E T S Praxis Series

Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood (0521)

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Sample Test Questions

Current section: Essay > Essay Response

Directions: Questions 1 and 2 require you to write short answers. You are not expected to cite specific theories or texts in your answers; however, your responses to the questions will be evaluated with respect to professionally accepted principles and practices in teaching and learning. Be sure to answer all parts of the questions. Write your answers in the spaces indicated in the response book.

Sample Question 1

Ms. Mercer is concerned that Sara is often tired and inattentive after arriving late to school.

  • Identify TWO specific actions Ms. Mercer might take to connect school and Sara's home environment for the benefit of Sara's learning.
  • For each action, explain how that action will benefit Sara's learning. Base your response on principles of fostering positive relationships with family to support student learning and well-being.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 2:

First, Ms. Mercer can collect as much information as possible to use in conferences with Sara's mother to help establish a positive relationship and to help identify Sara's strengths and needs. Ms. Mercer should do some systematic observation and objective description of Sara's performance and the effects of her late arrival and inattentiveness in class. Observation information should also include Sara's good qualities. She might also gather information, with the help of the school nurse, about healthful habits for children Sara's age, including amount of sleep needed. Second, Ms. Mercer then needs to seek a parent conference in order to discuss the areas in which Sara shows strengths as a student and to address her concerns about Sara's performance in class. By showing a sincere interest in Sara's positive growth and development as well as identifying the youngster's problems, Ms. Mercer can work to establish a positive working relationship with Sara's mother.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 1:

Ms. Mercer needs to talk with Sara's mother in order to connect school and Sara's home environment for the benefit of Sara's learning. She should call her to make an appointment, and when Sara's mother comes to school for the meeting, they can begin to discuss Sara's behavior and the possible causes for it. In the same way, the school—Ms. Mercer and perhaps the nurse or school psychologist—know a lot about what Sara does at school and a lot of theory about child growth and development, and they can help Sara's mother understand what her problems are and how they can be approached. In this way, Sara will benefit because both home and school will know more and be better able to help her.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 0:

Although it sounds like a good idea, probably very little if anything will be gained by trying to establish contact with Sara's mother. From the way Sara behaves in school, it appears that a very likely cause of her problems lies at home, especially if her mother keeps her up very late at night and has little regard for her welfare. Therefore, in the best interests of Sara, Ms. Mercer should rely on the school to help her try to figure out what's going on with Sara and how best to help her and should not involve Sara's mother.

Sample Question 2

Review the pre-observation notes in which Ms. Mercer explains the purposes of first grade as she sees them.

  • Explain TWO additional purposes the mentor might suggest to Ms. Mercer that might motivate Sara and other students to become more engaged in their schoolwork.
  • For each purpose, explain how Ms. Mercer might modify her instruction to better meet the needs of Sara and other students. Base your response on principles of motivation and learning theory.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 2:

The mentor can point out to Ms. Mercer that an important additional purpose for first grade is to address the physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of all children. She could have modified her instruction by learning more about Sara, and then addressing Sara's needs in a carefully planned way that supports Sara's growth and development. A second additional purpose for first grade is to build students' self-esteem and confidence. The mentor could point out that Ms. Mercer shows her concern about Sara to the mentor, but to Sara she generally shows her frustration and impatience with what Sara does wrong. If Ms. Mercer began by praising Sara for her ability and acknowledging her genuine contributions, she would take an important step toward building Sara's self-esteem and confidence.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 1:

One additional purpose of first grade is to begin introducing some of the higher order thinking skills at a level appropriate for the age and grade level. Ms. Mercer is right that reading, writing, and arithmetic are important, but she could help the students grow much more effectively by helping them begin to use some synthesis, analysis, and evaluation skills in the tasks they are doing. For example, in her oral reading activity, she could ask some questions related to what the students are reading that would require them to use these higher-order thinking skills. She could ask how characters are alike, or ask them to name two things they really like about the story.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 0:

It seems to me that, with everything first grade teachers are expected to do these days, Ms. Mercer has more than enough challenge with the purposes she has established. Yes, it might be nice if she could think of some "additional" purposes, but I think her students will be best served if she concentrates on the purposes she has established and works to give her students a solid foundation on which later grades can build.