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Questions for Panel

  1. Is your class an inclusive classroom? If so, how many children do you have with IEP’s?
  2. What grade levels do you teach?
  3. What made you decide you wanted to be a teacher?
  4. Do you teach an anti-bias curriculum?
  5. What social justice issues have you had to address in your classroom? How did you go about addressing them?
  6. Are the parents of your students involved?
  7. Have you had any pushback from parents? How did you handle that pushback?
  8. Do you have a supportive faculty and administration?
  9. How are you involving the community in your classroom? Do you take field-trips, bring in guest speakers, etc.?
  10. What is the biggest unexpected challenge you have faced as a teacher?
  11. What advice would you give to pre-service teachers?
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Good Grief

All families experience death.  For some of our PLC members, their first experience was in high school; for others, a classmate lost their life in middle school.  We recognize that we were all very blessed to have not experienced the tragedy of death when were in preschool.  A PLC member spoke about a student she works with losing her father at the age of three.  There was no curriculum in place to help the girl deal with her complicated and deep feelings and it was not even spoken of in the classroom.

In, Rethinking Early Childhood Education, a story of the loss of classmates (a brother and sister who tragically died in a fire at their babysitters house), the principal asked that the teacher not dwell on the loss of life, but get back to school as usual as quickly as possible.

Upon seeing her students’ confusion and grief due to the loss of their friend, she created curriculum and activities to respond to her students’ questions and sadness.  They decorated Jessica’s desk with cards and letters to vocalize how much they missed their playmate.  The teacher erected a bulletin board memorial to commemorate Jessica’s life and her presence in the classroom.

The teacher began to see the similarities in the different types of loss students experience.  She began to develop the same kind of activities for students whose parents are in jail or whose parents are divorced and they only get to see one of their parents frequently.

Grief is an important part of life.  We will all experience loss at some point and it is important that each person have the tools to handle that grief.  We believe that it is our job as early childhood educators to help children begin to develop these tools that they will carry with them for life.

Language In The Classroom

For this week we decided to talk about the different languages in the classroom and how it is important for teachers to corporate their languages into the class room. In order to discuss this we decided to talk about three of the different videos we watched in class last week.

Appalachian English: it shows the prejudice against people who talk not in full english. When we hear them talk you automatically begin to think that they are uneducated, but it is not always the case. It is also interesting that they were able to create a completely different language from combining the different words other cultures use. It is also important because this video highlights accent differences and the importance of code switching depending on who you are talking to. It was also interesting that many people thought they prefer to talk with people who use their own language because it reminds them at home.

Legitimizing Student language: It acknowledges AAVE( african american vernacular English). The teacher would have the students translate the sentence for AAVE to standard english. By saying translate, he gave the AAVE a more legitimate language and validates it as an actual language.

TRI-Tounged oration: Was a video in which a women talked about how she is tri-tounged cause she can talk to all sorts of people. Even though they aren’t three different languages she was able to use three different dialects which makes her basically tri-lingual. She is able to code switch, which allows her to talk to all sorts of people.

As teacher it is important for us to appreciate all our students languages and help them feel comfortable and proud of the language they speak. We should work hard to teach students in the most comfortable languages, so we should be accepting of her home language.

Next week we will all pick our own favorite stories from the book and discussed why we picked it and what they were about

Talking the Talk & Heather’s Moms Got Married

Talking the Talk goes well with this week’s discussion and readings. The passage discusses the implication of a Head Start classroom’s ability to bring in different languages. We talked about how indigenous speakers are some of the best teachers because they are able to help maintain a culturally sensitive environment. The passage goes on to say that the teachers relied on the migrant parents to recommend other speakers and teachers in order to produce the culturally sensitive language.

Delpit’s article about teaching other people’s children and the importance of finding instruction that has a connection to the child’s cultural life and their personal interests. It is not enough just to place a child in the classroom and expect them to learn the same as their peers. Each child will have their own learning style and will react differently to every lesson. It is the role of the teacher to make sure to incorporate a child’s culture and interests so that every child is heard. Often times a culture can be overlooked but if teachers take the time to incorporate the differences in their classrooms the differences can be beneficial.

Heather’s Moms Got Married is a little off topic for the week but has equally important lessons. A discussion among second graders can highlight the most important issues of society today. The groups discusses Brown vs. Board of Education and realizes that things would be very different had that case not happened. The class soon realizes that things are fairer in some ways (in the sense that multiracial families are no longer illegal) but that in other ways things are no fairer than before this case. A family with two moms or two dads are still suffering injustices.

This teacher is now faced with a tough decision of how to guide the class through this discussion. Family diversity is most definitely a spontaneous curriculum that this teacher often takes advantage of. Since she teaches in a diverse community and school she is able to explore this topic easier than most, but she still faces difficulties with student interactions. Cowhey shares some of the stories she had heard among her students and how in most cases she didn’t have to interfere. The students asked their questions and shared their comments freely and most times were responded to by their own peers. These children recognized the injustice that diverse families face and give hope to the future of interpersonal relations.

Using 3C products as a entertainment– Wether it’s good for children’s developmental pursuits or not?

Ever since the 1950s when television sets began to appear in the average home, kids have one more ways of entertainment at home. Nowadays, television has become the most popular media, which is also the indispensable device in our daily life. Teenagers like to talk about those popular TV programs or TV plays with their friends. However, some families in China advocate people limit the watching TV time for their kids, especially for those early age kids. In western countries, people describe those lazy people who do nothing but sit on the couch and watch television as “couch potato”. In the reading materials in this week, the teacher designed a wonderful curriculum to let students use math to analyze what TV is teaching them. With these two chapters, our group members discussed a lot about whether using 3C products (Computer, Chdiexyhwoann, and Consumer Electronics) in their spare time are good for students in their early childhood or not.

As the typical 90s generations, there was no 3C products in our childhood. Without iPads, computers, and smart phones, we played games with our friends and learned how to communicate with different people through different social activities. Our experience in our childhood proves that without those 3C products, kids still can have a happy childhood. One of our group members shared her tutoring experience with us. She mentioned that the kids’ parents were too busy to look after their kids and invited her to take care of the kids. The parents told her, “Our kids like to watch TV. After eating breakfast, you can just let them watch TV until we come back home at night.” Television takes place of face-to-face communication. Ironically, the parents even spend money to the tutor to accompany their kids to watch TV instead of letting the tutor communicate with them. Watching TV or playing iPad becomes a lazy way for parents to supervise their kids. When kids are watching TV, they don’t need to think. Some of them would even be attracted by the TV. When the parents talk with them, they don’t have any response. Furthermore, in the aspect of health, spending hours watching TV is harmful for eyesight.

According to the reading material, some TV plays are full of violence and inappropriate contents. During our small group discussion, we also spoke highly of the teachers’ method about letting students use math to analyze the contents in TV. Students not only can learn how to collect data, but also have their own conclusions based on their own data. However, there is no direct proof that the increase in television violence highlighted on the site had led to more real-life killing. Although some of the conclusions from those kids need to be considered in different perspectives, it is still essential to let them realize that the importance of thinking for themselves and questioning the sources of their information.

Note Taker: Amy (Rongchenzi) Wang

To play or not to play- Michaela Bailey and Allie Salabach

Ted Talk Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bg-GEzM7iTk

For this week, we looked at the importance of play in children’s lives. To further reiterate our  PLC readings, we looked at a Ted Talk video, entitled “The Decline of Play.” Similar to our readings, Peter Gray highlights on various aspects as to why children must play.

He begins by saying animals of all species play as it allows them to learn to cooperate with one another. When young animals are deprived of the opportunity to play, they will not know how to appropriately respond to the environment, not develop social or emotional skills, and will ultimately not know how to respond to those they interact with. Gray also suggests that children that are allowed to play are brighter and more emotionally stable than those that do not play. Ultimately, children play the most out of all species. He suggests play as “God’s gift” and if we do not allow children to play then we are taking away this gift.

Play is not only becoming diminished, but also structured. In the mid 1900s, children received at least two hours of play with little to no homework. Now children are receiving 20-30 minutes of play, and it is becoming structured through various activities and sporting events. With this being said, researchers have also noticed a correlation between the decline in play and an increase in child psychological disorders, depression and anxiety. Gray suggests that we must work to implement play, whether it is through neighborhood networks or establishing a safe place for children to play.

This Ted Talk correlates with the main points presented in our PLC readings. Teachers believe children are able to learn through play and achieve high academic success. They also looked at curriculum in the United Kingdom, Finland and other European nations and how they are incorporating play in early childhood and pushing the age back in which they begin to teach students formal curriculum. They are also eliminating standardized tests. Teachers in our readings believe that the U.S. should reconsider their notion to eliminate play in curriculum, and consider the above approaches.

Gender, Class, and Culture

Allie Slabach & Michaela Bailey

This past week we chose to finish reading in Part 1 on anti-bias curriculum. The articles we read focused on gender, social class, and cultural differences that children encounter both in and out of the classroom. We read “Miles of Aisles of Sexism,” “Where are the Game Girls,” “Rethinking ‘The Three Little Pigs,'” and “Unwrapping the Holidays.” Even though these readings focused on different social issues, they can all be applied to how a teacher would approach teaching an anti-bias curriculum in their classroom.

The article “Miles of Aisles of Sexism” talked about how toy stores are divided so distinctly between toys thought to be for boys and those thought to be for girls. It focuses on how this stark divide in the toy industry reiterates the stereotypes of what little boys and girls should want to play with. The “girl aisle” is covered in pinks and purples and glitter. The toys on that aisle focus on the central idea that girls are submissive, timid, and dainty, and they are supposed to grow up to be homemakers. The “boy aisle,” on the other hand, is covered in blues and greens and trucks and blocks. The toys on the boy aisle convey the idea that boys are strong, aggressive, and assertive, and they are supposed to grow up to be providers. This division in the toy aisle continues to prolong the stereotypical ideas of what interests little boys and girls should have.

The “Where are the Game Girls?” reading was a criticism of the videogame device “The Game Boy.” In the article a teacher was bringing awareness to gender related toys and trying to evoke a response from her students. Through this “study” she had her students conduct, they concluded that boys and girls share many of the same interests. We found this reading to be very interesting because it was a documentation of young children’s real opinions and ideas about the issue of gender division and inequality.

“Rethinking the Three Little Pigs” analyzed the well-known children’s story, and posed the question as to why the brick homes in the story are portrayed to be better than the straw homes. The author argued that the story made it seem like the straw and stick homes as well as the people who built them were inferior to the brick homes. The brick homes represented more Western ways, while the stick and straw homes represented African and Asian ways. The author used this to explain how she would use familiar stories such as this as a way to look at topics in her classroom and explain that just because something is different does not mean that it is inferior.

The last reading we did was “Unwrapping the Holidays.” This focused on a disagreement that took place in an elementary school over what winter holidays should be celebrated. A new teacher came in and wanted to change some practices that had been in place for a long time regarding the celebration of Christmas, and the other teachers were not happy with this. We felt that this reading brought about good questions about how we as teachers should go about approaching differences in an appropriate way.