there were such a thing as comics! They cut out their favorite images, words, and, yes, comics, and pasted them to construction paper in imitation of layout. We had read about the various aspects of making a newspaper by reading the book, The Furry News. I had used this book several years ago at another school to make a newsroom out of the dramatic play area. Soon, with help, they began using developmental spelling to write headlines. Sue typed the first story, along with a child's headline. We plan to add stories, pictures, and headlines next week.The badge/gun aficionados? They have been converted. They run for a clipboard and pen when they come into the classroom, instead of making paper badges. We hope to be in this for the long haul. Can you think of a better way to make reading and writing exciting?

 

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