Thursday, May 22, 2014

Five Domains of Development: Providing a Picture of the Whole Child

by Dr. Cynthia Dewey

As educators, we understand that how children learn is connected across multiple learning domains. For example, how children approach a learning task is connected to their cognitive development, their emotional-social development, their health and physical development, and their language development and communication skills. Observing for behaviors within these developmental domains helps us to get a more complete picture of what children know and are able to do. How well children perform in one area impacts how well they’ll perform in others, which could ultimately affect whether or not they reach their potential.

It is important to us, in the NC Office of Early Learning, to utilize Learning Domains and a whole child lens as the K-3 Formative Assessment is developed. The five domains included in the K-3 Formative Assessment are: Approaches to Learning, Cognitive Development, Emotional-Social Development, Health & Physical Development, and Language Development & Communication.  

The following examples from the NC Foundations for Early Learning and Development demonstrate what each domain might look like in K-3 classrooms.

Learning Domain
Classroom Application

Approaches to Learning

·         During a class meeting, the teacher may listen and respond to students as they share thoughts.
·         Encouraging students to think about new ideas and/or approaches.
·         Helping students to think and talk through different approaches to problems.
·         Ask probing questions to help students stay focused on task.

Emotional and 
Social Development
·         Allow students to participate in discussions related to classroom decisions and helping to establish rules and routines.
·         Read a familiar book and discuss each character’s feelings or reactions.

Cognitive Development

·         Making planning a regular part of the day.
·         Introduce a problem and encourage students to come up with as many solutions as possible.
·         Field trips to museums, galleries, plays, concerts and other cultural events.
·         Provide opportunities for students to respond through music, movement, dance, dramatic expression, and art.
·         Involve students in school and community service projects.
·         Prompt thinking and analysis by asking open-ended questions.
·         Have students use the scientific method of inquiry.

Health and 
Physical Development
·         Several periods of active physical play each day that includes child-directed play and adult-directed play, with the adult participating in the activities.
·         Students regularly use a variety of hand-held tools and objects (pencil, crayons, scissors, manipulatives, etc.).
·         Provide opportunities for students to practice self-care skills independently as they are able (open milk carton, zipping jacket, packing up book bag, etc.).
·         Practicing a fire drill and talking about the students’ responses.
Language Development and Communication
·         Model good conversational skills and encourage students to use them.
·         Provide and share fiction and non-fiction books that stimulate children’s curiosity.
·         Give students frequent opportunities to write for a variety of purposes.

Dr. Cynthia Dewey is on the NCAEE board and serves as the Director for Region 3. Cynthia recently celebrated her 10th year of service in public education in North Carolina. She is passionate about her work serving children, teachers, and families at the NC Department of Public Instruction in the Office of Early Learning. To learn more about the exciting work in the Office of Early Learning visit the wikipage. Prior to her work in NC, Cynthia served in Ohio and South Carolina as a classroom teacher, literacy specialist, district administrator, and literacy professor. Her career in education spans 27 years. You can connect with Cynthia on twitter.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Math Fair Mania: Connecting Math to the Real World

by Lisa Pagano 

For the past five years,  I have enjoyed collaborating with classroom teachers, students, and parents to make math come alive with an annual Math Fair for 4th and 5th grade students. The Math Fair is an enjoyable and energizing learning experience for all!

What is a Math Fair? 
A Math Fair is similar to a Science Fair. Students select a mathematical topic, conduct research, and ultimately, create a display, written report, and three-dimensional model, and prepare a brief oral presentation to share what they have learned. The purpose of the Math Fair is for students to connect math to the real world and to extend their mathematical knowledge.

Developing a Math Fair project provides each student with an individualized opportunity to research and develop a mathematical topic they are interested in. It integrates math, reading, writing, and also emphasizes listening and speaking skills. Multiple Common Core Standards are addressed and essential 21st Century skills are embedded in the project, especially critical thinking, creativity, and communication.

The Process
I usually launch the Math Fair by showing photographs and images and explaining the purpose of the project.  I've also used video clips from prior Math Fairs so they can get a sense of what judging will look and sound like. Selecting a topic can be challenging and the classroom teacher and I confer with students to help them choose their idea.

We emphasize the importance of using multiple sources to locate information and encourage students to use primary sources, such as interviewing someone in the field.  Class time is devoted to teaching students how to research and paraphrase information learned. Students are also guided and supported throughout the process of writing their project report. They are encouraged to sketch and plan what they would like their trifold board to look like. The trifold board and three-dimensional model is worked on exclusively at home.

Examples of documents and forms used can be found here.

Math Fair Day
Students buzz with excitement throughout the day of the Math Fair! In the morning, judges come prepared to interact with our students and their projects. Other teachers, math specialists, and gifted resource teachers from our district are invited to judge projects. Each student has the opportunity to present their project to a judge and share what they have learned about their topic.  Students set up their displays and are prepared to present their projects.
Students, teachers, parents, and families are invited to visit classrooms and check out the projects in the afternoon.  By this time, Math Fair participants are much more relaxed and eager to share their project with our different visitors. Younger students particularly enjoy seeing the different projects displayed and learning more about mathematical topics. This also helps build excitement about the project. I love when younger students leave the Math Fair exclaiming, "I can't wait until I'm in 4th grade!" or "That was soooo cool!"  
Are you interested in learning more about organizing a Math Fair at your school? Check out this link for a presentation I shared for additional tips & suggestions.  You can also find many more examples of real student projects here.

Lisa Pagano is currently an Academic Facilitator in Charlotte, NC and works to support 3rd-5th grade teachers and students at a magnet school for gifted and high-ability students. She also has experience as an elementary classroom teacher and an AIG resource teacher. Lisa is part of the NCAEE Board and serves as Secretary for the organization. She loves collaborating and connecting with educators and is passionate about gifted education and technology integration. To learn more about Lisa, check out her website or connect with her on Twitter.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Region 2 Conference Reflections

by Susanne Long

On Saturday, April 26, 2014, the Region 2 Conference was held for the first time in Onslow County at Stateside Elementary with 96 teachers attending.  Mrs. Carrie Morris, 2013-2014 Southeast Region Teacher of the Year, kicked off the event with a reenergizing message of how vital we each are, every day, in transforming our delivery of instruction, transforming our community reach, and most importantly transforming the lives of students.  We, as educators, truly are “more than meets the eye.”

Twenty four facilitators presented 22 engaging session topics including: problem solving, building reading stamina, STEM/STEAM, teaching in a global world, purposeful talk in math, foldables, and instructional intervention strategies for at-risk/EC students.  Participants were engaged in meaningful hands-on activities, learning how to foster understanding of critical vocabulary, boosting math PLCs and oh, so much more!  

The session on QR, quick response, and AR, augmented reality, codes was enough to get your mind reeling for months as to the transformation possibilities for your classroom, grade level or school. Besides the new strategies learned, great dialogue and collaboration, 12 participants went home with some awesome prizes!  A special note of thanks to Peggy Gooch, Blanchard Educational Services, for donating leveled texts and big books.       

If you missed the conference, it’s okay. Educators like to share! The handouts, resources, and snapshots from the conference can be accessed by any teacher on our regional website.   

As we enter the last thirty days or so of instructional time, we applaud everyone’s commitment to reach students and truly transform lives!  We hope to see you in October in Charlotte for the 11th Annual Elementary School Conference!

trans•for•ma•tion: noun: a complete or major change 
a : to change in composition or structure 
b : to change the outward form or appearance of 
c : to change in character or condition : CONVERT 

Susanne Long began her career teaching elementary school in North Carolina. After completing the NC Principal Fellows Program, Mrs. Long had the opportunity to serve as an elementary and middle school principal. Mrs. Long is one of 103 principals that completed the National Board Certification pilot for principals and is awaiting feedback. She currently serves as the Director of Curriculum, Research, and Development in Onslow County and serves as the Region 2 Director on the NCAEE Board.