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What did I learn about young children today? I didn’t necessarily learn about young children today, but I learned more about the differences between 1st graders and students at higher grade-levels. With a mother as a childcare provider, I am used to working with young children. So I am learning more about the classroom environment and how to teach this age group. I think this age group is more comfortable for me than the higher grades, because I love young children (as I do older children), I am accustomed to being around them, and I think the grading would be less rigorous and the curriculum more flexible, etc. The 1st graders are very sweet, and they still have that innocence. When Mrs. Loschy was going through the directions for a math sheet with the students, one student asked “What if you know how to read?” This question was kind of caught in the shuffle and ignored, but a parent and I got a kick out of it. The student wasn’t being rude, but he just wanted to get started and was probably wondering if he needed to wait for the other students. What did I learn about developmentally appropriate practices today? One of the first things I noticed this morning was the height of the desks. They are probably about as tall as my knees, and that is just right for the students. For this class, they don’t really have a schedule written up on a board or anything. Instead, the teacher prompts them when they need to do something else (this is good for making the students more accountable for staying on task and paying attention). Some of the good things Mrs. Loschy did were: • She made connections from old experiences to new experiences (i.e. she asked about what the students had started to make in Science, a week or so ago. – They made clay beads) and today they were painting them to continue their science work (I guess). • For math, Mrs. Loschy gave the students dot paper that was double-sided. She informed them that making drawing shapes on the dot paper is like working with geometry tiles. She used the overhead to project a dot paper transparency onto the whiteboard. On the white board she drew the shapes by connecting some dots together. After the students made all the shapes and were allowed to color them in, they were allowed 10 minutes to draw whatever they wanted, using the shapes, on the other side of their paper. Judging by how Mrs. Loschy worked with the children, I think that it is safe to say a few things about students at this age: • I think they work well with connections from old material to new material. For example, Mrs. Loschy made a lot of connections to things students worked with in the past, to what they were learning today. • The students work well with things that appear or sound like games. For example, Mrs. Loschy had a way of giving them clear instructions, and even though I don’t think the “show me five” method works very well for quieting students and calling attention to the teacher, she used it after using a different method. She would make a “dut” sound in the rhythm and sound of “Shave and a hair cut” while clapping. She
did the first part, and then the students responded with the last part. Once she did this, she said “show me five” and she could hold their attention pretty well. Students in 1st grade tend to enjoy being artistic, and learning is engaging when the teacher integrates art into the other learning areas (like making clay beads like rocks in science).
How can I implement this information when I am a lead teacher in the classroom?
I can implement this information when I am a lead teacher in the classroom by using some of the same methods of working with children. For example, allowing students to be creative in many areas without needing to be in “art class” to do it, giving them clear instructions, and setting up a good way to get their attention, etc. With this age group, I would have to establish respect in a non-scary way, but emphasize the importance of it. The students worked with preparing for the Christmas show today, and the director was very strict with the children, but her tone made the children focus more. To me, it didn’t really seem age appropriate, but to get the students focused in a short period of time, it worked well. It makes me think about the first week of school. I think sometimes it is necessary to be strict for the beginning to establish respect right away. You can always ease up later, but if you switch that order, there can be chaos.