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CYL Division II

Developmental Psychology and the Use of Creative Drama in Early Education
by Mirana Moore

Forming a Philosophy of Education: Education and Childhood Studies
by Samantha Kimball


Mirana Moore
Div II Concentration
:
Developmental Psychology and the Use of Creative Drama in Early Education

Major questions I am exploring in my academic study:
How do children make sense of the world? What effect does education have on this understanding and what educational techniques are most effective in helping children develop their understanding of the world? How can creative drama be used within education to further this understanding? What role do the arts play in the cohesiveness of a culture and how do they contribute to a child’s understanding of what it means to be part of a society? What effects do the arts and education have on a child’s construction of identity and how does this differ between cultures?

Courses I have taken through CYL to address these questions:
SS-268 Understanding Children: Professor Rachel Conrad
IA-176 Take the Show on the Road: Professor Natalie Sowell
SS-212 The American School: Professor Kristen Luschen
SS-283 Children and Their Cultural Worlds: Professors Rachel Conrad and Kim Chang
Jan-Term Pre-Practicum in Teaching
Semester Independent Study in Havana, Cuba: Cuban Culture in Children’s Theater

Internships/Community-based learning projects that have informed my work:
Intern/teaching artist at Creative Theatrics, a summer theater day camp. I taught theater and games to children ranging in age from 4 to 7. Each week I had a different group of about ten children. During the week we worked collaboratively on creating a five minute show to be performed each Friday. I learned a huge number of exercises to do with children, learned how to allow them to take control and help create their own show; learned a lot about working with different age groups of children; and thought a lot about our culture and the freedom that children are given in our culture as compared with many others. In this job I used a lot of what I learned in the course “Take the Show on the Road,” and was able to reflect on what I had learned in Cuba.

I have been an assistant teacher in the Toddler Room at the Hampshire College Children’s Center since my first semester at Hampshire. I have seen the children grow so much. Each day I see the children learning to talk and walk as well as learning how to socialize. A huge emphasis is placed on the learning of social skills. As teachers we help the children learn to use language to express their needs and desires, and communicate with their classmates. I also help them ponder the world they see and discover their own answers to questions they have. As I learn theory in a class about developmental processes, I am able to watch it unfold before my eyes at the Children’s Center.

In Cuba I spent three months doing independent research with the help of a Cuban tutor. During this time I worked closely with a children’s theater company there, watching rehearsals, talking with the children and their parents, going to their shows, and even acting with some of the teenage actors in rehearsals for a play about the reality of life in Cuba. This was just one of the many ways that I attempted to learn in-depth about Cuban culture and the people of Cuba.

Recommendations I would make to other CYL students:
Take the opportunities available through CYL to work with kids. Taking classes and learning theory only gets you so far. Taking classes that include working with children in the community gets you farther and can spark a great relationship with an organization that you can continue working with.

How I envision using what I have learned in the program after graduation:
I plan on going to graduate school for my master's in early childhood education, which I will use to teach kindergarten or first grade. As a teacher, I want to incorporate theater into daily classroom activities. I believe that a teacher should include as many teaching styles as possible, so as to address as many learning styles as possible. I also believe that if children see that learning can be fun they are more likely to be engaged in the material.


Samantha Kimball
Div II Concentration:
Forming a Philosophy of Education: Education and Childhood Studies

Major questions I am exploring in my academic study:
Why we learn, how we learn, and what we learn through an American education. What affects a person’s educational outcomes? How can thinking about education change to improve the current system?

Courses I have taken through CYL to address these questions:
CS-117 Philosophy of Education: Professor Ernest Alleva
CS-240 Instructional Methods for Inquiry-Based Instruction: Professor Laura Wenk
CS-218 The Birth of Mind: Biological Foundations of Psychological Development: Professor Jane Couperus
CS-220 Educational Research Methods: Professor Laura Wenk
SS-124 Contemporary Issues in Education Reform: No Child Left Behind Act: Professor Kristen Luschen
CS-185 The Meanings of Literacy: Professor Jane Ashby

Internships/Community-based learning projects that have informed my work:
A January term internship with Farnam Neighborhood House in New Haven, CT: Farnam runs after-school programs, a preschool, a basketball league, and a summer camp for kids in the Fair Haven neighborhood of New Haven. Most of my time at Farnam was spent assisting in the child care center and reworking Farnam’s brochures and newsletters. This way, I worked closely with both Farnam’s youngest children and its director. This allowed me to become quickly familiar with the goals of the organization, to gain valuable experience working with young children in an educational setting, and to understand a little bit about providing a positive place for children and teens to go when school is out.

I also did a summer internship with the Children’s Defense Fund in New York. CDF-NY devotes its efforts entirely to the needs of children, which often means improving their access to public programs. The purpose of this internship, part of their nutrition initiative, was to monitor the under-used Summer Food Service Program in New York City that provides free meals to any children under age 18. We surveyed children and parents to find out how many people are aware of the program and visited sites that served summer meals to see how well the program actually functioned. Our findings were reported back to the Office of School Foods, one of the agencies responsible for this program, and we were able to see a few improvements implemented immediately. For me, it was important to see how research can be so quickly applied to improve an important program, as reading studies in classes does not always allow a person to see how research can be utilized. Furthermore, I was interested in this internship because a child’s health, more than any other factor, can affect his or her learning.

As part of the No Child Left Behind course, I participated in interviewing teachers to find out what teachers in rural areas thought about NCLB and how it affected their classrooms. We videotaped interviews with teachers and administrators in schools in Shutesbury and other small towns around Amherst. While we read a great deal about the impact of this legislation, these teachers’ stories and opinions enriched our studies in a way that course readings alone could not. It also gave us the opportunity to learn to use video equipment and to learn how to conduct a successful interview. I continued with this project as a group independent study.

I also conducted research at the Eric Carle Museum as part of the Educational Research Methods class. This course gave me the opportunity to actually carry out research in an educational setting, rather than just read about it. We worked in groups on a few research questions that the museum had, evaluating three aspects of their educational programs. We designed the research, collected data, analyzed data, and wrote up our findings. Actually conducting field research was an invaluable experience that will most likely prove useful in my future studies. Furthermore, it sparked an interest in museum education for me.

Recommendations I would make to other CYL students:
At the end of the spring semester 2005, I was able to participate in the CYL presentations of community-based learning projects. This gave me the opportunity to learn what other students have done and hear different opinions on the projects I participated in. This seemed especially important for the teacher interview project with the NCLB course, as this project is continuing for another semester. I would highly recommend attending future student presentations.

How I envision using what I have learned in the program after graduation:
My course of study has provided me with many options for the future, and I can’t say I have pinpointed what I would like to do after graduation. However, I would be interested in nonprofit work, like my internship with the Children’s Defense Fund, and eventually graduate school or maybe teacher certification.

 
 

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