Review the unit readings and resources, including the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct sections I-1.8 and I-1.10 to learn about our responsibility as educators to teach children the importance of respecting and valuing differences in others. Children are naturally curious to learn about people who look or act differently than they do. Therefore, the early childhood classroom is an ideal place to teach them to understand and care about others so they can become responsible global citizens.
In this video, two teachers balance multiple ethnicities in their classroom. Pay attention to how they work to make all students feel comfortable and at home in the classroom, including students who do not speak English.
Describe the creative strategies and activities the teachers in the video used to make all students feel comfortable in the classroom. What strategies do they use to include students who have low English language proficiency? In your opinion, are the strategies effective in creating an environment that supports the needs of all learners and build critical? Why or why not?
Albert Einstein is famously observed that “the only serious method of education is to be an example” and for adding “if you can’t help it, be a warning example”. Reflecting on the first part of his statement, describe how teachers’ own attitudes and values can be reflected in the classroom. Share an example where you have observed or experienced negative attitudes or lower expectations for some people based on factors such as ethnicity, gender, or culture. What was the impact on those involved, and what are the lessons of this “warning example”?
With your peers, discuss strategies (other than the ones used by the teachers in the video) to teach a class with many different cultures represented. How would you apply these strategies using creative activities? How does the teacher’s attitude positively or negatively impact the environment in which these activities take place?
NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct sections:
I-1.8—To support the right of each child to play and learn in an inclusive environment that meets the needs of children with and without disabilities. I-1.9—To advocate for and ensure that all children, including those with special needs, have access to the support services needed to be successful. I-1.10—To ensure that each child’s culture, language, ethnicity, and family structure are recognized and valued in the program.
diversity teaching in a multiethnic classroom: this is a video but it's not letting me copy and paste it for you!!!!
NAEYC Program Standards
Knowing and understanding young children’s characteristics and needs.
Using developmental knowledge to create healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging learning environments.
Teachers arrange meaningful experiences that are intellectually and creatively stimulating.
To extend the range of children’s interest and the scope of their thought, teachers present novel experiences and introduce stimulating ideas, problems, experiences, and hypotheses.
Creative thinking is not a station one arrives at but a means of traveling. Creativity is fun. Being creative, feeling creative, and experiencing creativity is fun. Learning is more fun for children in settings where teachers and children recognize and understand the process of creative thinking. Incorporating creative thinking into all areas of the curriculum contributes to a young child’s positive attitude toward learning. As one student teacher commented, “I used to think that if children were having too much fun, they couldn’t be learning. Now I understand how they are learning in a more effective way.” This chapter addresses the relationship of creativity and the classroom environment, providing guidelines for encouraging creative thinking in the early childhood program throughout the day. In subsequent chapters, the same emphasis on creativity is applied to specific curriculum areas.
Creativity is an integral part of each day. It is part of circle time, reading time, and lunchtime—it is not limited to art, music, creative movement, or dramatic play (see Photo 2-1 ). Creativity needs to be a natural part of the curriculum and the learning environment. Children need know-ledge and skills to be creative. This unit will help you understand how to attain these goals. Throughout this unit, keep in mind that creative thinking is contagious—from teacher to child, from child to teacher, and also from child to child and teacher to teacher.
Creativity is part of each day and is not limited to art activities.
To express their creative potential, young children need knowledge and skills. Both knowledge and skills are necessary before creative potential can have true meaning (Amabile, 1996). Children cannot develop high-level creative thinking skills without the basic knowledge and skills of a particular area, in the same way that a great chef must develop basic culinary skills before creating a gourmet recipe. The curriculum is the teacher’s choice of what knowledge and skills are important and also developmentally appropriate for a particular group of children (Bredekamp, 2009).
An example of the need for a knowledge base emerged in the early pilot testing of a measure of creative potential for young children. The researchers were trying to adapt the classic “uses” task for preschool children. In this task, the children are asked to name all the uses they can think of for a common item. The number of original (that is, unusual) answers serves as one measure of creativity (Torrance, 1962; Wallach & Kogan, 1965). The researchers were puzzled when a group of preschool children could think of only a few uses for common objects such as a clothes hanger and a table knife. The researchers realized that the reason for the limited response was that the children had little or no knowledge and skill in the use of clothes hangers and table knives. In fact, most preschool children are not allowed to use these items. Knowledge and skills, then, are a prerequisite for creativity. Later research came up with better results when the children were asked to think of all the ways to use a box and paper, items about which the children had a working knowledge (Moran, Milgram, Sawyers, & Fu, 1985; Rushton & Larkin, 2007). Creativity evolves from a knowledge base—without knowledge, there is no creation. A child must understand in order to invent.
Thus, one important goal for the early childhood teacher is to provide an adequate base of knowledge and skills for children, while at the same time providing an environment that encourages creative thinking in the use of the knowledge and skills (Torrance, 1995). The curriculum is the guide by which teachers determine what will be presented to children. Creativity is fostered according to how the curriculum is presented to the child (Runco, 2008).
To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
— Joseph Chilton Pierce
Did You Get It?
· A preschool teacher trying to encourage creative thinking handed a group of her three-year-old students a rake and asked them to think of alternate uses for it. How was her activity flawed?
1. Three-year-olds lack the imaginative ability to think of alternate uses for an item.
2. Three-year-olds can only think concretely, not abstractly.
3. Three-year-olds cannot work effectively in groups.
4. Three-year-olds lack knowledge about rakes.
Take the full quiz on CourseMate.
Two researchers studied the relationships among pretend play, creativity, emotional regulation, and executive functioning in children. They assessed pretend play using the Affect in Play Scale (APS), which measures children’s cognitive and affective processes, such as organization of a plot or use of emotions.
Sixty-one female participants, in kindergarten through fourth grade, were assessed using the APS to measure pretend play ability, a divergent-thinking task (the Alternate Uses Test), a storytelling task to assess creativity, a measure of executive functioning (the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task), and parent report on the Emotion Regulation Checklist (ERC).
Using correlational analyses, they found that pretend play was significantly related to creativity as measured by divergent thinking and storytelling. Divergent-thinking ability, in turn, was significantly related to creativity in storytelling. No significant relationships were found with executive functioning.
The results of this study support theories that suggest play, creativity, and emotion regulation are linked (Hoffman & Russ, 2012). This study gives early childhood teachers further evidence that encouraging expressive free play with young children is conducive to creative thinking.
Let’s take a look at a preschool classroom where computers are available and observe the process of exploration as it leads into play. At first, the computer is novel, and children engage in randomly punching keys—exploring what the keys can do. This leads to the eventual realization that specific keys have specific uses. This process of exploring the computer to discover what it can do may take several months, depending on the frequency of the child’s exposure to the computer. When the child has gained an understanding of what the computer can do, she may move on to another question: “What can I do with the computer?” Equipped with the skills gained through exploration (using a mouse, for example), the child truly begins to play with the computer.
Here again, it is important for the child to have basic knowledge of what a computer can do and the skills to operate it. But young children also need to explore the computer before any more formal experiences take place. Then, after they have acquired knowledge and skills, they can use the computer creatively.
As children explore and play with materials in their environments, they are also in a sense shaping the brain (Catania, 2008). Those who research the human brain contend that experience, particularly in childhood, sculpts the brain (Fischer, Immordino Yang, & Weber, 2007). The brain changes physiologically as a result of experience. New connections are formed every day in active interaction with the environment. Handson activities stimulate various regions of the brain, and active participation helps young children form stronger mental association with their existing understandings (Hinton, Miyamoto, & Della-Chiesa, 2008; Rushton & Larkin, 2007). Therefore, the opportunities to learn actively in an environment provided throughout life and particularly in the early years help to create unique individuals. Other researchers put it this way: “Throughout life, we are both shaped by and shaping our environment” (Fischer et al., 2007). Passive observation in the early childhood program is never enough. As the ancient Chinese proverb states, “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Let me do and I understand.” Thus, the role of exploration and play is central to the development of creativity—at all ages.
Curriculum may be viewed as an outline of knowledge and skills to be learned rather than as a recipe for how they must be taught. The term learn implies that exploration and play are part of the process; the term recipe denotes a careful following of steps in a specific order and amount to come up with one precise product. As we know, young children are not all the same, so differing amounts and various combinations of ingredients are necessary for each child. Each child learns the same knowledge and skills in a unique way (see Photo 2-2); therefore, the recipe is continually modified. Keep in mind that developmental needs serve as a guide to the sequence in which all concepts are introduced.
Each child approaches creative activities in her or his own unique way.
Creativity and curriculum complement each other. The curriculum is a guide to the knowledge and abilities that are necessary to develop creative thinking skills. The curriculum provides the content around which creativity may develop. How the content is presented to the child is the means to creative development. When modifying curriculum to encourage creative thinking, consider the following points:
· The curriculum must be developmentally appropriate for young children. This means it will allow children to be both physically and mentally active, engaging them in active rather than passive activities (see Photo 2-3).
The curriculum must allow children to be both physically and mentally active.
· Be alert to and aware of children’s interests. Choose materials and activities that are meaningful to children in your group. Children, like you, are drawn to materials and activities that interest them (see Photo 2-4). Be sure to involve them in choosing materials and activities for the curriculum.
Children are drawn to materials that interest them.
· Provide a variety of materials that encourage children’s creative exploration. Allow children ample time not only to physically explore but also to mentally explore—think about—what they are doing (see Photo 2-5).
Children need lots of time to physically and mentally explore—to think about what they are doing.
· In planning curriculum, consider all the types of learning styles and multiple intelligences (ways of learning) of children in your group. (More information about learning styles and multiple intelligences is found in Chapter 5.) Plan activities that meet the different needs of all learners.
· Encourage children’s divergent thinking and curiosity. Let them ask questions and search for solutions to their problems.
· Encourage older children’s curiosity by giving credit in your grading system for questioning. In this strategy, students are concretely rewarded for curiosity.
· Be sure to provide opportunities for children to interact and communicate with other children and adults in an atmosphere of acceptance.
A note of caution is needed here in our discussion, especially about choosing creative activities for young children. Remember, a teaching activity that produces an enjoyable or creative outcome does not necessarily enhance creativity unless the students have the opportunity for creative thinking. There is a difference between creative teaching (the teacher is creative) and teaching to develop children’s creativity. For example, when you examine books of so-called creative activities, you may find adorable illustrations and unusual activities, but the input from students is fairly routine. A color-by-number dragon filled with addition problems may have been an original creation for the illustrator, but completing the addition problems and coloring as directed provide no opportunities for originality on the part of students. A crossword puzzle in the shape of a spiral was an original idea for its creator, but it still requires students only to give accurate (convergent) responses to clues and fill in the correct spaces. In both of these examples, those who created the materials had the opportunity to be creative. The students did not. In other instances, classroom teachers may use enormous personal creativity in developing activities that allow few opportunities for students to be original.
Teaching to enhance creativity has a different focus: the essential creativity is on the part of the students. If the students developed a new form of crossword puzzle, they would have the opportunity to exercise creative thinking. Creativity can also be developed as students devise their own science experiments, discuss a fairy tale from the viewpoint of a character in it, or rewrite Snow White as it might be told by the stepmother. When we teach to enhance creativity, we may well be creative as teachers, but we also provide students the knowledge, skills, and surroundings necessary for their own creativity to emerge. The results may not be as flashy as the activities book, but they include real problem finding, problem solving, and communication by students.
It is also important to remember that challenges are not just for our students. We can also challenge ourselves as teachers. One way to do this is to reflect on the ways we are providing challenges in our program. When modifying the curriculum to encourage creative thinking, we need to ask ourselves the following questions:
· Do I take time to observe children in action before stepping in to “teach”?
· Do I provide opportunities for children to use new understandings and skills in many different situations before moving to the next skill?
With open-ended materials, children are free to be creative.
· Do I add or modify the materials in learning centers or stations as I perceive children are ready for change?
· Do I feel comfortable being challenged? How can I challenge myself to grow as a learner and teacher?
Children are curious by nature. From the moment of birth, they are drawn to new things. When children are curious about something new, they want to explore it. Because exploration is a crucial part of the creative process, curiosity is directly linked to creativity.
To ensure that children’s curiosity doesn’t fade, the following are some tips to encourage curiosity in young children.
· Recognize individual differences in children’s styles of curiosity. Some children may want to explore with only their minds, while others may choose more physical ways—touching, smelling, tasting, and climbing.
· Realize that to some degree, these differences are related to temperament differences in the exploratory drive.
· Recognize that some children are more timid, while others are more comfortable with novelty and physical exploration.
· Understand that even the timid child will be very curious; he may require more encouragement and reinforcement to leave safe and familiar situations.
· Try to redefine “failure.” In real life, curiosity often leads to more mess than mastery, but it is how we handle the mess that helps encourage further exploration and thereby creativity.
· Use your attention and approval to reinforce the exploring, curious child.
· When exploration in the classroom is disruptive, contain it by teaching the child when and where to do that particular kind of exploration. For example, “Claire, let’s play with water outside” (Perry, 2009).
The curriculum that encourages creativity the most in young children is an integrated, whole curriculum. In an integrated curriculum , the artificial divisions among content areas are reduced. Although many teachers find it convenient to think about what the child will learn as separate categories of information, the integrated curriculum is not designed in that way.
Most often, an integrated curriculum is designed around a unit of study centered on a specific theme or project. The unit of study contains a coordinated series of learning activities planned around a broad topic that involves the whole group. A unit in an integrated curriculum involves all of the content areas (reading, math, art, music, social studies, and so on). Integrated curriculum units provide the topics and framework for planning activities for children. The length of time for the unit may vary, taking weeks or months. The amount of time depends on the topic and the interests of the children.
In an integrated curriculum, children are able to experience learning as a whole. For example, they can explore the idea of neighborhood and community by reading books, hearing stories, drawing and painting a community mural, and planning and preparing foods from their neighborhood and community. In this broad approach to learning, they are able to express themselves creatively in many areas and not just in the area of the arts (see Photo 2-7). Part 5 presents many areas of the curriculum and creative approaches to each of these areas.
Young children explore their world in many ways.
Did You Get It?
· When teaching addition, a second grade teacher gives the students small items to count and shows them how to write out the problems. Which method of modifying the curriculum to encourage creative thinking is the teacher applying?
1. Providing opportunities for the children to interact with other children.
2. Planning activities to meet the needs of all learners.
3. Encouraging divergent thinking and curiosity.
4. Allowing children ample time for mental thinking.
Take the full quiz on CourseMate.
Another term associated with effective curriculum for learners is differentiated instruction . Differentiated instruction is a philosophy of teaching and learning based on a set of beliefs that relate to encouraging creativity in your children. The beliefs of differentiated instruction are as follows:
· Children who are the same age are different in their readiness to learn, interests, styles of learning, experiences, and life circumstances.
· These differences in children affect what they need to learn, the pace at which they need to learn it, and the support they need from teachers and others to learn it well.
· Children learn best when they can make a connection between the curriculum and their interests and life experiences.
· Children learn best when learning opportunities are natural.
· Children are more effective learners when classrooms and schools create a sense of community in which children feel significant and respected.
· The central job of teachers and schools is to maximize the capacity of each student. (Tomlinson, 2000)
Differentiated instruction is a refinement of, not a substitute for, high-quality early childhood curriculum and instruction. Differentiated instruction is present in the early childhood classroom when the curriculum and instruction fit each child and children have choices about what to learn and how. Also, children taking part in setting learning goals is further evidence of differentiated instruction. Finally, in the early childhood classroom, with differentiated instruction, the curriculum connects with the experiences and interests of individual children.
Differentiated instruction is not a new phenomenon in early childhood education. The one-room schoolhouses of the past offered teachers the challenge of finding ways to work with students with wide-ranging needs. The contemporary approach to differentiating has been shaped by the growing research on learning—drawing from the best practices in special education, gifted education, and multi-age classrooms; recent research on the brain and multiple intelligences; and developments in authentic assessment.
In summary, the aim of differentiating instruction is to maximize each child’s growth by meeting each child where he or she is and helping the child progress from there. In practice, it involves offering several different learning experiences in response to children’s varied needs. Chapter 5 provides more specific information about activities for different learning styles and multiple intelligences.
One of the components of differentiated instruction is an understanding of the different ways children learn. Children think and learn in different ways. In any group of children, a variety of different learning characteristics will always be present.
An important factor in understanding learning styles is understanding brain functioning. Both sides of the brain can reason, but by very different ways, and one side of the brain may be dominant. When we talk about a person who is right-brained or left-brained , we are refer-ring to learning preferences based on functional differences between the hemispheres (sides) of the brain.
The left brain is considered analytic in approach. This means that a left-brained ( successive processor ) person prefers to learn in a step-by-step sequential format, beginning with details leading up to understanding a concept or acquiring a skill.
The right brain is described as holistic or global . This means that a right-brained ( simultaneous processor ) person prefers to learn beginning with the general concept and then going on to specifics.
Children who are right-brained are those whose right hemisphere of the brain is dominant in their learning process. This is in contrast to the majority of children, whose left hemisphere is dominant in their learning style. Each hemisphere of the brain has distinctly different strengths and behavioral characteristics.
Everyone uses both hemispheres of the brain, but some may use one side more than the other. For instance, you might have a dominant right hemisphere, which simply means that it is your preferred or stronger hemisphere in which you tend to first process most of the information you receive. That does not mean you don’t use your left hemisphere. You may use your right hemisphere of the time and your left hemisphere . Similarly, when we talk about children who are right-brained or left-brained, we do not mean they use only one hemisphere but simply that they use one hemisphere to a greater extent than the other.
The right- and left-brain hemispheres have specialized thinking characteristics. They do not approach life in the same way. The left-hemisphere approach to life is part to whole, which means it sequences, puts things in order, and is logical. The right hemisphere learns whole to part, which means it does not sequence or put things in order. Rather, it looks at things in an overall way or holistically . Let’s consider specific skills and in which hemisphere those skills are best developed.
The skills best developed in this side of the brain are handwriting, understanding symbols, language, reading, and phonics. Other general skills best developed here are locating details and facts, talking and reciting, following directions, and listening and auditory association. Children must exercise all of these skills on a day-to-day basis in school. We give children symbols; we stress reading, language, and phonics. We ask for details, insist that directions be followed, and mostly, talk at children. In short, most of our school curriculum is left-brained. We teach to the child who has a dominant left brain.
The right hemisphere is associated with an entirely different set of skills. The right hemisphere has the ability to recognize and process nonverbal sounds. It also governs the ability to communicate using body language.
Although the motor cortex is in both hemispheres, the ability to make judgments based on the relationship of our bodies to space (needed in sports, creative movement, and dance, for instance) is basically centered in the right hemisphere.
The ability to recognize, draw, and deal with shapes and patterns as well as geometric figures lies in the right hemisphere. This involves the ability to distinguish between different colors and hues and the ability to visualize in color.
Singing and music are right-hemisphere activities. Creative art is also in debt to the right hemisphere. Although many children who are left-brained are quite good in art, the “art” they make is structured; it must come out a certain way. They are most comfortable with models and a predictable outcome. Their pictures, or the things they create, are drawings made for Mother’s Day or turkeys drawn for Thanksgiving. Children who are left-hemisphere dominant are good at other-directed art.
This One’s for You!
As discussed in this chapter, both sides of the brain can reason, but by very different ways, and one side of the brain may be dominant. Find out which type of learner you are by checking off which of the following characteristics best describes how you learn. Although you probably will have checks in both lists, you most likely will have a majority of checks in one list, which generally indicates that particular style as your dominant learning style.
Check off the characteristics that are most like you in both of the following lists.
Successive Hemisphere Style
Simultaneous Hemisphere Style
2. Responds to word meaning
4. Processes information linearly
5. Responds to logic
6. Plans ahead
7. Recalls people’s names
8. Speaks with few gestures
10. Prefers formal study
11. Prefers bright lights while studying
2. Responds to tone of voice
4. Processes information in varied order
5. Responds to emotion
7. Recalls people’s faces
8. Gestures when speaking
9. Less punctual
10. Prefers sound/music background while studying
11. Prefers frequent mobility while studying
Children who are right-hemisphere dominant create “mystery” pictures. They show the pictures to you, but they aren’t quite sure what you are looking at until they start talking about it. For example, they may show raindrops falling and the sun shining at the same time
After listening to a story, children who are right-brained can retell the story in their own words without any difficulty. However, they are so creative that they usually add their own details and ending. From an adult’s perspective, it may seem they are exaggerating or embellishing, but in their terms, they are simply being what they are. They change stories, add details, and alter endings to meet their emotional needs. Feelings and emotions appear to be most dominant in the right hemisphere.
Now, armed with all of this information on children who are right- or left-brained, you need to reflect on your own work with children and ask yourself if your curriculum is directed toward only one type of learner. Are you in tune with the right-brained learners? You may find it helpful to go to the library and take out books with specific curricular ideas for children wh
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