Music and Early Childhood

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Piano

Who doesn’t love music? But more importantly have you ever met a preschool kid who didn’t love to ‘get jiggy with it’ (sorry I had to) to a good tune? I haven’t yet. Music education shouldn’t begin and end when students go to their music class, rather music should be all around them in the classroom. I love using music to enhance my lesson plans and use them during transitions, which are typically a little challenging for little ones.

Below I’ve listed some benefits the Center for Children and Families in Norman noted.

1. Improves memory:
“Further research has shown that participation in music at an early age can help improve a child’s learning ability and memory by stimulating different patterns of brain development” -Eduardo Maruret, Conductor of Miami Symphony Orchestra

2. Helps develop language and reasoning
Basic knowledge of music and early training help develop the part of the brain associated with language, reasoning, and retention of information.

3. Promotes emotional development and empathy
Music can be an excellent resource for people who may have trouble verbalizing their emotions. This is especially beneficial to younger kinds. Incorporating activities that could help expand their vocab and the understanding of the emotional context of the music would be amazing to their development as young people.

4. Helps with pattern recognition
Student could benefit in almost every academic aspect with the development of pattern recognition.

5. Auditory skills
A well known advantage of training in the musical arts is acute auditory skills. Linguistically, students will develop a sense of tone and “information bearing elements in sounds” which will help with communication as their vocabulary expands.

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Preschool literature: Books about the weather

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Below are a list of books that can be used in a preschool classroom. This particular set of books deals with the weather. Some are informational texts, while others are natives or influenced by music. Enjoy!

 

1. Judi Barrett. (1978). Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. New York, NY: Antheneum Books for Young
Readers.
After an incident at lunch that left Henry with a pancake on his head, grandpa was reminded of a town named Chewandswallow were the weather was not like normal weather. It did not rain or snow, instead the clouds dumped food on the people. Things like juice and mashed potatoes fell from the sky. However, the weather turned into a problem for the people because of huge floods and storms with giant food with portions too big to consume.
This book would be interesting and fun for students because the weather in this book is not that of normal weather. Students could use the ideas in this book to compare and contrast normal weather events such as like rain or snow.
2. Bill Martin Jr. (1988). Listen to the Rain. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company
This book gives a descriptive and rhythmic description of rain. For example, “listen to the rain, the whisper of the rain, the slow soft sprinkle, the drip-drop tickle…” This book explores the sounds and feelings of rain.
This book could be used to incorporate music and movement into a weather unit. It encourages students to listen to how the rain may sound on different surfaces as well as the loudness of it. Students also hear the rhythmic pattern of the book.
3. Pat Hutchins. (1993). The Wind Blew. New York, NY: Aladdin Paperbacks.
The wind blew so hard it began to take things with it– Mr. Whites umbrella, the twin’s scarves, the judges wig, the mail carriers mail! The wind was on the verge of taking everything away with it. But then, it stopped.
This book also has a rhythmic pattern. It will encourage children to think about things the wind does and the strength of it. This book may also encourage students to think about things the wind may have blow away from them. It may be helpful to read this book during the spring.
4. Gail Gibbons. (19–). The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree. New York, NY: Voyager Books.
The seasons in this book are illustrated through Arnold’s apple tree. The book describes and illustrates how the tree changes in fall, winter, spring, and summer as well as what Arnold does with his tree during each season.
This book gives an over view of how each season affects the tree’s appearance. This book could be an introduction into an art lesson where students make their own trees and reflect on how different seasons would affect it’s appearance.
5. Betsy Maestro (1994). Why Do Leaves Change Color? New York, NY: HarperCollins
This book would be great to use during a fall unit. The book shows students different trees have different kind of leaves, some leaves turn color in autumn, and also explains why some leaves turn color. I really like this book because it has illustrations of the different kind of leaves and what they look like. Additionally, the students are introduced to the word “chlorophyll” which will enhance their vocabulary.
The book also is a great way to explain why certain leaves turn color and why the others don’t. There are also vivid, colorful pictures that highlight the information in the book. After reading this book, a nature walk where students observe the leaves changing would be a fun way to extend the learning from the classroom.

Tulsa World Editorial: State writing test flunks again

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TULSA WORLD: For the second consecutive year, the state Department of Education is ditching fifth- and eighth-grade writing test results when figuring A-F report cards for public schools.

It’s public acknowledgment that the 97,000 scores on the expensive test aren’t reliable.

School leaders complain that this year’s test had obvious scoring issues: Advanced students who were scored unaccountably low; some students who did poorly on the reading test did very well on the writing test; and large numbers of students receiving the same grade.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister inherited writing test contracts through fiscal 2019 worth a combined $48 million with Measured Progress.

An Oklahoma Watch story shows that the company was using graders recruited off Craigslist and paid $11.50 an hour. No classroom teaching credentials or experience was required.

Every paper was read by two graders, but if you don’t have the right people in the room in the first place, repeating the exercise doesn’t solve the problem.

Hofmeister questions the need for a separate writing assessment, and we see her point.

The costs of the test failure are not just measured in the money going to the contractor. Time has been taken away from classroom teaching to prep kids for a test that won’t be used to diagnose anything.

It could be an issue with the second vendor in a row, but it also might be an indicator of the impossibility of grading 97,000 writing samples in an economical, efficient and consistent fashion.

The Legislature needs to take a reality test about the idea of a mass writing exam and whether there might be a better way to get results that actually can be used.

Original Post: http://bit.ly/1IvqHlL

3rd grade reading results are in

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While there is a slight improvement from last year’s test scores, over 7,000 3rd grade students face will retention after 3rd grade reading test results.

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//storify.com/JayePelley/3rd-grade-reading-results/embed?border=false[View the story "3rd Grade Reading Results" on Storify]

3rd grade reading test results
3rd grade reading test results

Have Fun Teaching

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This past semester I was placed at a preschool classroom in Oklahoma City. While I was there, the teacher I was paired with used a lot of these YouTube videos published by Have Fun Teaching and the kids LOVE it. (I attached the ABC song that the kids sang every morning, but the channel has other videos for every letter and some videos for sight words).

I love these videos for three reasons:

FIRST- it integrates music and movement in with language development. Music is SO important in early childhood grades and learning through it is essential. Since a lot of fine arts classes are the first to be taken away in “failing” schools, it is more important than ever for teachers to integrate art and music in the classroom. And plus, listening to 4 year olds yell/sing is pretty entertaining. (I’ll talk more about this topic later on)

SECOND- the kids go crazy for these videos. Seriously, just listen to that hip hop beat and you can’t stop yourself from dancing. This was seriously one of my favorite parts of the day because the kids love it!

THIRD- not only does the video introduce upper and lower case letters, but it also goes through each letter’s sounds and separates consonants and vowels as well. Not many ABC videos I’ve found have done that so that’s why I really like this one.

Listen to the video and let me know what you think!

Teach For America is not a solution to the problem in American education

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Find more from The Oklahoma Daily: http://bit.ly/1y8q3Xf


About two years ago, I attended a Teach For America informational meeting. I was excited about the meeting and a little unsure what the program was about but thought it would be a great opportunity to travel throughout the United States. However, as I moved further into the early childhood education program in the College of Education, I realized that Teach For America actually degrades the professionalism of teachers.

According to its website, Teach For America is “growing the movement of leaders who work to ensure that kids growing up in poverty get an excellent education.” While the program does a good job of placing Teach For America teachers in lower socioeconomic school districts, they usually do not place qualified elementary or early childhood teachers in these classrooms.

Elementary and early education are specialized fields that most take for granted. We do not learn how to color or to babysit; rather, we learn how to teach children how to read, how to think critically and how learn to live together and prepare for life beyond the classroom. This is not an easy task, and without proper training, the learning development of our children can be irrevocably altered for the worse. Elementary school is where children get their foundations for all subsequent education.

Teach For America’s fundamental flaw is that they try to make teaching look like anyone could do it, but it’s not for everyone, especially those who are not qualified or educated. Why not have Health For America to teach unqualified individuals to become nurses in a few weeks? I’m sure it’s not too hard to give a shot, read blood pressure results or fill out paperwork about a patient’s progress — please note my sarcasm. My cousins, who are nurses, went through college to learn how to be professional registered nurses. They don’t have to compete against unqualified, uneducated individuals for their jobs, so why do teachers?

Teach For America not only denigrates the professionalism of teaching but it also peddles a flawed vision of how we can fix America’s educational system. If we have more teachers, then we can teach more kids. This is wrong. The formation of our children’s basic social skills and learning processes is not simply a numbers game. Our education system needs qualified, professional individuals in the classrooms who are trained and knowledgeable about best practices with children. Teach For America is not fixing the problem, rather it’s adding to it by taking away the professionalism of teachers.

Standardized testing for primary, secondary education should end

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Find my full article from The Oklahoma Daily here: http://bit.ly/1KcxG3F

If you’ve had to take state standardized testing, you understand how much of an added stress the tests are for teachers and students alike. Testing takes up precious class time so the state can put a quantitative value on a qualitative skill. Additionally, these tests take away from students’ motivation to learn and grow.

I want to say right now that while I am against standardized testing, I am NOT against assessment. Assessments are important because they guide lesson plans, gauge student progress and monitor teacher effectiveness. Standardized testing is not an accurate use of assessment. The test happens on one day during the year and is often an inaccurate snapshot of student progress. What if the student is sick? Didn’t sleep well? Has test anxiety?

State tests aren’t even made by teachers; rather, textbook companies make them. While the companies will know the curriculum to produce the test, the tests are not developmentally appropriate for students, and, I would argue, do more harm than good.

When I was in school, the schools did a week of mock testing, then a few months later the real state test would be administered. I always thought it was a huge waste of time. Two weeks for just testing? Those are precious weeks teachers could use to help their students develop deeper understanding of content or explore something outside the curriculum in which students have an interest.

Because the state invests millions of dollars into education, government officials wants to see if the money is being spent wisely, so they assess schools by standardized testing. However, what if instead of testing, students put together a portfolio of their work that demonstrates they are meeting standards? In this way, not only would students take ownership of their learning by creating this portfolio, but also the stress of high-stakes testing would be eliminated for something more valuable.