Sonoma State University
Education 420
Child Development in the Family, School, and Community

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Weekly Homework

State of America's Children

Analysis of a Children's Book

Book Analysis Template & Grade
In-Depth Study Requirements and Grade
In-Depth Study Presentation

Presentation Rubric

Ideas for In-Depth Studies

Weekly Homework
Each week there will be a short written assignment due.  In this assignment you will be either responding to the reading or applying some of the concepts learned. Assignments are designed so that you can make personal connections to the subject matter and facilitate your understanding of the course material. 

No late homework is accepted.  For the weeks that you will be posting on WebCT, you do not need to submit a hard copy, though you may wish to print up your responses for the class discussions and in-class exams.

The homework assignments and important resources are listed below.

Library Research: (5 pts.)
As an SSU student, you have access to several excellent databases.  For this homework assignment, please use the library research page:

Use either the ERIC, Ebsco, or the Academic Search links.  Look for an article that pertains to child development, family relationships, or educational practices in schools.  Be specific in your search; don’t type in “child development” but instead a topic of interest to you (e.g. growth hormones, sibling rivalry, diagnosing ADHD.)  Make sure that the article is from a peer-reviewed, professional journal.  If you are not sure, a full list of references at the end of the article is an indication of the academic rigor of the authors. Bring this article to class with a 1-paragraph synopsis.

To access these databases from your home computer, you must set up a library pin code.  If you would like more support in conducting research, the library offers several workshops each week. 

Video Response: (5 pts.)
After viewing the video "Great Expectations" write a 2-paragraph response using the following prompt: What expectations do the families depicted in the video have for their new offspring? How do these expectations compare to those that your parents might have had for you when they were anticipating your birth and as you were growing up?

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WebCT  Reflections: (5 pts. each)
WebCT can be accessed at:
Login with your LDAP user ID and password. After finding this course, go to the Discussion Forum.  Look for the correct name of the discussion forum, and post your response there.

I strongly suggest that you write your reading responses in a word processing document and then copy and paste this into the compose window on our course WebCT site. This way you can save your work to refer to it later as well as use spell and grammar check. If you need assistance with the use of WebCT, contact web support at IT. 

Reflections must be posted online prior to our class meeting.  You will be posting both your own reflection and also responding to at least one classmate’s reflection.

WebCT Response #1 – Erikson’s stages
After reading about Erikson’s stages of development, describe an episode from your own past or from your memories of friends or siblings which would exemplify one of Erikson’s stages.  Discuss the child’s endeavors and the response of others.  Then explain how this anecdote fits into Erikson’s stage. For example, you could retell how you got your driver’s license: how this contributed to your growing independence, how this affected your relationship to your family, and how this compares to the conflicts which Erikson describes in the identity vs role confusion stage.  Post your response in the subject entitled with the Erikson stage that you are describing .  Respond to a classmate’s posting in another stage.

WebCT Response #2- Reflection on learning
Think about a time when you learned something new, either as a child or a teen. What were the conditions of learning -- were you alone, or was someone helping you? what kind of feedback were you given? what did you learn and how did you learn it? is it something that you still remember how to do and what helped you remember it? Write up a 1-2 paragraphs describing this learning episode. Entitle the subject with what you learned. When posting your reflection, see whether a similar subject has already been posted, and include your posting there, by replying to a classmate's post. Read the reflections of 2 of your classmates.

WebCT Response #3– Debate on juvenile justice
After reading about adolescent development in the textbook and the supplemental articles, consider this question:  Should teenagers be considered as adults in the legal system, regarding age limits for drinking, driving, smoking, enlisting in the military, and for court sentences for incarceration and for the death sentence?  Write either a pro or con response, then post your response in either the subject for pro or con.  Respond to a classmate’s posting on the other discussion side.

WebCT Response #4 - Observation of parenting styles
After reading about parenting styles in the textbook, complete either one of these observations:

  • Go to a location where you would expect to see a parent interacting with his/her child (e.g. grocery store, park, library, shopping mall.)  Trying to be unobtrusive, observe the strategies which the parent employs with the child.  Try to note the body language as well as the verbal interactions.  Write up a description of this observation, and include your reflection of the parenting style(s) being used.
  • Interview 2 friends to learn about their interactions with their own parents.  Ask them to describe a time when they and their parent(s) had a disagreement and the strategies that were used by the parent.  Write up each anecdote, and include your reflection of the parenting style(s) being used.

Post your observation in the subject forum that identifies which parenting style you observed.

In-Depth Study Proposal – Include all of this information in your posting on WebCT:

  • Name:
  • Topic of study:
  • Why are you researching this topic; why is it relevant to you and to society:
  • Your inquiry question (for research paper):
  • If doing a creative project, describe its structure:
  • What assistance can you use:

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Preschool Observation: (10 pts.)
To apply what you are reading about young children’s development and strategies for fostering learning, you are to visit a preschool program for a 40-60 minute observation period.  Use the observation sheets distributed in class to help focus your attention.  Remember that you are not only observing the children, but also looking at the physical environment and teacher-child interactions.

The Children’s School at SSU, is a vibrant learning community, and it is easy to schedule an observation appointment there by calling: 664-2230.  You may also visit another preschool or daycare center that you are familiar with.

Submit your observation notes with a 2-paragraph reflection:  What did you observe that reflected what you are learning in this course?  What did you observe which surprised you?

Use the following link to print the observation pages (PDF) . (Download Acrobat Reader)

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Other Homework:
State Of America's Children: After reading the assigned webpages, identify 4-6 topics/concerns that your think your group should focus on for the presentation.
( 5 pts.

Cognitive Development: Afer reading Chapter 3 in Gopnik,, write a paragraph describing a significant experiment, and explain its relevance to infant cognition.
( 5 pts.

Book Group Discussion: Consider all of your book group's discussion questions. In writing, answer question #1 and another question decided upon with your group members.
( 10 pts.)

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State of America's Children Presentation: (25 pts.)
With a group of classmates, you will summarize and analyze the status of children, focusing on a specific issue: child health, child welfare, early childhood development, education, and youth development. Your primary source will be the information compiled by the organization The Children's Defense Fund in their annual publication: The State of America's Children.

Your group will research your topic, using the CDF's information and links. As a group, decide which information would be most relevant for your classmates to learn. Then decide how best to present this information. You will share your findings in a 20 minute class presentation and a one-page brochure or handout.

In your presentation or handout, include these items:

  1. define the main concerns which are detailed in your issue
  2. define how the problems affect the different populations in our country and/or state (e.g. rural, White, Hispanic, female, etc.)
  3. highlight some of the ways in which the government addresses these issues
  4. the names of local agencies which support our community in this matter, with a brief description of their services

Your presentation may take any form, though the most effective ones include an active component that your classmates will remember. Consider designing a learning activity which will help explain the issue to us. It is not necessary to discuss each of the 4 elements above, as long as the information is included in your handout. If you want help preparing any audio-visuals for your presentation, let me know (e.g. PowerPoint presentations, overhead transparencies, posters, etc.) Each group will have 20 minutes to present. Make sure that you allow enough time for each member of the group. Also take care that each group member's ideas and contributions are valued.

Your grade on this assignment will be based on your preparation for your presentation and the effectiveness of the presentation and handout. Both your classmates and I will be grading your efforts, and you will receive an individual grade as well as a group grade.

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Analysis of a Children's Book (75 pts.)

Books which are designed for children, whether fiction or textbooks, are written with the children's development and learning in mind. In this assignment you will read either a children's chapter book or a school textbook to apply what you are learning about child development and analyze the author's theoretical perspective.

There are two options for the type of book you read and analyze. If you are in the SSU multiple subject credential program, you may wish to complete option B, and use this assignment as evidence for the Performance Expectation #3 in your digital portfolio CWS1

Option A:

Read a chapter book that portrays a developing child who is in middle childhood or adolescence. (A chapter book has chapters and is written for children approximately 3rd grade and up. It should have at least 130 pages.) Make sure that you choose a book that depicts, with enough detail, the physical, cognitive, and socio/emotional development of the main character. Also, do not select a book that is part of an extended series of books (e.g. Goosebumps, The Babysitters' Club). Check with me if you are unsure whether the book is appropriate for this assignment.

Use the template below for this assignment.

Option B:

Read a current textbook for any grade level, kindergarten to grade 6. You may choose any subject area: language arts, social sciences, math or science, though a social studies or language arts text may be easiest to analyze. You will read the textbook and evaluate its content and requirements, applying what you are learning about children and development in your analysis.

Use the template below for this assignment.

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Analysis of a Children's Book Template

Option A - Literature analysis

  • Title
  • Author
  • Illustrator
  • Number of pages
  • Publication date
  • Brief plot description
  • Appropriate for what ages
  • Book genre
  • Character's development: Describe the main character's development and compare to what we've studied about children's development of that age group. Use examples from the story to analyze the character's physical, cognitive and social/emotional development. Compare to Meece's descriptions of normative development – what are the usual developmental indicators  of children that age? Include relevant theorists in your discussion, e.g. in which stage of Piaget's cognitive development theory is the character, and what are some examples from the story that portray this? Make sure that you include a section describing each developmental domain.
  • Define major themes of the story and their relevance to the child-reader: why  would the reader be interested in these themes
  • Examples of diversity portrayed in the book: cultural, linguistic, economic, learning differences
  • Accessibility of the story content to children from diverse backgrounds
  • Reasons that a child-reader may enjoy/not enjoy this book
  • Reasons that you enjoyed/didn't enjoy this book

Literature Analysis Grade

Introductory information
Character analysis: all domains
Relevant themes
Diversity depicted and accessibility

Analysis of reader enjoyment

Writing style and clarity

5 points
40 points
10 points
5 points
5 points
10 points
75 points


Option B - Textbook Analysis

  • Title
  • Subject and grade level
  • Publisher
  • Publication date
  • Adoption status of the text
  • Student development: Description of use examples from the text to describe what students' development must include to be successful with the text (physically, cognitively, socially/emotionally)
  • Analysis of how text content and expectations compare to what you know about child development (use examples from Meece, videos, course lectures and discussions)
  • Examples of diversity portrayed in the text, e.g. cultural, linguistic, economic, learning differences
  • Ways in which the text addresses the diversity of learners and learning styles
  • Theoretical perspectives of the text authors and examples which support your analysis. Which theories of children's learning and development have informed the text authors? Consider how the authors regard children's learning: how do children learn? what is the relationships among children in the classroom? what is the role of the teacher? how do parents and community influence a child's learning?
  • Reasons that children may enjoy/not enjoy the text
  • Reasons that you might enjoy/not enjoy teaching the text

Text Analysis Grade

Introductory information
Student development
Analysis of text
Diversity depicted and accessibility

Theoretical perspectives

Analysis of reader enjoyment

Writing style and clarity
5 points
15 points
25 points
5 points
15 points
5 points

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In-Depth Study (100 pts.)

Choose a topic which holds a personal interest for you and which relates to the content of this course. Any of the ideas which we have discussed in class or are covered in the textbooks are suitable for study. You can choose to do a research paper or a creative project. Both of these options will include a written component.  The research study will be a thoughtful analysis of a current issue.  The creative project will include designing and making a product. Some possible ideas for papers or projects are included below.

Topics must be approved before beginning this assignment. Submit your proposal form on WebCT.  I will reply to your proposal with feedback on WebCT. Please let me know if I can help in any way.

The research paper will have five parts:

  1. Introduction -- Include your inquiry question, why this topic is important to study, the topic’s relevance,  and background information on the topic.  (For instance, if you are studying the effects of video games on children’s development, it would be interesting to include how much money is spent on games each year.)
  2. Discussion of research -- Use at least 4 different resources in your research. What have other researchers, authors or practitioners said about this topic? Resources can include scholarly articles, mainstream articles, books, newspaper articles, interviews, etc. At least two of the sources must be from scholarly writings (not including the textbook.) Only one source of the four sources can be from a general information websiteWhile you may use Wikipedia for your own background knowledge, do not use Wikipedia as one of the four sources. Make sure that you reference your sources using the APA style.
  3. Conclusions -- Answer your inquiry question. Also discuss: what are your new understandings and insights into this subject? How can your new understandings be practically applied? What are your suggestions for how this subject can be addressed differently? What questions do you still have?
  4. Works cited page using APA format:
  5. Appendix of the research articles used – Submit hard copies of all your articles included in your research.  If articles are over 6 pages, then print up the first 3 pages.  If books are used in your research, copy the pages used and the title page; if over 6 pages, copy the title page with publisher information.

In-Depth Research Paper Grade

Discussion of Research
Work cited page
Paper organization, clarity and voice
20 points
50 points
10 points
5 points
5 points
10 points
100 points

The write-up for the creative project will have six parts:
  1. Introduction: Description of what your project is and why the project is important and relevant?
  2. Discussion of research -- Use at least 2 different resources to help frame the scope and methods of your project. What is already known about your topic? Resources can include scholarly articles, mainstream articles, books, newspaper articles, interviews, etc. At least one of the sources must be from scholarly writings. Make sure that you reference your sources in this section.  
  3. Summary of project – Describe what you did for your project and how you used your research to frame your project design. 
  4. Conclusions -- What are your new understandings and insights into this subject? How can your new understandings be practically applied? What are your suggestions for how this subject can be addressed differently? What questions do you still have?
  5. Works cited page using correct format: APA style.
  6. Appendix of the research articles used – Submit hard copies of all your articles included in your research.  If articles are over 6 pages, then print up the first 3 pages.  If books are used in your research, copy the pages used; if over 6 pages, copy the title page with publisher information.

    In-Depth Creative Project Grade

    Discussion of Research
    Project and summary
    Work cited page
    Paper organization, clarity and voice
    10 points
    25 points
    40 points
    10 points
    2.5 points
    2.5 points
    10 points

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Each student will present his/her study in a 10 minute sharing-out with the class. Be prepared to explain your study and to answer your classmates'questions. You will also need to prepare an abstract of your study to distribute to your classmates. There is only one class session set aside for presentations. If you are absent, there will be no other opportunity to present your research.

Presentation: (9 pts.)
Your presentation is a formal, low-stakes sharing of what you learned in your study.  Make sure that you include the following elements:

  • What your inquiry question is
  • Why is this a relevant and important topic to study
  • What you learned from your research – if there’s conflicting points of view, describe these
  • Your conclusions

You may create a poster and/or other visuals to supplement your presentation.

Your presentation will be worth 9 points and will be calculated by the feedback from your classmates using the rubric below.

Abstract:  (6 pts.)
Your abstract is a 1-page summary of what you wrote in your paper.  Bring copies for each student in the class.  Your abstract will be worth 6 points, evaluated by the instructor.

Make sure that your abstract includes the highlights from each section of your paper:

  • Introduction
  • Research
  • Conclusions
  • Resources

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Presentation Rubric

Your presentation poster grade will be based on the following rubric:





to the

* Topic’s relevance is clearly described
* Background information is fully explained
* Creativity present

* Topic’s relevance is partially described
* Background information is partially explained

* Vague explanation of the topic’s relevance
* Little backound information given

*  No introduction included


Discussion of the Research


* Findings fully explained
* Thoughtful analysis present
* Clear articulation of ideas
Originality present

* Findings partially explained
*Analysis is present, but lacks depth
* Adequate articulation of ideas.

* Findings poorly explained
* No analysis
* Weak articulation of ideas

* Findings not explained

Responses to Questions
rom Audience
* Responses show strong command of topic
* Responses adds new information and depth
* Responses show adequate command of topic
* Limited new information added
* Responses show little command of topic
* Responses lack clarity
* Difficulty in responding to questions

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Ideas for in-depth studies:

  • treatment of ADHD
  • single sex classes and schools
  • effects of divorce on children
  • transracial adoptions
  • art education in school
  • the Reggio Emilia approach
  • second language acquisition
  • participation in organized competitive sports
  • educating gifted children
  • strategies for teaching dyslexic children
  • high school dropouts
  • effects of advertisements on children
  • achievement tests used in California schools
  • effectiveness of charter schools

Ideas for creative projects:

  • compiling an annotated bibliography of children's literature
  • compiling an annotated list of children's computer software
  • conducting Piagetian conservation tasks with a variety of children
  • surveying high school students about their concerns
  • observing play patterns in a preschool setting
  • creating a slide show about the depiction of children in art
  • analyzing playground design
  • observing parent/child interactions
  • surveying how p.e. is taught in schools
  • surveying how art is taught in schools
  • surveying how character/moral education is taught in schools
  • observing a variety of classrooms to see how educational theories are applied
  • compiling a reference of health and safety resources for families

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