Showing posts from October, 2011

Big Ideas in Preschool

I've been thinking about big ideas a lot after a teacher development thing we did on backward design (starting from the understanding you want children to come to, and planning backward from that). More specifically, I've been remembering a project from years ago when I taught in the 5 year old classroom.
This project started off when a child told us at circle about how he passed a man on the street who didn't have any place to live. The children started to talk about experiences they'd had with people who didn't have enough to eat or a place to live, and how they'd given some food or money to help. Very quickly the discussion turned toward homeless animals who needed help. 
On subsequent days, thinking that homelessness might be a rich topic for further exploration, I tried to bring our circle discussions back to the topic of people who needed help, but the children always went right back to animals. Eventually someone told the circle about the SPCA and how it w…

Verbum Sat Sap

Last weekend I went to the 40th anniversary celebration (and big, huge reunion) of my high school. I often think about how the progressive public schools my parents sent me to; Drew Model School, Hoffman Boston and HB Woodlawn, have never left me. I'm sure the reason I strive to teach in a democratic, progressive way, comes from the way school was for me from 5th grade through high school. I bet my image of the child comes from the times that I was respected and listened to as a young person.
Until last weekend I had forgotten Woodlawn's motto; Verbum Sat Sap, which means "A word to the wise is sufficient". After a week of thinking about that phrase, I am struck by how simply it sums up what I think education should be, both by starting from the assumption that children are wise, and by it's suggestion that a teacher doesn't need to do much more than share a word in order to help a student increase their understanding.
Thanks, Woodlawn people!…