This chapter, the notion of defining intelligence, is a rigorous process.  There were so many ideas to reflect upon but I have chosen just a few to bring up for discussion...... 

   There were several ideas discussed in this chapter that made me link my experiences as a mother and my own children and the way they learn and the way I teach in my classroom. First, the idea that learning in context is the key to intelligent learning. There are so many experiences that my children learn from at home that allow them to function independently when they are not with me.  It also allows us to communicate effectively because we share similar experiences.  However as a teacher, I have to get to know my students, and learn about their experiences before I can help them to make inferences, and connect prior knowledge to classroom experiences in order for them to make connections in the learning.  A good example is a lesson I was doing in social studies.  We were discussing cities, I was asking the children to describe a city and in turn I would illustrate their description on the board.  I laughed to myself after we had "built our city" because by the end I realized it was Atlantic City.  Many of the children in my class that year had parents who worked in the casinos. The reason I laughed is because in my mind I think of Philadelphia because that is the city I have spent the most time in.

    Going back to learning in context, I equip my own children with knowledge and a set of tools they will need in order to function when I am not with them...many of our students come to school without a set of tools.  Many are unfortunately are not even independent in daily living skills. My goal in the classroom is to support them so that they  become independent thinkers and to give them classroom resources that they can use when they "get stuck".  I hope that they use their classroom experiences and are able to go home and make connections. 

      The book brings up programs the government has put in place to support early childhood learning with the goal of making them competitive learners in a global society.  I strongly support these intitiatives and understand the need for accountability in our schools.  However the question has been raised about confusing intelligence and achievement.  As a teacher I  am often in a quandry about testing.  I see so much progress in the classroom and so much effort being made to make sure our students receive the interventions they need to be successful in the classroom that I am often upset when we are told that our students are not proficient.  It would be beneficial to have a national system of tracking individual student progress.  A system that would give each student a number and that number would move with the student as the child moves, changes schools ect.  I know it is way too costly but so many other factors need to be taken into account when looking at student test scores.  And although at this time the students are being short changed because we are testing their achievements and not their intelligence, it would be very costly to change the process.

    Finally it is noteworthy to remember, working within the child's zone of development, scaffolding, using encouragement, teaching them to be persistent, fostering their ability to extend time on task, modeling perseverance, and complimenting effort can all help develop a child's creativity and independence.

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The testing part also stood out to me. I think the authors made an important point when they distinguished between intelligence and achievement. Not only do I think state tests only measure achievement - I also think grades are often just a measure of achievement. However, students get their grades and believe they are a measure of their intelligence. A couple years of "bad" grades and it is hard to convince a child that they are not "dumb". Across the board I think that grades get in the way of learning and growing intelligence in children. However, I do not see classroom or district testing as the the problem. Those assessments help us make instructional decisions, identify areas to work on with students, and like Kristie points out they allow us to measure student growth. I believe it is important to think about how we use these tests. Are we using them to drive our instruction and differentiate? Or are we using them fill a grade book? I think many of our teachers see this distinction and at the early childhood level teachers want report cards to report on student growth and not achievement.
Kristie mentioned that many of our students come to school without a set of tools that are necessary to function. I think we all see this vicious cycle in our classrooms. The book states, "What is it about poverty that's so damaging? The households of poor children are often chaotic, and because their parents are poorly schooled, they may not provide some of the early learning experiences that prepare children to do well in school." It is very unfortunate that some of our students come to school without background knowledge on many topics; probably because their parents do not have that background knowledge either. I find this to be one of the biggest challenges in my classroom this year especially.
I am enjoying reading this book because so much of what the authors are saying we know already, yet it is refreshing to have this knowledge validated. On pag 134 the authors point out that one of the key features of intelligence is language ability. That the size of one's vocabulary is a very large component of what IQ measures. This was the basis of Marzano's work, and why he thought it was important to have a standard set of vocabulary words which students would learn during a grade level for backgroung knowledge. We tried implementing Marzano's ideas a few years ago, but it fell through the cracks. That's okay becuase maybe we weren't ready to embrace that idea. The more important point is that we understand the importance of vocabulary building to language development. And, that during the preschool years the best way of increasing a child's vocabulary is through talk. And that this talk supports the growth of children's intelligence by recognizing the value of their play by learning a song, telling a story, playing with blocks.
I agree with what everyone else has commented on. I particularly liked the section on conservation. Piaget experimented with a child with 2 glasses of juice, same glasses and same amts. The child could see that they both had the same. But once one glass was poured into a different shaped container, the child felt the amounts were different. This happens often in class when 2 letter people play a game with sound cards. The children have to dertermine which letter person gets each card. At the end we lay the out and count them to see who has won the game. Even though the children count both lines of cards, they get very confused about who has won. You see the sound cards are of different sizes. So one line may have more cards even though the other line stretches out further.. It was good to see that this concept is only understood when they reach ages 5-7. This book continues to put skills into perspective, age appropriate which has been very valuable for me.
I love the discussion about IQ and natural intelligence... when they ask " how can we help our children to attain their fullest intellectual potential- not on the IQ test but more broadly,in life?" They go on to explain that the section most closely linked to the end score of the IQ test is vocabulary and language ability..which is a direct result of conversation and talking to your children. We can teach so much just by having meaningful conversations and following their leads!

As a parent, I have always felt it was more important that my daughters were emotionally equipped for the world as opposed to worrying incessantly about their IQs. I wanted them to be well rounded,courteous,empathetic, and caring, self-reliant, motivated to learn and able to hold conversations with children and adults alike. More than anything I hoped they would have the emotional skills to be able to have close friends and relationships. All the aspects of emotional intelligence are key to leading fulfilled lives!! I think we need to spend time nurturing conversations that also help children learn the vocabulary of how to get along with others, manage their emotions, work well in a group and communicate successfully with others.
I agree with Jane that we as early child hood educators need to nurture our student’s social and emotional development just as much as their intellectual development. Although many out side the pre-k /k realm would see center time as simply free play, it is such a crucial portion of our day in which the children are developing and strengthening their social habits in addition to academic concentration. They learn to navigate their way through key socialization skills such as problem solving, communicating, peer modeling, sharing, following rules, and learning appropriate actions. All of these items are crucial to becoming a well adjusted child. I also believe intellect is more then just memorizing math facts or flash cards but rather having a greater understanding of the world around you through background knowledge and environmental exposure. Something I know that we provide our students with as much as possible by going on field trips, brining in community members, introducing vocabulary, and discussing new topics through theme based learning.
It would be great to live in Lake Wobegon, as the author says, with all of the "above average" children! Although, I agree with Jane - perhaps we should ultimately be more concerned with emotional intelligence, for if our children are equipped to deal with people and handle the ups and downs of everyday life, they will be more likely to be successful in other realms. When I was reading about this chapter I thought about our students who come to us without the background knowledge on many topics - and as Nicole said, it's most likely that their parents do not have any background knowledge, either. I know that there is at least one student in my class who is at least the third generation of his family living in poverty. And the concern parents have that their child be "above average" is more of a middle class concern, I think - more so than that of the parent who is just trying to pay the bills and put food on the table. The author says that kids start out wanting to learn, as Piaget says, and parents need to be encouraging, but this is probably not priority in so many of our students' homes. So I see this as another chance for us to step in and play the role of the parent in preschool - to be encouraging, to develop creativity, and let our students figure things out - and for us to watch the kids play (and play with them) and work in their "zone of development."
I find the link between a child's vocabulary and their intelligence to be very interesting. As a parent I can relate to this because I am always engaging in everyday talk with both of my girls in the car while driving at dinner and throughout our day. I have not listened to the radio in my car since Natalie could talk. I find it way more interesting to engage the girls in conversation. With that being said the book pointed out the lack of vocabulary in these poverty homes which in our district and in my class many kids are coming from. Our student population is missing out on the "everyday talk " , family dinners and bedtime stories. All of these experiences build background knowledge and vocabulary which is clearly linked to intelligence. How do we fill in these missing gaps with our children in our classrooms? I am wondering if these are the things that should be driving our instruction?
The book states something in this chapter that we all know- the strong correlation between language/vocabulary and intelligence. In early childhood, especially preschool, what better way is there to asses a child’s language development than through play. This is where we get to see how they use language spontaneously for all different functions. It is quite easy to see what developmental skills a child is lacking through their efforts to socialize or lack there of. It is interesting how this chapter talks about the best learning environment for young children to be their natural environment. I think the change in early intervention for babies and toddlers with special needs is a great example of this. There used to be centers where you would take your child or baby for support/therapies, but now it is all done in the home because that is the most natural learning environment for children that young. I also think the authors make a good point when they talk about their study regarding the “more academic oriented” preschools versus the “more socially oriented” preschools on page 128. It is interesting to hear that both sets of children were equally intelligent when they reached school-age, but that the students that attended the more socially oriented preschools were more creative and enthusiastic about learning. Not to say that academics are not important, but I think this says a lot about how we as educators need to be aware of students’ individual differences and encourage them to explore their curiosities in order to create independent thinkers. In another book that I am reading (The Growth of the Mind by Stanley Greenspan), there is a statement that reflects what we have been reading and discussing about the importance of exposure to language rich environments and opportunities to learn to socialize, problem solve, and interact with one’s interests at a young age. That book states that early experiences influence the very structure of the brain itself, and that all skills that we learn in life are an outgrowth of the emotional interactions and experiences we have at the earliest stages of life. I just thought this connected to what we have been reading about in the Einstein book so far.
Throughout this book, and again in this chapter the author stresses the importance of parents having conversations and reading to their children. There is evidence of this in my classroom. It is easy for me to identify the children whose parents do these things, and it is apparent in those students’ academic abilities. This is something we really need to encourage our parents to do, and we came up with some great ideas to communicate this to our parents at our meeting.

I also thought the section on conservation was very interesting, and I put it to the test in my classroom. I tested four of my students using glasses of water and they all said that the large glass had more water when I transferred the water into the third glass. I also tried this using counting bears. The students told me that the two sets of bears were the same when they were lined up equally, but when I spread one of the sets out the students said this group had more. I was very surprised by the results of my experiment. I thought that at least one of the students would have been able to grasp this concept.

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