Trainers from across the state were busy with blocks on February 18 at the first Train the Trainer event for 2015. Despite snowy weather in the upstate, a large group of trainers attended the interactive seminar, Teaching STEM Through Block Play led by Kelley Buchheister, Ph. D., an Assistant Professor in Instruction and Teacher Education at USC.
What is STEM?
If you haven’t heard the buzz about STEM, the letters stand for . . .
First Kelley introduced that block play naturally stimulates STEM concepts for young children.
· Exploring with blocks allows children to predict and test their “guesses” – a core idea for teaching the scientific process.
· Block play stimulates children to ask questions and problem solve for answers, the basic components of Engineering.
Next Kelley led participants through hands on activities and discussions to explore specific ways to integrate STEM thinking in the early childhood classroom. Participants worked in groups and were given simple challenges that encouraged problem solving, the use of mathematical language and hands-on exploration with different types of blocks.
Kelley has conducted research by fitting video cameras to children’s foreheads while they plan and build in the block center. She showed classroom video footage demonstrating children actually solving problems and constructing knowledge in the block center at the USC Child Development and Research Center.
After lunch, participants experimented with an awesome technology tool that can be used in classrooms. Kelley presented several age appropriate ways that children can integrate technology along with block play.
Participants left with an abundance of ideas and specific tools for promoting STEM concepts using blocks. What was the most useful information that participants gained from this training? Here’s a sample of answers written on evaluations:
-Incorporating the use of blocks in learning with open ended questions
-New ways to make block play a more meaningful learning activity
-Working in groups and doing hands-on activities to really see how children are thinking/utilizing STEM in their play
-The importance of mathematical language in the block center
-Seeing the way she broke up the training with lecture and group activity
-How to take play and make it challenging and engaging for children. Moving behind simply having children “play” and encouraging their creative processes.
Trainers, if you’d like to learn more about block play, Young Children magazine offers this web article, Blocks Develop 21st Century Skills and type the words “block play” into the search box on Pinterest to see a variety of ideas and articles about block play.
Welcome to The Lightbulb – where great training ideas get sparked! The Lightbulb is a blog for trainers who offer DSS training hours under the South Child Care Training System. In this blog post, you’ll meet the training coordinators at CCCCD as well as get ideas for creating and using icebreakers in your trainings.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines an icebreaker as “something done or said to help people relax and begin talking at a meeting, party, etc.” An icebreaker helps your participants feel more at ease and start interacting with each other. Those tasks are definitely important to establish a safe and warm learning environment, right? But with a bit of planning, an icebreaker can accomplish those tasks and even more!
We’ve all engaged in time tested icebreakers such as tearing off sheets of toilet paper (you have to tell one thing about yourself for each square of toilet paper) or choosing a chocolate bar that describes yourself. These are fun and interesting, but they usually take 10-15 minutes of training time and don’t relate to the training topic. What if you could help your participants relax and interact and at the same time get them engaged in the training topic? A double dip icebreaker does just that!
Trainer extraordinaire, Sharon Bowman, likes to use the term “connection activity” because these type of activities help people feel connected to one another plus feel connected to the training topic. You can learn more about connection activities in Sharon’s book, Training from the Back of the Room or by attending one of Sharon’s Train the Trainer Seminars offered by CCCCD.
Double Dip Icebreakers to Use in Trainings
There are lots of different ways to structure icebreakers so that they connect participants to the learning topic and to each other. Want some examples? We’ll provide a variety of double dip icebreakers and also connect you with the four Training Coordinators at the Center for Child Care Career Development. Below, each Training Coordinator shares a favorite double dip icebreaker. We hope you will try one of these in a future training.
This is a very interactive, energizing icebreaker that gets your participants out of their seats and talking with fellow learners from the beginning of the class. Asking each participant to name one thing that they want to learn prompts participants to transition from “where they have been” to “what they are going to do.” They begin to focus their minds on the content to be presented. So give TENS + ONE, a partner activity a try at your next training.
TENS stands for
T –Touch –give your partner a handshake (or touch elbows if concerned about germs)
E – Eyes – look your partner in the eye
N –Name- tell your name to your partner
S – Smile!
ONE – ask participants to say one thing that they want to learn in the class.
Ask participants to stand up and find someone they have not met. Ask them to follow the TENS +ONE. You can have them repeat this process with more than one person if time allows.
Four Corners shared by Ann Pfeiffer
Four Corners is an icebreaker that allows participants to connect to you as the trainer, to the other participants, and to the topic of the training. It works best with groups of ten or more. The trainer prepares three or four questions and four possible choices (the four corners) for each question. The participants move to the corner that best represents them for that question and introduces themselves to the others in their corner. They also briefly comment on the question. Then the trainer asks the next question and the process repeats.
I like to have the first question be about something everyone can comment on. In a recent training I asked, “How do you feel about winter?” I try to make the choices interesting like “UMM hot chocolate, snuggling by the fire…I love it.” The 2nd question usually has to do with their job, like “What’s your favorite time of your work day?” and the third is about the topic for the training. This makes a nice transition to the training and each person has had a chance to meet many of the people in the group. Four Corners is just one variation of Sharon Bowman’s activity, Take a Stand.
When I begin a training, it is important for me to understand what the participants need. What do they want out of this session? What is that little nugget that will be their “aha moment” or “so that’s how you do that?”
Recently Sharon Bowman introduced a training by having participants do a “dot vote.” Learning objectives were already written on paper and displayed on the wall. Participants used one sticker dot to vote on the objective that was most important to them. After everyone had voted, the dots were tallied to see which objectives were the most important. This was an effective way for Sharon and the participants to visually see where the emphasis of the training should be from the participant point of view.
This was a great ice breaker for me to add to my trainer’s tool box. By using a “dot vote” for the learning objectives, mentally, I can make adjustments in the training to be sure that enough time is spent on covering those objectives as well as the objectives that I think are important to the training. Dot voting gives a voice to the participants to communicate what they need from the trainer.
Pair Share suggested by Kelly Pfeiffer
I love pair shares because they can be done in so many different ways. A pair share is a short conversation between two participants in which the two people answer a question about the training topic. For example, a trainer may say, “Everyone, please stand and find another person in the room who isn’t sitting near you. Tell this person two things you already know about today’s training topic, plus tell them one thing you’d like to learn about this topic.” After one minute, ring a chime and ask everyone to return to their seats.
Vary the way that you ask people to pair share for ice breakers. Pair shares can be seated, standing or even done while standing on one leg. You can also vary the questions you ask people to discuss. Here are a few different examples:
– “On your hand-out are the two learning objectives for today’s training. Which one is most important to you? Turn to someone sitting next to you and tell them which one you are most interested in and why.”
– “Everyone stand and walk 10 steps away from your table in a zig-zag pattern. Now find a partner near you and discuss this question: ‘How does today’s topic help us in our daily interactions with children?’”
We hope you’ll try a double dip icebreaker in your next training to get the participants connected to each other and to the training topic!
Welcome to The Lightbulb – where great training ideas get sparked! The Lightbulb is a blog for trainers who offer DSS training hours under the CCCCD system. We’re glad you’ve found our blog and hope you’ll come back to visit often.
Why a blog?
So what’s this blog about and what can it do for you? The Training Coordinators are always looking for ways to improve training for child care providers in our state. A big part of that is supporting our trainers. We want to invest more in you!
This blog offers a more consistent way for us to communicate with you. The blog will take the place of the Trainer Newsletter and because a blog is online, you’ll be able to access past and current articles and announcements from us on your computer or mobile device at all times.
To support you, the Lightbulb blog will . . .
- Provide you with awesome articles about training and training design including ideas for icebreakers, engaging activities, solid closings and more!
- Connect you to high caliber training resources on the internet through links to fabulous websites and articles.
- Help you grow as a trainer through an informal setting.
- Keep you aware about the latest updates from CCCCD
- Introduce you to talented child care trainers across the state – you’ll get to learn from the best!
Why is it called the Lightbulb?
We decided that the blog needed a name to represent all of its different facets. The four Training Coordinators sat around a table and brainstormed. We wanted the name to be short, memorable and catchy!
We discussed the book, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and the idea of the Lightbulb Lab that is in Mr. Slinger’s room. We want to inspire you to try new things, experiment with new materials and come up with innovative solutions for your trainings! Because you focus on early education, we thought it was perfect to name the blog after this creative space in a children’s book. So when you visit this blog, imagine it’s like The Lightbulb Lab – Where Great Ideas are Born! We hope this blog inspires you to grow as a trainer and sparks lots of innovation! If by chance, you haven’t read Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes, look for it the next time you’re in a library or book store!
Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts. You won’t have to come looking though. When new information is posted, we’ll notify you in your e-mail box so you won’t miss a thing.