Building Foundations

by Faith Chung

When I first entered the 4th grade classroom, I was immediately struck by a lone word written on the board: "Purpose." Ms. Souza greeted me warmly and explained, "I wanted to introduce you to a key concept behind my class." She went on to do so, asking each student questions about the meaning of "purpose." As one student noted, purpose involved asking, "How does this apply to my life? Why am I learning this?" Behind each lesson plan, there was a purpose. Poetry allowed students to experience a different form of writing/communication. They filled in blank speech bubbles for cartoons in order to spark creativity and learn how to simplify and voice their thoughts. In fact, I was struck by the amount of projects accomplished and the purposes behind them. The purposes were usually specific instead of general, and the 4th graders in the classroom understood what they were doing and the reasoning behind it; they weren't blindly following the teacher's instructions.

Which is why I was puzzled by the raising-your-hand-before-you-speak rule.

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On Becoming an Effective Praiser

by Xuan-Shi, Lim

This paper presents instances of praising in tutoring and offers tips for making this strategy effective.

As a tutor assisting first graders with their writing, one of the difficulties I experienced is not knowing how and what to praise. Previously, I offered general praises for a variety of purposes: to encourage or motivate a child, to express admiration for a piece of work, to recognize a child's efforts, or to draw a child's attention to the useful strategies that he or she used. Consequently, I felt it was necessary to expand my vocabulary of praises to go beyond the usual "good job" and "well done." In fact, I have observed that general praises are well-received by children in many instances. In this tutoring position, however, I sometimes felt that I was giving empty praises. By reflecting on two incidents where the children I have worked with led me to reexamine my ideas about praise, I hope to underline some important considerations that would help tutors refine their skills in delivering effective praise. Also, in the last section, I highlight some additional guidelines which I have found useful in my own fieldwork experience.

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Undersea Creatures Curriculum

-Objectives: Teach students about the eight planets of our solar system while teaching math concepts, new English vocabulary, spelling, and grammar, and developing social skills.


· Introduce the Undersea world to students. Teach them how to name and identify undersea creatures: octopus, jellyfish, dolphin, shark, crab, lobster, puffer fish.

· English names for Colours

· Naming, Identifying, and Drawing Shapes.

· Math Lessons: Learning numbers in Shapes, Addition and Subtraction.

· Social Skill Lesson: Emotions, learning how empathize with someone else (understand what they are feeling and be sympathetic)

-Books to Use:

How Deep is the Sea? By Anna Milbourne

The Octopus’s Garden: Secret World Under the Sea by Dr. Mark Norman (includes supplemental DVD)

Teeth, Tails, and Tentacles: An Animal Counting Book by Christopher Wormell

Where is the Star? A book of Shapes from Ghana by Kathy Knowles

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The Planets Curriculum

-Objectives: Teach students about the eight planets of our solar system while teaching math concepts, new English vocabulary, spelling, and grammar, and developing social skills.


· The Five Senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste)

· Math Concepts: Some counting, Comparison, Large Numbers and Decimals

· English Vocabulary: naming the planets, English vocabulary for The Five Senses, making observations in English using The Five Senses, English vocabulary for Math Concepts.

-Books to Use:

The Atlas of the Universe by Dr. Mark A. Garlick

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Savannah Animals Curriculum

-Objectives: Teach students about the wild animals of the savannah, while teaching math concepts and new English vocabulary, spelling, and grammar. Incorporate learning of social skills, specifically regarding conflict resolution.


· Communication and Social Skills: expressing oneself to another person (in both Dagbani and English). How to introduce yourself and talk about yourself. Conflict resolution skills; what to do and say when someone upsets you.

· Math Concepts: counting and addition

· English Vocabulary: Naming the animals in English. How to describe an animal in English. Introducing yourself in English. Math concepts in English.

­-Books to Use:

Life-Size Zoo by Teruyuki Komiya

Animal Giants by Barbara Taylor

Eye See You A Poster Book

Teeth, Tails, and Tentacles: An Animal Counting Book by Christopher Wormell

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Hygiene Curriculum

-Objectives: Teach students about the eight planets of our solar system while teaching math concepts, new English vocabulary, spelling, and grammar, and developing social skills.
• What is “Hygiene” and why is proper Hygiene important.
• How to clean oneself.
• Simple Instructions (specifically those used for good Hygiene) in English
• Dressing and Getting Ready for School
• Math Lessons: Learning numbers in English, Counting
• Social Skill Lesson: Using “Please” and “Thank you” with simple instructions. Asking a colleague to wash their hands and use proper hygiene.

-Books to Use:
Maisy’s Bathtime by Lucy Cousins
Goodnight, Blue from the Blue’s Clues Series
Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson

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Ed Program Alums Create a Dance/Ed Cross-Cultural Exchange Using YouTube

A recent cross-cultural collaboration  by Sara Narva (HC '99) and Jess Mausner (Hc ' 06), two Ed Program Alums, and their students -- in Philadelphia and Cambodia:

Crefeld School students collaborate with students in Cambodia
"Flower Earth Dance" showcased at annual Spring Celebration of the Arts Show

Philadelphia, PA - When Crefeld dance/theater teacher Sara Narva learned that a colleague was headed to Cambodia to work with youth, she thought that maybe there could be a future collaboration in store for Crefeld students.

It turned out to be even better than she imagined, as her colleague, working with the Cambodian Living Arts program, soon sought out partner schools and students in the U.S. to whom her Cambodian students could teach a traditional dance.

Thus, students in Sara Narva's dance classes became involved in the Rebam Bopah Logkei (Flower Earth Dance) project.

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Reflecting on Curriculum Themes and Design Process Using a Cross-Cultural and Self-Evolving Process

Undersea & Across the Ocean

Reflections of Pre-school Module Building in a Cross-Cultural Partnership

By Briana Bellamy, May 2010, EDUC 225

When I first heard about the partnership between Bryn Mawr and the Titagya preschool project in Northern Ghana, I was immediately drawn to the opportunity to participate in a cross-cultural initiative that would appeal to my background in anthropology and expose me to a new lens through which to engage with cross-cultural settings.  Further, the opportunity to put the themes presented in the Empowering Learners course into practice deeply appealed to my interest in concepts of empowerment, especially when considering the powerful role which can be played in teaching and/or learning situations. After a semester of studying, discussing, and experiencing various themes and theories covering an array of education related issues concerning these topics, our final project presented an opportunity to put our knowledge and ideas into a solid, practical project that could potentially be used in an actual Titagya classroom.  Eager to produce something helpful and inspired by our ever expanding perspectives on empowerment and education, two other members of the Titagya/Overbrook praxis group and I decided to try our hand at designing a two week module that could incorporate many of the concepts we had been exploring in our own classroom. In doing so, we found ourselves faced with the challenge of addressing a variety of issues that arose due to the very nature of the partnership at hand. The process itself became a point of self-reflection, as it provided an enriching learning experience that drew on my own educational background and allowed us to explore the possibilities and limitations of a cross-cultural partnership of this kind.

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Reflections on Managing Emotion

Reflecting on my experiences in the classroom at my placement, I have seen how the experience of emotion for young children can often be raw and reactive. In the classroom setting, an upset child can be distracting to the movement of the whole class, but is also a moment in which that child may be processing his or her experiences and negotiating his or her emotional development. Thus, the way in which a teacher responds to an emotional moment in a pre-school classroom may help to guide the child’s understanding and experience of his or her own emotions.

This topic has recently taken my interest because some incidents in my placement class that have played out over the last few weeks. The class is a Montessori pre-school classroom, and the teacher has made clear her intentions that each child’s independence is valued on an emotional as well as academic level. This independence also connotes, I think, the notion of building strong character and giving a child a sense of empowerment through their independence and control of and within their own bodies. In my last visit to the class, one little boy (who we will call Sean) had multiple crying fits throughout the day. He seemed to be particularly on edge that day, and the teacher in the classroom said that he had also been acting out by hitting the other children lately. It was obvious that something was going on at an emotional level that was causing him lose control of his temper and his emotional bearings and lash out or cry.

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Confidence in English Ability

There are two students in my field placement preschool class that are English Language Learners.  One of them, Mally, is the best reader in the class, while the other, Leslie, seems very self-conscious about her English.  Whenever she wants to say something, she speaks very softly and just points at things.  I know that she's not shy because she has no problem coming over to me or any other person in the classroom and tugging them to play with her.  But she rarely speaks.  When the teacher, Ms. J, was helping her with an activity, Ms. J kept saying "Speak up!" She said to me, "I understand that English is her second language, but she knows enough of it."  Perhaps this is the case, but it seems as though knowing the language isn't the problem; the problem is knowing that she knows.  Her confidence in knowing the language is very low, which keeps her from communicating well to others.  I had a similar problem in my Spanish classes.  I knew the language, but I had very little confidence in myself about speaking it.  I needed my professor to tell me that I knew it and that I just need to act like I know it.  I wonder if this may be a similar issue for other ELLs in preschool, and how can educators help with this issue.  A confidence-booster from my professor helped me, but would it be helpful for a preschooler?