Most parents, teachers, and children would agree—there is something special about story time. I can recall the thrill I felt at seven years old, sitting on the primary-colored carpet of my elementary school’s library, listening intently as the school librarian read us The Widow’s Broom or Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Some of my fondest memories include my mom reading me passages from The Secret Garden before bedtime, or my dad curling up on the couch with me to read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, or my absolute favorite, Curious George.
For me, the best part about reading books was being able to relate to the characters—and it still is to this day! When my parent or teacher made a direct connection between the book and my own life, the conflicts in the stories became real to me. I felt deeper empathy for the characters and imagined what I might do in similar circumstances. Now that I have been studying the CLASS tool for several years, I’ve realized that what I loved about reading as a child was aligned with interactions related to the Concept Development dimension—connections to the real world.
Concept Development can be a tough dimension for teachers to build in to their day; it involves providing children opportunities for higher-order thinking. It may sound daunting, but the good news is that reading stories to children almost consistently affords teachers opportunities to help children connect concepts from books to their own lives. To make learning come alive for children, teachers can plan questions that encourage children to connect concepts from the story to their world. Almost every book contains a central conflict or concept for children to consider in their own lives.
Here are some questions you can ask to get children to make these important connections:
Making real-world connections is important. Not just because it is an indicator of Concept Development, but also because it can help foster a love of learning for years to come. I’m living proof of it!
How do you make learning come alive for children? Share your experiences and tips below!
Teachers everywhere have yet another new challenge—supporting students and their families from home. We know that high-quality interactions, including interesting, hands-on experiences that are facilitated and supported with feedback, scaffolding, and higher-order thinking questions, best support young students' learning. So how do you help your students' caregivers offer the same high-quality interactions while at home? Well, Rachel Giannini has some super fun ideas to share! The following are ideas she shared during her session at our recent InterAct CLASS Summit.
It’s Dual Language Learner Celebration Week! Every year in the U.S., the amount of young children who live in a household where a language other than English is spoken has been steadily increasing. As of 2016, about one-third of children under age 8 – over 11 million children – are dual language learners (DLLs).
As an infant classroom teacher, you know that talking to babies is important. For instance, you tell the infants in your care what they are looking at (“You see the new block basket on the shelf!”). You label objects (“You have the red ball!”). And you describe events that take place in the classroom (“The tray just fell off the table! That scared you.”). These are all examples of talking with babies. Why, then, can it be so challenging to do this consistently in the classroom?