Child Centered Design - The Process Behind Our Products
The design of Child1st teaching resources is strongly rooted in the Child. We believe in looking at the Child first (1st) when designing materials to use in teaching them. What follows below is a faithful representation of the process I went through as I designed our resources. It was a meticulous and painstaking process that yielded amazing results. Please also refer to our page “Evidence Base” for several studies with student groups.
PROBLEM →In 1990 I began to question why some bright students fail. Graduate school gave me the opportunity to formally research the problem and search for answers. I wanted to understand my students’ roadblocks to learning and uncover solutions. I began to understand the learning child in more depth, but I still needed to learn how to bridge the gap between theory and the learning child.
RESEARCH →I carefully observed my students to learn what was hard for them, what those hard concepts had in common, and to also learn what was easy for them. I conducted child studies in conjunction with my graduate courses that revealed much about how my children took in and processed new information. Both weaknesses and learning strengths were observed and recorded in detail.
THEORY ↓I began to define the obstacles in terms of specific teaching strategies that did not work when teaching new, abstract content. I also began to define approaches that seemed to work for all my students regardless of their learning preference. I also asked my students what helped them learn: image, body movement, and stories, etc. Difficulties included abstract, sequential rules, concepts, and procedures.
PLAN →My idea was to embed abstract concepts (left-brain elements) in images that conveyed visually the shape and sound of letters and the whole word and its meaning. In order to target kinesthetic learners, my idea was that each element had to also include a body motion that mimicked the meaning of the word. Finally, each concept had to include a story for context and to provide a hook for recall.
DESIGN →I began to design prototypes that included images, body movement, and story. Other elements of design included showing the global whole so students could detect patterns, moving from whole to part in teaching approach, showing the relationship between seemingly disparate elements in learning. That year I designed prototypes for reading and math using the same design plan for each.
TESTI tested the effectiveness of each prototype with my students. I took their feedback and made revisions. In conjunction with my course work and under supervision of my professors, in the spring I tested my students extensively to determine how effectively these prototypes worked in making the students successful in learning. Over time design elements have been refined and streamlined.
STUDENTS researched initially were Kindergarteners. Subsequent research and testing included students from K - 7th grade.
TESTS: Phonics Mastery Inventory, Blends & Digraphs, Number of Syllables, Base Words & Affixes, Plurals, Vowel Teams, Two Consonant Endings Features Spelling. John's Basic Reading Inventory: Graded Word Lists - Form A and Oral Reading Passages - Form A
OBSERVATIONS: Mechanics of Writing, Work Habits
OUTCOMES: When testing kindergarteners in reading, grade levels ranged from 2nd grade to 4th grade. In math, all students completed addition and subtraction computation including place value (addition and subtraction of numbers over 10).