Asking the Important Questions


Observing in a classroom allows future teachers to gain hands-on experience on how to implement particular practices in a real life setting.  I am observing in a urban Pre-K Counts classroom with all three year old’s and a year two co-op teacher. After two observation days (a total of eight hours so far),  I have seen so much from the teacher and students that caused me to “think” and ask questions to myself.

Let me set up the scene so you can have a better understanding of the environment I am observing in:

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This is what a typical Headstart classroom looks like!
(or click here to see a video of a classroom!)

So I walk in, and am greeted simultaneously by at least two children that reach my knees, and are ecstatic to show the new person (me) the shirt they are wearing. I proceed to rotate around centers, which are play-focused STEM , music, art, kitchen and other learning centers. I rotate around the centers while sitting in a chair that is not meant for a grown human begin, and play with the children while observing their behavior.

8:30 arrival time – Choice centers/write name/snack
9:05 Morning Circle/Read Aloud
9:30 Choice Centers/Small Groups
10:30 Gross Motor Time
11:40 Movement Activities
12:10 Lunch

As you can imagine, observations allow for plenty of time to come up with a plethora of questions.

After exploring and thinking through the many I had, I came up with one big question that I am interested in learning about the most: “Why does allowing students to choose a center themselves work so well compared to having “rotations” or teacher-choice centers?”


Sometimes we get so caught up in appearing smart that we become afraid to ask the question that will actually make us smart. – John Hawkins

Student- Choice Centers

Head Start students at Woodland Early Learning Center in Kansas City, Missouri, played in their classroom during a recent afternoon.

Upon talking with my co-op, she informed us that a new policy Pre-K Counts and Headstart is following through with this year (new to her location, not all) is allowing the children to choose the center they want to be at during free time instead of incorporating a rotation system.

My co-op informed me this to insure that the children are learning as much as possible during free play by inquiry based learning through having the choice to make their own decisions. She mentioned that it helps with classroom management and behavior problems if the children are choosing to be where they want to be.


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So what does all of this mean? Lets get fact-checked by the experts. I’m going to focus on the question of choice making in the classroom. Remember talking about that? Well hopefully along with me, you found it interesting and look forward to hearing about what the big guns have to say about it.
Let’s dive in.

In a journal article I found called “Naturally Occurring Opportunities for Preschool Children With or Without Disabilities to Make Choices” all of the collaborators in this article have put their heads together and answered my

question! They start off by letting us know just how important choice making is in life. Not just for preschoolers, but for adults and those in between. Imagine if the freedom of choice was taken from you.

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When a child has a choice in the location which they want to work or play in, they tend to focus well on their work and in turn increases appropriate forms of behavior, thus decreasing inappropriate forms.

Keeping this in mind, although this may seem trivial to us, the more choice that students have in their day, the more learning, higher order thinking, and enjoyment is had.

We can attribute and compare this to inquiry based learning. In another article titled “Preschool: A Hearts-on, Hands-on, Minds-on Model for Preschool Science Learning” Trundle and Smith introduce us to the preschool learning cycle:

From this image, notice the exploration phase. This phase fosters explicit and intentional learning. After students choose their center of choice and explore and play in that center, teachers are able to ask questions that expand the students knowledge and understanding by asking those questions that produce divergent answers.

“Build on their incidental learning with intentional instruction to foster explicit learning”


So what does this all mean? I observed that the classroom is focused on student choice centers. From there, and after talking with my co-op, I learned

how choice has positive affects on the students behavior and learning. 
I asked the question “why does allowing students to choose a center themselves work so well compared to having “rotations” or teacher-choice centers?” This was answered through research.
Through the research, we were introduced to the exploration phase of learning. This phase fosters explicit and intentional learning  that expands the students knowledge and understanding.


What do we do with this information? How do we incorporate choices in the classroom?

We create a culture of inquiry by encouraging students to express their thoughts in a safe environment.  We (the teacher) seeks support from external resources.  Gain an understanding of the students. Lastly, keep an open-mindedness and spontaneous approach to learning.

to learn more, here the first video from a four part series on how to incorporate inquiry based learning into the classroom:

How To Get Into Inquiry-Based Learning: Part 1 – First Steps to Inquiry

Incorporate Inquiry-Based Learning into your Classroom. Start with this short four part video series. (Version française: PART 1 – First Steps to Inquiry ( Prepare yourself to create an Inquiry – Based activity for your classroom.


Jolivette, K., Stichter, J., Sibilsky, S., Scott, T., & Ridgley, R. (2002). Naturally Occurring Opportunities for Preschool Children With or Without Disabilities to Make Choices. Education and Treatment of Children, 25(4), 396-414. Retrieved from


Trundle, K., & Smith, M. (2017). Preschool: A Hearts-on, Hands-on, Minds-on Model for Preschool Science Learning. YC Young Children, 72(1), 80-86. Retrieved from

Who Are my Guru’s?

Who Are My Educational Guru’s?

Who reassures and stretches you as an early childhood educator?

My mom is a first generation college graduate. She went to TCU for speech pathology and is currently a behavior support specialist at a Headstart/ Pre-K Counts classroom in Harrisburg. I often call her after learning about new strategies or theories and talk about how to use them in my future classroom and how she sees similar being used in the classroom she oversees. 

There are many doubts I have while going through my education. I am getting closer and closer to becoming a real teacher but am sometimes feel I am not adequately prepared for the stresses of teaching an actual classroom.  Whenever I feel this way, I know that I can call up my mom and feel reassured that she is confident I will get to a point where the thought of getting in front of a class everyday is not so daunting.


Whose pedagogies  are shaping your paths?


As my pedagogies are continuously changing,  new concepts and theories are constantly changing my teaching pedagogies. However, over the last three years, one theory has stuck out to me as being a solid way of teaching that I plan on implementing in my classroom. That theory is inquiry-based learning.

IBL is based on student investigation and hands-on projects.  In this teaching method, the teacher is seen as a supportive figure who provides guidance and support for students throughout their learning process, rather than a sole authority figure. This type of teaching help students to see things in their own way, and come to conclusions on their own merit. This type of learning was inspired by Jean Piaget, one of my favorite educational theorists. 


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Inquiry based learning is paralleled with constructivism, the philosophy about learning that proposes learners build their own understanding of new ideas or skills.  Constructivism allows information that is absorbed by a child, allows them to build  knowledge built upon prior  knowledge, and help scaffold them into learning and adding things into that prior schema.

My path as an educator is still being shaped, with new ideas being thrown my way daily. I try to sift through ideas and concepts through the minds of my future students. I will never have a set pedagogy, as I hope that I am a life long learner, constantly digging for new information and ways to further my students love for learning.

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

Along with my mom and many professors that have helped shape my understanding and knowledge in the field of education thus far, I try to educate myself on my own time as well. I am subscribed to and watch a handful of teachers on YouTube who help take my learning to the next level with real world examples and context.

One of my favorite teacher-turned YouTuber’s to watch is Michelle Ferre.  She has named her channel Pocket Full of Primary and she shares her journey as a  fourth grade teacher in Maryland. Her channel is chock full of examples, help, tips, EdTech and so much more information that I have gleaned from for years. It is helpful to see the theories and concepts we learn about in class,  be used real time through her channel. 

If you get the time to check it out, here is a link to her most recent video:
“How to Not Feel Overwhelmed as a Teacher”

How to NOT Feel Overwhelmed as a Teacher

Don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe so you don’t miss future videos! MY TEACHERSPAYTEACHERS STORE: MY PO BOX: Michelle Ferré PO Box 719 Gambrills, MD 21054 POCKETFUL OF PRIMARY MERCHANDISE: MY AMAZON FAVORITES: GET 1 MONTH FREE OF HP INSTANT INK: __________________________________________________________________ Find me on my other social media platforms: INSTAGRAM: @pocketfulofprimary FACEBOOK: PINTEREST: BLOG: E-MAIL: __________________________________________________________________ *My description includes referral codes/links that allow me to earn points or credit that can be redeemed for products and/or subscriptions.

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

There are so many people in my life who encourage me through my journey as an education major, along with other avenues of my life. My parents have always taught me to surround myself with people who will positively impact my life in the long run, and thanks to them, I feel as though I have done that well thus far. 


There are so many people in my life who encourage me through my journey as an education major, along with other avenues of my life. My mom and dad have been huge supporters mentally, emotionally, and financially. Even though my dad has little to no prior experience with the teaching field, he is always there to encourage me and remind me how proud he is of me, something that may seem small but goes a long way. My brothers and sister are also very supportive. Now that we are all grown and have paved our own paths, we are connected and constantly lend an ear and word of encouragement when needed. 

Image may contain: 4 people, including Joanna Barninger, Jared Barninger and Matthew Barninger, people smiling, people standing and shoes


My friends are also a big part of my large support system. They see me at my highs, and my lows and support me no matter what. I also live with three other educators, so conversation about education is always happening at our apartment. My one roommate has been with me from the start and we have gone through this journey together, which makes the burden of school, work, and a social life less heavy to carry. 


In the ever-changing world of social media a lot of my insights are shared through people I do not personally know, but look up to in the education world.  There are so many people who share their stories on the internet that inspires me. I follow so many of these people on YouTube, like Michelle, and a plethora of others on Instagram. I believe this is a powerful tool to any educator, as long as I can quote president Theodore Roosevelt and remind fellow educators that “Comparison is the thief of joy”.

Top 100 Elementary Teacher Blogs & Websites | Elementary Blog

Utah About Blog What the Teacher Wants was started in 2010 as a way for Rachelle to post pictures of her classroom and share her teaching ideas. We share teaching ideas for the K-6th grade classrooms to make life easier for the teacher and learning fun for the students!

This is a blog that highlights 100 of teacher influencers, and is a great resource to browse for any educator that is looking for inspiration!



Borovay, L. A., Shore, B. M., Caccese, C., Yang, E., & Hua, O. (Liv). (2019). Flow, Achievement Level, and Inquiry-Based Learning. Journal of Advanced Academics30(1), 74–106.


Welcome to my blog!

I am a senior at Millersville University studying Early Childhood Education.

This blog is for my ERCH 496 class. On here I will be posting for my R2P project and taking you along with my research and observations.

Here we go!