Promoting Child Development and Learning
Candidates use their understanding of young children’s characteristics and needs, and of multiple interacting influences on children’s development and learning, to create environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive and challenging for all children.
Key elements of Standard 1
a. Knowing and understanding young children’s characteristics and needs
b. Knowing and understanding the multiple influences on development and learning
c. Using developmental knowledge to create healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging learning environments
· Demonstrated initiative through voluntary involvement with individual students
· Observed and discussed different ways in which routines were changed- new rules are made and old rules altered when the need arises
· Observed techniques the teacher used to establish classroom rapport.
· Observed children in the classroom and made at least one written comment on each child
In this field placement the first couple of weeks I did a lot of observing. I think it is important to really get to know and understand the children in your classroom. Many of my observations helped me see how the students were thinking and what reasoning skills they were using. It was then very easy to know what I could do in my lesson to help to indiscreetly guide them in the right direction. The more I observed my students the easier it was for me to meet their learning needs and maintain a comfortable environment for us all.
Building Family and Community Relationships
Candidates know about, understand, and value the importance and complex characteristics of children’s families and communities. They use this understanding to create respectful, reciprocal relationships that support and empower families, and to involve all families in their children’s development and learning.
Key elements of Standard 2
a. Knowing about and understanding family and community characteristics
b. Supporting and empowering families and communities through respectful, reciprocal relationships
c. Involving families and communities in their children’s development and learning
· Attended an open house
· Attended all the parent-teacher conferences
· Planned an activities for Family Night
In my placement I had many opportunities to meet with children’s families and get to know them. Some of the opportunities were at open house, parent teacher conferences, and Wheelock Family Night. I realized the importance of scheduling the events that took place. Many of the children’s parents in our class work at night and have a difficult time coming or finding child care. I think it is very important to be accommodating to the parents and have a flexible time to meet with them. I got to observe during the meeting how my classroom teacher explained what the children were learning and why it was beneficial. She showed them where each child was at according to her assessments that were available for the parents to see if they chose. She also showed where the children were at according to the state’s objectives and where her goal was to get them by the end of the year. Many ideas about what the parents could do at home for extra practice was shared. I was also surprised to hear a lot of questions about parenting advice. I think it is very important to build a bond with the parents and make them feel as comfortable about what their children are learning as possible while at the same time keeping them involved.
Observing, Documenting, and Assessing to Support Young Children and Families
Candidates know about and understand the goals, benefits, and uses of assessment. They know about and use systematic observations, documentation, and other effective assessment strategies in a responsible way, in partnership with families and other professionals, to positively influence children’s development and learning.
Key elements of Standard 3
a. Understanding the goals, benefits, and uses of assessment
b. Knowing about and using observation, documentation, and other appropriate assessment tools and approaches
c. Understanding and practicing responsible assessment
d. Knowing about assessment partnerships with families and other professionals
· Completed three grade level appropriate individual assessments on a student
· Prepared an anecdotal record of students for one week concerning an aspect of development
During my placement I did many anecdotal records on each student as well as individual observations on areas that were difficult for a child. In the first half of my experience I observed, questioned and discussed with the classroom teacher different ways of assessing students that were appropriate for first grade. I used her suggestions as well as the information I gathered from my observations to formulate my own assessments. It was very beneficial to see where a child is at and what they need reinforcement in. It helped guide my instruction and also helped me to see the growth that was taking place and the connections being made. I saved many of the children’s work so that their parents could see the progression in their learning.
Teaching and Learning
Candidates integrate their understanding of and relationships with children and families; their understanding of developmentally effective approaches to teaching and learning; and their knowledge of academic disciplines to design, implement, and evaluate experiences that promote positive development and learning for all young children.
Connecting with Children and Families
Candidates know, understand, and use positive relationships and supportive interactions as the foundation for their work with young children.
· Implementing an educational family activity
Wheelock School housed a Family Night where all of the Early Childhood Candidates made up a positive learning experience that the children and their families could take part in. I was very interesting to watch both the children and their parents working together to try to question what was happening, formulate answers, and actually experiment together to see if they were right. The whole night was a great opportunity to have the students take part in something fun and educational with their parents. It sparked great curiosity and interest from everyone and I am sure many of the activities will replicated at home.
Using Developmentally Effective Approaches
Candidates know, understand, and use a wide array of effective approaches, strategies, and tools to positively influence young children’s development and learning.
4bi. Fostering language and communication
Early childhood candidates embed every aspect of the curriculum within the context of rich oral language and other communication strategies, using technology as needed to augment communication for children with disabilities.
· Observed and described a sequence of directions used by the classroom teacher in organizing for an activity lesson
· Planned a sequence of lessons around the computer lab
· Choose an immediate, short-term academic need within the classroom and developed and implemented a plan to address the need
· Gave oral directions and asked students pertinent questions to determine understanding
· Modified a game to teach a skill to help improve a diagnosed weakness
In the first part of my experience, I observed the sequence of directions used by the classroom teacher in her preparation for organizing for an activity or lesson. I then implemented my own lessons and made sure that I thoroughly explained and gave examples of what I wanted the children to do before I let them do it independently. After giving oral directions I made sure to ask students pertinent questions to determine their understanding. The children all have different learning needs and I made sure I addressed them all through examples and the organized activities I planned. For example, I constructed games and materials to go along with my lessons to help improve diagnosed weaknesses and designed specific enrichment projects for interested students which would take them beyond the required subject area material. I also used the computer lab to extend some of the lessons being taught. I found out that there are many children that struggle in an area but have strong computer skills. I tried to balance their abilities by incorporating the two in my plans.
4bii. Drawing from a continuum of teaching strategies
Well-prepared candidates understand and use teaching approaches that span a continuum from child-initiated to adult-directed learning, and from free exploration to scaffolded support or teacher modeling. Candidates demonstrate that they are basing their selection on knowledge of individual children, on research evidence, and on understanding of appropriate, challenging teaching and learning goals.
· Established instructional groups for an activities in the classroom
· Designed specific enrichment projects for interested students which took them beyond the required subject area material
· Designed and open ended activities to promote higher level thinking skills
During my experience I established instructional groups for activities in the classroom and had lessons that went from a large group and then into small groups, then back to a large group again for reflection and discussions. I think it is important to let the children have hands on activities and experiences to formulate their own theories and knowledge with me there to guide their discoveries. By setting up open-ended lessons and enrichment projects the children will not just know information, but will understand and retain the knowledge of what they did.
4biii. Making the most of the environment and routines
Candidates know the power of the environment to foster security and to support exploration, and they create physical environments and routines that offer predictability as well as opportunities for oral language development, social interaction, and investigations.
· Planned and implemented several activities designed to bring out a shy child and modify an aggressive child.
· Choose one child and wrote an anecdotal observation about observed behavior in various classroom situations: music, physical education, lunch. Suggested possible causes and implemented possible solutions
One of my goals this semester was to develop and implement several activities designed to bring out a shy child or modify an aggressive child. I like to have a collaborative learning classroom where the children learn from each other as well as from me. I stressed the importance of giving your best try and not being worried that it would be the wrong answer. The students agreed that it is important to support a friend and help them out when they ask for it. With my guidance I have seen the children become the most supportive and caring individuals. We operate like a family and they make the room a welcoming place to learn and experiment with ideas.
4biv. Capitalizing on incidental teaching
Because so much of young children’s learning takes place informally and spontaneously, early childhood practitioners must be skilled at “incidental teaching,” identifying and taking advantage of informal opportunities to build children’s language, concept development, and skills.
· Set up enrichment centers using open ended activities to promote higher level thinking skills
It is important to be flexible in your teaching plans. It is not always wise to plan too far ahead. Children may take your lessons in a new direction or have something spark their interest that has nothing to do with the topic you are currently working on. The children’s interest and enthusiasm should not be ignored but used as part of your daily teaching. Children are full of questions and ideas. I like to promote curiosity and exploration. If the class or a small group is interested in something you should help them research it and find meaningful materials to support their inquisitive minds.
4bv. Focusing on children’s characteristics, needs, and interests
Well-prepared early childhood candidates keep the child as the center, while also paying close attention to important standards and learning outcomes, connecting new learning with children’s prior knowledge and areas of individual fascination.
· Evaluated children in a given skill area using three different modalities (auditory, visual, kinesthetic) and compared results to identify the child’s strongest modality.
The state and the school have certain standards and objectives that you must follow and prepare your students to meet. When planning my units and lessons these learning outcomes were addressed in my objectives and assessed to see if they were met. If children are struggling with a concept or idea I then had to refocus my attention so that all the children could be successful in learning my goals for them. It is hard but important to really think about what types of learners you have and what way you can teach the idea so it makes sense for all of the students. In order to do this I had to relate to prior knowledge of some students and formulate an individual plan for them so they would not have difficulties.
4bvi. Linking children’s language and culture to the early childhood program
In implementing effective approaches to teaching and learning, candidates demonstrate that they use linguistic and cultural diversity as resources, rather than seeing diversity as a deficit or problem.
One of my units that I implemented was a study of families. We celebrated our different traditions and made a classroom cookbook. Children went home and with the help of their parents found a traditional family recipe that was past down from generation to generation or a family favorite that they would like to share. We also discussed the similarities and differences of the makeup and physical characteristics in their families. I tied in our differences as a classroom family and we explored our physical characteristics and compared the differences and similarities. We looked at hair texture, hair color, eye color, lip formation, height, and skin color. I tried to stress that we are all unique and special in our own different ways but we still can be a united classroom family.
4bvii. Teaching through social interactions
Candidates show a commitment to creating learning opportunities within early childhood classrooms where children help and care for one another.
One of the lessons I taught was on “Good Choices”. I wrote fictional scenarios based on real occurrences and fights that happened in the classroom. After reading the scenarios to the class, they had to decide if the characters made a good choice or not and explain why. I gave many examples and showed pictures of good choices that they could make throughout their day. They had to explain why these choices were important to have in the room and why we should follow them. I then challenged them to make good choices throughout the day. I made a bulletin board that showed pictures and named all the good choices they could use. They had to come up to me when they used a good choice and tell me what happened, and which good choice they used to handle the problem. They then could find that choice listed on the bulletin and tape their name up next to it. It worked better than I planned to create a caring and peaceful classroom.
4bviii. Creating support for play
All early childhood professionals must demonstrate competence in using play as a foundation for young children’s learning from infancy through the primary grades. Well-prepared candidates can create and support environments that enrich and extend children’s play, knowing when to intervene with questions, suggestions, and challenges. Candidates demonstrate understanding of the value of play in itself, as a way for children to make sense of their experiences and to develop a wide range of skills.
· Set up enrichment centers using open ended activities
In my classroom I created many centers that the could explore concepts through play. By creating these open ended enrichment centers the children can act out scenarios and formulate ideas. My teacher was very traditional but let me design play centers for math where the children experimented with ideas and formulated answers.
4bix. Addressing children’s challenging behaviors
Well-prepared early childhood candidates demonstrate understanding of the multiple, underlying causes of children’s challenging behaviors. Early childhood candidates demonstrate a varied repertoire of research-based guidance approaches to meet individual children’s needs. Their work shows that they understand the importance of a supportive, interesting classroom environment and relationships as ways to prevent many challenging behaviors. Candidates aim to develop children’s self-regulation and respect for others.
· Observed and discussed different ways in which the teacher established rules
Some of the children in my classroom have had challenging behaviors. I have discussed and observed my cooperating teacher administer behavior modification charts to help children. I try to suggest alternative behaviors instead of always yelling and what a student. I will use phrases like, “I am going to challenge you to….,” or “I am inviting you to join us.” Many of the students are not being disobedient, they use need to hear directions a few times before they can process it.
Before the school year started my cooperating teacher and I read the private files on each student. I learned that many of the children that the report said had behavior problems were not as bad for me. I also realized that teachers have different definitions for challenging behaviors. I think that any behavior can be refined through the right teaching techniques and good modeling. Some times it is just trial and error until you find the right style that works for you and a particular student.
4bx. Supporting learning through technology
Candidates demonstrate sound knowledge and skills in using technology as a teaching and learning tool.
· Developed a sequence of lessons around using the computer lab
I implemented a sequence of lessons around using the computer lab during my placement. We studied the program Kid Works 2 and typed our sight words out every week. I also showed the students step by step how to go through a program where it taught typing skills.
In the classroom I downloaded a weather bug and a child each day read the information to the class and was the weather person of the day. We then looked up the daily news on the Time For Kids website and reported what was happening in the world. Sometimes the news was on current events, a top ten list, or a map of another county that had pictures of the different cities. The children loved looking up information and reporting. In this day of age technology has to be taught with the daily curriculum.
4bxi. Using integrative approaches to curriculum
Skills in developing integrated, thematic, or emergent curriculum are evident in the work of well-prepared early childhood candidates. Those skills go well beyond implementing prepackaged, superficial units of study about seasons and holidays. Candidates with strong subject-matter knowledge can embed valuable content from mathematics, the arts, literacy, social studies, and other areas in such thematic studies.
· Demonstrated content knowledge of a subject matter in lessons being presented.
In my field placement I had to teach a math lesson that was a part of the Everyday Math Program. There were worksheets that the children had to do to learn math concepts. I decided to expand on the worksheets that dealt with money and turn it into a dramatic play center. I had the children study different stores around the community and look in books to generate a list of all the types to choose from. We picked a store and then studies all the job titles a person could have in the store. After a plan was devised the children creatively constructed all the props we would need to make a realistic store for our classroom. They also used their literacy skills to make signs and ads for the center. Once the store was finished we used real money to work with in order to improve on our math skills.
It is easy to take an idea and expand it into a well prepared curriculum that addresses many subject areas. Subjects do not have to be divided up and assigned a time limit. You can study a subject in depth in a meaningful way and incorporate all aspects of learning.
Understanding Content Knowledge in Early Education
Candidates understand the importance of each content area in young children’s learning. They know the essential concepts, inquiry tools, and structure of content areas including academic subjects and can identify resources to deepen their understanding.
4ci. Language and literacy
Early language and literacy form the basis for much later learning. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are integrated elements. Candidates are able to articulate priorities for high-quality, meaningful language and literacy experiences in early childhood, across a developmental continuum.
· Choose particular language arts skill area and administered simple teacher-made diagnostic tests
I was in a first grade classroom during my Fall placement. The goal for the end of the year was to have everyone reading and writing at a certain level. In order to meet that goal I had to do many meaningful literacy activities to prepare my students. I taught many phonemic awareness lessons. We did rhymes, chants, and games that gave the children a lot of opportunities to work on their skills in a fun way. I also followed the Lindamood approach that had the children think about how their mouth formed letters and what the sounds were. In small reading groups we worked on learning phonics rules that would help them with their reading and spelling. My cooperating teacher also implemented a writing program in our classroom. The children would have to listen orally to words and write them in a journal. They also would have to write sentences that they heard dictated to them. Another activity was to write in a journal that focused on a particular situation that the children had to expand on and write about.
I provided many different learning experiences to help the children’s literacy skills advance so by the end of the year my teacher could meet the state objectives and well as the school’s objectives for each child.
4cii. The arts: Music, creative movement, dance, drama, and art
Candidates are able to articulate priorities for high-quality, meaningful arts experiences in early childhood, across a developmental continuum.
The children in my first grade class love turning a story they hear into a finger play or to make up movements and act it out. The children would first find a beat to use in order to sing the words of the story or poem. We then as a class would come up with had movements or body motions for certain words in the story. Some children would even play instruments to accompany the actors. I then read the story while they performed their interpretation of it. It is so exciting to see the children get involved with their learning. I find that when the children act out the story and make it their own that they do better with their comprehension skills. Some of the children that normally struggle with comprehension can recall a lot more details about the story once we have acted it out and they are physically involved in the story. It is a great way to incorporate different learning styles so everyone can benefit from the lesson.
Mathematics instruction should be guided by the principles and standards developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Well-prepared candidates understand and apply the following six principles, or “themes,” of mathematics instruction:
1. Equity: high expectations and strong support for all children
2. Curriculum: more than a collection of activities: coherent, focused on important mathematics, and well integrated across grades and developmental levels
3. Teaching: understanding what children already know and need to learn, and challenging and supporting them to learn it well
4. Learning: children must learn with understanding, building new mathematical knowledge from experience and prior knowledge
5. Assessment: should support the learning of important mathematics and give useful information to teachers and children
6. Technology: is essential in teaching and learning mathematics; a tool to enhance learning
Additionally, candidates understand which concepts and skills are developmentally appropriate for pre-K-grade 2 children in each of five content areas – operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis and probability- as well as in the five process areas of problem solving, reasoning and proof, connections, communication, and representation.
· Assessed students math errors for one week to determine if the errors are “a gap in knowledge,: “a misconception,” or “a slip.”
Wheelock school has a program called Everyday Math that every grade level follows in the building. The program is supported by a spiral effect that lets the children have many experiences with the five developmentally appropriate content areas. These concepts are constantly revisited so that the children will master them over time. The teachers guide book must be followed in order to create the spiral effect and be successful. I sometimes taught the concepts but used a different approach or manipulative in order to address the needs and different learners in my classroom. Many of the concepts were worked on in small groups so I could see who had certain misconceptions and needed help in order to think about the process in a meaningful way. The program also stresses being able to explain your answers and verbalize your thought process when you solve a problem. By talking about how you can up with your answer it allows children to see many different ways to solve a problem. It also is a model for the children to see every step someone took to get their answer. I work a lot with solving word problems in this program. It was very interesting to see how the Math Everyday program worked and to get a chance to teach math using this method.
4civ. Physical activity and physical education
Candidates are able to articulate priorities for high-quality, meaningful physical activity and physical education experiences in early childhood, across a developmental continuum.
The children in my classroom have gym class two times a week and we go outside on the playground everyday depending on the weather. The children need to take a break sometimes and work off all their creative energy. Sometimes we will take walks downtown or walk to the creek and discuss what we see along the way. I think it is very important to get them to exercise their muscles during the day because many of the children say they do get much exercise when they are home.
Candidates are able to articulate priorities for high-quality, meaningful science experiences in early childhood, across a developmental continuum. Focused exploration of meaningful content supports early scientific understanding. Depending on children’s ages and other characteristics, those experiences should help children to, for example:
1. Raise questions about objects and events around them
2. Explore materials, objects, and events by acting upon them and noticing what happens
3. Make careful observations of objects, organisms, and events using all their senses
4. Describe, compare, sort, classify, and order in terms of observable characteristics and properties
5. Use a variety of simple tools to extend their observations (e.g., hand lens, measuring tools, eye dropper)
6. Engage in simple investigations including making predictions, gathering and interpreting data, recognizing simple patterns, and drawing conclusions
7. Record observations, explanations, and ideas through multiple forms of representation
8. Work collaboratively with others, share and discuss ideas, and listen to new perspectives
· Set up enrichment centers using open ended activities to promote higher level thinking skills
During my placement I taught lessons to go along with my teacher’s science unit and also created and taught my own unit on plants. I used quality children’s literature to introduce topics and raise questions. I let the children discuss their ideas and generate their own thoughts about why things happen. We then explored these concepts together as a class through experimentations and through hands-on activities. When we studied how plants grow and different ways they migrate I set up meaningful activities and experiments for them to try. On the first day of the unit I asked the children what a plant needed to grow. The children formulated ideas and explained why they thought it was right. We then grew bean seeds in many different ways to see which one of our predictions were correct. The children observed and recorded the results and had to explain what situation was best for the plant to grow in and why.
I knew that if I just told them facts it wouldn’t be as beneficial as them working out their own theories and ideas. By experimenting with different ideas they got so much more out of the lesson than me just spitting out facts for them to memorize. After a lesson the class got together to discuss and analyze our findings. They took their leaning to a higher level and were able to explain their ideas on why things happened. I know that they will retain the knowledge a lot longer after having these experiences.
4cvi. Social studies
Candidates are able to articulate priorities for high-quality, meaningful social studies experiences in early childhood, across a developmental continuum. Depending on children’s ages and other characteristics, those experiences should help children to, for example:
a. Make and use maps to locate themselves in space
b. Observe the physical characteristics of the places in which they live and identify landforms, bodies of water, climate, soils, natural vegetation, and animal life of that place
a. Use the methods of the historian, identifying questions, locating and analyzing information, and reaching conclusions
b. Record and discuss the changes that occur in their lives, recalling their immediate past
a. Develop awareness of the difference between wants and needs (the concept of scarcity)
b. Develop interest in the economic system, understanding the contributions of those who produce goods and services
4. Social relations/Civics
a. Become a participating member of the group
b. Recognizing similarities among people of many cultures
c. Respecting others, including those who differ in gender, ethnicity, ability or ideas
d. Learn the principles of democracy, working cooperatively with others, sharing, and voting as they solve problems
In my placement I incorporated social studies in many of my lessons. Every day the children answer a daily geography question and use maps as a tool to get their answer from. I also taught a lesson on families. We discussed that families differ in size, makeup, roles, beliefs, and traditions. The children drew their families and wrote why they were special. The students shared their work with each other and we compared the different sizes of families in the class. We also discussed the makeup of families and different combinations. We then talked about the similar and different physical attributes that are in some families. I had the children talk about what they did to help around the house in order to address the active role they played in helping their family and why it was important even if they didn’t like to do it. The class then celebrated their own family traditions by writing down a traditional or favorite family recipe. The children compiled all the recipes and organized it into a cookbook that they all could take home and try.
Building Meaningful Curriculum
Candidates use their own knowledge and other resources to design, implement, and evaluate meaningful, challenging curriculum that promotes comprehensive developmental and learning outcomes for all young children.
· Curriculum planning starts with clear, appropriate goals and desired outcomes for children. Although national or state standards or desired expectations may influence curriculum in positive ways, several larger goals are also important guides:
o Security and self-regulation
o Problem-solving and thinking skills
o Academic and social competence
· Candidates demonstrate that they can implement plans in organized yet flexible ways, adapting the curriculum to meet the interests and needs of diverse children while proactively supporting their learning.
I learned that I needed to be flexible in my teaching and change my plans sometimes according to the interests of my students. I had a lesson that I planned on frogs that was very detailed. I wanted to introduce a number of different types for frogs and learn about all of them. When showing pictures to my class they became very interested in one particular kind of frog. I had planned to move on but their interest was so great that I slowed down and changed my lesson. The children wanted to research this particular frog more and had many questions and ideas about it. I found additional books for my children to look at and we used the internet to find out more information. I realized that I could still meet my goals and learning objectives and maybe even take the lesson further than I expected. The children helped guide my teaching and take their curiosity and knowledge to a further level.
Becoming a Professional
Candidates identify and conduct themselves as members of the early childhood profession. They know and use ethical guidelines and other professional standards related to early childhood practice. They are continuous, collaborative learners who demonstrate knowledgeable, reflective, and critical perspectives on their work, making informed decisions that integrate knowledge from a variety of sources. They are informed advocates for sound educational practices and policies.
Key elements of Standard 5
a. Identifying and involving oneself with the early childhood field
b. Knowing about and upholding ethical standards and other professional guidelines
c. Engaging in continuous, collaborative learning to inform practice
d. Integrating knowledgeable, reflective, and critical perspectives on early education
e. Engaging in informed advocacy for children and the profession
When I entered the fall semester for my student teaching I made sure that I dressed professionally every day and addressed the people I worked with in an appropriate manner. I had regular meetings with my cooperating teacher and we discussed with each other different ideas and suggestions. I made sure that I was punctual and my lessons were turned in on time and well done. I never missed a day of school and made sure I participated in and attended school gatherings. It is great to meet new people that are willing to share their ideas with you and help guide your learning.
During my placement I did a self evaluation on my methods of teaching that I shared and discussed with my teacher. I also wrote out my weaknesses and strengths at the middle of the semester and set a goal for myself to improve in certain areas. I went to many professional development workshops and seminars to improve my skills as a teacher and learn as much as I could to become successful. At the end of my experience I wrote my personal teaching philosophy that reflected all the learning experiences I gained this semester that helped shape my philosophy of education.