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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Chapter 1 This teacher knew her students well. She knew exactly what they were doing and why. She affirmed the connection between the eggs and the glue and then redirected the children to the original project. She wasn’t afraid to say, “I see what you are doing. It makes sense, but let’s not do it with glue. Let’s get back to our eggs.” Her guidance assured that the experimenting was turned from mere experience to learning experience. This is the confidence Dewey speaks of. It is based on knowledge of both specific children and the learning process. Make Sense of the World for Children Dewey also said that beyond their knowledge of children, teachers must be willing to tap their general knowledge of the world to help children make sense of their surroundings and experiences. This is a challenge for many early childhood teachers who have often been discouraged from sharing their knowledge with children. For example, I was at a statewide gathering of Head Start teachers who were working toward their Child Development Associate Credential. As part of the seminar, teachers were reflecting on the project work they were doing with children. One teacher, Kathy, talked about her class’s investigation of winter birds. The children had observed and commented on the V formation of birds flying above the play area. Their teachers explained that the birds were going south for the winter. The children knew that not all birds left New England, because there were birds coming daily to their bird feeder, and this launched the class into a project studying the birds that remained in the area during the winter. Kathy showed the group some cardinals that the children had made. They were so realistic that at first no one guessed they were made from paper plates, painted and feathered. Several teachers also commented that they looked as if they had been made by older children. 22 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL