Life’s a Climb, but the View is Great

Life’s a Climb, but the View is Great

This journey through the R2P process has had its challenges throughout the semester, but once those challenges were overcome, I was able to better understand the actions I was observing in the classroom and the practices that teachers were implementing. Some challenges that I faced were learning how to hyperlink articles, provide substantial research, and create a story that is captivating to the audience. However, the R2P journey has helped me grow through observing, questioning, researching, and reflecting. Therefore, I had to climb over some barriers, but once I was over them, it was all worth it and the amount of growth and learning that came from it felt so great.

Observations: The View

Throughout this journey, I learned so much about the importance of observation. When I first started writing about observations in my posts, I included my thoughts along with what I saw. For example, in my It’s a Beautiful Day to Play in the Classroom post, I said, “Many of the activities available during free time consist of puzzles, building blocks, cooking food in the kitchen, taking care of baby dolls, coloring, playing with play dough etc. Even though many of these centers teach children valuable skills, there should be more play that is connected to academic topics.” However, I learned that observations should strictly be about what is occurring in the classroom because the information should be written without a biased input. During the Inquiry in the Rounds project, I learned the importance of observing. Observations allowed me to change how I was presenting the information to best meet the needs of the students. For example, in my Inquiry-Based Learning is like Sunshine on a Cloudy Day post, I wrote, “the students also seemed eager to learn. As they came to each station, they would excitedly read the title of what they were to be learning. However, as the day went on, the students appeared to be losing focus and becoming more tired. For example, students began to look around more and increasingly ask off-topic questions.” Due to these observations, I was able to change how the information was presented to keep the audience more engaged, which is also what I have to do when I write my R2P blog posts.

Question: The Climb

Throughout this journey, I learned how to rewrite questions in order to learn more about my observations. For example, when I wrote Keep Calm and Teach On, I had so many questions about calm down corners. However, Academic Search Complete didn’t have any articles written about calm down corners because the concept is so new. Therefore, the R2P process taught me how to think about the various aspects that I wanted to know surrounding a calm down corner. Once I thought about it, I realized that I was more interested in ways to help students calm down and self-regulate their emotions. Once I got a new perspective on the topic, I was able to get to the root of my question and find research to support the observations that I had seen in my field placement.

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Research: Supporting Yourself during the Climb

Throughout this journey, I learned how to find articles that contained information gained from scientific research and experiments. When I first started writing my blog posts, the majority of my research was supported by google searched websites and youtube videos. However, as I wrote my blog posts, I began to get more in depth in my topics and realized that it was becoming harder to find reliable sources through google searched websites and Youtube videos. This is when I realized that I needed to find research based articles to make my blog posts more credible. I also learned that it’s important to write a description about the article in the blog post. As a student and future teacher who doesn’t have much free time, I am less likely to read an eight page article if I don’t know what it’s about. I don’t want to risk wasting my time reading something that didn’t even interest me. I think many of us can agree. Therefore, in my last blog post, Keep Calm and Teach OnI found research-based articles, summarized them in my post, and attached the links for those who want to read about the topic further in depth.

Reflection: The View is Great

Throughout this journey, I learned that reflection is the key to success. At the beginning of the semester, I would submit my blog post after the writing and editing process. However, later in the day, I would think of things that I could have or should have added to my post. Therefore, I began giving myself some wait time before submitting my blog post. I would write it, go about my day, think about what I had written, then edit it. This gave me time to reflect on things that could be improved in my blog post before publishing it. In addition, reflection was a key component to my Inquiry in the Rounds project. I wrote about this project before I presented it, then went back and wrote about how the session had gone. This made me realize just how important reflecting really is for a teacher. I thought about the things I could’ve done differently, the things that went well, and the things that needed completely thrown out the window. I will continue to do this as I become a teacher because it’s important to keep improving yourself and becoming the best teacher you can possibly be.

Technology: How You Choose to Climb to the Top

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Throughout this journey, we were allowed to choose a form of technology to convey our message to professors, peers, and any one else who wanted to read. I chose to blog because I love to write. However, I learned so many things I didn’t even know I needed to learn when I began blogging. I started out having no clue how to hyperlink a website into my blog. In all honesty, I would’ve just copied and pasted the link in the blog, which I realized looks very unprofessional. Therefore, I quickly learned through Tatiana and her helpful videos how to hyperlink articles into my blog. After my first post, I realized that it only consisted of headings and my thoughts, observations, and/or research, which is VERY boring. Therefore, over the past few weeks, I have learned to add pictures, quotes, Youtube videos, and featured images. When I began, I saw it all in black and white: answering the prompts through headings and my responses. Now I know that there is so much more to blogging. It’s a story that is used to capture the audience’s attention to convey a specific message backed up with research. Blogging is a form of technology, but there is so much more technology that can be added into a blog.

The Experience

If I were to experience this journey again, I would push myself to try new things. For example, I chose to convey my message through a blog because I was comfortable with writing and it is something I enjoy doing. Therefore, if I were to experience this journey again, I would try conveying my message through another medium, such as a podcast. If I were to do this experience again with a blog, I would try to find new features that I could add to my blog posts. For example, I would try to add different sections in which the reader could click around and interact with different parts of the blog like recent events, online resources, a podcast version of the blog post, etc.

Takeaways

There are many things I will be taking with me as I go into my student teaching and teaching career. The most important thing I will be taking with me from the R2P journey is the importance of reflection. I plan to leave a section for reflection at the end of every lesson plan. After the lesson is taught, I will take some time to reflect on how the lesson went and write my thoughts down on paper. Another thing I will take with me is the fact that you can always learn more. When I started writing blog posts, I saw it as simply writing about a topic. As time progressed, I learned about so many different things I could add to my blog posts. There is still so much more that I can learn. Therefore, I’ll keep in mind that no matter how much I already know, I can always learn more. Lastly, I will take with me the idea of looking at situations in different ways. Not only did this help me find a way to frame a question, it will also allow me to better understand my students and where they are coming from. It took me a while to discover the root of the questions I really meant to ask in my research. The same can apply to a child who is difficult, you just need to dig deeper and find the root of their behaviors.

Advice

A piece of advice I would give to the next ERCH 496 students is to step out of your comfort zone. You will learn so much through this journey if you keep an open mind and are willing to try new things. It might seem like a lot of work at first, but once it’s done and you look back at it, you will see how much you’ve learned about the wonderful field of education. A piece of advice I would give Tatiana for the next iteration of the R2P project is to teach a mini lesson about an aspect to incorporate into our R2P posts at the beginning of class, then allow the students to work on their posts for a little, so they can ask questions as they work. I remember being very confused during the first blog post I wrote because I had no clue if I was on the right track or not.

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Life’s a Climb, but the View is Great

 

This song is a representation of my journey through the R2P process. As I navigated my way through creating a blog and writing each post, there were many obstacles that I had to overcome. I learned the hard way that you need to save your blog post if you’re going to take a break or everything will delete when the session expires after an hour of inactivity. I also had to teach myself how to add various features to my blog. These things took some extra time. Sometimes they didn’t even work. As they say, you win some, you lose some. However, it’s not about how it turns out in the end. What truly matters is how you got there. I learned a lot along the way through my successes and many failures. Looking back at it all, the climb was so worth it because the view that I have now on the field of early childhood education is so much greater than where I began.

 

Keep Calm and Teach On

Keep Calm and Teach On

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Welcome back! Today I am reflecting on things that I have seen in my field placement, which is a PreK classroom. Over the past month, I’ve seen children get overwhelmed or angry rather quickly as they move throughout their day. For example, one of the children in this PreK classroom will hit and scream if anyone gets close to a toy that he is using. Due to events like this, the teacher of this PreK classroom has recently created a calm down corner. The calm down corner consists of a colorful play box in which the children can sit or curl up with the many pillows and blankets inside. Beside the play box is a chart that allows the child to determine what emotion they are feeling. There are also toys such as a glitter ball, stretchy rubber snakes, stress balls, etc. that help the child relieve their negative emotions and refocus on regulating their emotions. After seeing how effective the calm down corner has been for these young children, I found myself wondering what more we, as teachers, can do to provide tools to help our students self-regulate their emotions.

What are effective techniques that teachers can teach their students that will help them self-regulate their emotions?

Social-Emotional Learning is Essential to Classroom Management

This article discusses the importance of teaching our students how to regulate their emotions. It also provides various tools for teachers to teach their students about how to express their emotions. For example, teachers can teach their students about I messages. I messages encourage positive communication by having the student tell another person “I feel… because… This allows the child to verbalize their emotions and teaches others to respect and empathize with those who may have other perspectives. Another example presented in the article is the use of a feelings thermometer. The teacher can place a printed thermometer numbered one to five on each student’s desk. The numbers show the students that feelings can be more or less intense. Students can use these thermometers to indicate to their classmates or the teacher when they are feeling overwhelmed and are about to “lose their cool.” This tool also does an excellent job allowing students to self-regulate their emotions and behavior. To gain insight on more tools to help students regulate their emotions, read the article linked above.

To learn more about the importance of I messages and how to use them, watch the Youtube video below.

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The We Helps Me: Poor Emotion-regulators Benefit from Relatedness

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This article discusses how children benefit from being able to relate to another person when they are unable to regulate their emotions. During this process, the mind shifts from me to we. For example, when a child is upset, they tend to have negative thoughts about themselves or how they are different. When teachers encourage their students to think or talk about the things that they have in common with someone, they have an easier time regulating their emotions. It is easier for students to regulate their emotions when they can relate to someone else because it makes them realize that they are not alone and that other people have those same feelings. It is also beneficial for the people that they relate with to share their coping strategies for that specific emotion. To continue reading about the benefit of relatedness, read the article linked above.

Reflection

Below is a trailer for a movie that goes along with the theme of the article, Keep Calm and Teach On. The movie, Inside Out, is about the different emotions that we have inside of us and how we can control them. The young girl in the movie, Riley, can’t focus in her daily life when her emotions aren’t regulated. However, as she learns to regulate her emotions, she gains normalcy in her life again. As a future teacher, I plan to incorporate the lessons from this movie into my teaching because it’s essential for our students to be able to identify their emotions and have coping mechanisms for them when they arise.

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How many of you have ever felt overwhelmed in the amount of work that you need to get done? As teachers, I’m sure we all have. Therefore, we can be that person to relate to our students and share our coping techniques with them. It’s also important to take time out of the day to teach our students how to regulate their emotions because these tools will become lifelong resources for them. As important as it is to teach the academic content to our students, it’s also important to teach them how to regulate their emotions. If their basic needs aren’t met, they won’t be able to learn what you need to teach anyway. So take that time out of the day to teach your students to keep calm so you can teach on.

 

Inquiry-Based Learning is like Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

How do Clouds Make Rain?: An Inquiry-Based Learning Experience

By: Savannah Garrett and Angela Williams

On Thursday, October 31st, a classmate and I will be presenting an inquiry-based learning experience to a group of first graders. The question we chose to engage the students is, “How do clouds make rain?” This question will be answered through a series of activities in which we will be presenting to the students. Throughout this blog, we will explain how to incorporate inquiry-based learning into your classroom, the importance of inquiry-based learning, and an outline for the activities that we will be presenting with our inquiry-based learning experience. 

https://www.ludicmedia.ca/mediawiki/index.php?title=Sharmishtha%27s_Reflection

How to Incorporate Inquiry-Based Learning into Your Classroom

If you’re interested in incorporating inquiry-based learning into your classroom, it is important to first choose a question that interests your students. If your students are interested in what they are learning, they are more likely to remember the information. Once you ask a question that interests your students, you can begin creating lessons based around that question. As you plan your lessons, keep in mind that you are guiding the children on their own individual learning paths, not providing them information. Lastly, be sure to include time for your students to reflect upon their inquiry-based learning experiences, whether it’s through a drawing, free write, or simply quiet time to think. Below is an article that goes more in depth about how to implement inquiry-based learning.

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This article is titled Inquiry Based Learning: A Teaching and Parenting Opportunity. The article is about how many of the ways that a teacher implements inquiry-based learning is much like parenting. There are many similarities between the two, such as keeping a growth mindset, learning from mistakes, and deconstructing tasks. Therefore, inquiry-based learning might be easier for you to connect with than you thought, especially for those parents who have already been through this or are currently going through the phases of parenting. This article provides insight into applying inquiry-based learning in the classroom, which makes this article a must read for teachers and parents. 

Why we Implement Inquiry-Based Learning?

It is often hard for some teachers to open their minds to new and different approaches to teach content. But, it is important to choose strategies that promote student learning and critical thinking. That’s why choosing to implement Inquiry-Based Learning is beneficial. Not only does it reinforce curriculum content, but it also can be used as a warm-up for the brain and to get students excited to learn. This approach allows students to take initiative for their own learning and can be beneficial for everyone. Additionally, according to this article, Inquiry-Based Learning sparks curiosity, allowing them to evaluate the environment around them. This promotes them to use basic skills of the investigation process.

Choosing to implement Inquiry-Based instruction over traditional approaches will allow your students to see learning in a new and fun way, where they are the facilitators. With this instruction being student-directed, it teaches children the many skills that are involved with asking a question and finding the answer. These skills may include; planning, problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration, which they will use throughout their lives as a learner.

Our Inquiry-Based Learning Experience

On Thursday, we are asking the question, “How do clouds make rain?”. We plan to engage our students by conducting an experiment using shaving cream, a cup of water, and blue food coloring. On top of the cup of water, we will put a layer of shaving cream covering the surface, which will represent a cloud. To demonstrate rain falling, we will put a few drops of food coloring in the shaving cream, which will eventually fall down to the water. We will have a small discussion on how rain forms and the different types of clouds. We will discuss how some clouds are seen before or after a rainfall and some are seen during. Below is a picture of our poster board and the outcome of the experiment.

To watch the activity in action, watch below:

https://youtu.be/1tAmm1NuGjc

Inquiry-Based Learning is like Sunshine on a Cloudy Day 

Inquiry-based learning causes our student to create their own pathway to learning. Therefore, it’s important for teachers to learn what interests their students and incorporate those interests into their curriculum. Both you and your students will benefit from it. Therefore, I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and create your own inquiry-based learning lesson or unit. Be your students’ sunshine on a cloudy day!

Update: October 31st, 2019

Observations from the Trial of the Inquiry-Based Learning Experience

After a very exciting time presenting an inquiry-based learning experience to 54 1st graders, it’s now time to reflect, as every great teacher does. Throughout the learning experience, the students appeared to be engaged by watching me and participating in answering questions, shaking the shaving cream to “create the cloud”, and adding blue food coloring to the “cloud”. The students also seemed eager to learn. As they came to each station, they would excitedly read the title of what they were to be learning. However, as the day went on, the students appeared to be losing focus and becoming more tired. For example, students began to look around more and increasingly ask off-topic questions. This was to be expected though, because the event lasted a little over an hour. As all teachers know, even with a brain break, that’s a long time to keep young students fully engaged.

Reflection: Glows and Glows

Each lesson comes with its own set of glows and grows. One glow that came from my lesson was the fact that I chose a topic that interested the students. I also included an interactive activity that each child was able to participate in and understood. For example, each child was able to tell me what happened to the cloud that caused it to rain. Another glow that came from my lesson was the movement that I incorporated throughout different activities. For example, each student had the opportunity to shake the shaving cream to “make the cloud”, add blue food coloring to the cloud, and perform their own rain dance before we made the cloud rain. Although I had many glows throughout my lesson, I also experienced some grows. One grow that came from my lesson was the fact that I didn’t have enough activities and information to present to last the full ten minutes. Therefore, I found myself having to think of more questions and activities to ask and do with the children. Another grow that came from my lesson was the difficulty of making sure each child could see everything that was occurring throughout the presentation. For example, some children could see the poster board, but not the activity or vice versa. This caused me to stop my lesson a few times to have children move to a spot in which they could see the activity or information being presented.

Modifications

A proud moment and highlight of the presentation was my ability to modify my presentation to best fit the group of kids that were in front of me. After the first time I presented my inquiry-based learning experience, I realized that I didn’t plan enough activities to last the full ten minutes. With the help of our wonderful assistant teacher, we were able to think of additional activities to complete with the children to ensure that we made the most of our ten minutes. For example, after the first time we completed the presentation, we incorporated a rain dance into our lesson. Before the kids added blue food coloring to the “cloud”, we had them all get up and create their own rain dance. In addition, after presenting the poster board, we began asking the children to look out the window and determine the type of clouds that were outside and what kind of weather we would be having based on the clouds. Lastly, we added the singing of the Itsy Bitsy Spider with movements with the students to show how rain impacts not only people, but animals. Afterwards, we asked the students about what they enjoy doing in the rain. Presenting the inquiry-based learning experience showed me that as a teacher, you need to be able to modify lessons as you go. As all teachers know, you never know what’s going to happen, so you need to be able to think on your feet.

Suggestions

  • While completing the cloud activity, make sure you have plenty of paper towels handy
  • While completing the cloud activity, leave some gaps in your shaving cream cloud or it will take 40+ drops of food coloring to get rain to fall from your cloud
  • Have extra activities in mind to complete with the students in case the activities don’t take as long as planned
  • Get the students up and moving or they will lose focus rather quickly
  • Choose a topic that interests students
  • Provide as many opportunities as possible for the students to participate in the lesson

 

HUGE shout out to my assistant teacher, pictured in the back center of the picture! My partner was unable to make it to our presentation, so Lauren stepped up and helped me. She made my inquiry-based learning experience transition very smoothly. I couldn’t have had such a successful experience without her. Thank you, Lauren! 👏

It’s a Beautiful Day to Play in the Classroom

It’s a Beautiful Day to Play in the Classroom

How high of an importance do you put on play in your classroom? In my classroom, there is a high level of importance placed on play. I am a huge advocate for play in the classroom because it allows children to learn at their own pace, develop their creativity and imagination, and develop social skills as they talk with the other children playing around them. Did you ever think there could be too much free play occurring throughout the day? I never thought I would ask myself this question until I entered a field placement classroom for children ranging from ages three to five years old. Some of these children will be entering kindergarten next year, but I feel as though some of them are not prepared, due to the amount of play time occurring in their classroom.

PreK Schedule (Ages 3-5)

8:30-9:30- Breakfast/Free Play

9:30-9:45-Small Group Academics

9:45-10:30-Free Play

10:30-11:15-Gross Motor Play (Recess)

11:15-11:45-Lunch

11:45-12:00-Music and Movement

12:00-12:15- Read Aloud

12:15- Nap

The children’s day consists of 15 minutes of academics and two and a half hours of play time. (Not including music and movement and read aloud)

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In my opinion, work and play should basically be the same thing. Children should be learning academic material throughout their play experience. However, this isn’t necessarily the case in my field placement. Many of the activities available during free time consist of puzzles, building blocks, cooking food in the kitchen, taking care of baby dolls, coloring, playing with play dough etc. Even though many of these centers teach children valuable skills, there should be more play that is connected to academic topics. For example, children could use play dough to practice making letters and numbers. Also, they could use building blocks to practice making patterns. There are many ways to provide play-based learning activities throughout the classroom.

To read more about how to implement play into learning, read this article: Play-Based Science Learning Activities: Engaging Adults and Children with Informal Science Learning for Preschoolers. 

The author of this article discusses an outreach project in the United Kingdom that provides play-based science learning activities for preschoolers, ranging from ages zero to five. The author also talks about how the outreach project provides scientific background information for adults. Lastly, the author discusses the various public locations in which these activities can take place.

Benefits of Free Play

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While it seems as though there might be too much play occurring in this PreK classroom, there are many benefits to play. For example, it can help students improve their social skills. It especially helps those students who are still learning English because it provides an opportunity for them to practice the new language that they are learning. I observed an ELL student playing in the kitchen. As she picked up a vegetable, she said the name of the vegetable in Spanish. Another student who speaks both English and Spanish would then tell her the name of that vegetable in English. Then, the ELL student would repeat the word in English. The assistant teacher in the classroom informed me that this student came into their classroom speaking zero English. Each week that I come into her classroom and observe, I see a major improvement in this student’s English abilities. Therefore, play in the classroom is beneficial to children’s social development and the development of language skills for ELL students. Play in the classroom also allows children to develop their creativity. For example, children can produce infinite amounts of creations with the blocks and art supplies offered in the classroom. I observed a student creating an architectural structure last week who explained that this type of building hasn’t been created yet, but he will make it happen. Lastly, play allows children to develop adaptive or self-help skills. When children play with baby dolls, in a kitchen area, or in a work shop area, it allows them to model skills such as drinking from a cup or bottle, eating, getting dressed, going to the bathroom, avoiding dangers, and working. These skills are essential to function, so it’s important for children to learn them.

To learn more about the benefits of free play in the classroom, read Play in Kindergarten: An Interview and Observational Study in Three Canadian Classrooms

The authors of this article discuss the benefits of play in kindergarten classrooms. They also talk about the various approaches to incorporating play in the classroom. One approach is that teachers can use play as an opportunity for children to play with whatever they want. Another approach is that teachers can provide opportunities for students to play with anything they pick, but also provide a separate time in which the students can learn academic material by playing. The last approach is that teachers can provide opportunities for students to play, but only if it’s connected to academic material.

It’s a Beautiful Day to Play in the Classroom

As we know, play is essential for all students. However, there are many different approaches to teaching with play. What is your approach to play? I believe that teachers need to provide time for students to learn academic material through play, but also provide time for free play. Therefore, I question whether or not the students in my field placement classroom will be properly prepared for kindergarten. Although there are many benefits to free play, I believe that there needs to be a balance between free play and play-based learning. Regardless of what approach you use to teaching with play, it’s always a beautiful day to play in the classroom!

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Who are your gurus?

Welcome: It’s a Beautiful Day to Learn Something New

We all have a guru that pushes us to be a better person, educator, and support system for o thers. Some of you may have just one guru and some of you may have many. Personally, I have many gurus that influence my teaching practices and pedagogy every single day. Some of my gurus reassure me and push me to be better, some shape my path in my teaching career, some teach me about the “how” and “why” in the field of early childhood education, and some allow me to gain new insights about teaching. Maybe some of our gurus are the same or maybe my gurus can teach you something new. Regardless of which one it is, let’s get started because it’s a beautiful day to learn something new!

Who reassures you and stretches you as an early childhood educator?

The person that reassures me and stretches me as an early childhood educator is a third grade teacher that I intern for at Ore Valley Elementary, Mrs. Shirey. As every teacher knows, not every lesson plan is going to be a success. Mrs. Shirey is not afraid to admit when a lesson falls flat. This reassures me because she’s taught me that if a lesson doesn’t go as planned, it’s not the end of the world. However, she stretches me as an early childhood educator because she emphasizes the importance of reflecting on lesson plans. Many times, I have seen a lesson not go according to her plans, but the next day she comes back and makes it magical. She also stretches me as an early childhood educator by emphasizing the importance of kinesthetic learning and movement in the classroom. For example, one day, she tried teaching her students about the various regions in Pennsylvania using a map. This lesson didn’t go according to plan, so she went home that night and recreated her lesson. The next day, she retaught this lesson using Poptarts, icing, and various candies. The students had to bite around their Poptart to make it look like the shape of Pennsylvania. Then, they spread icing across the top of it. Lastly, the students placed various pieces of candy across their Poptarts to represent the different regions and their locations throughout Pennsylvania. After this activity, the concept clicked for her students. Don’t you love that aha moment? I think most teachers do. Therefore, Mrs. Shirey reassures me and stretches me as an early childhood educator because she’s shown me that it’s okay if the aha moment doesn’t come at first, but she’s also shown me how to create those aha moments for my students. We should all aspire to be a little more like Mrs. Shirey.

Whose pedagogies are shaping your paths?

Everyone has their own pedagogies that shape their path, but there is one specific person whose pedagogies truly shape my path as a teacher. That is Jennifer Gonzalez. If you have not heard of her, you must go to Cult of Pedagogy immediately! (or at least watch some of her videos that I’ve shared below) This wonderful woman has her own blogs, podcasts, and videos based on teaching. In her videos, she discusses essential topics such as instruction, classroom management, educational technology, and advice for teachers. Below are some of my favorites:

The 5 Second Solution for a Talkative Class : This video shapes my path because it has given me a tool to use to have better classroom management when my students are being talkative.

The Reciprocal Learning Strategy : This video shapes my path because it has shown me a new way in which I can structure my instruction time. Also, when students teach someone about the information that they have learned, they are much more likely to remember it.

To learn more about reciprocal learning/teaching and it’s benefits, click here 

How to Use Quizlet : This video shapes my path because it has shown me how I can incorporate technology into my lessons and to help review past material with my students.

How Do I Help Slow Workers Speed Things Up? : This video shapes my path because it provides various ways in which I can support my students who don’t work as quickly as some of my other students.

Who is teaching you about the Why and the How in the field of early childhood?

As an early childhood educator, we’ve all sat through many classes, some better than others, and learned about the why and the how in the field of early childhood education. However, none of their reasons for why or how ever caught my attention and made me want to learn more. This all changed when I walked into Dr. William Himmele’s ERCH 485: Teaching Young English Language Learners class at Millersville University. I was blown away by how engaging and fun his class was as we learned about the why and the how of teaching students, especially ELL students. Dr. Himmele made me want to learn more about these ELL students, why they need our support, and how we can support them in their learning. He also made me want to learn more about why we need to make learning more fun and engaging for our students and how we can do this. I highly recommend reading the books that he has written with his wife, Persida Himmele, about having a language rich classroom and using techniques in the classroom to encourage total participation. Dr. Himmele and his wife will make you want to dive whole-heartedly into learning about the why and how in the field of early childhood education because they are truly inspiring.  Here you can find the website that the Himmele’s have created. On their website, they post videos, articles, and you can purchase their books, The Language Rich Classroom and Total Participation Techniques. These books are a must have for every teacher!

Who speaks truth to you? Shares new insights with you?

We all have that person who speaks truth and shares new insights with us. For me, that’s my mom. She teaches grad courses based on cooperative learning and kinesthetic learning, so she’s constantly sharing new ideas with me. It’s important for teachers to find ways in which they can make learning fun and engaging for their students, but many teachers ask, “how can we do that?” It turns out, there are so many simple techniques and activities available to teachers that they can use everyday in their classrooms. I’ll share a few with you! One activity that my mom has shared with me is called Inside-Outside Circle. This activity gets our students up and moving, while developing their social skills and still reviewing the information they learned. During this activity, half the class forms a circle. Then, the other half of the class forms a circle around the already existing circle, the outside circle students should each be facing a student in the inside circle. Throughout the activity, students move throughout the circle to review questions based on the topic they were taught. To see how Inside-Outside Circle works, click here. Another activity that my mom has shared with me is called Quiz-Quiz-Trade. This activity also gets our students moving, developing social skills, and reviewing information. During this activity, the students each have a card that contains a question or definition. The students work in pairs of two to ask each other the question on their card. Once both students have correctly answered each other’s questions, they will trade cards, find another partner, and repeat the process. To see how Quiz-Quiz-Trade works, click here. One last insight that my mom has shared with me is the importance of brain breaks. Our students need brain breaks to refocus themselves and recharge for the next lesson. Brain breaks are essential to ensure that our students are able to focus and retain the information that they’re being taught. To read more about the importance of brain breaks in school, click here. This author uses yoga as a brain break for her students, and the outcome is incredible. If you don’t know what brain breaks you should use in your classroom, click here. This teacher has created a list of brain breaks that she uses in her classroom, along with explanations of how to complete them. They’re definitely worth checking out! Overall, my mom is the person who speaks truth and shares insights with me. I plan to use her insights in my own future classroom.

It’s a Beautiful Day to Learn Something New

Over the years, I have learned so much from my gurus. I have learned that if a lesson doesn’t go as planned, tomorrow is a new day to try again. I have also learned new ways to use technology in my classroom, manage behaviors in my classroom, and vary the way I instruct my students. In addition, I have learned how to implement techniques in which I can get total participation from my students and how to better support my students, especially my struggling ELL students. Lastly, I have learned how to incorporate cooperative learning and kinesthetic learning into my everyday teaching practices. As a teacher, it’s important to step our of your comfort zone because every day is a beautiful day to learn something new!