A PUBLICATION OF THE CHILDREN'S LEARNING INSTITUTE
Starting the Year Right with Just Right Activities
To begin the school year with intentional instruction helps set the foundation for purposeful learning. “Intentional teaching is the opposite of teaching by rote, or continuing with traditions simply because things have always been done this way” (Early Years Learning Framework, 2009).
Prioritizing intentional teaching to best target a child’s skill development is crucial. As we plan accordingly to best meet the needs of individual students, we have the ability to change child skill outcomes!
Intentional Planning + Intentional Teaching = Targeted Outcomes!
Although the internet has lots of sites to look for creative ideas (Pinterest, Instagram, various blogs, etc.), one needs to identify specific activities that are “just right” for the student’s skill development. Using formative assessments such as the CIRCLE Progress Monitoring System or the Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment, which both include immediate results with recommended intervention activities, allows you to plan for intentional teaching.
The Children’s Learning Institute has a multitude of online tools that support teachers in being intentional with their instruction. One of the main tools that can be utilized to support “just right” skill development is the CIRCLE Activity Collection on the CLI Engage platform. These collections allow teachers to translate research into practice in a fun, playful and yet planned and purposeful way.
With these collections, you can plan accordingly by choosing the targeted domain and the teaching setting – this allows the option to use the activities with children during whole group, small group, and one-on-one instruction.
Activities include a full lesson plan that is scripted for gradual release with a child friendly introduction, modeling, guided practice, and a summary. Teaching tips for upper and downward scaffolds are also included.
Once directed to a selected activity, you have the option to switch from English to Spanish. Culturally and linguistically appropriate activities are provided in Spanish for all of the domains.
Activities can be saved to make your own personal collection! For example, if you have a child that needs more targeted focus on letter knowledge, you have the choice to select from a variety of activities that are specific to that domain and add favorites to your personal My Activities collection.
One of the most convenient features about the CIRCLE Activity Collection is that you also have the option of sending home activity links directly to families from the assessment tool. This helps with enhancing and extending learning outside the classroom to reinforce learning in the classroom in a fun way.
By utilizing the CIRCLE activities to their full extent, teachers have the ability to build a stronger foundation for school readiness.
But how do you know what to teach if you don’t know what the children know?In order to understand where to begin with a child, let’s take a look at the Assessment & Teaching Cycle.
First, we need to assess the children and collect the necessary data about the children’s knowledge to determine what areas need more support.
The data from the assessment should be analyzed by reviewing results and available reports. Take time to evaluate and reflect on what is needed to help you determine next steps.
After the assessment portion is completed and the data has been evaluated, it is time to plan for instruction. By determining the learning objective, you can then choose the supporting activity, gather the appropriate materials, and determine the instructional approach.
This cycle allows you to make adjustments in teaching and learning for individual students.
In addition, progress monitoring is a great way to respond to the children’s changing needs throughout the entire course of the school year. The teacher is able to monitor the child’s progress, document changes over time, and most importantly, make informed and intentional instructional decisions.
As teachers, you unconsciously instill in children different ideas about concepts and appropriate behavior through everyday normal routines. Since these routines are blended into classroom and instructional time, we don’t think about it much. However, when teaching becomes intentional, notes can be taken on the child’s development in order to plan for activities that enable them to move onto the next stage. By scaffolding up (or down), teachers can successfully provide children with a deeper understanding by meeting them where they are and building on the information that they already know. This is important because it allows the teacher to gauge where the child needs more help to learn a skill.
As the school year begins, utilizing these concepts will create an environment that establishes and reinforces both child and educator-guided learning experiences.
(2009) Belonging, Being and Becoming. The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Retrieved from https://docs.education.gov.au/documents/belonging-being-becoming-early-years-learning-framework-australia
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