2012-2013 Art of Teaching Courses
Courses Connecting Content and Pedagogy
Emergent Curriculum: The Child as Meaning Maker
This two-semester course, in which children’s interests and approaches to learning across early childhood and childhood, are emphasized in developing curricula with multiple entry points. We will reflect on ways of knowing in our own learning and that of the children, exploring teaching strategies that value, as well as expand, children’s knowledge and modes of thinking and learning. We will discuss how children’s interests and questions connect to the large ideas and questions at the core of the subject-matter disciplines. Central to the course is understanding how to create a curriculum that is driven by ideas—striving for wholeness, integration, coherence, meaning—and focused on assisting children in applying knowledge and thinking to real-life problems.
Language and Literacy
This two-semester course focuses on the making of meaning and knowledge through listening, speaking, reading, and writing in early childhood and childhood. All children—English speakers and English language learners—are recognized as capable of learning and of becoming competent English language and literacy users. Emphasis is on teaching that takes into account each child’s approaches to learning and pace in learning, valuing the complexity in developing instruction that builds upon what the child already knows and can do.
- Learning is a process by which each person actively constructs meaning from experience, including encounters with print and nonprint texts.
- Language and literacy are social acts.
- Language and literacy develop in the pursuit of real-life enterprise.
- Reading and writing, as with spoken language, are best learned in rich, interactive environments where they serve real purposes.
- Reading and writing do not develop in predefined stages; rather, literacy understanding is complex and unique to the individual.
- Language and literacy cannot be separated from the total expressiveness of the person.
- Literacy is power, and children must have every opportunity to know its power.
- Literacy teaching and learning must be re-envisioned to accommodate a multimodal, multilingual, multimedia world.
We will build our knowledge of language and literacy learning upon these assumptions by reflecting on ourselves as readers, writers, and language users. We will explore how children learn to read and write by observing them as they use language and literacy for real purposes. We will consider new media and technologies as modes of communication and expression and consider how they are reshaping the future of literacy. Our observations of children and our own literacy stories will help us understand the range and complexity of meanings and approaches among any group of learners. Our observations and recollections also will provide an entry point for discussions regarding differences in race, class, ethnicity, gender, and learning style. The challenge for schools to be inclusive of the diversity—to enable each child to differ, yet belong to the community of learners—lies at the core of our work. We will, through our Child Studies, our recollections, and the readings, begin to develop a picture of inclusive classrooms and schools in which children have the “space to dance with others” and the “room to differ” (Patricia F. Carini). The course paper will be an in-depth inquiry focused on language and literacy teaching and learning and on classroom practice and work with children, examined through the lens of your own philosophy, thought, values, and standards.
Mathematics and Technology for Teachers I and II
This course will place strong emphasis on students’ own understanding of mathematics as directly related to the mathematics that they will be teaching in early childhood and elementary school classrooms. The course will have four foci. The first is exposure to the students’ development of algebraic thinking and geometric reasoning through their own integrated study of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Students will problem solve and write about the metacognitive processes involved in these mathematical experiences. Patterns and functions will serve as the lenses through which students will examine connections and applications of the topics to the early childhood and childhood school curricula. The second focus is the development of an understanding of the content, concepts, computation, and teaching and learning strategies of mathematics in schools. Emphasis will be placed on the NCTM Standards and the New York State Common Core Standards; constructivist teaching and learning; inquiry-based learning; problem solving; and mathematical reasoning, connections, and communication. Students will be exposed to techniques in differentiating instruction that addresses learning differences, learning disabilities, and the special needs of English language learners, as well as ways to identify tasks that challenge and augment mathematical understandings. The use of technology as an integral support for the understanding and application of mathematics is the third focus. We will consider technology to consist of all the tools used to support understandings in teaching and learning. We will use programs in the College’s electronic classrooms. In addition to assessing and viewing software, students will create mathematical materials, learn to use a spreadsheet to collect and organize data, and investigate software directly related to their college-level study of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. The fourth focus of the course is the study and development of mathematics assessment and testing. Students will develop a math portfolio that represents their own mathematical learning and contains the materials that they have created and gathered throughout the course. In addition, students will write a conference paper that focuses on either early childhood or childhood education, depending on the area of certification that they seek. Students seeking dual certification in Early Childhood/Childhood Education will complete conference work and write conference papers for both certification areas each semester.
The Child and the Family: Social, Cultural, and Health-Related Issues at Home and in School
Children must struggle with many issues while making their way toward adulthood. Teachers’ understandings of family culture and the interconnections between health and learning are crucial to children's success in the classroom and central to the content of this course. We will study how families affect the development of children, for no other unit of analysis more richly displays gender, social, and cultural factors and their influence on individual behavior and development. Today, children spend more time than ever before in early childhood programs and grade schools. We will investigate how families and schools provide a framework for the exploration of the social world and socialize children according to cultural norms. Health and learning are intertwined in the context of the child’s social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development. In order for teachers to be equipped to help their students in the areas of personal health and safety, we will review the national and state health learning standards, as well as the range of environmental factors that inhibit children’s development and learning (including the identification and implications of drug and alcohol abuse). We will also examine the social, political, and psychological concerns faced by children with chronic diseases and by their families, and the plethora of health-care issues with which they must contend. Through readings and case-study analyses, students will explore the importance of teachers’ understanding of the complexities of the lives of children and families to better prepare them for the challenges of the classroom.
Children With Special Needs
All children in early childhood settings and the elementary grades have strengths and weaknesses. All children have areas in which they excel and areas in which they feel insecure. All children have times when academic learning is difficult for them while, at the same time, all children have the capacity to learn. Understanding the individual differences of an entire class of students is a challenge; and in order to meet the needs of our students, we must observe their differences and individual patterns of behavior.
Foundations of Education: An Exploration of Meaningful Learning and Teaching from Plato to the Present
This course will begin with a reflection on philosophical approaches to teaching and learning, as we investigate the implications of learning as acquisition, manifestation, and transaction. Students will read excerpts from the historical writings of Plato, Rousseau, Pestalozzi, and Froebel to better understand the roots of meaningful teaching and learning as exemplified in modern educational thought. We will then turn to a review of the history of public schooling in the United States, considering the role of education in a democratic society, as conceptualized by educational leaders such as Thomas Jefferson, Horace Mann, and John Dewey. We will examine the challenges and achievements of public education from colonial times to the present, with special emphasis on Dewey’s educational philosophy and practice and its impact on American education, as well as its relevance for contemporary practice. From this vantage point, we will then explore a series of issues facing educators today, as we consider perspectives on meaningful education for a diverse society and views of the learning process in contemporary culture, including philosophical and political implications and variations in classroom experience and practice. Students will keep a journal of reflections on their readings, together with a collection of relevant articles from newspapers and periodicals concerning current educational issues, and write a major paper focusing on their own educational values.
Observation and Documentation
In the Art of Teaching program, we place the observation and documentation of children and their learning at the center of teaching. The emphasis is on seeing every child as capable, unique, and knowable and on children as active makers of their own meaning and knowledge. Observing is focused on what the child can do and is interested in and on how each child thinks and learns. We assume that teachers make knowledge of teaching and learning through longitudinal observation and documentation of each child as thinker and learner. This knowledge is the foundation for curriculum development and instructional planning that accommodate individual interests and approaches to learning. The ideas and processes developed at Prospect Archive and Center for Education and Research, by Patricia Carini and others, will be the foundation of the work throughout the course. The Prospect Descriptive Processes and, in particular, the Descriptive Review of the Child will give students a formal and systematic framework for drawing together their observations of children over time. In addition, the review processes developed at Prospect Center will be discussed as avenues for collaborative inquiry and meaning-making among educators and parents. Students will participate in a Descriptive Review and will review longitudinal collections of children’s work. They will also learn about descriptive inquiry processes for reviewing curriculua and teaching practice. Students will share observations of children in early childhood and childhood education settings and develop a language of description. We will discuss the importance of creating classrooms where each child is visible through strength. Students will develop a child study that includes: a description of the child using the headings of the Descriptive Review, a collection of the child’s work, and reflections on the implications that the longitudinal documentation of the child holds for teaching.
Theories of Development
The field of developmental psychology has been shaped by several different, and often conflicting, visions of childhood experience. These visions have, in turn, influenced early childhood and childhood education practice. In this course, we will study the classical theories—behaviorist, psychoanalytic, and cognitive-developmental—as they were originally formulated and in light of subsequent critiques and revisions. We will focus on the kinds of questions that each theory asks and the “image of the child” that each puts forth. Recent challenges within the field have highlighted specific conceptual problems, which we will address. Are patterns of development universal or culture-specific? Can childhood experiences be thought of as proceeding in a series of stages? How do we construct methods for studying children that will recognize and validate the significance of differing social and cultural experiences? How can we forge a multicultural view of development such that development is understood in terms of how it is experienced within a given cultural context? The goal of the course is to prepare students to integrate theory and practice into their work with children. Required papers will reflect this integration.
Advisement and Practicum
The theme of the Advisement Seminar is to explore the connections between early childhood education, childhood education, and the ongoing education of teachers in the content disciplines. The seminar begins with observations of the very youngest children to help us begin to frame continuities and differences. Faculty from the Early Childhood Center and the undergraduate liberal arts faculty help us to think about learning as an ongoing process across ages and stages of development, leading sessions devoted to curriculum and its evolution both for children in classrooms and for us as teachers. We consider intercultural perspectives and themes related to teaching in a diverse society; view videos and films of children in classrooms engaged in drawing, writing, reading, imaginative play, and social-studies explorations; read source material in the content disciplines; and engage in hands-on explorations. The Practicum Seminar is a yearlong course that supports early childhood and childhood student-teaching experiences and provides opportunities to draw together the ideas, processes, and approaches in early childhood and childhood teaching practice, curriculum development, and instructional planning across content disciplines in prekindergarten through grade two settings and in grades one-through-six classrooms. Issues and questions that arise in student teaching and continue to be present in classrooms and schools will be explored. These include the role of observation and documentation as they inform assessments of children’s learning and of teaching itself; the creation of learning environments for children from birth through grade two and in grades one through six, inclusive of all children across racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and learning differences; the development of approaches that enable continuity for children between home and school and in their school lives; the development of classrooms as communities of learners; and the exploration of the teacher’s role and approaches to classroom organization and structure that relate to very young and elementary-age children. Other topics of importance in the course are the creation of opportunities and processes for collaboration among teachers, parents, and administrators and the development of strategies to reflect on, renew, and revise teaching with an emphasis on the importance of professional development. The “Practicum Seminar” also supports students in their continued efforts to understand the political nature of teaching, placing emphasis on educating for a democratic society. The roles of the family, school, and community in educating children are explored, as well as current philosophies and climate regarding home, school, and community relationships. Practicum Seminar students will keep a reflective journal of their field placement and student-teaching experiences, including observation and documentation of children, classrooms, activities, curriculum planning and facilitation, materials, and media. Students will also begin to develop, refine, and share their thinking regarding their master’s project topics.
Teaching and Learning for the Classroom Professional
This week-long intensive program is for educators, graduate students, playworkers in outdoor parks, children’s museums, and playgrounds, social workers, play therapists, and child life specialists, who are interested in learning more about the developmental importance of play. Through lectures led by experts in the field, the reading and discussion of articles, hands-on seminars, and observations, the program explores play in learning, therapeutic, and recreational contexts through an interdisciplinary lens. Participants engage in field observations of children at Sarah Lawrence College’s Early Childhood Center and at Community Adventure Play Experiences. Participants will receive a certificate with contact hours/in-service hours. Upon successful completion of the program and final written project, participants will receive one graduate credit in Child Development or Art of Teaching.
This week-long intensive program is for educators and graduate students at any stage in their careers who are working with children in early childhood, elementary, and middle school settings. The program’s focus is on shared experiences, reflection on one’s own practice, mutual support, and exploration of ways to maintain the child as the center of the educational process through experiential workshops and discussion with experts and colleagues in the field. Participants will receive a certificate with in-service credit hours. Upon successful completion of the program and final written project, participants will receive one graduate credit in Art of Teaching.