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!
Receive timely updates delivered straight to your inbox.
There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
It's not uncommon for teachers in early education to need to strike a balance between following children's leads and sticking to the classroom schedule. We know that intentional teachers are aware of their responsibility to assess student progress, understand skill mastery, and plan accordingly to provide opportunities for children to grow. However, many times, as teachers begin a specific teacher-directed activity, it is unsettling when students begin to veer from the step-by-step plans the teacher has worked hard to implement.
Teacher and coach, Colleen Schmit, will share how teachers can strike the balance between following the lesson plans and giving children freedom of choice and flexibility in the classroom.
We’re more than a month into the school year, and many educators and school leaders are feeling tired or burnt out already. That’s normal in any school year, as the newness of back-to-school wanes and the reality of a long year ahead kicks in. But, this year, that tiredness may feel like it has never felt before. Chalkbeat has reported that teacher vacancies are up in 18 of 20 large school districts, and it’s not surprising. Many are exhausted after a difficult year and a half (to put it mildly!). Many are also leaving the profession in droves to find work in competitive environments that provide a substantially larger salary.
As an educator, you’re busy. Your time is being split by competing priorities, from managing students’ needs, meeting your program’s goals, and communicating with parents. While you’re juggling your work, it can be difficult to keep learning about important ways to improve your daily teaching practice. Teachstone is here to help!