Friday, November 14, 2014

Hands-On Science for Young Children

In early childhood it is equally important that science activities be hands-on, child-driven, authentic, and active. Developmentally, young children learn and understand best from what they can see, touch, feel, and manipulate. Providing safe, readily available materials that children can experiment with is one of the most important steps towards effective hands-on science investigations.
Effective educators use a child’s own natural curiosity and questions to fuel science investigations. Another way to explore science concepts is with informational books and stories infused with science concepts like weather, water, animals, etc. Science activities and investigations are also a great way to build oral vocabulary, develop reading readiness, and fuel literacy development.
Before educators can embark on designing an effective hands-on science program for young children, it’s important to know a bit about how a child’s brain works. The brain is a pattern-seeking machine, and science is the quest to recognize and classify naturally occurring patterns.
Children are naturally equipped to learn through observation and investigations. Every experience, every word, every toy deeply impacts her understanding of her world and the connections she makes. Every time a child learns something new, the brain rewires itself based on the child’s understanding. Every time the child repeats a task or a skill that particular neural pathway is reinforced and strengthened. “Learning changes the brain because it can rewire itself with each new stimulation, experience, and behavior”.  Providing varied and multiple opportunities for a child to use what she has just learned are important ways to help build efficient connections in the brain. It may be as simple as providing blocks to drop and knock over once you’ve noticed that the child is dropping a cup from the highchair. The more a neural pathway in a child’s brain is used, the stronger it becomes; conversely, if it is not used, the pathway can be lost.
Ms. Nora Sierra

EC Assistant Principal 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Word Analysis to Expand Vocabulary Development

By: Judy Zorfass

When students engage in "word analysis" or "word study," they break words down into their smallest units of meaning — morphemes. Each morpheme has a meaning that contributes to our understanding of the whole word. As such, students’ knowledge of morphemes helps them to identify the meaning of words and build their vocabulary. The Institute for Educational Science (IES) Practice Guide strongly recommends providing explicit vocabulary instruction, which includes providing students with strategies for acquiring new vocabulary. The ability to analyze words is a critical foundational reading skill and is essential for vocabulary development as students become college and career ready.
Teaching word analysis skills satisfies several of the Common Core State Standards for literacy, including:
·         CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
·         CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
·         CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
 Teaching word analysis
As you create your plan for teaching word analysis strategies, think about the tools and methods that can support students’ understanding, and provide students with opportunities to practice using these tools and methods. Think, too, about how you could differentiate instruction and take advantage of technology tools to engage the diverse students in your classroom.
You can effectively differentiate word analysis techniques by providing clear and varied models, keeping in mind the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Model how to analyze a new word by breaking it down into its sub-parts, studying each part separately, and then putting the parts back together in order to understand the whole word
It also helps to demonstrate that when you are studying vocabulary in a specific content area (e.g., science), you can find patterns in the prefixes that will help you understand what the words mean in that context. For example:
·         Science: biology, biodegradable, biome, biosphere
·         Mathematics: quadruple, quadrant, quadrilateral, quadratic
·         Geography: disassemble, disarmament, disband, disadvantage
Students should also learn to track both the words and the word parts they learn through these strategies. Show students how to use offline and online visual diagrams, worksheets, and graphic organizers to visualize the relationship between words and store new vocabulary.
Word analysis in practice
If you provide students with opportunities to repeatedly practice analyzing unfamiliar vocabulary, their word analysis skills will continue to develop. Engage students individually, in pairs, or in small groups in a variety of games and activities, based on their individual abilities and needs. Consider ways in which you could modify the following games and activities to benefit struggling students:
·         The mix-and-match game using roots, prefixes, and suffixes
·         A word search in social studies, science, and mathematics texts to find words with prefixes and suffixes
·         Using Scrabble or Boggle tiles to form and re-form words
·         Movement activities that involve students holding up cards with root words, prefixes, and suffixes and reordering themselves to make words
·         Inventing a word by creating and defining nonsense words with prefixes and suffixes
Build word study into your classroom reading routine by pre-teaching words, introducing new vocabulary words weekly, and reviewing new words. Motivate students to practice using their word analysis skills by having them create glossaries of words with prefixes and suffixes from self-selected, high-interest texts.

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Grade 1 Teacher

September 18, 2017

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