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August 12, 2008

Plan, Plan, Plan

Hello! I'm Jennifer and I'll be blogging alongside Karissa and John.  I teach three-year-old pre-kindergarten in Washington, DC, and I'm excited to share my perspectives and experiences with you this year! 

Our first day of school is less than two weeks away, which means that I've spent these last few days of summer fully immersed in the process of PLANNING.  Good teachers, like good leaders, always begin with the end in mind.  Planning for my students is an ongoing process that begins over the summer and continues throughout the year.  First, I review my curriculum standards and identify the most important skills and concepts that my students need to learn by the end of the year.  From there, I develop concrete goals for what I want my students to achieve in regards to these standards, and then I "backwards plan" my year to ensure that my students meet their goals.  Some of my goals for my students this year include:

  •  Describing feelings and their causes
  •  Solving problems independently and with a peer
  • Identifying, extending, and creating patterns
  • Counting to 20
  • Orally blending two syllables to make a word (e.g. “mom” plus “ee” makes “mommy”)
  • Recognizing familiar words (e.g. classmates' names) in print

These are ambitious goals for three-year-olds, but I am confident in my students’ ability to achieve – and potentially surpass – each goal.  My long term plan, a calendar that outlines when I am going to introduce (and review!) each curriculum standard, ensures that I introduce foundational skills and knowledge at the beginning of the year and then provide opportunities for my students to extend and develop those skills and knowledge as the year progresses.  My ongoing observations of my students help me reflect on their progress and adjust my instruction to meet their individual needs.  This constant process of planning ensures that each of my students is able to learn at his or her own pace, while always working toward our ultimate goals.

Unlike many states, Washington, DC offers pre-kindergarten to three year olds, and I can’t help but think about how lucky my students are to have this tremendous opportunity.  I know that by June, when my students achieve their goals, they will be prepared with the social-emotional, physical, cognitive, and language skills that they need to succeed in four-year-old pre-k, and I can only imagine the impact that their experiences in pre-k will have on their futures. 

Comments

Jenn,

I'm so glad you will be blogging about your 3-year-olds! It sounds like you provide your children with the highly purposeful introduction to school they deserve. I look forward to reading more.

Regards,
Sophia

Jenn,
great post. I have found that teaching problem solving is one of the hardest skills to teach. How might you unpack that goal over the year?

Great post!

John --
Thanks for asking more about problem solving! This definitely is a challenging area, but it's actually one of my favorite things to teach. I love it because it encompasses so much -- emotions, friendships, curiosity, language, creativity, etc. -- and the way that each student approaches the same problem is bound to be different.

I begin teaching problem solving by teaching my kids what a "problem" is, and giving them lots of practice identifying problems throughout the day. We always talk about how to "solve" problems as well. I explain to my students that when you have a problem with another person, the problem is solved when both people feel better. If you have a problem with an object/situation, you have to do something to change it.

As you surely know, it takes a long time to teach problem solving, and the process is definitely not over by the time my kids leave my class. My hope is that by the end of the year, my students will develop an approach to problem solving that will give them the skills and confidence to successfully resolve problems in the future.

I'm looking forward to writing more about this -- and getting your perspective on problem solving -- in future posts!

Jen,

It is so great to hear about your teaching experiences. Team Awesome seems to be having a very positive influence on Pre-K in Washington DC.

Best of Luck!

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