Boutte, G. S. (2008). Beyond the illusion of diversity: How early childhood teachers can promote social justice. The Social Studies, 99(4), 165-173. This article describes ways that teachers can take an active stance in disrupting the culture of power and create an inclusive classroom. When teachers do not take an active stance in disrupting cycles of oppression, students will form their own opinions and possible misconceptions about the world around them. The article suggests that teachers can be honest, embrace curiosity, broaden student choices, foster pride in our students, and lead by example. Cavanaugh, D., Clemence, K. clemence. kim@iowacityschools., Teale, M., Rule, A. audrey. rule@uni. ed., & Montgomery, S. (2017). Kindergarten Scores, Storytelling, Executive Function, and Motivation Improved through Literacy-Rich Guided Play. Early Childhood Education Journal, 45(6), 831–843. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-016-0832-8 This article explores the benefits of literacy-rich guided play. The article begs the case for play and play-based learning in the classroom, and the authors conducted a research study in two kindergarten classrooms examining literacy outcomes for a group of students that received guided play literacy instruction as compared to a control group. The portion of the article that I found most interesting was an experiment they ran in both a middle-class, largely white kinder classroom and a lower SES, racially and linguistically diverse kindergarten classroom. The investigators created a scenario in which classes were split into two groups. The first group, the control, was given letter bins that contained small items/pictures/knick knacks that began with that letter sound (i.e. the "B" bin contained a button, bow, baby doll, etc.) The control group was given explicit instructions about how to use these tools, and was asked to dump out 2 bins, then sort the items back into their letter bin. The second group, the guided play-based group, was given the same two bins containing identical materials. These students, however, were asked to invent a game with a partner that had to do with the letter sound the word began with. After several weeks of this 15-minute session, instructors gave students the DIBELS assessment of early literacy skills. They found that, across time and across school sites, students in the experiment group had significantly greater gains than those in the control. "Other academic benefits included development of student storytelling skills, application of new vocabulary, and recurring practice of phonemic and phonics learning through the invented games and by continued application during free time" (p 842.) This has me thinking about flexible practices I can implement into my day in which guided play time could benefit my students. I am hoping this article can influence our thinking as we make a final decision about the lesson study content and structure. Fernández Santín, M., & Feliu Torruella, M. (2017). Reggio Emilia: An Essential Tool to Develop Critical Thinking in Early Childhood. Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research, 6(1), 50-56. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.7821/naer.2017.1.207 In this article, the author explores Reggio Emilia and its central ideas. It presents the perspective that art educators need to hold students to high standards, and could use the ideals and practices of Reggio to improve their practice. The author provided an overview of Reggio Emilia's approach and ways to develop critical thinking. Eight major ideas behind the Reggio approach were presented:Environment as third teacher, hundred languages of children, projects, teacher-researcher, image of the child, negotiated learning, documentation, and family-school relationships. The article explains the Reggio Emilia view of teacher and student roles. The child is viewed as a little researcher. They discover the world around them by making decisions and solving difficulties. With the child fulfilling the role of researcher, they are acquiring autonomy, independence, and confidence. They are also finding answers to their own questions, and unearthing new questions along the way. The teacher's role is that of teacher-researcher. The teacher listens, observes, and documents student thinking and work along the way. The Reggio way also encourages that teachers share information and learnings with one another often. Lizza, D. (2020, January) Personal interview. Danny Lizza is a movement and mindfulness teacher for K-5 students and, as Lizza put it, his whole day is play. He discussed play as a way to build independence and confidence in students. He said that he builds up to structures that students can rely on for playtime, where they feel comfortable because they know what to expect and how the routine will work. He also shared that, in his time as a classroom teacher, he created structures where students led their own class meetings and had freedom within that shared routine. As a kindergarten teacher, he felt that this was one of their most independent times of the day. Students had a predictable routine for greeting one another, choosing a game to play, and then facilitating that game. The other time of day he mentioned was during problem-solving circles. Students could use this time to identify problems they were noticing in the classroom and then collaboratively create solutions. Danny followed the teachings of positive discipline to create this routine. He said that during this time, many of the issues that arose revolved around playtime and that students developed solutions together. He said that "it all comes back to play." His current work as a movement and mindfulness teacher has affirmed his beliefs about the value of play. He said that some of his students who have big behaviors and are dependent learners in their general education classroom really step into the spotlight and feel confident sharing their expertise during playtime. Lynch, M. (2015). More play, please: the perspective of kindergarten teachers on play in the classroom. American Journal of Play, 7(3), 347+. This article covered many perspectives on play in the classroom. Kindergarten teachers were interviewed and asked about the factors that contribute to or deter from the inclusion of play in their daily schedule. Some teachers shared negative views on play, saying that they do not see its purpose. Some shared that preschool is the time for play, and that students must be ready for academic rigor by the time they enter kindergarten. Those who support play in the classroom shared all of the skills that play can build at a young age. Some of the skills mentioned included, cooperation, communication, flexibility, fine motor skills, and problem solving. Teachers who are both for and against play in the classroom shared some of the barriers to play. Families often push back against play, thinking that students should be sitting at desks, doing paper on pencil tasks and learning to read. School administrators also push back, punishing teachers and calling them in for punitive conversations if they pop in for an observation and see free play. Teachers also mentioned the many political and policy pressures on a national level that prevent play in the classroom. Common Core, No Child Left Behind, Readers First, and other national movements were quoted as a large barrier. These policies push teachers to fill every minute of the day with academic rigor and new content, and do not leave much time for pursuing student interest and play. Intrapersonal factors, organizational factors, and policy factors all contribute to the squeezing out of play in the classroom. Massey, Susan. (2012). From the Reading Rug to the Play Center: Enhancing Vocabulary and Comprehensive Language Skills by Connecting Storybook Reading and Guided Play. Early Childhood Education Journal. 41. 10.1007/s10643-012-0524-y. This article explained several example structures for introducing play into literacy routines. Children acquire language through social interactions with adults and peers in which they are making meaning. Massey writes that, to support students in language acquisition and literacy skill building, teachers assume the role of conversational partner and language facilitator in the classroom. She writes that, as a conversational partner and language facilitator, teachers can create cognitively challenging dynamics that help children understand the language in which they’ll eventually be reading and creating a foundation for future text comprehension. Schneider, J. (2020, January) Personal interview. Julie Schneider, a fourth grade teacher, has a lot of experience and beliefs about play-based learning and student discovery. Julie talked a lot about how play and discovery are the things that students are doing all day, every day. She said that play is the way that children make meaning, and that it is their natural form of understanding. Play is the way that children interpret the world. Julie talked about how her students make games out of everything in the classroom, and call some of their favorite discussion structures games. She said that they are big fans of the fishbowl discussion structure, and love it so much that they ask to play "the fishbowl game." She thinks that giving children a chance to play and explore without adult instructions helps foster creativity in students. She said that, because play has constant rule changing and negotiation, it helps students think flexibly and communicate with one another. This has me wondering if we should do a true Reggio-inspired lesson, where students come into a space that has already been set up and are invited to explore, build, and create without set expectations. Schwartz, K. (2019, October 28). Teaching 6-Year-Olds About Privilege and Power. Retrieved from https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/54150/teaching-6-year-olds-about-privilege-and-power. The article explored harmful and helpful patterns in teaching students about privilege and power. The article focuses on a 1st grade private school teacher, and describes the way that he leans in to difficult conversations and does not shy away from talking about social justice issues with his students. The teacher talks about how, in the early years of his teaching career, he was very uncomfortable discussing power, privilege and culture and always dismissed conversations or promised them to be talked about later. By doing this, he realized that he was sending a message to students that privilege and power are not important issues that need to be discussed. He was sending a message to students that many of these issues had already been fixed, a message that diminishes the lived experiences of many (Schwartz, 2019.) This article was an important reminder that you need to be careful with the tone and content of critical conversations, but that the only way you can really mess up is to not have critical conversations at all.