How to Maximize Learning in an ECE Classroom

– Part One

By MahaJyoti Glassman

The student focuses on the way the teacher engages the students’ interest and ability to learn from activities. The teacher actively tries to engage students by asking effective questions, involving the students in activities, playing with the students, etc. Students may be seated, or standing at centers, or moving. The teacher is moving around, getting the students involved through conversations or in various activities. The teacher is not sitting passively and watching the kids, but is as actively engaged as the students. The teacher balances his or her involvement with student exploration to maximize students’ involvement.

Open-ended (requiring more than a yes or no response) and effective questions are asked by the teacher:

  • What are you doing?
  • What are you building here?
  • What is happening?
  • What happens next?
  • What will you need?
  • What does it do?
  • What made you think of that?

These thoughtful questions assist in expanding their participation, as well as having available other accessories and other materials.

  • Can I get you some more trucks or animals for this building?
  • I am a customer at your Ice Cream Shop. How much does the strawberry ice cream cost?
  • Please tell me what is the name of this musical instrument and how did you make this?
  • What lives in the water?
  • Which bottle do you think will fill faster?

Asking questions enables students to stay concentrated and involved for a longer time. Asking questions can involve the students more than the teacher lecturing. Limited time is spent in lecturing. Student interest can be observed by their active participation, listening, and focused attention. If you are not seeing one of these factors falling into place for a child, more brainstorming and conversations about what this child’s passions are may be needed.

The teacher may use a variety of modalities and a variety of materials to effectively get the students interest and to gain their participation. Make sure that your learning activities offer a range of sensory opportunities – auditory, touch, and movement for starters.

  • Auditory activities include: reading a story, making sounds, acting out a story and singing.
  • Touch activities include: Making and playing with play dough, water, dirt, sand, beans, leaves, and such.
  • Movement activities include: Finger plays, hand movements, yoga, jumping, crawling, and dancing.

The teacher will use of variety of interesting and creative materials and provides a variety of hands on experiences. Student interest or participation is invited by clapping, singing, volunteering information, or raising hands to participate. If a student is being destructive or wandering, the activity may not be interesting to them. How can your planned activities have an appeal of interest to all? How can you have 3-4 activities happening at the same time? How can you develop a system to rotate the children from center to center?

Teachers mention what the learning goal or objective is and guide students towards that goal.

  • Let’s think about which objects are red?
  • We are getting off track.
  • Let’s make sure we are talking about red objects.

Students are drawn back to the learning goal. The teacher may ask:

  • Why are you doing this?
  • What are we doing?
  • So we just talked about how farm animals and zoo animals are different.

And the children should be able to answer and describe what and why they are participating in the activity.

Sounds of the students interacting are the predominant voices heard in the classroom with plenty to keep them occupied.