learning approaches

Prior to beginning work on this, read

As you learned in your textbook, there are several different learning
approaches that can be used in early childhood education. It is
important that you are able to determine which approach to teaching you
connect with the most, so that you feel confident about how you are
teaching your students. This discussion will allow you to share your
thoughts regarding different learning approaches.

When reading A Tale of Five Classrooms (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.,
you will encounter five different classroom scenarios. Each of the
scenarios describes a classroom that follows one of the five main
approaches (Creative Curriculum, direct instruction, High Scope,
Montessori, and Reggio Emilia) that are shared in our textbook.

After reading A Tale of Five Classrooms,

  • Determine which of the classrooms/learning approaches are most like
    the classrooms when you attended school. Did you enjoy being in this
    type of classroom? Why, or why not?
  • Explain which classroom/learning approach aligns with the type of
    classroom environment you would like to create for your students by
    clearly stating at least three examples from the scenario that you would
    like to see in your own classroom. Make sure to include the name of the
    classroom/learning approach you are discussing (e.g., Montessori, High
    Scope, etc.).
  • Use specific examples from the description as well as at least one scholarly source (see the Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed, and Other Credible Sources (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. table) to explain why you believe the learning approach you chose would be an effective model for early childhood education.

  • The Project Approach to Teaching and Learning

    The Project Approach to Teaching & Learning


    What is the Project Approach?

    The Project Approach offers teachers a way to develop in-depth
    thinking while engaging the hearts and minds of young children. Teachers
    take a strong guidance role in the process while children study topics
    with purpose and flexibility. Project work presents many opportunities
    for young children’s ideas to be valued, their creativity to be
    encouraged, their interests to be nurtured, and for their learning needs
    to be met.
    In early childhood, projects can be defined as open ended
    studies of everyday topics which are worthy of being included in an
    educational program. Projects emerge from the questions children raise
    and develop according to their particular interests. Rather than
    offering immediate answers to the questions children ask, teachers
    provide experiences through which children can discover the answers
    themselves through inquiry at field sites and interviewing experts. For
    example, if the children wonder what shoes are made of or how are they
    made, the teacher may arrange a field visit where the answer to these
    questions can be provided by an expert, in this case a shoe factory, the
    shoe repair man’s shop, or a shoe store. Children also consult
    secondary sources of information such as books and the internet in the
    classroom and with their parents at home.
    Project investigations promote in-depth understanding and cover a
    wide range of relevant subtopics. For this reason projects usually take
    several weeks to complete—and sometimes much longer, depending on the
    age and interests of the children.
    The Project Approach, then, is the method of teaching children
    through project investigations. Because project work follows an
    unpredictable path based on the interests of particular children, a
    flexible framework to support teachers has been developed. This
    framework makes the inquiry more manageable: it shapes the development
    of the area of investigation. Teachers guide children through a three
    phase process from the beginning of a project to its conclusion. You may
    find the Project Planning Journal helpful in understanding and implementing project work. It’s from the book Young Investigators: The Project Approach in the Early Years by Judy Harris Helm and Lilian G. Katz.
    Project Approach 1
    In the Project Approach teachers provide real-life experiences to promote in-depth understanding.

    What is the Structure of the Project Approach?

    Phase 1: In the beginning of a project, the teacher
    builds interest in the topic through encouraging the children to share
    relevant personal stories of experience. As the children represent their
    current understanding of the topic; the river, cars, or dogs, for
    example, the teacher assesses the children’s vocabulary, their
    individual interests, misconceptions or gaps in current knowledge, and
    helps them formulate questions which they can investigate.
    Phase 2: As the inquiry begins in earnest, teachers
    enable the children go on field visits, interview adults who are
    experts, such as waiters, farmers, or nurses, for example, according to
    the topic of study. Children also look at books, internet sites, videos,
    and so on. As they learn more about the topic they use many forms of
    representation to illustrate what they have learned and to share new
    knowledge with their classmates.
    Phase 3: Finally, the teacher guides the conclusion
    of the study and helps the children review their achievements. The
    children share their work with parents, another class, or members of the
    local community who have helped them in the process of the
    investigation. This final phase of the work includes the assessment by
    teachers of what the children have learned through the project. All
    children will have learned basic facts about the topic. Some children
    will have learned more about certain aspects of the topic such as the
    role of the adults, or the steps or materials used in the manufacture of
    an important item. There will be times when one child may have achieved
    individual learning goals such as developing confidence in a particular
    personal strength or learning to collaborate effectively with other
    Project Approach 2
    Sharing what they have learned with others helps the children to review their achievements.

    What are the advantages of the Project Approach?

    When teachers encourage children’s curiosity and help them to ask
    questions, the study of local everyday topics becomes interesting and
    relevant to them. Young children’s learning is energized as they become
    part of a community of investigators and share the findings of their
    inquiry. Children apply skills and knowledge in their study of buses,
    shoes, trees, or grocery stores. They learn about the value of reading,
    writing, and numbers in the life of the adults around them. In the
    context of the project the children become apprentices in the pursuit of
    knowledge alongside their teachers. Teachers take a responsive role in
    developing the project. They coordinate different interests and support
    small group and individual inquiries as these emerge. Teachers who use
    the project approach report that students show great interest and
    actively participate. They ask questions and follow up their own
    curiosity with investigations.
    Along with the motivation it provides, project work also integrates
    all areas of learning and aspects of child development. It offers many
    chances to practice problem solving and critical thinking—skills that
    build language, math and scientific understanding. In fact, it helps
    children gain confidence in themselves and their abilities and develops
    in them the disposition to strive for understanding.

    How does the Project Approach align with curriculum requirements and standards?

    This type of learning differs considerably from the preplanned
    lessons of a published curriculum. While project work supports the
    curriculum standards identified for testing, teachers do not teach to
    the test through project work. The emphasis is on the context in which
    learning is intrinsically motivated and engaging to young children.
    Through careful observation and skillful planning on the part of the
    teacher, curriculum goals can be integrated into project work. The
    teacher anticipates where a project may go, and includes elements of the
    required curriculum in her plans. For example, the curriculum goal of
    data collection and analysis can be incorporated into a project on cars,
    if children decide to count and record the kinds of cars they see. The
    teacher records her plan and project documentation provides evidence of
    In addition to the aspects of the curriculum which relate directly to
    the acquisition of skills and knowledge, project work offers
    interesting opportunities for children to apply and practice what they
    have learned in other parts of their daily program in school. Intrinsic
    motivation enables children to learn through projects in personally
    meaningful ways. Children who excel in certain academic areas learn to
    offer leadership to their peers. Children who experience difficulty in
    some areas frequently learn from skilled or knowledgeable peers more
    easily than from adults.
    In classrooms where the Project Approach is well implemented,
    teachers and parents report that children show increased achievement and
    confidence in talking about what they know and can do.
    Project Approach 3
    Curriculum goals, such as data collection and analysis, can be naturally integrated into project work.

    How does the Project Approach fit with other teaching strategies?
    Project work can be incorporated into learning centers, as well
    as into a typical daily schedule. For example, circle time can be used
    to discuss a current investigation or books on the subject can be placed
    in the literacy area.
    However, with all its advantages, most early childhood professionals
    would agree that project work alone does not cover all the learning
    experiences that should be included in the curriculum. Children learn
    through many different experiences in school. For young children these
    experiences include sensory exploration, various kinds of play activity,
    observation, and practice. They learn some things through direct
    instruction, some through small group work, some through repeated trials
    and persistence, and some through collaboration and lively discussion
    with their classmates.
    The Project Approach offers children the flexibility to develop
    interests, to work hard at their strengths, to share expertise and make
    personal contributions to the work of the classroom. The use of
    open-ended learning centers in a classroom can make for easier
    differentiation by teachers in their instruction as they help children
    to self-assess and challenge themselves appropriately in the classroom
    Project Approach 4
    Open-ended learning centers complement project work by allowing children to reconstruct their experiences.

    What are the challenges of implementing the Project Approach?

    The principle challenge for teachers is to know the children well and
    to be able to guide them effectively in their inquiry. It requires
    dedication and creativity to take full advantage of individual strengths
    and interests, engage parental expertise (for interviews, access to
    field sites, etc.), and seek out resources. The key to a successful
    project is the teacher’s daily classroom assessment; it guides the work
    towards optimal learning opportunities in responsive environments for
    all children. These challenges demand that the teacher’s own creativity
    be engaged in crafting with the children the stories of their learning
    through projects.
    As with any teaching approach or method, positive results are only
    evident when the teaching is done well. It is easier to set up learning
    centers with activities, worksheets, and boxes of props which are the
    same each year. It is easier to read the same fantasy literature and
    have the children play the parts of the characters in dramatic play year
    after year. In project work, teachers depend on rich communication with
    the children to determine their interests and prior levels of
    understanding. A project on ‘pets’ for instance, may focus on different
    subtopics from one year to the next as different groups of children and
    their parents show interests, expertise, or gaps in knowledge. One year
    the direction might be how to care for pets’ everyday needs, another
    year the focus might be around pet health and the work of the
    veterinarian, while yet another might be the work that animals can do
    for human beings, such as service dogs, leisure pursuits and exercise,
    or work with the elderly or young people with autism or other
    challenges. Teacher’s responsiveness to children challenges them always
    to bring fresh thinking to project work.
    Another challenge for teachers is to plan the work so that there is a
    unity and cohesiveness to each project which all the children can
    appreciate. As various interests are developed teachers have to keep the
    communication focused on the value of each group’s contribution to the
    knowledge and understanding of the topic by all the children in their
    Yet, teachers wishing to help students develop a life-long love of
    learning and understand the interconnected relationship of all things
    will find there are unique advantages to project learning.
    Beghetto, RA & Kaufman, JC (2013). Fundamentals of Creativity. Educational Leadership, Vol. 70, No. 5, pp. 10-15.
    Chard, SC (2009) The Project Approach: Six
    Practical Guides for Teachers. These guides are available as .pdf files
    at the following web site: www.projectapproach.org

    Katz LG & Chard, SC (2000) Engaging Children’s Minds: The Project Approach, Greenwood.

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