Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do Not Underestimate Our Youngest Students

I came across a post tonight by Angela Maiers titled: Basics Before Big Ideas? NOT! While I was reading her post I remembered two things. First, I began thinking about our observation of Susan Kempton when she told us about the research showing that kids as young as 2 years old can infer.

The other thing that I remembered, was this graph that I came across in a blog post (Sorry, I can't remember who's blog in order to give proper credit).

While kindergarteners may not be able to read or write at first, they are more than capable of thinking critically and divergently. In fact, they may be better at it than we are!

There has been a big push in early childhood for "developmentally appropriate practice (DAP)". That push has helped more than it has hurt. It has kept standardized testing out of kindergarten and helped to keep the balance from leaning too heavily toward academics. However, some people have taken its meaning too far and made broad position statements that children under the age of 6 should not blah, blah, blah. To me DAP simply means differentiation - every child progresses at their own pace and usually going through the same stages.

While some students (probably very few in actuality) may not be ready for big idea thinking, many are. It is a crime not to provide the opportunity for big idea thinking when many are developmentally ready. Some children (I was one) are whole to part learners. They need to see the big ideas and see how they fit, before they can begin to focus on the individual skills that go into it.

Please do not confuse the inability to read or write with the inability to think!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Professional Development - A Request

Often we go to a training, we take notes, we think on it, and we implement pieces of it. I would like for the readers and contributors of this blog to think about adding one more step. I would like you to post your notes, reflections, concerns, ect. as a result of your training to this blog for several reasons. 1) Writing about what you are learning crystallizes the learning in the writers mind. It helps the writer to organize and understand more deeply what they learned. 2) It shares with others the content and value of various trainings so that their interest may be sparked and they can choose to go to said training when it is available in their area. 3) What one person took from a training, may have been overlooked by another who took the same training. It is helpful to read other peoples reflections - as they can extend our own understanding. Not that we all have to see things the same way, but the dialogue that can arise can help us to understand our own thinking better and be more intentional in the way we use what we learned.

Locally - our kindergarten teachers (and contributors to this blog) just attended an Orton-Gillingham training. I wish there were enough slots for me to attend as well, but I didn't want to take the slot of a teacher. I am curious to find out what your biggest take aways were from this training. What will you bring back to your classroom? What will you do differently as a result this year? We will also soon be receiving training in "Every Child a Writer" and web 2.0 tools. I would like to know the answers to these same big questions for these trainings as well.

Globally - What have you learned recently? What were your big Ah-has? How have you/do you plan to use that learning to increase your effectiveness with students?