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July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

  • 1.  July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 12 days ago
    Dear Hello Community:

    I'm excited to remind you that we are about to start the second iteration of our online book club on HELLO. Our second book will be Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson. We invite you to jump in and explore the topics introduced in this book, with support from other members and the authors. Each week, the authors will post a question from the book for you to consider and will participate in the discussion over the course of this month.

    The first, introductory question will be posted this coming Monday - and then after that, a new question will be posted every Friday - just in time for you to think it over with your Saturday morning coffee as you read the Hello digest!

    How it Works:

    • If you don't already own it, purchase the book (if you're a member, use your 20% discount!).
    • Have you already read the book? Share how you've implemented it in the classroom with the Book Club!
    • Dive into the book.
    • Participate in the discussion.
    • Log into HELLO (if you're not a member, join now!) during the second week of July to analyze and talk through the first question.
    • Join the thread called "July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds".
    • Share your thoughts and discuss.
    Looking forward to all the great discussion,

    ------------------------------
    Kathy Charner
    National Association for the Education of Young Children
    Silver Spring MD
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 9 days ago
    I love this topic! It's so important for children to become thinkers.

    As an introduction to this book club discussion, members might want to listen to a 10-minute conversation with Janis Strasser, one of the authors. "Posing Big Questions to Young Children" can be found here: http://www.bamradionetwork.com/student-centric-strategies/4575-posing-big-questions-to-young-children


    ------------------------------
    Rae Pica
    Rae Pica Keynotes & Consulting
    Alexandria VA
    www.raepica.com
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 9 days ago
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to our first week, I am excited to get this book club started! For this week's question, read the Introduction section (pp. 1-10) and the chapters in Part 1 (Using Questions in Classroom Interest Areas, pp. 11-47) that you are interested in or that apply to your interactions with children.

    Let's get started: What new questions have you tried or plan to try since reading this section? Why?

    ------------------------------
    Janis Strasser
    Professor
    William Paterson University
    Ridgewood NJ
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 8 days ago
    I was thrilled when this book landed on my desk. I provide science and nature field trip experiences for early childhood, as well as professional development for the teachers we work with and a huge part of either program focuses on how to structure questions that inspire higher-level thinking. I found the charts to be a great visual tool for me and am beginning to create similar charts with our own questions for our programs. It is something that I had been creating on a much simpler scale for parents in our storytime activities to promote conversation and co-learning for our families, but the structure presented in the book made me realize that maybe I should be doing something like that for our teachers! We had always discussed higher-level questioning and thinking, but the visual really simplifies it in the best way.

    ------------------------------
    Cheryl Potemkin
    Early Childhood Program Manager
    BRIT - Botanical Research Institute of Texas
    Fort Worth TX
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 8 days ago
    Hi Cheryl. That's great you find the organization of the charts helpful! Seeing questions written out as they progress from the lower to the higher levels, you can really begin to see how the levels flow into one another and how the complexity of the questions increase. This format is really helpful for adult visual learners! (like myself)
    What kinds of questions have you been incorporating into the charts you've already created? What were some of your ideas for incorporating them into the classrooms for teachers?

    ------------------------------
    Lisa Bresson
    Fair Lawn NJ
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  • 6.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 8 days ago
    I love the reminder to start a question with, "I wonder..." or "What do you notice..."  This is a common practice of mine and I love that these statements are open ended and elicit the child to really share what is in their mind's eye.

    I have been in early childhood classrooms for 16 years now and have spent the last year in a parent participation school, which I am loving.  Because I work alongside parents who are mostly untrained as teachers, part of my job is to aid parents in facilitating children's learning during play.  I have been thinking more about how to help parents formulate questions to children.  After reading this section, I am definitely going to post some sample questions in our Dramatic Play Room (such as, "How did you get that idea?"), in our Block Area (such as, "Which blocks make the most interesting buildings?  Why do you think so?"), and in our Writing Area (such as, "How does this piece of writing make you feel?  Why?").  I also want to have more temporary signs attached to activities such as Design Challenges, Science Inquiry, and Art Projects with appropriate questions parents can ask to engage with children.  My hope is that this will enhance children's learning in our school as well as help adults understand children's learning more clearly while helping them feel more engaged as well.

    ------------------------------
    Sherrie Rose Mayle
    Director/Teacher
    Campbell Parents' Participation Preschool
    Campbell, CA
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 6 days ago
    Those are such great ideas, Sherry, for the parent volunteers. Also, in case you haven't noticed, at the end of our book there is a section called "Resources for Families." There are 3 pages that you can photocopy or scan onto your website if you have one. These pages will help all parents think about asking good questions at home that relate to their children's day in preschool, during mealtimes, and when reading aloud to their children. As they get more adept at asking a variety of questions at home, hopefully, they can take this new knowledge into the classroom when they volunteer!
    Good luck and let us know how it is going.
    Best,
    Janis

    ------------------------------
    Janis Strasser
    Professor
    William Paterson University
    Ridgewood NJ
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 5 days ago
    Thank you, Janis, for pointing out this section of the book!  I am reading in pace with the discussion, so I hadn't peeked ahead yet.  I will definitely share this resource with parents and let you know how it's going.  Thanks for your support!


    ------------------------------
    Sherrie Rose Mayle
    Director/Teacher
    Campbell Parents' Participation Preschool
    Campbell, CA
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 4 days ago
    Love the idea of the temporary signs! It's good to have the more open-ended conversation starters as reminders like you said ("I wonder...." "What do you notice....") but to display as reminders those more focused lines of questioning relating to Design Challenges and Science Inquiry shows such intention in your teaching. Not only is the children's thinking extended, but our connection with individual children deepens when they see how genuinely interested we are in their work. As wonderful as it is for us as adults to feel like someone is really listening to us, it feels that wonderful tenfold for the kids!

    ------------------------------
    Lisa Bresson
    Fair Lawn NJ
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 9 days ago
    I just listened to the wonderful interview with Janis Strasser. The ideas of putting questions around the areas in the room was a revelation. I have many parent volunteers and giving these scaffolds will be very helpful.

    ------------------------------
    Betty Flint
    Teacher Pre-K
    Bakersfield City School District
    Bakersfield CA
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 9 days ago
    Hi Betty! Lisa and I welcome you to our book discussion. Thanks so much for sharing your aha moment about putting questions all around the room. We are excited to hear which kinds of questions in specific areas are sparking conversations with children.

    Both Lisa and I have large framed posters of our favorite piece of art that related to children. It is by Kiki Suarez and it's called "My Head is Filled with Children." Since we started our work, several years ago, focusing on questions, we both now always say "My head is filled with QUESTIONS!" Here is what the painting by Suarez looks like:

    Children from around the world

    ------------------------------
    Janis Strasser
    Professor
    William Paterson University
    Ridgewood NJ
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 6 days ago
    I am so excited for this book club!
    As a director and teacher coach, I feel that so far this book has such great ideas on how to better equip teachers with higher level thinking questions.

    Looking forward to all the discussions!

    ------------------------------
    Milagros Castro, M. Ed
    Executive Director
    El Primer Paso
    Dover NJ
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 5 days ago
    Hope it's ok to just pop in to this discussion. Love this book, love how easy it is to quickly grab ideas and share the materials with classroom staff. Plus having it come to me with my NAEYC membership put me well ahead of the game when my district caught on to it a month later..
    After reading the first chapter I immediately began rethinking all of my student interactions. They had become some short and focused on one-word answers because of school dynamics. This book brought me back to what I know is right and my principal was very proud that I chose to stick to what I know.
    I have a question/dilemma though, when I introduced it to the assistants in my classroom, one of them responded "I just don't think all children are capable of higher order thinking" and continued to explain that she felt as though some children just liked worksheets and completing simple, quick answers to right or wrong questions and also discussed that our special education students were really not capable of this due to their disabilities. I am a firm believer that all children are capable of higher order thinking and that we should include all children but not expect all responses to come back in the same way. I'm curious what others think of this and if anyone has advice on how to support co-workers on accepting the differing abilities of young children and including them in richer "conversations."

    ------------------------------
    Makaila
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 4 days ago
    Good morning Makaila!
    You bring up a valid point that is absolutely worthy of a reflective discussion.
    We would love to hear other reader's thoughts and experiences on this and welcome ALL viewpoints and ideas! Let's dig deep..
    How does all of this "fit" for children who are alternative learners and communicators?

    ------------------------------
    Lisa Bresson
    Fair Lawn NJ
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 4 days ago
    I'm glad this teacher was honest with you so you could have some conversations.  When I was teaching 2 and 3 year olds we always did a lot of storytelling as a group and individually.  The children's ability to make up and tell stories, poems, and songs increased during the year.  There were some who would tell a story with great detail and others with very few words.  I wrote them all down and read them all during group time.  A story of several sentences received as much respect as a story consisting of, "Mommy.  Mommy."  Over time the child with the single word story gained skills, experience, and confidence to tell longer stories.  Start from where each child is and they'll grow from there.  Every child thinks and feels--they might not be able to express their thoughts and feelings yet.  If you are limiting them to work sheets and adult directed activities you're not helping to stretch their ability to think more deeply and to grow their powers of expression, whatever that might mean for each child.  It seems like this teacher needs help seeing each child individually.  Hope this is a little helpful.


    Makaila Mason wrote:
    "I have a question/dilemma though, when I introduced it to the assistants in my classroom, one of them responded "I just don't think all children are capable of higher order thinking" and continued to explain that she felt as though some children just liked worksheets and completing simple, quick answers to right or wrong questions and also discussed that our special education students were really not capable of this due to their disabilities. I am a firm believer that all children are capable of higher order thinking and that we should include all children but not expect all responses to come back in the same way. I'm curious what others think of this and if anyone has advice on how to support co-workers on accepting the differing abilities of young children and including them in richer "conversations.""


    ------------------------------
    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 4 days ago
    I am reminded of the Reggio Emilia philosophy of the image of the child who is capable, confident, a problem solver, a collaborator, excited about learning etc. We work with children according to our image of them. When we have assistants and parents or even administrators who feel that the work we are doing is too difficult or not developmentally appropriate for young children, we need to help them to change their image of children and show what these wonderful little people can do. In Reggio Emilia, children with special "Rights" (needs) are given priority to get into the preschools. They work along side all the children in the class at their level of development. Asking big questions gives these early learners the opportunity to build synapses and self-confidence.

    ------------------------------
    Betty Flint
    Teacher Pre-K
    Bakersfield City School District
    Bakersfield CA
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 2 days ago
    Sometimes adults have an image of the child that values learning specific skills, answering close-ended questions with correct answers, and developing a fixed mindset.    Children who grow and develop in this environment, then, are likely to learn limited skills, learn to answer questions with correct answers, and not develop their abilities to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate.
    When providing professional development on developing children's thinking,  some teachers tell me that when they ask certain children good open-ended questions, their question is responded to with a shrug, silence, or  "I don't know."   Repeating the question doesn't help.  My sense is that these children have already learned to give right answers, and their thinking skills have not been developed.  As teachers, then, our starting point, for this child is to create a new image of himself.   Ask this child a remembering or understanding question.  Respond positively and reinforce that it is good to answer questions.  When receiving no reply to an applying, analyzing, evaluating, or creating question, use self talk yourself to model an appropriate answer.  Get excited when another child answers a higher level question.  Ask for the attention of other children, and ask the child to repeat her answer.  Be enthusiastic:  have everyone applaud, say "good thinking!", and point to the child's brain with a smile.  Over time, your children will learn that you value thinking and answering higher level questions.  A new image of the child will begin to develop

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    John Gunnarson
    Woodacre CA
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  • 18.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 2 minutes ago
    John, your point about helping children understand that we want to hear their own unique answers, is so well taken. I agree that sometimes children are afraid to respond to a question because, perhaps, other adults have expected a certain answer and have been disappointed if the child didn't give the "correct" answer. So, yes, we need to help children relearn that we want to listen to them and what they have to say and that we don't have a predetermined answer to our question in mind.
    Have others experienced that with time, children begin to respond, and then get more and more verbal as they get comfortable engaging in open ended conversations with us? Please feel free to share any anecdotes!
    Best,
    Janis

    ------------------------------
    Janis Strasser
    Professor
    William Paterson University
    Ridgewood NJ
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: July Book Club: Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson

    Posted 12 hours ago
    Hi Mikalia!

    I totally agree with you that all children (including children with disabilities)  are capable of  higher order thinking!

    Your assistant is not the only one who believes this about children with disabilities.  In many situations it is not the disability that is the problem, but it is because children with disabilities have not been given the same opportunities or experiences as their typically developing peers to draw upon to develop these skills.  That is why opportunities for inclusion within programs and activities with their typical peers is so important.

    You may not even have to lower your expectations and not expect the same kind of answers, but you may have to give students with disabilities many more opportunities to to practice and develop their higher order thinking skills.

    You and your assistant can also plan to join us in January 2019 for the book discussion of my NAEYC book, "The Essentials: Supporting Young Children with Disabilities in the Classroom."

    Pam


    ------------------------------
    Dr. Pam Brillante
    Associate Professor of Special Education
    William Paterson University of NJ
    Wayne, NJ
    ------------------------------