Concept Development can be a tricky dimension to wrap your head around, but when you really consider the meaning, the fog starts to lift!
Before I get to the indicators of Integration and Connections to the Real World, let’s take a look at this dimension as a whole. Remember that an indicator describes a behavior that shows us the presence or absence of interactions that, when seen together, give us a picture of the overall quality of interactions. Indicators tell us what kinds to interactions to look for during the course of an observation and we use them to gather evidence. So to get started, let’s take a deeper look at the dimension and its definition.
In Concept Development, we look at how a teacher participates with a child, through discussion or activities in ways that build understanding of how things fit together, how they relate to other knowledge and apply to a child’s world by leading the child through the steps of inquiry. When done well, teachers help children make connections to big ideas and help them start to make sense of information.
We start by thinking of a concept as a notion or conceived idea and development as something advanced over time, or in this case process. Helping children examine information methodically so they are able to discover essential elements, consider, figure out, inspect and internalize their experience is a critical skill and the essence of Concept Development.
A teacher who is focused on Concept Development will encourage the kids to ponder, share ideas, and try out new ideas that lead to a greater understanding of how information fits together. We look for teacher encouragement that results in a child investigating something new: It’s all about how the teacher uses discussion to really stretch the child’s brain, to ask the questions that help the child and teacher explore the world together.
With effective facilitation, children can figure out how things fit together, anticipate what might happen (Analysis & Reasoning) or understand how things relate by thinking of ways to try things out (Creating). As adults, we need to find ways to integrate this knowledge and connect it to real world experiences so that this experience build the child’s ability to take in information and make it fit into the way the world works.
So what is Integration? Simply put, it’s how information is consolidated or combined –the new information, coupled with previous knowledge, builds cognition. It’s the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.
Connections to the Real World is about how the child, with support from an adult, links, associates, or relates this information to something they understand already. The information becomes meaningful and usable and this connection to the abstract becomes the essence of Concept Development.
Remember that children learn when they are actively involved, experiencing and exploring, making connections and seeing the world with new eyes. Teachers who join the journey can promote those higher order-thinking skills.
Knowing that approximately 25% of children under 5 come from homes where Spanish is the predominant language spoken, we were pleased that Lisa White, a researcher at American Institutes for Research, was willing to speak with us about her study that compared the CLASS with the CASEBA, a tool designed to assess quality in classrooms serving dual language learners. To learn more, read on!
We’re still soaking up the wisdom shared by our many, many excellent speakers at the spring 2021 InterAct Summit. From its inception, Teachstone has been an organization based in research. Because the CLASS is reliable and valid, teachers and programs trust it to give meaningful, accurate, and actionable information. To learn more about the current work being done in the field, we invited co-founder Bob Pianta to give an update on new research findings.
At Teachstone, we are all in on early learning. The research shows us that, with the help of effective educators, there is so much potential to build a strong foundation for children’s learning well before elementary school. But some research, including the Head Start Impact Study and the research on Tennessee’s voluntary pre-K, has complicated the story. Researchers found that in some cases, gains made in early childhood education seemed to fade out by around third grade.
Follow-up research has added to the narrative.