"Project-based learning is an excellent way to develop intentionality because it builds on the child's knowledge and background experiences and provides opportunities for children to extend these," writes Judy Harris Helm in her article, "Best Brains in Science Under Five: Helping Children Develop Intentionality," which is one of the articles included in the Exchange Continuing Education Unit kit, "The Intentional Teacher."
"Children learn strategies for directing their own learning in project work. When children found a big garden spider during The Garden Project, enthusiastic, inquisitive comments such as 'He's got long legs!' 'He's got knees!' 'How many knees does he have?' led to questions such as 'How does it eat?' or 'Will he bite?' An interview of an expert on spiders, the reading of many books, the creation of a spider web, and the building of model spiders enabled the children to learn many strategies, experience the thrill of discovery, and develop confidence in their ability to direct their own learning. Problem-solving events also occur in project work such as how to work as a team, how to make a model stand up, or how to obtain needed materials. While reviewing documentation (photos, drawings, and teacher notes of their conversations), children become reflective and learn to think about how they learned and what was helpful. They think about what worked, what did not work, what they did well, and what they could do next. This kind of thinking, at a preschool level, is a lot like the thinking process of the top scientists."
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It also goes to show that as a teacher you have to be very flexible. You can go in with a plan--what stories you would like to read or songs to sing, but what happens in the course of the day can direct the progression of the day. If teachers are bogged down in a formal, packaged curriculum they may not be so responsive and open to this type of spontaneous learning. To me, it's all about conversation with the child---have your plan, but be ready to switch gears, even with project-based learning.
This article, like all of the articles have read, is very informative. As Teachers, we need to in place some of the strategies that's being emitted to us.