The contextualizing essay which I completed in Education 302: Curriculum Research and Design in Teaching in the spring of 2013 is the evidence that I am submitting to meet the requirements of NAEYC Standard 1: Promoting Child Development and Learning which states Candidates prepared in early childhood degree programs are grounded in a child development knowledge base. They use their understanding of a) young children’s characteristics and needs, and b) multiple interacting influences on children’s development and learning, to c) create environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging for each child.
In Education 302 we were required to choose a topic of our choice and write a contextualizing essay for a Integrated Thematic Unit for a grade level of our choice, following some criteria and guidelines provided by the professor. This supports ACEI Sub - Standard 4d: Building Meaningful Curriculum: Candidates use their own knowledge and other resources to evaluate meaningful, challenging curriculum that promotes comprehensive development and learning outcomes for all young children. This was a great experience for me, because it made me aware of what criteria should be taken into consideration when planning an integrated thematic unit, which can be used to effectively teach a population of culturally diverse students, some of whom may have ELN. In addition, to the unit being appropriate for the requirements of the school’s curriculum, it should also be culturally relevant, free of biases such as race, gender etc. The information provided in the thematic unit should also be interesting and excited. In completing this assignment this also enabled me to meet the requirements of CEC Standard 7: Instructional Planning which states the implications of an individual’s exceptional condition, guides the special educator’s selection, adaptation, and creation of materials, and the use of powerful instructional variables.
All educators should ensure that topics selected for the students are culturally relevant, in order for students to be able to make connections between the information presented to them so they can connect to their life experiences. This helps them to observe and make connections to their background knowledge. It also assists with student engagement during the lesson, so as to develop awareness and increasing curiosity to know more about the topic. Because New York has a diverse population, students should have access to relevant books that would teach exploration skills, and to share and learn about each other. This would help them to become aware and foster meaningful relationships with students from other cultures.
In planning this assignment, I had previous discussions with my professor and colleagues about what themes are currently being used in schools and select a relevant topic for my unit of study, so as to conduct a critical reflection. I explored a wide variety of topics, and then I finally decided to do my unit on "Fish". In seeking help to select a topic for my unit of study and the discussions I had with my colleagues reflects CEC Standard 10: Collaboration which states Special educators routinely and effectively collaborate with other educators in culturally responsive ways. This collaboration assures that the needs of individuals with ELN are addressed throughout schooling.