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Tools of the Mind: The Vygotskian Approach to Early Childhood Education

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As the only text of its kind, this book provides in-depth information about Vygotsky's theories, neo-Vygotskians' findings, and concrete explanations and strategies that instruct teachers how to influence student learning and development. Key changes to this edition include a new chapter on dynamic assessment, separate and expanded chapters on developmental accomplishments As the only text of its kind, this book provides in-depth information about Vygotsky's theories, neo-Vygotskians' findings, and concrete explanations and strategies that instruct teachers how to influence student learning and development. Key changes to this edition include a new chapter on dynamic assessment, separate and expanded chapters on developmental accomplishments of infants and toddlers, preschool/kindergarten, and primary grades and on supporting those accomplishments, and elaborations of Vygotsky's ideas from neo-Vygotskians from Russia. FEATURES Written for the beginning student, the book provides a clear discussion of Vygotskian principles including...a historical overview and a complete chapter on the "Zone of Proximal Development," (ZPD). Each section of the book builds on the other...framework, strategies, and applications of the Vygotskian approach. The work of Vygotsky is compared in a fair and balanced way with the work of Piaget. Examples and activities have been class-tested in a variety of classroom environments including a Head Start program, private preschool, and in the Denver Public Schools.


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As the only text of its kind, this book provides in-depth information about Vygotsky's theories, neo-Vygotskians' findings, and concrete explanations and strategies that instruct teachers how to influence student learning and development. Key changes to this edition include a new chapter on dynamic assessment, separate and expanded chapters on developmental accomplishments As the only text of its kind, this book provides in-depth information about Vygotsky's theories, neo-Vygotskians' findings, and concrete explanations and strategies that instruct teachers how to influence student learning and development. Key changes to this edition include a new chapter on dynamic assessment, separate and expanded chapters on developmental accomplishments of infants and toddlers, preschool/kindergarten, and primary grades and on supporting those accomplishments, and elaborations of Vygotsky's ideas from neo-Vygotskians from Russia. FEATURES Written for the beginning student, the book provides a clear discussion of Vygotskian principles including...a historical overview and a complete chapter on the "Zone of Proximal Development," (ZPD). Each section of the book builds on the other...framework, strategies, and applications of the Vygotskian approach. The work of Vygotsky is compared in a fair and balanced way with the work of Piaget. Examples and activities have been class-tested in a variety of classroom environments including a Head Start program, private preschool, and in the Denver Public Schools.

30 review for Tools of the Mind: The Vygotskian Approach to Early Childhood Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lars Guthrie

    Elena Bodrova and Deborah Leong's well-organized and well-written book is an important reference for those interested in child psychology and development. As well, it is a useful primer for the theories of Lev Vygotsky and followers such as Luria, Leont'ev and Elkonin, presenting those theories in a manner far more accessible and practical than Vygotsky's dense and challenging prose. I certainly came away an even firmer 'Vygotskian' than I had been before, with a deeper understanding and apprecia Elena Bodrova and Deborah Leong's well-organized and well-written book is an important reference for those interested in child psychology and development. As well, it is a useful primer for the theories of Lev Vygotsky and followers such as Luria, Leont'ev and Elkonin, presenting those theories in a manner far more accessible and practical than Vygotsky's dense and challenging prose. I certainly came away an even firmer 'Vygotskian' than I had been before, with a deeper understanding and appreciation of his thinking. And perhaps a firmer 'Piagetian,' too. Despite the concept of an essential dichotomy instilled during my matriculation through the credential program at SF State, the more encounters I have with Vygotsky and Piaget, the more I am convinced that there are more points of intersection than exclusion in the ways they approached children and learning. The critical commonality is that learning is constructed in an actively participatory manner. While an argument can be made (and often is—Bodrova and Leong employ it), that Vygotsky is more about personal interaction and Piaget more about physical interaction, neither man would have advocated subtracting culture or object manipulation from any theory of learning. It makes sense to view any difference as one of emphasis, rather than of fundamental understanding. Both Piaget and Vygotsky make a strong case for learning and teaching that is dynamic, hands-on, and geared to the individual's level of development. Piaget was more interested in universals, looking at the similarities in how all human beings develop. Vygotsky, on the other hand, was more concerned with specifics, examining the differences in environment that affect individual progress. Piaget's stages—sensory motor to pre-operation to concrete operation to formal operation—are congruent with the developmental accomplishments and leading activities outlined by Bodrova and Leong. What's exciting about Vygotsky, an excitement conveyed by the authors that keeps their work from becoming a dry textbook, is the importance he found in language and play, and his belief that play enables the child to move to more sophisticated levels. 'Play,' he wrote, 'is the source of development and creates the zone of proximal development.' Bodrova and Leong point out that Vygotsky meant something very specific by 'play.' It is activity that necessarily leads to symbolic representation and thus language, self-regulation, and 'enquiry motivation.' 'When a child squeezes, drops, and bangs a soft plastic cup on the table,' they tell us, 'this is object manipulation, not play. When the child uses the cup as a duck and makes it swim on the table and peck bread crumbs, the actions become play.' The message that really got to me while reading 'Tools of the Mind,' is that I must worry less about teaching my students what to learn than how they can learn. What is the priority? Bodrova and Leong frame it beautifully: 'It is not enough for the child to create the same product as the teacher or the correct answer. The answer must be the result of the right mental process.' That means being aware of what is developmentally appropriate, and using the zone of proximal development to help transition to 'higher mental functions.' It means listening to what children say and working hard to figure out what they mean, and listening to what I say and figuring out if children understand why I am saying it. It means making learning engaging and playful, and viewing mistakes that get at purpose and concepts as more valuable than right answers that have no context. It's a shame when teachers and schools emphasize standards and benchmarks and de-emphasize imagination, creativity and reflective thought. Our culture and educational system too often reward going through the motions at the expense of honoring the motivation of their curious, active young students. In one of their many wonderful, practical illustrations, Bodrova and Leong note that: 'If every morning before school, Jessica’s parents tell her, "Be sure you do what the teacher tells you to do. Don’t get into trouble," she is much less likely to develop enquiry motivation than if they tell her, "Be sure to learn something today."' Highly recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Bonack

    So far Tools of the Mind has been the most difficult text I've read in my quest to become a preschool teacher, as it is early childhood education philosophy and my background is in marketing. I checked it out of the library, and I will definitely purchase a copy for my collection for future reference. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who isn't seriously interested in early childhood education, but there is an excellent essay in NutureShock (where I first learned of Tools of the Mind), called C So far Tools of the Mind has been the most difficult text I've read in my quest to become a preschool teacher, as it is early childhood education philosophy and my background is in marketing. I checked it out of the library, and I will definitely purchase a copy for my collection for future reference. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who isn't seriously interested in early childhood education, but there is an excellent essay in NutureShock (where I first learned of Tools of the Mind), called Can Self Control Be Taught. That I recommend whole-heartedly.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I hope this is the only textbook I read this year because they are not especially engaging. The ideas are interesting, though. To sum up, a good preschool education incorporates lots of imaginative play, integrated language (not drilling on letters or numbers, but use of letters or numbers in context of playing or signing up for something), and use of lots of independently regulated mediators.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    It's a textbook so it's dry and academic. The great thing about this book is the approach to early education - with great emphasis on teaching children how to use their imaginations which is slowly becoming a lost art in America. It's a textbook so it's dry and academic. The great thing about this book is the approach to early education - with great emphasis on teaching children how to use their imaginations which is slowly becoming a lost art in America.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    After reading Nurtureschock, with its reference to tools of the mind preschool programs, I wanted to learn more about this program. I found some helpful ideas to promote self monitoring.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ivi

    I read about Tools of the Mind in Nurture Shock and wanted to dive in and better understand the Vygotskian approach to childhood education. Key take away for me was the importance of the care taker role (and overall cultural context) in guiding development. The book very clearly lays out the development framework by stage and provides some tactical guidance at each stage. It is a bit academic, but then again, I was looking to understand the approach and not just tactics. The reason I did not give I read about Tools of the Mind in Nurture Shock and wanted to dive in and better understand the Vygotskian approach to childhood education. Key take away for me was the importance of the care taker role (and overall cultural context) in guiding development. The book very clearly lays out the development framework by stage and provides some tactical guidance at each stage. It is a bit academic, but then again, I was looking to understand the approach and not just tactics. The reason I did not give it 5 stars is that I really hope this framework is split into two books - one for parents / caretakers, one for teachers. It seems like it is trying to reach both audiences (e.g. the infancy, early toddler years seems geared for home / parents, but some later stages are more structured for teachers) and it would be beneficial to separate the two. Also, I would have liked to see a bit longer of a comparison section between the Vygotskian approach and some other early childhood education models.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cinda Craig

    This is a great book about educational theories and how they have been put into action. It is basically a text book and written for educators but can be read by anyone. My interest in reading this book was primarily to gain a better knowledge of what Vygotsky, and his colleagues and successors, taught and learned about teaching in order to apply it to one of my children who has special needs. It’s educational (no pun intended!) and informative.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Aleksandar

    A very interesting set of ideas concerning child development, especially around development level assessment and techniques for supporting that development. The book is aimed at school teachers but is accessible for general public. What I personally lack in the book are the results of the research that either validate or refute these theories.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shari Hardinger

    I really enjoyed this book. It breaks down the developmental milestones of children birth to kindergarten. It really reminds you of the importance of the early Childhood years and how we, as educators, can positively influence them!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maeve

    An introduction to the theory and strategies used in the Vygotskian approach to early childhood education. While this book is aimed at instructors, it can be useful to parents, caregivers, and other professions that work with young children.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christopher J Finlayson

    Tools of the Mind is academic textbook that is a bit dense. However, the book offers a philosophical framework for early childhood education, which practically advice parents or teachers can use. I found the research more useful and credible than many of the more popular parenting books I’ve read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karla Winick-Ford

    Highly recommended Vygotskian perspective well explained I only wish authors would develop and assessment tool to accompany this child led curriculum with intentional instructional practices

  13. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    One of the most striking chapters in Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman's book Nurtureshock was Chapter 8 on the Tools of the Mind Curriculum. As a former Elementary School teacher and a preschool teacher of 10 years, I was really captured by the descriptions of this curriculum. I had to know more about a practice that could teach four and five year old children skills in self-regulation, executive function control, with such obvious results. These particular skills are a better predictor of success One of the most striking chapters in Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman's book Nurtureshock was Chapter 8 on the Tools of the Mind Curriculum. As a former Elementary School teacher and a preschool teacher of 10 years, I was really captured by the descriptions of this curriculum. I had to know more about a practice that could teach four and five year old children skills in self-regulation, executive function control, with such obvious results. These particular skills are a better predictor of success in school than a child's IQ. So I read this book. I was hoping for more specifics about how to integrate the theories into the day to day preschool life in hopes of converting my own preschool curriculum into the Vygotskian method. It was very theoretical and explained the philosophy. While it did give some specifics, I am wanting more. This book has now led me to contact the Tools of of the Mind center and inquire about going through the training myself. I can't stop thinking about this curriculum! I feel like this is the beginning of a whole new direction in my life. I'm pretty excited to find out more and more about it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    So, I am conflicted on this text...sometimes I would be reading for class and realize that, despite having just read a few paragraphs, I hadn't actually absorbed anything that was included in that material...I'd be thinking to myself, "wait, what exactly did I just read?" and thus have to go back several times and re-read it to ensure saturation of information. But I do like the tips and suggestions in here, especially as I'd like to become a parent within the next few years as well and found th So, I am conflicted on this text...sometimes I would be reading for class and realize that, despite having just read a few paragraphs, I hadn't actually absorbed anything that was included in that material...I'd be thinking to myself, "wait, what exactly did I just read?" and thus have to go back several times and re-read it to ensure saturation of information. But I do like the tips and suggestions in here, especially as I'd like to become a parent within the next few years as well and found that the strategies provided are not only applicable to the classroom, but helpful for future parents, guardians, and caregivers of children.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Selina

    I guess it was useful but most of the information seemed intuitive -- like any parent or teaching who pays any attention to children for any reasonable amount of time would know most of this stuff. It was disturbing to find out how much children aren't prepared for school/life because of the lack of mixed-age play that was much more common 40 or more years ago. The rest of the stuff seemed like textbook information for those who want to teach. I guess it was useful but most of the information seemed intuitive -- like any parent or teaching who pays any attention to children for any reasonable amount of time would know most of this stuff. It was disturbing to find out how much children aren't prepared for school/life because of the lack of mixed-age play that was much more common 40 or more years ago. The rest of the stuff seemed like textbook information for those who want to teach.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    Reading it again and always making new connections

  17. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    Read a chapter on this in "NutureShock" by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman and can't wait to learn more about the value of structured play. Read a chapter on this in "NutureShock" by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman and can't wait to learn more about the value of structured play.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Houweling

    Complete description of Vygotsky's method of early childhood education and its applications to children of various ages. Complete description of Vygotsky's method of early childhood education and its applications to children of various ages.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Carolynn Paolinelli

    As far as textbooks go, this was a great read. For teachers, if you want to know about, understand and implement Vygotskian theory in your classroom, this book is a must own.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Del

    NurtureShock made the Vygotskian theory sound fascinating. It probably is, but I was hoping for more of a Tools of the Mind curriculum. Text-booky.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Tools of the Mind was one of the most striking studies reported by Po Bronson in his book Nurture Shock. Here is a book all about it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    Heard about this in NurtureShock- so far, amazing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michael Connor

    Debbie Leong heads the research project I'm a part of; Vygotsky, self-regulation, dramatic play. You can see more about our program here: http://www.mscd.edu/extendedcampus/to... Debbie Leong heads the research project I'm a part of; Vygotsky, self-regulation, dramatic play. You can see more about our program here: http://www.mscd.edu/extendedcampus/to...

  24. 5 out of 5

    AHowl

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mandelyn

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maria Jordan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey Kerscher

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alia Zelinskaya

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hoe Kyeung

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