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Teachstone Blog

What's the Deal with Rote Practice?

02 Mar 2017

 

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”  - Benjamin Franklin

 

Think back to a time when you were a student in a classroom.

Yes, I know some of us, including myself, don’t want to think back that far, but for the sake of this discussion, let’s try it.

I remember, quite vividly, sitting at desks which were all neatly lined up in rows, with the teacher at the front of the room. I would stare at the back of someone’s head, with very little eye contact. And forget about communicating with my peers because that was a no-no during most of my years of schooling. The teacher would write letters, numbers, or facts on the chalkboard. I was expected to repeat and recite them. This “drill and kill” activity might have then been followed up with a task of copying these same facts onto a piece of paper. Later, I would take them home and memorize them for an upcoming test.

Occasionally my teacher would say, “ok we are going to play a game today.” I would get so excited because something different was going to happen. My teacher would pull out a set of flashcards, and hold up each one as we called out the correct answers. The child with the most flashcards at the end of the game was the “winner.”

This would take place week after week, in each of the subject areas, and we’d be tested on these same facts each Friday. If you, like myself, were really good at memorizing facts, you would ace the tests. You would then get your report card with all of those A’s, and everyone knew you were going to succeed at life because you were a good student. Sound familiar?  

I think it’s safe to say this was probably a pretty common scenario for many of you. You, like many students across the U.S., would work your way through school, memorizing information in each grade level, but were you really learning it?

Topics: Teacher Tips Read More

The Best Recipe to Include Instructional Learning Formats at Mealtime

27 Feb 2017

Serving meals to preschool children can be challenging. The daily schedule can easily get away from you through unexpected interruptions, spending more time than planned on an exciting activity, sick children, or some of the many accidents that occur in busy classrooms. As a result, mealtimes often get pushed to the side as just one of the daily routines necessary to get through the day.

But we should still be thoughtful to include high-quality interactions at mealtimes for many reasons. First, is that with our nation’s high obesity rates, the emphasis on nutrition and healthy choices is growing. Secondly, we know that many families are busy and mealtimes are often sacrificed at home. 

Finding ways to engage children during mealtime as a relaxing and important interaction of each day matters! That’s why I’m here to discuss how you can include the CLASS dimension of Instructional Learning Formats (ILF) while children eat.

So, you might wonder, “How do I do this if I’m already so busy?” Well, I’ve got just the recipe for you.

Topics: Teacher Tips Read More

Self- and Parallel Talk: Not Just for the Non-verbal

12 Jan 2017

I was quite taken aback recently when an intern completing her first semester with a group of young toddlers told me, “My goal when I started the semester was to use more self-talk and parallel talk, but the toddlers are now talking, so that’s no longer needed.” 

How to respond? Clearly she assumed that the self- and parallel talk supported language for very young children, and the effectiveness ended there. But that's not really true.

Topics: Teacher Tips, Coach Tips, CLASS FAQs Read More

What Is an Open-Ended Question?

05 Jan 2017

The scenario: A teacher is sitting with several children having snack, and the teacher asks a student, “What are you going to be for Halloween?” 

Is this question open-ended or closed-ended?

Topics: Teacher Tips Read More

The Complete Guide to Incorporating Regard for Student Perspectives at Circle Time

22 Dec 2016

Understanding how to effectively employ Regard for Student Perspectives while maintaining a constructive learning environment can be challenging. In the following paragraphs the fictional preschool professional, Mrs. Jones, will illustrate the indicators of Regard for Student Perspectives at circle time. I’ll then discuss her exemplary examples:

Topics: Teacher Tips, Pre-K, Observation Training Read More

The Best Way to Incorporate More Concept Development in Your Lessons

12 Dec 2016

As you know, CLASS is a tool that captures teacher-student interactions. When it comes to the dimension “Concept Development” the focus is on the method the teacher uses to provide instruction in the classroom. While the interactions are what get measured with CLASS, as a teacher you can plan for Concept Development to be present throughout your lessons.

Let’s look closer at how to do this. 

Topics: Teacher Tips, Pre-K Read More

Should Pre-K Teachers be Play-Facilitators or Play-Observers?

01 Dec 2016

I could sit for hours watching a group of young children play. And I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to do so as an observer in toddler and pre-K classrooms around the country. The freedom with which children explore and use materials, test and experiment, and practice new strategies is fascinating and educational to watch.  

Many pre-K teachers adhere to the theory that free-choice or center time should be a time for children to be in control. They see center time as a time for students choose what they play with, how they manipulate the materials, and when to stop. These educators believe that children’s decisions and independence should be respected, so it’s their job to be present only as a support when needed.

But, there's another common theory. Other teachers believe that they should and must be present to facilitate, scaffold, and teach as children play. These two differing viewpoints raise a great question:

Topics: Teacher Tips, Pre-K Read More

Instructional Support in Transitions: Is It Possible?

21 Nov 2016

A great transition is one that is efficient, quick, has clear teacher follow through, and all the while, students know what to do and what is expected. Oh! And it must have learning opportunities embedded within. 

With all of that, is it possible to complete a smooth transition and still incorporate Instructional Support (IS)? Let’s explore the possibilities!

Topics: Teacher Tips Read More

Prepare Children (and Their Parents) For Kindergarten

17 Oct 2016

 

 

Early educators are prepared for transitions in a child’s life. Whether it’s introducing them to solid foods, teaching them how to paint within the lines, or even toilet training, it’s important to help children ease into new responsibilities by instilling confidence in them. One of the more significant transitions is from a child care setting to kindergarten. As children get closer to five years of age, it’s vital to prepare them for a smooth transition into kindergarten, but depending on where they are coming from a family child care, their own homes, or a center-based settingtheir transition might be more noticeable and/or challenging.

What is most important to consider when applying transitional tips to your daily work as early educators is the relationship you have with the children and their families. That way, you and the parents can work together to make children feel at as their environment changes and as they no longer see familiar faces.

Topics: Teacher Tips, K-3, Pre-K Read More

What Emotional Support Interactions Happen during Mealtime?

12 Oct 2016

We often hear people asking about conducting CLASS observations during mealtimes. What kinds of interactions can be observed while children are just eating? Turns out—there are many examples of high-quality interactions during breakfast or lunch. Let's focus first on the Emotional Support CLASS domain. 

Topics: Teacher Tips, Observation Training Read More
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