Rethinking Early Childhood Education
Edited by Ann Pelo
What we read:
“What Color is Beautiful?” (Alejandro Segura-Mora, 3-6)
“Why an Anti-Bias Curriculum” (Louise Derman-Sparks, 7-12)
“Developmental Themes, Tasks, and Goals in Anti-Bias Work” (Margie Carter and Deb Curtis, 13-16)
“Raising Issues of Race with Young Children” (Rita Tenorio, 17-22)
“Using Persona Dolls to Help Children Develop Anti-Bias Attitudes” (Trisha Whitney, 23-28)
“Where Are the Game Girls” (Ann Pelo, 35-40)
“Rethinking the Three Little Pigs” (Ellen Wolpert, 41-42)
“What if all the Kids are White?: Anti-Bias Themes for Teaching Young Children” (Louise Derman-Sparks and Patricia Ramsey, 43-48)
“Unwrapping the Holidays: Reflections on a Difficult First Year” (Dale Weiss, 49-54)
“Testing Lang” (Amy Gutowski, 113-114)
“Welcoming Kalenna: Making Our Students Feel at Home” (Laura Linda Negri-Pool, 161-170)
“Talking the Talk: Integrating Indigenous Languages into a Head Start Classroom” (Cathis DeWeese-Parkinson, 175-176)
(We chose to read stories that were based closely on what we were learning in class so we could relate the readings to the articles we read for class)
In summary, the chapters that we read in the book were a collection of stories that taught about dealing with social justice and teaching young children. The majority of the stories we read were from Part One, which talked about anti-bias and culturally sensitive teaching and learning. The book shows us how, as early childhood educators, how to be activist for all different types of families and students in our classroom, while providing a nurturing and empathetic environment. The stories provide us an opportunity to rethink early childhood educational practices.
We overall really enjoyed the book and all of the advice and emotional stories it had to offer. We liked the fact that the book gave us difficult situations and then offered solutions to these problems. The book gave us new ideas about ways of thinking. There are so many lesson plans and ideas that the book provided to further our effectiveness in the classroom. It is full of progressive stories that engaged us to want to read more. It allowed us to critically think about subjects and the hidden bias that we may not have thought about if we didn’t read the book. The book overall improved our understanding of touchy subjects in education. We think that the book is an excellent teaching guide for new and old teachers.We were not able to finish the book, but we will continue reading the book on our own because it is a great resource.
We read “Where Are the Game Girls” by Ann Pelo. This story is about a class with four-year-olds. One of the girls in the class asked, “Why are there Game Boys, but not Game Girls?”. The teacher leads the students in a discussion/research about stereotypical girl games and boy games. The class came up with the conclusion that girls and boys can all play the same games and have the same interests. The class even wrote a letter to the Game Boy company voicing their concerns.
We thought it was really cool that the research project started with an observation and actively analyzed the question through their fellow classmates. We talked about different kinds of curriculum’s in one of our other education classes. We think this could be a learner-center curriculum. The question sparked a discussion that could be turned into a lesson and a project. The teacher is demonstrating that the students have a say in society and that they shouldn’t be afraid to voice their opinion.
Question about immigration from the class
- How can we incorporate different cultures into the class so all students feel comfortable?
- How do you feel about the subject of home visits?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
Welcoming Kalenna was about a classroom that had a new student named Kalenna, who was from the Marshall islands. The teacher, who was Mexican American, wanted to make Kalenna feel at home just like she had in elementary school. The teacher brought in Kalenna’s family to teach the class songs and bring in things that reminded her of home. Holiday Lessons Learned in an Early Childhood Classroom give different principles to having an anti-bias holiday curriculum. Both stories highlighted the importance of basing the curriculum off the children’s backgrounds and family-life.
This relates to Shauna McLeod’s video posted in response to our PLC in that McLeod discusses how indigenous peoples are misrepresented in the classroom. Oftentimes, indigenous peoples are discussed in a disrespectful and demeaning manner. McLeod worries about the self-esteem of indigenous peoples and recommends that we invite members of the community to share their cultures with our classes in the future, just like the readings suggest.