From the NAEYC Standards:
STANDARD 5. USING CONTENT KNOWLEDGE TO BUILD MEANINGFUL CURRICULUM
Candidates prepared in early childhood degree programs use their knowledge of academic disciplines to design, implement, and evaluate experiences that promote positive development and learning for each and every young child. Candidates understand the importance of developmental domains and academic (or content) disciplines in early childhood curriculum. They know the essential concepts, inquiry tools, and structure of content areas, including academic subjects, and can identify resources to deepen their understanding. Candidates use their own knowledge and other resources to design, implement, and evaluate meaningful, challenging curriculum that promotes comprehensive developmental and learning outcomes for every young child.
Key elements of Standard 5
5a: Understanding content knowledge and resources in academic disciplines: language and literacy; the arts – music, creative movement, dance, drama, visual arts; mathematics; science, physical activity, physical education, health and safety; and social studies.
5b: Knowing and using the central concepts, inquiry tools, and structures of content areas or academic disciplines
5c: Using own knowledge, appropriate early learning standards, and other resources to design, implement, and evaluate developmentally meaningful and challenging curriculum for each child.
How I Strive to Uphold this Standard in my Classroom:
In my practice, I attempt to design fun, engaging, holistic lessons that cater to multiple learning styles and enable students to have an authentic experience of the materials and concepts being explored. Please refer to my Teaching Artifacts page to see examples of the types of lessons I offered to the PreK-3 students I taught during the 2012-2013 School Year.
This page allows a look into the types of lessons I offer in the different content areas. Notice that many lessons touch on multiple content areas. For instance, the Magic Counting Gloves touches on Mathematics (counting, quantifying, numeral recognition), Literacy (alliteration, repetition, and rhyme in familiar songs), and Physical Development (in using their hands to put down and put up various fingers in the glove activity, the students are giving attention to the fine motor muscles that need to be built in order to use writing utensils). This is a very useful activity that I have used repeatedly in my second year of teaching. I believe that by reading my plans, one can see that the lessons are not only fun and engaging, but provide multiple opportunities for learning and development.
Focus on Social-Emotional Growth
In all grades in school but, arguably most strongly in Early Childhood, Social-Emotional development is of paramount importance. Students first must learn self-control, self-regulation, self-care, and the ability to interact appropriately with others before they can be expected to attend to lessons and learn in a classroom. As such, much of the work I do focuses on building these skills.
Please see the “Heroes Studies” section of the Teaching Artifacts page linked above. This unit of study, which I did both in my 2012-2013 classroom and am currently doing in my 2013-2014 classroom, focuses heavily on Social-Emotional Development. As students work together to puzzle out their own definitions of heroism and what makes a “good” person, they begin to internalize these ideas and hold each other to such standards. In so doing, the students gain a self-awareness of kind and appropriate behavior that they construct for themselves, rather than having it fed to them by an adult.
Another way in which I aim to support social-emotional growth is through coaching the students in effective communication and in strategies for making good decisions. An example of this can be seen in the conversation transcribed here in a blogpost I wrote after working with students on positive behavior skills.
For this event, I chose to postpone a Literacy activity in favor of working with students on behavior at a time when it was live, raw, and relevant. I aimed to bolster students’ sense of self-awareness and to make them experts of their own behavior by inviting them to define behavior and control for themselves.
Ensuring that Content Areas are Universally Covered for Students
I work with an extremely collaborative staff. My students are fortunate to be offered five specials (PE, Dance, Music, Library, and Science) in addition to an intensive Art Studio experience in which students are pulled out for an hour of intensive Arts Instruction given by the Art Atelierista to a small group of 5 students. As my students receive Physical Education, Dance, Music, and Science outside of my room, I spend less time incorporating these areas into my plans. Art and Literacy are natural parts of my daily plans and activities and as such, my students receive lots of this inside the classroom as well as out. I aim to make sure that my students’ educational experiences are cohesive. I meet with each of the specials teachers and the Art teacher on a regular basis. I let them know about the concepts and topics being explored in my room and together, we generate ways that each of these specials can incorporate classroom content in instruction and activities outside our room. This way, I believe that my children receive a comprehensive and holistic education.