Introducing Challenge to Pre-School Children: Overall Reflection on the Lesson

This is one part of the reflection on the lesson “Introducing Challenge to Pre-School Children”


These are some general reflections and conclusions which I came up with after attending the lesson:

  • I found very positive that the teacher was trying to embed the same type of thinking activities (identify similarities, odd-one-out) into almost every activity she pre-planned. I think it creates a certain framework for students and in a while they will start recognising these types of activities;
  • I think that the teacher should not be afraid of keeping the challenge higher. It looks like in many cases, the first answer children came up with was accepted or an obvious hint was provided. At the same time, since this was the first thinking lesson, this might be a typical behaviour of a teacher. 
  • It looks like a pre-primary school teacher has to solve the problem of keeping both a group’s dynamic and a high challenge. In the case of the lesson I attended, the teacher made the priority of and was successful in keeping the dynamics. From my point of view, to solve the dynamics-challenge issue the teacher can think of the two possible solutions:
    • Making children accept the challenge by creating a meaningful context/ personifying the task. 
    • Introducing the competition element. The one who comes up with more features for ‘odd’ is the winner.
    • It might also be possible to think of group activities. So far, children were working individually; maybe it is worth trying putting them in groups and make the groups compete. 

In conclusion, I would like to thank the teacher for allowing me to observe the lesson. I really learned a lot for myself and will think how to solve the same type of problems but in my context. For instance, I realised that making students accept the challenge is the step the value of which I under-estimated.



# Alexander Sokol 2013-02-24 16:41
Renata, many thanks for the detailed reflections. It's again one of those cases when it's very easy to visualise the lesson. There are a few things I wanted to comment on. It's be great to have more people involved in the discussion, including the teacher who ran the lesson, of course.

You are referring to the contradiction between the level of challenge and dynamics of the lesson. Can I ask why you think such a contradiction exists? I am asking as you repeated several times that the class was dynamic. But what makes you think that it wouldn't have if the teacher had increased the level of challenge?

It's be very interesting to have the point of view of the teacher involved regarding the reasons for accepting the pupils' answers almost at once. Are these reasons the same Renata is referring to or different?

I also wonder if some kind of generalisation at Step 2 is possible with this age group in your opinion. I like that different activities had a common thinking focus. At the same time, I feel, no attempt at a generalisation was made in terms of how such a task could be approached (and this is the essence of Step 2).
# Diana Bolgare 2013-02-24 20:46
Good evening, I'd like to express my point of view why I accept the students' answers almost at once: I want them not to be afraid of any tasks, to show them that they are capable to do them. My task as a teacher ( as I feel it) is to encourage them to try. Then, when I feel, that the group has given me some evident answers and they are still interested, I increase the difficulty. Often, I fail to keep this level (because the children's ability to concentrate on a task is short as I assume and one of the studetns starts to desorganise the group)/ So I quicky switch to another task, leaving things as they are, accepting 2 items instead of three and decreasing the challenge, not to loose my group's dynamics ... The other reason is lack of experience in this particular method.
# Alexander Sokol 2013-02-25 10:07
Diana, thanks for the response. It'd be interesting to see how we can resolve this contradiction between keeping the dynamics and increasing the challenge as long as it's really there (I am still not sure that an increased challenge will necessarily lead to the loss of dynamics). Otherwise we are risking the loss of the thinking part.
What do you think about some of the suggestions Renata gave in this connection? Are they applicable in your opinion? Do you generally see this aspect as something important to deal with?
# Renata Jonina 2013-03-02 00:34
Sorry for being late with the reply. I see you are having a nice conversation here:)

I would like to reply the question re dynamics - challenge. I didn't say that the increased challenge WILL decrease the dynamics. But it was evident, that this was the teacher's fear (guess Diana confirmed it here as well). When I work with form 1 and try bringing some thinking, I am also afraid of 'losing' the class. There are some students who get engaged very actively and those who get lost. So it seems that the classroom management problem pops-up here, how to make everyone involved and on the task.

I agree that generalisation is a nice step but it may be very difficult at the stage when a teacher only starts introducing thinking. There are so many issues to think of and so many vague points that it's a real challenge to be able even to remember about the generalisation, not even mentioning managing it with the class.
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