Preschoolers: Why We Collaborate and Interact

Over the last few months, it has been incredibly rewarding to get to observe these preschoolers. Each and every one of them bring something new and exciting to teach me everyday. Between hearing about what they did over the weekend, and hearing about what they love about school, our conversations are never dull! I have tried to get to know all of my students, some of which I have created stronger bonds with than others, but I have gotten a chance to work with all of them! One of my favorite things to observe while in the classroom, is watching how all of the students work together.

This leading into my question that I have developed while in the field these last few weeks; what is the importance of collaboration and social interactions in a preschool classroom?

One thing that I found the be very prevalent in this classroom is the idea that the students are always working together. This could be in the form of helping one another recognize their name before morning meeting, reading books together during station rotation, or even boosting ones’ gross motor skills on the playground. As much as the students’ learn from their teacher during the day, they are also learning a great deal from one another.

In this article, they discuss the importance of the preschool age and how collaboration and understanding one another is a major component. It reads “due to the fact that preschoolers start distinguish between reality and appearance, they begin to understand that the way in which they express their emotions influence the dynamics of relations with the other person.” I have noticed this a great deal in my classroom, in terms of the students correcting themselves, along with the teacher. A prime example would be how I was in the classroom on Tuesday, and they had just introduced a new tool for the kids to work on their fine motor skills – hand hole punchers! As you can imagine, this is a very exciting thing for these young kiddos. There were two hole punchers, but 5 kids. I had a young boy want to use one, however, they were already being used by other students. This young boy started throwing a tantrum, however, about 10 seconds in, he stopped. He took a look around, and then looked at the little girl who was using the hole puncher. He then politely said “I am sorry for getting sad, could I use it after you?” He then proceeded to get the hole puncher, but could not figure out how to work it. The little girl then kindly explained and showed him how to use it. I think this is a great example of how students that are of preschool age, are slowly starting to think about one another while also supporting one another. This was a very wholesome and encouraging interaction to witness!

While also looking into this question, the idea of the child’s future came up as well. This article mentioned the idea of a students’ social development beginning in preschool and how it will progress while they grow. It states that “studies have shown that the development of strong social–emotional competence in pre- school is necessary for successful interactions with peers and adults, and such interactions may lead to better school adjustment and academic success.” I think this is extremely interesting, especially in regards to my classroom. I think, like any classroom, observing social interactions and development can be result in some very interesting findings. When creating a classroom, you are bringing students from all different backgrounds and home lives together. This can be a great tool for students to learn from other students that are their age, but from completely different cultures and backgrounds.

I think when looking back on this assignment, I have always been very interested in the social aspect of things. I am a firm believer in communication and collaboration, even in preschoolers. I think with all the learning that students get from their teacher, they learn almost, if not more, from their peers. Every student brings something new to the classroom. Between students working together to use new tools such as hole punchers, or taking the time to develop their social skills with one another, students are constantly learning from their peers.

R2P Post #3 – Part 2

As seen in our previously created video, our lesson for Eshleman was based on the seasons. Our main question that we created our activity around was “Why do the seasons change and how do we adapt?” We then explained a poster board to the students and then had them participate in a Summer verse Winter relay race. The students were asked to put all of their seasons’ clothes on and then race around the table twice. After we conducted this activity, here were our feelings about it:

Katie:

I believe our activity was a unique experience for each child. Some students were focused on the lesson, while other students just wanted to do the activity. A few students did not want to do the relay race at all, and would rather watch. Overall, students enjoyed dressing up and having to race around to win. Throughout each activity, modifications were applied to each round. The first group was hectic, and many students were confused. We even had a few students not properly wearing the clothing, which resulted in them falling. Many students were bored by the lesson and did not pay attention. Therefore, we had to shorten up the lesson, and spend more time on explaining the directions to the students. After a few groups, we even had demonstrators so the students could physically watch what they had to do. These modifications helped speed things along, while allowing the students to fully understand the activity. By the time we had our last few groups, we all got it down pat and perfected as much as possible. If we would do this again, I would have questions lined up to ask the students, and/or have longer or additional activities, because we ran out of things to do towards the end of the time. Otherwise, I believe it went great. I was proud of the way the students were excited about the activity, and participated to the best of their abilities. The students were also kind to one another, and did not become frustrated at slower students. 

Miranda:

Observations: The children seemed engaged in the beginning, and were engaged during the relay race. However, they were not very engaged during the poster presentation.

Reflection: Over all the center went over pretty well, we were able to determine what the students knew about the seasons, and then teach them what they didn’t. At first we just jumped into the poster presentation, but the students weren’t very engaged. WE then decided to add an introduction, with questions, to decipher what they knew and peak their interest. It opened up a discussion for them. No matter what we did with the poster presentation, that was where the students lost interest. Next time we could figure out a more interesting way to present the information. The relay race was a hit with the students, but it did not go well at first. The students were not completely putting on the clothes (which was causing them to fall), and they didn’t understand the relay part. We then started demonstrating the relay, and helped the students put the clothes the whole way on. This helped a lot, and the students were a lot more successful in the relay.

Audience engagement:

Advice – Make sure to carefully facilitate, athletic activities.

Questions- Does anyone have any ideas of how to present the poster information better?

Joanna:

I believe that our group did a very good job working together to make our time at Eshleman as rewarding and fun for the students as possible. Our topic was fun for us and the kids, as well as the relay race. Our group was adequately prepared for the extra time with coloring pages and stickers to hand out at the end. If I were to to do this again, I believe that making our group smaller would be beneficial. I think five was a little excessive, and caused at least one person to be standing around at one point. Not from the fault of the people, but we were doing the job of two or three people with five. Our activity was also really fun, however we had two students fall and hurt themselves, so if I were to do it again, I would have them run in a straight line or, as we eventually did, have one person on “lookout” so they could catch them around the tight bend. Miranda and I did a demonstration of the race, and that was a highlight watching the kids laugh at us and thenfiguring out how to do the activity themselves. I am proud that during the reflection time with all the students, our lesson on the seasons and our activity were mentioned twice! Our group did a lot of modification from the first round. We added an intro, shortened the “lesson”, added a demonstration of the race, took out some of the pieces of clothing they could choose from, took out the long scarf they kept falling over, had them sit after taking their turn, and so much more. I decided half way through that it was more effective for me to sit with the kids to help them put on certain pieces of clothing, remind them who goes next, and when to sit. Doing this made everything go smoother. Overall, the time at Eshleman was a great reminder of what I’m working toward!

Kyra:

Honestly, I don’t think that much of anything needs to be changed if we would do it again.  I mean, the book I chose was too young for them but that was only our back up plan so that didn’t really matter.  One thing that I didn’t realize until about halfway through the groups is that my poster was kind of confusing. As the earth orbits around the sun it is also spinning and that’s how the different hemispheres get sun in different seasons.  However, the way the poster was created made it seem as though the same hemisphere was getting sun in both winter and summer, which makes no sense. I did orally point out how the hemispheres are different to each group and only one child mentioned that it looked like the sun was in the same hemisphere for both seasons.  In order for them to understand this concept more thoroughly I would have had them spin around in a circle each time I explained a season. I think this would have made the lesson more memorable.  Overall, I’m extremely proud of our group.  All of our group members brought what they were supposed to bring and everybody did their part during the presentation.  I really liked that we had a poster as a visual representation of what we were teaching them about. I also really enjoyed the relay race because I liked that the kids could get up and move.  I thought that it was really cool that a bunch of the kids mentioned the relay race at the end of the experience when they were asked what they liked. Two main things changed after the first time.  The first thing that changed was my explanation of the poster. I talked for too long and went into too many details for their age group. Also, on the first try I didn’t let the kids put the suns up, I did it myself.  With every other group I made my explanation a lot shorter and I chose kids to put the suns up as I was talking about each season. The other thing that was different during the first try was the way that they relay race went.  We didn’t explain it well the first time and the kids weren’t actually putting the clothes on. They were putting the items either on top of their heads or just carrying them and it just totally ruined the fun of the race. With every other group we had Joanna and Miranda show the kids an example of what they were supposed to do and we explained it better.  By the time we got to the last group we had everything running pretty smoothly. The poster and accompanying explanation was going well. The relay race was being run properly and everyone was loving it. We even figured out what questions to ask the students for the last couple of minutes so that we could avoid awkward silences. We would ask them their favorite seasons, what activities we do in each season, what season we’re in now, and if they were going trick or treating.  I was really happy with how smoothly things were going by the end. It didn’t feel awkward anymore like it did for most of the groups. It felt like it ended just as soon as we got the hang of it. The only question that kept emerging was, “What does the weather feel like in different seasons?”

Carrie Anne:

Overall, I am extremely proud of my group for the work that they had put in to make our lesson at Eshleman run as smoothly as possible. When we first got there, we moved the table that we were originally given and turned it into a bench. This would be the item that the students ran around during their relay race. We then hung up our poster board for our presentation on the wall. As the first group was with us, we had instantly learned of modifications that we had to make. For instance, the students had began to lose interest during the presentation, we realized that we did not explain the relay race as well as we could have because we had students not putting the clothing on correctly which resulting in them tripping and falling. As each group came and went, we quickly made changes like, shortening our presentation to keep the students engaged, allowing them to manipulate the pieces of our board, modeling how to properly put the clothes on, physically demonstrating the relay race for them. These modifications seemed to help improve each round so that by the time we were on our last group, we had perfected our lesson so that there were no issues. Along with our presentation and the relay race, we also had season themed stickers and all four seasons coloring pages. I thought this activity went very well and I really liked how my group members came together to make the modifications that had to be created in order to make this activity run smoothly.

Summary:

As a group, I think we can all agree that our idea of using the four seasons and the question “what causes the seasons to change and how do we adapt” was a very unique and engaging subject to teach our students. Before we got to Eshelman, we felt very prepared and excited to work with our students. We all had the items that we were going to bring. Once we got to Eshleman, setting up was very easy and everyone worked together in preparation for the students to get there. Once the students were there and we had had our first run through with the first group, we were able to see the changes that needed to be made, and then we changed them immediately, and as each group came through, our presentation got cleaner. As a group, we all worked very well together to put together, modify, and execute our lesson at Eshelman.

R2P Post 2 – Field Observations

One thing that we do as college students who are placed in the field throughout the semester is observe. We observe the teachers, we observe the students, we observe the environment, we observe all day long. I was recently placed in my new field placement for the fall of 2019. Since then, I have begun observing and engaging in a preschool classroom for 4 hours a day, one day a week, that will carry out for 10 weeks.

The first day that I was there, I focused primarily on observing the environment and curriculum. I usually take this time to get to know the class schedule, the student’s daily routine, and the curriculum. This time specifically, I observed that the students arrive at 8:30am, and they have breakfast when they first arrive. Then, they move into morning activities. This consists of tracing their name on a sheet and then moving to the carpet with a book until the morning message. The morning message is a time for the students to say good morning to their teacher and one another. As the day moves on, the students interact with a read a loud, which are followed by a station rotation activity later in the day. Between these two, the students walk about two blocks to their playground in order to engage in an hour of active play a day.

One question that I have created while observing and interacting in a preschool for the last three weeks is, “What are the benefits of having a child learn to spell their name at such an early age?” I have been in some placements where the students are in first grade and are struggling to spell their names, while now I am in a preschool room and these students are doing work based around their name everyday, hoping to commit the spelling of their names to memory.

When going about researching this topic, I decided to broaden my question to “what is the impact of writing in a preschool curriculum.” This led me to many different discoveries. While researching writing in a preschool classroom, I found one article that led me to another, that led me to another.

In my first article, Emergent Name-Writing Abilities of Preschool-Age Children With Language Impairment, there was an entire section about name – writing among typically developing children. It spoke mostly about the importance of emergent writing and all of the ideas that go into it. As I read further, there was a quote that this article used from another journal that really stood out to me. It reads, “name writing represents one component of the broader construct of emergent writing and is viewed by literacy experts to serve as a window into a child’s emergent literacy development” (Ferreiro & Teberosky, 1982). I think this is a great way of showing that it is incredibly important for a student to learn how to write their name at a young age. Name – writing, especially in a preschool setting is crucial because a child’s name is the most important word in the world to them, not to mention the word that they will be writing everyday for the rest of their lives.

As I kept reading this article, I came across another scholarly quote that I really liked. It stated that, “indeed, the “own-name advantage” is a seminal theory of early letter knowledge, with children prone to learn the letters comprising their own name (particularly their first initial) significantly earlier than other letters” (Justice, Pence, Bowles, & Wiggins, 2006). I found this to be very interesting because I have been in placements where they swear by this theory, and I have been in placements where they believed that you learned the alphabet starting with A and ending with Z. 

After reading both of these statements, and thinking back to my field placement observations, I think it is safe to say that I strongly believe that students should be learning to write their name as early as possible rather than later. In field this semester, it is incredibly refreshing to see that this is such an important part of their everyday routine. I grew up in a curriculum where you learned the alphabet in order. I would not have known how to spell my name by first grade if it was not for my mother working on letter recognition and spelling with me at home. I will work hard in my future classroom to make my students’ names are a priority.

 

Cabell, S. Q., Justice, L. M., Zucker, T. A., & Mcginty, A. S. (2009). Emergent Name-Writing Abilities of Preschool-Age Children With Language Impairment. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 40(1), 53–66. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2008/07-0052)

Ferreiro, E., & Teberosky, A. (1982). Literacy before school. Exeter, NH: Heinemann.

Justice, L. M., Pence, K., Bowles, R. B., & Wiggins, A. (2006). An investigation of four hypotheses concerning the order by which 4-year- old children learn the alphabet letters. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 21, 374–389.

 

R2P Post 1 – Who are your Educational Gurus?

While being in the field of education, I have been asked multiple times about who my “Educational Gurus” are. Last year I did a semester long project regarding the history of education and its influencers. This project then lead to me writing my educational philosophy and mentioning many people who have helped me get to where I am today.

First and foremost, my third grade teacher, Mrs. Long, taught me almost everything I know about creating relationships with students and their families. When I was in third grade, I lost my grandmother, who at the time was my best friend. At school I started acting differently. I was much quieter, less engaged, and overall, a very different student. Mrs. Long noticed this and made a point to contact my parents to touch base with them to see what has been going on in my home life. Once it was known that my home life was just uprooted, she did everything in her power to make school life a better environment for me. From this experience, I had learned that it is extremely important for teachers to communicate with students as well as their families in order to get the best educational environment possible.

Another influencer in my life, who I was just introduced to last semester is bell hooks. Prior to last semester, I had never even heard of bell hooks. However, after doing hours and hours of research on her, I soon developed a love for her way of teaching and passion for education. One thing that really stood out to me when reading bell’s book was her drive to make sure every one of her students, no matter who they were, where they were from, or what their home life was like, was cared for and advocated for. One thing that bell’s book, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, states is that “teachers who have a vision of democratic education assume that learning is never confined solely to an institutionalized classroom” (2003, p. 41). hooks has made it very clear, numerous times, that she will do everything in her power to advocate and push for her students.

Lastly, another educational influencers who I admire is Lev Vygotsky. Lev Vygotsky created the Sociocultural Theory. This theory stresses the idea that the community or society that the student is in, is a major proponent in the students development. Along with community and society, social interaction is a major part of a students’ development. While doing research on Vygotsky and the Sociocultural Theory, I found an article called “Vygotsky’s Educational Theory in Cultural Context.” In this article, it states that, “for Vygotsky, the child’s development is structured through, embedded in, and mediated in and by relationships with peers and adults” (2003, p. 251). This relates perfectly with why I adore Vygotsky’s methods. It focuses on having relationships with peers and adults the main structure for a students’ development.

Finally, all three of these people focus on one main goal. Being social and creating relationships. Mrs. Long created a strong relationship with myself and my family (yes, we still talk frequently!), bell hooks took it upon herself to get to know each and every one of her students so that she could advocate for each of them, and Vygotsky based his entire theory around the social aspect of a students’ development. As a developing educator, I strongly believe that being social and creating relationships is the most important thing to do in a classroom, and this is exactly what I have learned from my Educational Gurus.

References:

Hooks, B. (2003). Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope. New York, NY: Routledge.

Kazulin, Aljaksandr U, et al., editors. “Vygotsky’s Educational Theory in Cultural Context.” 2003.

 

Welcome to my Blog!

Hi There!

My name is Carrie Anne Juba and I am currently and Early Childhood Education Major. This blog will primarily be used for my Research to Practice Project for my  Education class! I chose to do a blog post to help expand my knowledge on how to create a blog. Let me know if you have any helpful hints!