For the Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum course, Intern Teachers observe students, document their observations using a variety of tools, reflect on their documentation with colleagues, and develop and implement curriculum plans throughout the semester.
The course objectives are as follows:
- Observe and document students for the purpose of planning and implementing a curriculum that is relevant, meaningful and contextual.
- Reference Early Learning and Development Guidelines and/or Colorado Academic Standards in curriculum planning.
- Use literature related to child development and learning theories to enhance the curriculum.
- Collaborate with colleagues to create and implement the curriculum.
- Prepare materials to provoke student learning.
- Organize group learning experiences that offer the potential for peer learning and the potential for a differentiated curriculum based on individual strengths and goals.
- Integrate technology into the classroom in a developmentally appropriate manner.
- Extend the curriculum beyond the walls of the classroom, outdoors and into the community.
- Reflect on the roles a teacher can assume within each learning experience.
Each Intern Teacher enrolled in this course is working in an early childhood classroom, supported by a Mentor Teacher who has already completed the Boulder Journey School Teacher Education Program. Intern Teachers, with support from Mentor Teachers, gather documentation from their classrooms in the form of photographs, video, transcribed conversations, notes, audio recordings, graphs, and charts. These documents become data that is analyzed with colleagues to better understand learning and teaching.
Intern Teachers reflect on their documented observations, using the questions below as a framework. This framework supports their understanding surrounding the significance of what has occurred in the classroom and what future learning experiences could be offered in order to extend the learning:
WHAT? – Why did you plan this experience? How did you organize for this experience? What materials did you collect? What spaces did you utilize? What feedback did your co-teachers/mentors give you, and how did you integrate their feedback? During the experience, what were your students doing? What were your students not doing? What were the students’ goals, strategies, and theories? What were you and your co-teachers doing? What were you and your co-teachers not doing? What were the teachers’ goals, strategies, and theories? How were the goals, strategies, and theories of students and teachers the same and/or different? What else did you notice? What surprised you? What made you laugh or wonder or pause? What do you perceive as the successes and failures of this experience?
SO WHAT? – So what does this mean in terms of child development and learning theory? What is significant about what happened? What connections can you make between what you documented and what you have read and discussed in seminar? How does this experience connect with the purpose of education? What connections can you make to the Early Learning and Development Guidelines and/or the Colorado Academic Standards? By reflecting on documentation of this experience, what do you understand about teaching and learning that you did not understand before? In other words, what did you learn from the analysis of documentation of this experience?
NOW WHAT? – Now what will you do next? How will what you learned from the analysis of documentation of this experience inform what you do next? How might this experience be extended? How might you further challenge your students? Based on your analysis of the documentation, how many possibilities for future learning experiences could you offer students? What actions will you take? What do you need to learn more about in order to better support and challenge your students? How will you extend your own learning? How can families participate?
By engaging in dialogue surrounding these questions, Intern Teachers develop new understandings that are translated into curriculum possibilities. The curriculum possibilities developed by Intern Teachers are then implemented in classrooms. In this way, Intern Teachers establish a strong connection between ongoing authentic assessment and curriculum planning.
This way of approaching the development of curriculum offers Intern Teachers opportunities to make active contributions to the classroom. Intern Teachers are learning by doing, rather than merely learning by observing their Mentor Teachers, which provides a higher quality of teacher education.
We will look at a few of the ways the Intern Teachers have applied this coursework in our next blog.