In her last blog post, Carol Bolz introduced a research project on coaching with CLASS Instructional Support and the Project Approach. There were many great examples about how the teachers used what they had learned to engage their students. We’d love to hear from you. How have you helped a teacher build these Instructional Support interactions? How have you, as teachers, encouraged these types of learning experiences?
One teacher engaged a child in a lengthy feedback loop about the creation of a television during a class project on their houses. Before completing the construction, he planned by listing four steps:
In the first phase of a project on babies, a child reminisced that when she was a baby, you could cover her all up with a blanket. After thinking with her coach, the teacher responded by encouraging the child to share her story with all of the children and engaging them in non-standard measurement with baby blankets. For several days, the children estimated how many blankets were needed to cover babies, preschoolers, and adults as well as objects. They experimented, evaluated their estimations, and recorded their findings.
When a group of children investigated balls, they had many opportunities to explore, handle play with, and compare all types of balls. With help from a father, they cut balls open to find what was inside. One child decided to create an observational drawing of a soccer ball. His teacher watched as he counted the number of black shapes on the ball and determined that there were twelve shapes. The child then went repeatedly to the Math Center, returning each time with a shape card and comparing it to the twelve black shapes until he identified the black shapes as pentagons. He created his drawing and asked his teacher for support with writing “12” and “Soccer ball.”
A group of children were studying cars and three of them became particularly interested in wheels. One of their parents brought in a wheel for the children to explore. Together, the three children created a detailed drawing of the wheel. Their teacher asked if there was any other way they could create a wheel, and they constructed one from blocks and manipulative toys. The teacher then asked if their wheel was functional. With very little support from the teacher, the three children worked together to transform their wheel into one that would actually roll.
In each case, children were at the center of discussing, generating questions, investigating, representing discoveries, and evaluating results. Teachers, coaches, families, and most important the children themselves, were coming to understand how capable they were as thinkers.
To read further about the 5-year research project on coaching with CLASS Instructional Support and the Project Approach, follow this link to an article in Early Childhood Research & Practice. http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v16n1/vartuli.html
Links to websites and on-line journals related to the Project Approach follow:
The blog was authored by the Coaching Community of Practice from Mid-America Head Start. Education support staff from The Y of Greater Kansas City, Kansas City Public Schools, The Family Conservancy, Independence School District, Operation Breakthrough, St. Mark’s United Inner City Services, and Plaza de Niños have been involved in coaching with CLASS Instructional Support Domain and the Project Approach with support from Drs. Catherine Wilson and Sue Vartuli for the past seven years.
Many teachers will agree that their first year of teaching can be one of the most grueling, challenging, and stressful experiences for them as they take on the task of educating our youth. In my first year of teaching, I was not familiar with the CLASS tool and its impact in the classroom. I was not aware of the dimensions, indicators, and the tremendous power of interactions. Looking back, I recognize the many ways the CLASS tool was reflected in my classroom, but I also see the value in how familiarity with the CLASS tool could have benefitted my classroom. Although many external forces impacted my role as a high school Spanish teacher, the CLASS tool’s invaluable purpose could have made a profound impact on my first year teaching.
In construction, a scaffold is a temporary structure used by workers to access heights and areas that are hard to get to. This is exactly what educators are doing when they scaffold for students. A student is having a hard time reaching a new height—understanding a concept, answering a question, or completing an activity—and the teacher provides just enough support to allow the student to succeed.
Teachstone has worked hard to provide you with case studies about various organizations who have transformed their classrooms through the use of the CLASS tool. We hope they help readers like you make informed decisions about some of the products we offer and introduce you to different ways you can impact teacher-student interactions.