Sunday, March 10, 2013

4 C's (adapted for ECE)

Connect: Because ECE children have so much schema to build, a strategy we use consistently during read-a-louds to deepen understanding is asking the children to make personal connections. Because of this, this routine was a natural selection. We use several themes and texts in our teaching to also promote text-text connections so the children begin to recognize similarities and differences in stories. 

What I did: For this exercise, I chose the Gingerbread Man, The Gingerbread Boy, The Gingerbread Baby and The Gingerbread Girl and asked the children to reflect on the settings in each, the characters, the different endings, the different repeat phrases, their connections, and the behaviors of the various main characters.

Extend: In ECE we are working on adapting many of the routines so they are developmentally appropriate for preschool age children. It made sense to use this routine because we focus so much at this age on children making connections. It was a challenge however to modify the routine in relation to concept, challenge and change so it reflected in their thinking as opposed to the literal challenges, concepts and changes.

Challenges: As stated above, the routine itself was difficult to modify so that it went beyond the literal. Because preschool age children are so literal, egocentric and in the present, it is difficult for them to reflect on how their thinking has changed over time and why. To them they just know what they know. Considering this I chose to do the routine anyway but more with a focus on the on how the main character's behavior changed and how this behavior affected or caused the different endings. I then asked them to reflect on the behaviors, take a point of view and explain/defend it. For example one child explained that in the Gingerbread Baby Matti did the wrong thing by opening the oven door and letting the baby out, but then he made the gingerbread house for the Baby to live in and be protected so nobody could eat him. Also Many children felt it was fair that the fox got to eat the cookie in several stories because the old man or old woman made the wrong choice by opening the oven too early. Many also said in several stories that the fox was mean or bad because he tricked the gingerbread man, but one child noted he was smart and therefore should get the cookie. 

Reflection: In the end, despite the challenges for ECE with this routine, I was impressed with the deep thinking made by the children. With this simple modification, the children were much more engaged in the activity and I believe the lesson was more powerful as a result. Because they had to reflect not only on the characters behavior as well take a stand on whether it was fair or not who ate the cookie, the similarities and differences in the book became more transparent to the children beyond just how they were similar and different. They truly saw how the behavior of the gingerbread boy, girl, baby, man, fox or Matti led to the cookie being eaten or not. Of course, many of the children made connections to making cookies at home and eating them. I would like to try this routine with similar texts and their various versions to figure out how to use it most effectively...perhaps with other classics like The Three Bears or The Mitten. However, I would also like to find ways to use it that match more closely with the original purpose. In the end however, our discussion about these books was much more meaningful than in any year in the past when we strictly reflected and charted the differences and similarities of the books.  


  1. Again I think it's great to see a glimpse into our ECE classrooms to see our youngest students here at Roberts thinking about characters and ideas beyond the text- amazingly difficult for such youngsters, but you've shown it's very possible!

  2. Leslie, I am intrigued by this routine. Originally I thought it was so in depth that it would require intense up front teaching. Reading your reflections help me realize that it is completely worth it to achieve the deep thinking. I particularly like the natural defense of ideas/claims. I have now seen it used in different ways with ECE and 8th grade. Surely, I will use it with my 3rd and 4th graders!!

  3. Leslie,
    how wonderful that you preservered and were thoughtful about acknowledging that the focus would be on the changes and challenges of the characters. I often feel that I am in the same boat as you are, needing to build so much schema and vocabulary. Thank you for your postings.

  4. Leslie-
    As a former ECE teacher myself, I CONNECT so much to your need for helping the little ones make those important connections between what they know and what they learn as their little brains are expanding each day and their circle of influence and information gets bigger and bigger. I love your organized chart you used to document their thinking and to help them discover patterns of thinking.