• Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Archives
    Archives Contains a list of blog posts that were created previously.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in authentic learning experiences

Posted by on in Early Childhood

The topic for my last Art, Music and Movement for Young Children class was Emergent Curriculum. I showed a video from Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Early Childhood Education showcasing a project on balls. You can watch it here. Emergent Curriculum is a way of teaching through student interests. Suppose a group of toddlers becomes enthralled with the worms on the playground. Teachers will observe the children, take notes, and document which child is especially interested in which aspect of the topic. Pulling books from their library about worms, giving the children magnifiers to spread out and invade the privacy of the playground worms, teachers provide materials and experiences that enable a deep study that accommodates individual learners. In the video’s ball project, the children dissected, compared, and created art with balls. Destroying and creating balls, they learned about physical and dynamic properties of their favorite toy. This project was emergent, because it emerged from a genuine interest from the children.

We also discussed thematic units. These are based on broad subjects, usually about traditional preschool themes such as seasons, community helpers, space, and the ocean. Very young children are often interested in these topics, but with a lock-step approach, teachers pay less attention to individuals who might not be as enamored. When I do a professional development presentation on engaging curriculum, I tell teachers that behavior is better when everyone is engaged. With thematic units, some children are engaged and others aren’t. (Perhaps that is why behavior guidance is such a popular topic on the professional development circuit!) Suppose the theme is farms. Teachers might read about farm animals to the whole group (with the anti-farm contingent touching their neighbors and looking out the window—“behavior problems”). They sing Old MacDonald, color pictures of the traditional 19th and early 20th century farms, and, if they’re lucky, take a field trip to an authentic farm dedicated to school field trips.

What provoked this newest screed of mine is an anecdote from one of my students. She said that her thematic unit is the earth, and that they have to teach the names of the continents. Can you imagine a two and a half year old child who has no abstract thinking, being taught about continents? My class of savvy students turned to ask this young woman: “How do you assess these children? Do they ‘get’ it?” “No, she answered, “but we take a picture of each child pointing to a globe, and send the picture to parents to show that they are learning about continents.” There was a collective groan from the class.

All of this trickery (“Can you say Asia?”) convinces parents that their children are on a fast track to Harvard. Child care has evolved into “school”, as in “What did you do in school today?” Calling child care school is part of the scam. Play, and emergent learning, in these programs, are secondary to elementary school style teaching and learning. As I’ve written before, children play with materials as well as ideas. Play is creative and a part of a child’s authentic learning and thinking. It blows my mind that, against all known best practice, a center is quizzing twos on geography.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in General

Screen-Shot-2018-04-23-at-2.07.33-PM.png

If you're a parent you want your kids to be successful.

I mean, I get that you should allow them to fail and learn from failure. I get that on the road to success, our kids will undoubtedly fail. If you preach and do that, you're awesome in my book.

So while we all want our kids to fail forward, no parent or teacher wants their kids to struggle to make a living. Each one of us, wants our kids to have the skills and the will to crush the challenges of life. But there's one thing that can stop them: School.

Or rather, schooling.

...
Last modified on
Posted by on in Early Childhood

After fourteen years of teaching child care professionals and teachers about preschool learners, one of my college students, with sweet, enthusiastic innocence, told me that her threes understood the word “hypothesis.” That in her center, they teach a “word a week” to the children. And their philosophy? Their motivation? “We have to get them ready for being four.” I suggested that the children are learning to be three. Why push them?

Her program is called an Academy. That says a lot. A Facebook friend, who owns a center, confessed that using the word “Academy” in her school’s title was a marketing decision. She is uncomfortable with it because her program is a process-oriented, creative program where children learn organically—through play experiences, with teachers as guides. But she bit the bullet and chose that word—Academy—to bring parents in.

“Academies” ask two-year-olds to glue noodles to a paper plate, then ask the teacher to glue on the letter “N. They display these almost identical pieces on a bulletin board in the classroom so parents will think their toddlers are learning something (they’re not). They call this academics. Many parents believe that an early academic start (mimicking public school) is good for their children. You can’t blame them. They so want to believe they are giving their children a jump start. All they know is from their own experience, and they don’t remember school any further back than early elementary school. These are the biases they base their choices on. These biases don’t come from developmental theorists, or from the hallowed history of child care and early education. They certainly don’t come from today’s leaders in the educational field. They come from the cultural memory of the industrial age. Ken Robinson calls this a mechanistic approach to education. This approach is outmoded.

We want to prepare young children by allowing them to grow organically, and learn through curiosity, imagination, and creativity. These three qualities are immensely important. They won’t perpetuate the mechanistic, industrial world view of the 19th and 20th century, but will prepare a generation to become the talented, productive, individual human beings that we will need in the future. How can we educate parents to demand the best for their children? By educating them about what the best is.

...
Last modified on
Posted by on in Early Childhood

 preschool

"Let's start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start. When we read we begin with A B C...."

Who knew I'd love teaching littles? Not me, that's for sure. 

Preschool KWLW: Here's my learning update, month seven of my what was I thinking in year forty six? Who else in their right mind would start over, at the very beginning. Like how to hold a pencil, how to handle a book with love and repair ripped pages. I think I'm doing pretty well with the goals of the literacy grant, but I'm not working in sequential order like I usually do. I feel so out of sync, then all of a sudden, voila! the pieces come together.

Show and Tell and Circle Time offer time to structure, hold a class meeting for a couple minutes, sing, stretch and say our affirmations. Growth Mindset oozing from every pore of all of us. I lead Circle two days a week. I set and Close and bring puppets, props, a costume, tell stories, you know where I'm going here. Family learning.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Education Leadership

“I always wanted to be honest with myself and to those who had faith in me.”
– Rafael Nadal 


Have you ever had to “unlearn” something? Do you think Yield Signs are still yellow (as you may have learned), or do you know that they are red?

yieldsignyello

What about the planets? Do you still remember the mnemonic device “My Very Elegant Mother Just Sat Upon Nine Porcupines (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Pluto)”? Or do you know that Pluto is no longer a planet (due to scientific discoveries between 1992-2000).

Have you ever had to unlearn a concept like leadership or professional learning? Well, Nick Polyak and I have a book coming out in March 2017 with the following title: The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today, with the following chapter titles:

Chapter 1: Unlearning Connection
Chapter 2: Unlearning Planning and the Change Process
Chapter 3: Unlearning “That’s the Way We Have Always Done it”
Chapter 4: Unlearning Fear of Social Media
Chapter 5: Unlearning Professional Development
Chapter 6: Unlearning Leadership

...
Last modified on