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Developmentally-Appropriate Instruction

Allie Yowell

Regent University

In partial fulfillment of UED 495 Field Experience ePortfolio, Spring 2017




Student learning can be driven by a number of elements and the effectiveness of the

instruction will vary depending on numerous factors. One critical factor is whether or not the

instruction is developmentally appropriate for students, and encourages them to take part in

active learning. This includes hands on learning, using manipulatives, experiments, object

lessons, or other activities that students can use their natural curiosity and derive conclusions

based on what they observed. These activities should be guided according to age, level,

experience and even interests which can vary by culture. This type of instruction and learning

encourages the teacher to develop student-centered lessons that allow students to interact in an

authentic way with the content they are learning.


In my placement, I had the opportunity to teach science in fourth grade. The science

content being taught led way to numerous opportunities for hands on learning experiences that

were appropriate for fourth graders. For my first artifact, I chose an Ecosystem Explorationlog

and photo from when we took the students outside to explore their schoolyard ecosystem. I had

the students make observations and diagram what they saw like real scientists would do. They

wrote and drew what they saw above ground, at ground level, and below ground. I dug a few

small holes into the ground and let the students explore them. They found worms, roots, bugs,

soil, clay, rocks and many other organisms. It was rewarding to watch the studentscuriosity and

inquiry in action. It was obvious that many of those kids do not get many chances to play in the

dirt or explore outside. Whether it is related to their culture or generation, they do not spend

enough time outside interacting with their world. This exploration gave them the opportunity to

do that and learn valuable information about ecosystems. The students discovered firsthand how



living and nonliving elements align and interact in an ecosystem. They later used their

observations and findings to determine the niche of different organisms in the schoolyard


The next artifact is the lesson plan from an object lesson I gave on surface currents. I did

this during a small group setting where each group had the chance to do an object lesson that

allowed them to see how surface currents form and move around the ocean. They had plastic

plates and clay to mold land forms such as volcanoes, islands, or seamounts. I then poured water

into the plates (and cinnamon so they could see the current better) and had the students blow

across the water with a straw. This demonstrated how the wind causes surface currents to form,

and how they turn away from different landforms. The students made a diagram of what they

observed and discussed whether or not surface currents effect deeper water. The students had the

opportunity to model something they could not otherwise see, and observe different variations of

surface currents. It helped them grasp the concept as well as understand the difference between

deep-water currents and surface currents.


Hands-on learning that is developmentally appropriate can give meaning to students

learning and help improve test scores (Ingmire, 2015). Providing meaningful learning to students

gives them a purpose for being in school and can increase motivation. Making that learning align

with the students skills and abilities is part of being an effective teacher (Bredekamp; Copple,

2009). I have had the opportunity to learn how developmentally appropriate instruction can

easily be implemented by providing hands-on and active learning experiences for students.

Students cannot naturally grasp higher level concepts and need to experience it themselves.

When students have these opportunities, they are activating sensory parts of their brain that help



them understand the concepts in a more natural and lasting way (Ingmire, 2015). Additionally,

from experience in my own classroom, I learned that many students are not given the opportunity

to play, explore, build or create. I found that it is critical to give these students that option in

school to increase inquiry and motivation (Bardwell; Kincaid, 2005). There are endless ways to

get students interested and involved in their own learning. When students find interest or

excitement in what they learn in school, they become invested in themselves and their education;

this is especially vital for underrepresented students (Bardwell; Kincaid, 2005). Nevertheless, all

students, no matter what their interests or abilities are, will benefit from instruction that involves

active learning.




Bardwell, G.; Kincaid, E. (2005). A Rational for Cultural Awareness in the Science Classroom.

The Science Teacher. 72(3), 32-35. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.Library.


Bredekamp, S.; Copple, C. (2009). Developmentally Appropriate Practice: To be an Excellent

Teacher. National Association for the Education of Young Children. Retrieved from


Ingmire, J. (2015). Learning by Doing Helps Students Perform Better in Science. University of

Chicago. Retrieved from: https://news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/04/29/learning-doing-