Read Chapter 4,10, 12 Start reading it for free:
Section 1: The Summary (600-800 words)
There are two learning objectives for the summary
To learn and mentally organize the chapter content for real life application
To practice communicating a large body of complex information in a brief, clear, and easily understandable narrative for parents, co-workers, administrators, policy makers, etc…
I want to take time to emphasize each of these objectives and why I consider them an important part of your training.
First, writing a good summary forces you to do a very complex cognitive maneuver. You will need to transform tens of thousands of words into a few hundred words and still capture the key themes and ideas. To condense an idea requires deep understanding of the idea. And deep understanding of the idea leads to good application in the classroom, the block area, and the parent meeting.
Second – and this is important to students with years of experience and education in early childhood education – it is about learning how to communicate effectively. While you may be familiar with the information in the chapter from another class or your own experience, you may not be able to effectively communicate the ideas in a clear and succinct manner.
With every passing year, our jobs as teachers have as much to do with educating adults as it does children. We are under constant pressure from parents, the media, politicians – and sometimes even administrators – to enact developmentally inappropriate curriculum. We must do everything we can to educate our communities.
Many teachers think they understand these concepts until they are forced to explain them in a few brief paragraphs. It’s more difficult than you think. But there is a great prize awaiting the teacher who invests deeply in this exercise. You will actually be creating “scripts” to use with all these adults in real life. When a teacher asks you why you are using a particular method, you will go back to the script your wrote for chapter four. When an administrator references a particular theorist, you may use a script from chapter one. While you will be updating your scripts each year as you learn more and new research comes out, this exercise will create a strong foundation.
To honor these objectives, I ask that you follow some guidelines
First and foremost: make your paper sound like you are talking to a parent or giving a presentation to parents – not like you are giving a chapter review. This is a key objective of this exercise. Instead of saying, “The key ideas in chapter 1 are…” you might say, “Let’s consider three theorists who had major contributions to our field…” Do you see how the former sounds like a book report and the latter sounds like a real presentation?
Always use a narrative – Never use bullet points or lists when summarizing. This is lazy thinking and avoids putting material into a flowing narrative.
Be comprehensive – don’t spend too much time on one topic. Each chapter covers many topics. It is your job to make sure that you cover all the main ideas, not just one or two.
Be specific – Do not over-generalize. This is a fine point and challenging to accomplish (especially after I just said not to spend too much time on one topic.) It requires you to convert sometimes long lists of people and/or theories into a coherent narrative. There might be a tendency to say that “Freud, Erikson, and Piaget had huge contributions to the field,” and leave it at that, but that alone doesn’t say much. The challenge here is to briefly describe their contributions in a sentence or two. This requires balancing brevity and detail. For example, ”
“…Locke for his “ Tabula Rasa”, that child is born neutral rather than evil , and is a “ clean slate “ which the experiences on parents, society , education and world were written;Rousseau known for his book Emilie, insisted in using concrete teaching materials and believe children were naturally good; Pestalozzi coin the idea of the integrated curriculum that would developed the whole child ; Owen contributed in having an infant school that was based on philosophy of guidance rather than punishment; Froebel the “father of kindergarten”,Montessori,…”
Just summarize – Do not editorialize. This is perhaps the hardest of all to do. The purpose of the summary section is not to provide analysis, connections, or any type of reflection – you have 2/3rds of the reflection to do that in sections 2 and 3. Just the facts and ideas now, reflection later. If you really thought one of the ideas was interesting, talk about your thoughts in the other sections 🙂
Section 2: Analysis, Reflection, and Connections (200-300 words)
This is perhaps the most important section and is where your get to share your own thoughts. I really welcome an informal tone here and feel free to use the first person narrative! For this section, concentrate most of your effort on connecting to personal experience. You can also provide analysis and make connections.
Personal Experience: More than anything else, I would like you to connect the material to your personal life experience. There is no better way to understand the material than to connect it to your stories. It may take a little bit of effort to remember an experience that fits. You do not need to be a teacher of have classroom experience to relate to the material. Sometimes your story may take place in a very different situation then the preschool classroom but still be a good fit. You may have stories that connect to your family, prior work experience, your own school experience, etc. For teachers with years of experience, this is a time when you can compare and contrast your stories with the material from the text.
Analysis: you can critique ideas by agreeing or disagreeing with them. Whatever you position is, you must ground your position with evidence or solid reasoning. If you say that you think an idea is terrible that’s fine, as long as you support your position. This can include citing research, providing a rational argument, or even using examples of your own experience.
Connection: this is where you connect the reading from the text to anything outside of the text or connecting from one part of the the text to another. This can include an article from a recent newspaper or academic journal, something you observed recently, or identifying the relationship between an idea in chapter 1 with an idea from chapter 3.
It is important that if you offer an opinion or value judgement that you use analysis, reflection, and connection to elaborate on your position. For example, please do not simply say, “I thought the idea of “scaffolding” was really neat.” Instead, you can say, “I thought the idea of ‘scaffolding’ was really neat because it gives me a way to structure my behavior when teaching a child how to wash their hands.”
Section 3: Application (150-200 words)
Finally, what is the possible application of one idea in this chapter to your practice as a teacher? This may require some creativity. The key idea here is to be specific.
Not specific example:
I would use the ideas from this chapter to change the environment around to make things better for the children.
Specific Example:
From pages 210-211, “Factors That Affect Behavior.” I was inspired to rethink the physical environment of the classroom to find ways to reinforce desired behavior and discourage undesirable behavior for our budding toddlers. One of the things I want to change is a counter-type shelf seat that has a higher shelf behind it with children’s books. It is tiered with a seat, then a shelf. The adults will sometimes sit on this shelf / ledge but the children are not allowed to climb on it for safety reasons. It is the number one thing I must keep redirecting children from all day long. I don’t think there should be something the children cannot utilize in their area. Not only that, but the adults sitting on it just begs for them to follow what we’ve modeled. I have been sitting just on the floor for this very reason. Just changing this piece of furniture can eliminate the need to constantly stop children from climbing up onto it.
Please separate each section. It may help to even use sub-headers: Section 1, Section 2, and Section 3. Each section has it’s own purpose so please do not blend them 🙂