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Ecology in the Classroom Cont.

Food Is Not For Play
In this article, a student who was just recently adopted from a Chinese orphanage joined a kindergarten classroom and immediately showed that she had a different conception of food through her sociodramatic play. In one instance, she began to dispersed what seemed to minuscule amounts of make-believe food into several small dishes and felt very threatened when another student lunged at her lunchbox. Later in the year, the teacher flinched when she realized that the sensory table was full of enough rice to feed a family for a very long time. The teacher realized that we depict food in a duplicitous manner. We teacher children to eat all of their meal and not waste it, while on the other hand we encourage them to glue macaroni and beans to paper. To honor those who go without food on a daily basis, we should reprimand playing with food at lunch time and them condemn it during arts and crafts time. Food is a tool that we should think twice about before using in the classroom.
Lessons from a garden spider
Juan found a garden spider in the bushes outside the classroom and the teacher set her on a wooden frame on a bookcase in her 3rd-fade classroom. The students named her Charlotte and learned the cycle of life by observing Charlotte. The teacher believed that “observing and caring for one single spider helped us bridge the gap between the human and natural worlds.” The students were very sad after Charlotte died.
Her class is of diversity: over 70% are from minority groups, 33% are ELLs. Thus it is hard to meet every student’s individual needs. The author mentioned the FOSS which refers to Full Option Science System. Though FOSS has advantages such as it is helpful for beginning teachers, but it doesn’t provide enough opportunities for the students to engage in genuine inquiry (eg. crayfish in plastic bowls).
After Charlotte’s death, the teacher, along with the students, explored life cycle. The words by White:” Spiders are ‘naturally patient.’ they know if they construct a well – designed web and wait long enough,their efforts will pay off. Teachers have a lot to learn from spiders.”
Next Readings:
pages 147-154
Questions for teachers:
As a teacher, how do you define a “well-designed web”?
How can a teacher construct a “well-designed web” in the classroom?
How do you talk about food availability and resources within your classroom?

Ecology in the Classroom

A Pedagogy for Ecology

This chapter emphasizes the lack of concern for the environment and asserts, “Any place can become home, which really means that no place is home.” Because we see any place as a potential home, we forget to respect the environment that we dwell in. The chapter suggests activities that we can use in the classroom to promote appreciation of the environment such as nature walks, learning name of foliage, respecting sensory aspects of nature, exploring different aspects of nature, learning the history of the land, and telling stories of the land.

Bringing the Earth Home

This chapter describes how our actions model to children how to treat the environment. We have the privilege of not being directly impacted by environmental problems, so we are not aware of the importance of promoting conservation. The chapter emphasizes that teachers should model having a respectful relationship with the environment. Teachers should use these values to brainstorm practices in the classroom such as buying locally grown produce.

Don’t Know Much About Natural History

This chapter discusses the ecophobia or the fear of ecological deterioration. If educators want to promote a healthy relationship between children and the environment, we should focus more on children’s interactions with the environment and how that impacts their development. Overall the article focuses on the fact that children’s relationship with the environment is in jeopardy and needs to be saved.

Questions/topics for experienced teachers

Has technology negatively influenced the children in your classroom’s relationship with nature?

What do you think other aspects have stopped children from playing outside?

Post #7

I Just Want to Read Frog and Toad

This reading discusses that certain types of books that they read in schools are generic. Some of stories were not coherent and full stories, but were just a push to teach and emphasize specific vocabulary words. This discouraged children, because they were not reading stories. Author suggests that children should read real books with real stories.

Tuning into Violence

This reading focused on the violence on tv. This teacher has children watch certain television shows and has children record the amount of aggressive behavior and aggressive statements used. The results showed that there was significantly more violence in the shows. The children are watching the same shows, but the instances of violence increased a lot. The children were aware of the amount of violence and they compared the violence on tv and the violence in the war that was going on during the second time they did the research. We are interested as to if that the class type has any influence- spanish immersion class.

Testing Tots

They did standardized testing on head start. They felt they needed a new way to test the academic abilities of the children. Their research shows that the impact of head start does not last. They don’t want the Headstart teachers to make kids memorize the alphabet and different types of information, but to see if they can learn and experience through books and play, because that would be longer lasting. They feel that they should have policy makers to improve the accountability system.

Testing Lang

There was a student named Lang and he was really creative and excelled in class, but was not good at writing. Once standardized testing took place, Lang became anxious and did not score as well as he could. He was not even proficient according to the test, he scored as “basic.” The testing didn’t compare with his actual abilities.

Think Less Benchmarks

These schools are adopting these benchmark assessments for schools that are not making yearly progress. They found many flaws in the benchmark tests and how they did not accurately reflect the students’ abilities. The type of assessment they were using was formative that uses a scientifically research based continuous improvement model that maps diagnostic assessment to state high stakes tests…. expensive assessment program.

From Critique to Possibility

In New Zealand, they created a new approach to assessment- learning stories. Categories: belonging, well-being, exploration, communication and contribution. The exam is through a narrative approach. This assessment is made for each individual with their capabilities in mind. It gives you an idea what the child is developmentally capable of instead of assessing them through comparison.

Reading for next week

pg 123-138

Post #6

Why We Banned Legos

The children worked with the legos to build a town and build structures. Some of the children monopolized the the lego buildings and there became a power struggle in the classroom. The teachers banned the legos and took them out of the classroom, and the teachers did exercises with the children where the children explored their own definition of power. They played a game where the rules in of themselves meant that nobody, or a few can only succeed in the game and the kids protested and that the kids felt that the ones that won the game were unfair. This showed the children structural inequity and the teachers reintroduced the legos and had the children work in small groups rather than individually. The children used what they learned- that collectivity is good, that they should share power, and that moderation is important- to build a new town.

Lego Facists

This reading questions and argues against using social justice in the classroom and teaching children that everything should be equitable, but in reality “unfairness is a natural state of affairs.”

Questions for the teacher:

As a teacher, how do you interpret power, ownership, authority and cooperation in the classroom?

Do you think what the teachers did by removing the legos in the classroom was a good idea? Did it teach them a valuable lesson they can apply to other aspects of their lives?

Next week:

pg 99- 120

Preschools PLC Challenge

Group effort.

This article talks about the increasing demands on parents for their children in pre-school. Some preschools are requiring entrance exams, less inclusive hours for care, and parents are needed to do a lot of outside work to keep their child in the classroom. There is also legacy status influence, so some children are allowed to attend the school over others if their relatives had attended the school.

Preschool plays an influential role in a child’s future success; however, it is becoming less accessible to lower social economic status families. There are not a lot of public preschools available, so these private facilities are in greater demand and cost more. Additionally, parents are required to help out in the classroom and purchase items for the class outside of their tuition money. There is a definitive line of who can afford to send their kids to preschool and a separate line for those who can afford the preschool, but not the outside demands it is requiring of parents.

Working parents who are working extra shifts and jobs to send their children to these preschools are restricted in their time and cannot pick up their children at the early time that the preschool ends and they do not have the time or extra money to go to the store to buy items for the classroom.

This has a negative on the child’s future success, because not every child is receiving the same opportunities, because of their family’s income and social status. The wealth disparity among the families with preschool aged children increases the gap between the rich and the poor, because the lower income families cannot afford to send their children to preschool.

Connections to book reading:

Are schools limiting childhood experiences by decreasing play and increasing academics in children at a young age? How does this impact the child’s social skills?

Reading for next week- 74- 83

Post #3

Rethinking “The Three Little Pigs”

There was a subliminal bias and message within this reading. It provided a different perspective that looked at reasons why each pig chose its building materials. For example, straw used in certain cultures, because of environment, weather and resources. Main point- just because something is different it does not mean it is inferior. To address this underlying bias in the classroom, teachers need to be aware and make the children aware of the pros and cons of every situation.

What If All the Kids Are White?

The focus of this reading is to turn children’s conversation and statements into discussions and to question the origin of their ideas. Teachers should also curb hurtful language, so that those it may apply to do not have to listen to it.

Unwrapping the Holidays

A teacher wanted to use diversity in the classroom. The teacher was Jewish and did not want to solely teach about classroom, so he opened up his classroom to celebrate four different Holidays that are in December. This came to the attention of other teachers in the school and the teachers felt that this teacher why was trying to take away from Christmas. The school system supported the teacher, but his colleagues did not support him. In retrospect, the teacher felt that he should have waited a year to introduce multiple celebrations. As teachers, we need to recognize the diversity in our classroom and stay open minded. Teachers need to also work with colleagues and the board to come up with an all inclusive curriculum that does not go against their previous curriculum.

Questions for teacher:

  1. How do you acknowledge the various religions of your students during the Holiday time?
  2. Are there any other stories with hidden messages like in the Three Little Pigs?

Assignment for next week: Pages 57-73

Post #2

Raising Issues of Race with Young Children

This reading focused on how to discuss race with young children. We thought it was very interesting that we believe, or hope, that at this point children are colorblind, but with parental and social influence children are made aware of the racial differences. One of the suggestion was to use children’s personal experiences to bring up differences in race and background between the kids. Teachers will use it in projects. For example, in the story they used paint chips to match the color of the skin and results showed that children liked this, because they got to combine colors to make their skin tone. The overall theme of this reading was how to address and acknowledge the children’s differences without making one better than the other. We believe that children are not too young for this. This is an excellent age, because children can visually see that another student’s skin tone is different than theirs, but they can use these differences to learn about comparisons and differences and not make a big deal out of it.

Using Persona Dolls

We loved the idea of using persona dolls in the classroom, because the dolls can represent all the different students. The idea is that the teacher would use the dolls and make up a story about it relating to events that are going on and activities that may be occurring in the classroom and at home. This will allow the children to relate to the stories and this facilitated conversations about diversity, bullying and culture in the classroom. The stories can also show the students how to handle certain situations in a peaceful, positive way.

Miles of Aisles of Sexism

This reading reflects the differences in toys for females and males. The girl toys are overly domestic and pampered, whereas the boy toys revolve around violence. As teachers we need to be aware of what activities we are providing for kids and how those kids reflect their gender, background and culture.

Where are the Game girls?

This story directly relates to the previous reading, because it talks about a class that had game boys with mainly boy games, so the girls were upset that there were not games for both genders. They took a survey and it showed that both genders liked playing the same outdoor games, but they like playing it with their gender. If they incorporated more games that both genders enjoyed, it would be more inclusive.

Questions for the teacher:

  1. How do you handle classrooms that are mainly one race with one or two children with varying races? Has it ever become an issue with bullying?
  2. Do you have gender divided play centers, or is it gender neutral?

Next week reading:

Pg 41- 53