Learning through Play vs. Direct Instruction

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by Blue, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. halpey1

    halpey1 Groupie

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    Apr 24, 2011

  2. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Apr 24, 2011

    Looks like I have some summer reading to do. I hadn't connected that blog with you in my mind - cool! I have enjoyed many of your posts.
     
  3. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    It just so happens that Teacher Tom, whose blog I love, has an article on this very subject this morning - exploratory learning versus direct instruction:

    http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/
     
  4. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Ha, see isabunny......all is not lost! Perhaps you have the tools and just THOUGHT you weren't cool? :lol: I will take any tools you think aren't cool........:whistle:
     
  5. isabunny

    isabunny Comrade

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    Apr 24, 2011

    Indeed I have some cool tools and have learned many great ways to enrich lesson plans. My students loved WaProviders painting upside down like Michelangelo lesson! Thank You! However my tools are still quite limited. For some themes, like Pirates, I just don't have many materials. I am just quite worn out of making games, props and other items to fit the themes at this point in the year. I know as time goes by my collection of items will be much better and my centers will also grow. I have been building boxes and folders with all the props I have made and bought. Much better to be a preschool teacher in their fifth year, instead of the first! However in relation to the two teaching methods this post is about, my perfect classroom would merge both styles. More play based, but little bits of printed materials to suppliment. Maybe, because when I do direct instruction or even worksheet type stuff, I always make it animated, fun and engaging. I would never make my preschoolers sit down in a chair for an extended period of time doing worksheets! I think that is image most people have when they think of direct instruction. My point is that, why not use all the tools that you have available. I have bought some great Kidsparks curriculum and many preschool teaching books. I would like to use it all, but am limited by the rules as to what can be used. We know that young children learn through play based programs, but we also know they learn by looking at visuals in various forms, by writing on paper (making marks of anykind), and by memorization. Even if what is being memorized is only in short term memory and isn't remembered for the rest of their lives, memorizing when young opens up many parts of the brain. I saw a great Nova special on brain development years ago and that I will always remember. I always think about the brain as little hooks of information. As a teacher you set the hook, then hang hangers of information on the hooks you have set. So why not do it all? There is plenty of time in the day. Fifteen or twenty minutes of direct instruction out of an 9-12 hour day would be great for my five year olds that are ready for more direct learning. I would like to set as many hooks and hangers in these kids brains as I can!
     
  6. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Apr 24, 2011

    Wow, great discussion. In regard to the teachers who have a director who plans the themes for them--you can work around it. I love the idea of the over riding theme. In my classrooms, I, as director, would provide a "big" theme and the teachers could take it in many directions. Remember, the themes are not your curriculum. The concepts you are teaching are your curriculum. So, if you have catapillars as the theme given to you by your director, you still teach the same concepts of literacy, mathmatics, social skills, etc. You just make the science center full of catapillars information instead of another "theme." With this style, you make the directors theme evident in the decore, but stay true to the concepts you are teaching.
     
  7. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Apr 25, 2011

    AHHH, I think I see a difference in our language isabunny.....when I say tools I mean the big things like pens, pencils, something to count (even beans), a bulletion board, enough paint and paper, a comfy cubby system that can hold all the work.........and a microscope (just sayin' :blush:). When you say tools you mean the things that fill out a lesson like eye patches and gold coins and things that are theme oriented? That is fine. Just helps me see what we mean

    I would say that I don't have those things either. I do have hand-me-downs and I ask for a wish list from parents. If we are birding i may make them design birds out of paper plates to hang up in the room to "find" with tp tube binoculars. We are WAAAAAAAY to broke for all the items that I would need. We spend a fair amount of time "making" the items that we need for each lesson-but we do it together.

    I think, if I am not mistaken, you are the teacher that I was typing to that was in a program that ran on the week plan. Correct? I could totally see how that would blow you out of the water.....regardless of styles. As I said in this thread earlier I am now too old and tired to do the 1 week 1 topic plan any longer. :love: I do however, admire those of you that do.

    My best idea for solving your "materials" crisis is to just save the "garbage things" that you use in your house each day. Milk caps, juice/soup (if you have the cool opener) caps, recyclables and so on. Then when you need pirate gold grab a handful and say......could this work? We also spray paint a lot of things.....to be others.

    Our nursery rhyme was "sing a song of six pence" with the black birds. We had a donation of wedding doves....so i counted them out, sprayed them, had the kids round up the pie pans from the toy kitchen, had others stencil circles on the felt, had others cut the felt into pie crusts.....and 2 more find dice and boom....when the paint was dry we were long since ready to play! They didn't do the painting.

    This way, the children are helping you with the work load and you are involving them in their room design. The over arching theme may help you find a slower way to build....but you would at least get some of your home time back this way? :hugs:
     
  8. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Apr 25, 2011

    Love to teach prek

    I forgot to come back to your question. I must say I am not the end all be all of emergent planning, but this is how I do it.

    Often with a new group, or a group that isn't buying the drivers seat option for their education I have to bait the group with a topic.

    So we are about to fold up pets/animals and go into gardens. They don't know.

    So for the previous topic I start making summary posters, like you read about above. These not only help me see we have met all our goals and objectives but help me see how link the new lesson into the old one. One of the reasons I can't do the week plan well is that I see learning (especially when small) as a circle. All things go together. I just have to find out how.

    So, pets took us to animals and what they ate. This helped us see many of them at fruits, veggies and grass and things that we have outside. Spring has come, for real and the pet lesson has taught us about many birds that we see outside. Ok, so now you know the truth, it was more an animal lesson less a pet lesson. But if you buy food for the critters in the store.....I say they are an outdoor pet? So we will talk a lot about animals eating garden/yard things for a couple days.

    I will wonder, if our yard has enough stuff. We will look at animals in other yards and see where they stop to eat. I will talk about how watching them eat makes me hungry.

    Then we will start by planting flowers....specifically sunflowers....so the animals can eat.

    I know what you are thinking.....this is very "you lead" not child lead. The open ended questions will take us there, I will not just call circle time and announce that we are doing this. Storytime at the library will have this topic (it is on their calendar) plant donations will come in, since they are in the stores. Their parents will be planting. And of course the animals will be eating....as they normally do.

    I admitted I had a bait item. Animal/people food=garden. What we put in will be a new event. Where we put it will be new. The fact that spring comes isn't child lead....the fact you have learning goals in your classroom isn't child lead. However, how you reach them can totally be! Will we plant tomatoes? I don't know I haven't seen what they get their parents to buy yet!

    Some years we are all about the root systems, some years we love the seedlings, some years we are talking about farmers for the while time! It is here that the voting happens and the listening to the children.

    Once the bait is set, I wait and watch (while working....and in our area while planting or it will get to hot for starts to grow!). Many, Many, Many years we have ended up in bugs straight off without hardly doing plants. Sometimes we end up in a "what is a native plant/why can't a tomato grow on the hillside" discussion.

    Does that help? It isn't a mad house.......but it is taking each topic the way they want to. As long as the garden gets in.....we can talk about bugs in it....or rabbits....or tomatoes....or.....
     
  9. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Apr 25, 2011

    Emergent curriculum does not have to be all child initiated. I think it means--when you are studying birds and a child tells you he has a parakeet, that you talk about parakeets as well as other birds.
     
  10. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Apr 25, 2011

    In local Reggio schools they call it a "negotiated" curriculum. I don't really like the term but it means a mixture of child centered with teacher initiated based on what they know children need to learn. As with everything, I think a balance is a good thing.
     
  11. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Whew, thanks guys. That is exactly what I was trying to say. And like you scmom, I don't really like "negotiated" and therefore, forgot it!
     
  12. 3languages

    3languages Rookie

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    Apr 26, 2011

    collaborative teaching

    Hi...I've been following the thread and learned so much from all your answers. Thank you very much..I can see that even if we're across an ocean we have the same questions and ideas.

    I loved the assesment tip with the stickies and definitely will use it this next year...In our preschool we've started to change from traditional directed style to center and project based...The transition is hard and the level of enthusiasm varies.

    I personally think that a mix is needed, I went to Reggio and fell in love with it but I was also aware of what they said: this is our reality what you need to do is adapt it to you.

    I try to give my students as much control over what to do as I can... but I'm having trouble getting it into practice.

    Our main issue is that we teach 3 languages to each class but we do so in a very odd way....I share my kids with another teacher and she shares them with me....when we have to plan projects, activities and instruction we HAVE to do it together...

    We always have the same question....how to let the kid's interest emerge?
    Maybe I need an example...We are doing projects on animals...
    My kids vote to investigate the snake...but her kids vote to learn about the bees...
    so when her kids come to my class should i continue with MY project or go along with what they are doing with her?
    It would imply not one but two curriculums planned based on their interests....
    time to prepare beforehand for possible directions and time to meet with my partner to share...

    We try but it's exhausting...and not everybody is into it....

    So i'm asking, have you had experience on having to collaborate or plan with anybody on the amount of play or direction? Would anybody have a way of resolving this?
    How to give kids the chance to go with their interests without going crazy?

    Otherwise I'm thrilled to be reading all of your posts...they are amazing and tell me you are engaged and commited to learn to teach better and better...thxs

    If so how do you go about it?
     
  13. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Ok, I will try to get back to you this afternoon (my time). I would say that you don't take all the other things you are learning and throw them out, have a bee center and a snake center and decide how they are similar and different. I will be back.
     
  14. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    I have two classes and do different things for each class BUT no way would I have tried it when I was a new teacher or when you are learning how to do an emergent curriculum. In the classrooms of people who are masters of this, not all the kids in the class have to do a project - certain kids who are interested do it while other children do other things. In your case, I would probably do one after the other. There is no way you can do all their interests, so pick and choose and do them when it is convenient for you. Is it perfect - no - but it will keep you sane.
     
  15. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    In my program I try to keep the big "theme" alive. Some of the reason I choose to keep the big theme on hand is that I do a lot of comparing and contrasting, "I wonder, how is a snake different than a worm? Why can a worm tangle all up and go under ground but a snake can only wriggle and maybe coil?" and for that question I need tools. This not only allows for the comparing, but also for a different team to go in a different path. I commonly have a small pod of children on one avenue, and a small pod on another and some that are just using the classroom as normal....math games, sensory table and what not. These things are all "themed" in the regular sense, so that the children are encouraged to join the pod thinking about a deeper talk....but it isn't the only option.

    As far as your room where you are sharing, but you are both talking about the same over reaching theme....focus on where they are similar. Habitat pieces for the block area....extra animals to fill out a scene. Sensory table with gardens, bees and snakes co exist there maybe.....books from the library. Magnification glasses, posters.....many of these things wouldn't have only one animal anyway.

    The voting is important, but not the end all "bee" all......ha.
     
  16. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Apr 27, 2011

    Sharing a class might work if one of you did an emergent science thing and the other did an emergent art thing. That way, the concepts could be approached differently, but at the same time. Emergent curriculum is not a pure science with black and white approaches.
     
  17. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Apr 27, 2011

    I think we should write a book. These discussions are wonderful.
     
  18. Miller59

    Miller59 Companion

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    Apr 27, 2011

    Great thread!
    I actually wrote up a nice long post yesterday -- wonder what happened to it? Must of hit the wrong button.

    THis year when I planned I made an out line of the year. I penciled in some ideas for study that I thought would be interesting. Around Christmas I wanted to look at the traditions of other cultures. I thought it would be fun to study outer space and ice. I thought studying weather and wind in the spring would be fun. I left the rest of the year blank.

    This is the first time I planned this way and I really liked it. I knew that I could give up any of my plans if the kids weren't interested, but it turned out they were. With outer space they were mostly focused on rockets and the weather study only went as far as wind and the water cycle.

    Because we saw a puppet show of Aesop's Fables, these stories and puppets took a few weeks. And we moved right into rainbows from wind and the water cycle.

    I liked knowing I had some ideas for the year and having the room to go with the interests of the group. I'm sure this will be my planning method from now on.
     
  19. 3languages

    3languages Rookie

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    Apr 27, 2011

    I am certainly no master...still learning and trying :)
    I'd never thought of trying to find simmilarities and differences between their two choices..it leads me to think of having both groups sharing teachers more of an opportunity and not a burden...it really opens up a new way of thinking...

    i'm thinking the're could even be ways for them to leave "messages" of what each other are learning and open up new avenues of exploration...

    risky maybe...but I would like to try...
    Since these animal project we have tried other approaches...(dividing activities among us, brainstorming beforehand) but instead it just ends up being techer oriented and direct instruction again..

    I guess i have to keep reminding myself during the process that it's allright if the children have different ideas and to go with them.

    Hey Blue, I like what you said: "emergent areas"....that's great and will tell my partner.
    He, he. We ARE actually thinking of making a book of collective activities and practices from a lot of teachers of 3,4,5 year-olds to try to make literacy as emergent and play-based as possible...and I DO think this discussion is wonderful!

    (by the way thanks for answering, feeling very welcome here):)
     
  20. 3languages

    3languages Rookie

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    Apr 27, 2011

    bait the topic

    "
    I was re-reading WA Provider with this great way of starting new ideas: BAIT THE TOPIC..i could imagine kids being "reeled" in to a new adventure...great!

    I always felt before that it was sort of "cheating" if I provoked interests in the kids...that it had to be all them or all me kind of curriculum...
    So i really like the idea of negotiating....well not really a negotiation but a shared curriculum..

    I was listening to this guy speak about power...and how we as teachers and parents hate to relinquish it to the kids...like if we give them the power to decide they'll hijack power and go crazy with it...
    ...but rather to view it as a lit candle we hold and we're just lighting more candles around us. Result..more light...we all see better and create better...

    So I definitely like the idea of there being no black and white in emergent curriculum...thanks WAProvider for the idea...
     

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