I was looking to re-invent my teaching even before I started the nature kindergarten program at my school. A great deal of work has gone into this transformation and even more work remains, but I think I am finally turning the corner and becoming the teacher that I not only want to be, but he one I need to be. More importantly, I am becoming the teacher my kids need me to be.
Over the last few years, I have been fortunate enough be a presenter at various conferences, speaking on topics including play, service learning, and nature-infused education. One of my presentations digs deeper into my philosophy: the 4 P's.
Play-based learning focuses on play. Students learn so much from play. In fact, play is work. Unfortunately, it isn't often seen that way by the decision-makers and academic pressures trickle further and further into early childhood education, often replacing much needed play time with more academic-based activities.
Personalized learning allows for more opportunities for emergent learning, where student interest guides the curriculum. When students are allowed to learn more about their interests, they tend to be motivated and inspired to show great effort and in turn, show greater growth.
Place-based learning focuses on students learning about the world and community around them. This applies to our indoor and outdoor classroom. Through service learning, students get hands on experience with the nature "in their own backyard" and become immersed in their own community.
Project-based learning involves curricular-integrated activities and lesson across subjects aimed at an essential question.
I have been immersed in my 4 P's, working to create project-based learning (PBL) units that allow for applications of play, place-based, and personalized learning opportunities. However, as I worked on the finishing touches of my latest unit, I discovered a fifth P: picture books.
Now this may seem biased because I do write picture books and aim to be a published picture book author someday, but as I did my lesson and unit planning, there was one constant throughout. The constant was wonderful literature experiences though applying and utilizing picture books.
I think I can officially say my new philosophy involves 5 P's.
Now back to the unit planning and picture book writing.