SUNY Empire School for Graduate Studies Capstone Projects
INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY IN EARLY CHILDHOOD - CURRICULUM DESIGNThe purpose of this curriculum design was to create a supplemental unit that would integrate technology to enhance, increase and motivate early childhood learning. The curriculum is focused on literacy skills specifically alphabet knowledge and pre-writing. In this curriculum there are a variety of learning activities that integrate technology while also using traditional ways of learning. It is also important to guide parents on how to reinforce technology effectively at home. In addition to the curriculum, a plan for teachers was also designed. A mentor teacher program and a professional development plan are crucial to ensure that technology is integrated into an early childhood classroom effectively. Teachers must acquire the skills and confidence to use technology in their classroom. They must also receive ongoing support and training throughout the curriculum to create meaningful technology learning experiences for their students. As a result, teachers can use technology as an effective tool by promoting instruction for students that can reach a variety of learning styles and needs.
Place-Based Curriculum Design for a South Florida Waldorf SchoolWhile there is a tendency to standardize curriculum to make it easier to assess progress and plan intervention, a more localized approach is better suited for reaching the educational goals that societies need. Place-based learning is essential for connecting students’ education to their natural environment, personal experiences, and the societal struggles of their place of living. By being independent of centrally mandated standards, Waldorf schools are excellent candidates for developing and implementing educational programs that make learning meaningful and relevant to the students’ lives and communities. This paper includes research into the theory of place-based education, a list of best practices, and finally, a place-based 6th-grade history curriculum piece. As I started to apply the concepts of this work, I learned that there is no grade level or academic subject that does not lend itself to a place-based approach. It is only a matter of time and effort to understand what local means and how it connects to learning goals. The positive feedback from my students and their increased level of engagement have confirmed the validity of this approach.
Supporting Self-Directed Play in Early Childhood ClassroomsPublic education has become increasingly standardized and academically focused in the past decade. As a result, traditional kindergartens which provided young children their first experiences out of the home have all but disappeared. Preschool programs have now replaced the kindergarten experience, but with an increased focus on academics. Children have less time to play, and early childhood educators are often not educated about the developmental significance of play or how to support play. The following is a critique of the highly standardize and scripted trend in education as developmentally inappropriate and detrimental to children’s development in the five essential domains of early childhood. Further, it proposes how early childhood classrooms should support self-directed play, why it is the correct cognitive approach to learning for young children, and how to assess if the classroom is organized in such a way that supports children in the essential domains: physical, social, emotional, language, and cognitive development through varied approaches to learning via self-directed play.