Assistant Professor of Education Debra Dyer deems it important that the courses she teaches “lead to something.”
Last semester, projects in two of her courses yielded resources that her students—and members of the Yates County community—can utilize in the future.
In EDU 374: Professionalism & Leadership in Early Childhood, students learn how to administer and direct a child care program. They study legal requirements, guidelines established by professional organizations, ways to obtain additional professional training, how to network with other professionals, how to maintain quality early care and education programs, and how to follow a professional code of ethics.
Dyer’s class prepared a manual titled “Recipes for Readiness,” which they presented to the Yates County Child and Family ResourceCenter as a workshop for eight day care providers.
“There is a push for day care providers to get children ready for kindergarten,” said Dyer. “Day care providers are required to complete 30 hours of professional development every two years. The students in EDU 374 designed and facilitated a two-hour training session that offered [the child care providers] good activities they can do with the children in their care, tied to New York state learning standards.”
For example, one of the activities is a song of personal information. The children chant their first and last names, clap four times; their street address followed by town, city, and state, clap four times; and recite their phone number, clapping four times at the end. This exercise fulfills English Language Arts (ELA) Standard No. 1: students will read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding.
“The Keuka students did very well,” said Tammy Bursley, professional development education coordinator at Child and Family Resources Inc. “The providers really enjoyed the hands-on activities. The students demonstrated what the goals were for the activities and the providers went through the activities step-by-step as they would with the children in their care. And, the providers were able to walk away with something that they can take to their programs.”
Senior unified early childhood/special education major and Cato native Crystal Ross walked away with “more confidence”.
“I viewed many of the things we were teaching as stuff that [day care providers] were probably already doing,” said Ross. “However, I realized that most of the activities were things they had either never seen or done, or it taught them a new twist on something they were already doing. I myself learned some new activities and ways to teach certain topics through this experience.”
She also learned more about kindergarten readiness.
“I was one of a few people who asked teachers what kindergartners are expected to know when they enter school,” said Ross. “I was shocked by some of the answers, realizing that kindergarten is becoming like what first grade was for me when I was in school.”
Speaking of curriculum, in EDU 270: Early Childhood Curriculum, students created one-week integrated, thematic unit plans. The plans included “a whole week’s worth of instruction—including literature—that is geared toward kindergarten, but can [be adapted toward higher or lower grades],” according to Dyer.
Some of the themes included the post office, insects, the four seasons, and the five senses.
The class received an $865 grant from Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes Inc. to elaborate on the unit plans as well as preserve them.
“The students turned the thematic unit plans into theme boxes,” said Dyer. “We purchased Sterilite boxes to hold the lesson plans and literature that goes along with each lesson. For example, the post office box includes stamps and envelopes and other artifacts. Also included are assessments on whether the children successfully met the objectives of the lesson.”
Come February the boxes will be available for borrowing.
“The boxes will be maintained by Keuka and available to various Yates County agencies—day care sites, preschools, kindergarten and first grade classrooms,” said Dyer.
They’ll also be available to Keuka College education majors for use during their student teaching.
“It would give them a week’s worth of material that they can add to; [the theme box] is a rich piece of instruction,” said Dyer. “We’re going to track the usage of the boxes and assess their usefulness.”
Dyer plans to run the courses much the same when she teaches them next semester.
“The EDU 374 class will plan and implement the Day care Provider Workshop,” said Dyer. “The EDU 270 class will be writing lesson plans that will lead into a unit plan in their EDU 372 class next fall.”
And, another partnership is in the development stage with Child and Family Resource Center of Yates and Ontario Counties.
“They received a grant from the court system to develop and run a drop-in day care center at the Yates County Courthouse for the children of residents appearing in court, going to Family Court, etc.,” said Dyer. “There will be a lead teacher, assistant teacher and the early childhood program at Keuka has been asked to supply student time as a ‘third set of hands’ in the day care center. I am in the beginning phases of writing this as a fieldwork component of the EDU 372, 374, and 270 courses.”
For more information on signing out the theme boxes, contact Dyer at (315) 279-5246.