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Seedlings Educators Collaborative

Registration for Summer Workshop is Open!

Come join us for an inspiring week learning strategies to integrate STEAM and other disciplines, exploring New Haven while developing meaningful curriculum that meets state and national standards, and forging lasting relationships with colleagues and community mentors!

The SEC Summer Workshop will run June 25th-29th, 2018. Apply online by March 24th (note this is a later date than printed on the flyer) and find out more information at:

http://seedlingseducatorscollaborative.org/learning-opportunities/apply-for-new-haven-summer-workshop/

Download the poster to share with your colleagues here.

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What Does Seedlings Look Like?

While our summer workshop now has a focus on STEAM, the heart of the program continues to be well encapsulated by  this video from the 2013 workshop.

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Since 2005, Seedlings Educators Collaborative has provided professional development, ongoing support and resources to Connecticut educators from diverse school environments. In a supportive and actively engaging setting, educators forge ongoing relationships and community connections and leave with tools to support them throughout their careers.

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Testimonials

“Indeed, this workshop helped me rediscover and reconnect with why I entered teaching, just after a year that tested all my ideals”


“The approach to curriculum planning wherever and whatever I teach will benefit from the well-structured generation of ideas, organization and presentation that I learned in this workshop.”

“What a joy to be in such a creative environment with fellow educators. One of the best parts was the kindness shown to all attendees. Keep doing what you’re doing.t of testimonial here.”

“More than anything concrete, what I will take back from this week is the spirit of joy, excitement, exploration, and collaboration that pervades all we do at Seedlings. I am lucky that I get to be in a classroom with a highly experienced master teacher who embodies the spirit of Seedlings, but the excitement of Seedlings is palpable. It is a week of possibilities-more than a week of activities-that presents a model of what teaching could be like, if this were an ideal world. Being able to strategize and explore possibilities of classroom experiences is what I find the most valuable aspect of Seedlings.” “

“Just having the chance to sit with fellow teachers and talk about teaching was invaluable. Teachers just don’t have time to do this. We got many ideas for the week (and forever) from group members. Also-resources… hearing about them and getting a take-home library of them-precious.”
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Family Day at the Yale British Art Center

Another event this Saturday to share with your students!

Saturday, February 17th 10am-2pm

Yale Center for British Art

Find an artwork that lets your imagination run wild! Build a poem, dance a song. Bring all of your family and friends along! Come one, come all for art-making, music, poetry, and fun. Free! No registration is required. Costumes encouraged!

Performances in the Library Court

Sunny Train, 10:30 am and 12:30 pm
Open mic for families and children, 11:15 am and 1:15 pm

Photo booth (dress to impress for your portrait, before and after the performances), 10–10:30 am; 11:30 am–12:30 pm; and 1:30–2 pm

Ongoing Events, 10 am–2 pm

Refreshments, Entrance Court

Create your own still-life artwork! Docent Room (first floor)

Quiet room and quiet activities (second-floor classroom)

Gallery poetry activity (second-floor galleries)

Poetry with The Paston Treasure (third-floor galleries)

Write and sketch like Turner! (fourth-floor galleries)

Typewriter art and poetry-making! Long Gallery (fourth floor)

Restrooms, lower level

Social
Share your experience online and connect with the Center on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat @yalebritishart. #PoetsandPainters

Venue: Throughout the building.
(This venue is wheelchair accessible)

The event is free and open to public.

Free Family-Friendly Concert

Please share this event with your students’ families! Each family will receive a book to bring home.

You Are Invited…

…to the New Haven Chamber Orchestra’s WINTER CONCERT!

 Please join us for a free and family-friendly concert
on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 2:00 PM.
Our concert venue is the Fair Haven School, 164 Grand Avenue in New Haven.
Free parking is available.

Families will be given their own children’s book!

This concert is part of our Literacy though Music series and made possible in part by the City of New Haven Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism as well as with the support of the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the
National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Become a Seedlings Fellow!

Are you a Seedlings enthusiast?

Have you been able to implement SEC thinking in your classroom?

Do you have colleagues at your school who would be or already are similarly motivated to put SEC thinking into action? Are you eager to collaborate?

If you answered a hearty “yes” to these questions and feel you are ready to take your SEC thinking to the next level, you may want to consider applying for the Seedlings Fellows program. Alumni who have attended the summer workshop at least twice, are truly committed to the program’s philosophy, and feel they could mentor a cohort of colleagues at their school during the school year are eligible to apply. Find out more about the fellowship program and learn how to apply here.

SEC Fellowship: Sticks and Stones (and other nature treasures) at Six to Six

By Eva Kibby

Since the Seedlings summer workshop, Carol Barker has been making an effort to incorporate her preschool children’s early and natural wonder in nature into the daily life of her team’s curriculum and work. Her students are so invested in bringing “nature” into their class that Carol and her team have been trying to intertwine what the children have collected into dramatic play, art, science, sand play, small world investigations, and of course the playground. Students have collected pinecones, seeds, acorns, leaves, shell pieces, and sticks.

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Since they’ve collected an abundance of sticks they decided to generate a list of things to do with sticks.

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Students have compared the size and texture of the sticks. They have glued them on cardboard to make the letters that are in their names. Sticks have been used in other ways including creating designs and patterns. They have written with twigs, built nests for squirrels and they have found other ways to explore as well.

Carol believes “that student behavior, with regards to rough and tumble play has diminished” since the children are self-motivated and entertained with collecting and exploring during outdoor time.

 

In My Classroom: Into the Woods with Jen Wilson’s Kindergarten

If you’ve attended Seedlings, you know well that it is not your typical STEAM professional development workshop. Yes, many are hands on, fun, and fabulous opportunities for growth. But there are several characteristics of Seedlings that we believe make it truly unique: The focus on collaboration with colleagues, learning about local resources that could enrich student learning, and creating integrated curriculum that helps children make connections not only across disciplines (and beyond STEAM), but to their own personal lives and interests.

 

Jen Wilson, kindergarten teacher at Cook Hill School in Wallingford and SEC alumna from 2017, embodies this ethos. This year, she and the school librarian, Anna O’Brien, were awarded a grant from the Wallingford Education Foundation to develop a program they are calling KinderTinker. Modeled after a program started by teachers at Moses Y Beach Elementary School called KinderWoods, Jen and Anna are bringing the learning outside. Each month, Jen’s class of kindergarteners are playing and learning in different natural spaces around Wallingford or on their own school grounds. In these outings, the children have time for extended free play and exploration, as well as structured STEAM based activities that tie into the kindergarten science units.

On a beautiful fall day at the end of October, I was lucky enough to accompany Jen’s class on their trip to Wharton Brook Park. This trip was designed to further delve into and extend the class’s study of weather, one of their science units for the year. Hurricanes had become a big topic of conversation after children had heard about the extreme weather affecting different parts of the country in September and October. In the classroom, students learned about factors that contribute to the formation of hurricanes, but Jen also wanted to address the children’s questions and concerns about the human impact of such events in a meaningful way. This was an opportunity, she realized, to connect her students with Wilfred Velez, a bilingual teacher at the school with whom Jen has worked closely in the past, and who is from Puerto Rico. She invited him in to talk about Puerto Rico, his family’s experience with Hurricane Maria, and share photos of the island from before and after the hurricane. They talked about humanitarian efforts to support communities affected by the hurricanes, and specifically about the challenges of transporting supplies to an island such as Puerto Rico. This subsequently led into a design challenge to construct a boat that could float and potentially bring aid to those in need in Puerto Rico.

At Wharton Brook Park, students were again presented with a similar design challenge, except that this time, they would be able to use only twine and the natural materials they could find in the park. Wilfred helped students establish purpose in their work by reminding them of the stories he shared about his friends and family in Puerto Rico, along with a quick review of how hurricanes form. Anna shared two non-fiction texts – one about hurricanes, the other about rescue boats – that elucidated the connection among the science, social studies, and engineering components of the project. By the time that Jen introduced the design challenge to her students, they had a clear sense of purpose and understanding in their work, and – as you would imagine a group of 20 five and six year-olds about to be set loose in the woods would be – they were highly motivated to get started.

The rest was all magic. What were some of the outcomes from this morning?

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The Immeasurables:

  • Joy: Children were joyful in their work, in exploring their environment, and in making discoveries. They were especially full of joy when they saw their boats floating.
  • Pride: Watch the children march down to the water to test out their boats. They could not wait to share their accomplishments with peers and teachers.
  • Collaboration: Students naturally collaborated while constructing their boats. I often saw children dividing up the work so that one would go get string, another would gather sticks; one would hold the boat steady while another helped him attach a leaf for a sail.
  • Appreciation for nature: Children were amazed at by a bug’s highly effective camouflage; they took pleasure in the softness and “tingly”-ness of a kind of fungus; they noticed the bright chartreuse color of lichen and shared in this pleasure with their teacher.

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  • Lack of “behavioral issues”: Not a single child was disruptive of any other child’s work; children were safe and responsive to adults.
  • Focus and determination: Relatedly, every child was highly engaged in his or her work. Finding ways to attach the natural materials together was certainly a challenge for this age group, but each student stuck with it with fierce determination.

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Language, Communication, and Literacy

  • Wilfred invited with him two ELL students from different grade levels whose families have only very recently arrived in the United States. Both children had very little English. These children had an opportunity to engage in the STEAM work in their primary language, while also being exposed to new English vocabulary through hands-on experiences.
  • Lev Vygotsky wrote extensively about the language development that occurs as a result of social learning. When given opportunities to collaborate with peers, students are put in the position of needing to use listening and speaking skills. Throughout my morning with Jen’s class, children were engaged in constructive, two-way conversation with one another and adults.
  • Desire to write. Among the items included in the exploration kits that Jen put together was a small lined journal. Several children took the initiative to use these journals to record their work in pictures and words. This child excitedly suggested to his partner that they should write about their boat-making process.

 

STEAM

  • Science: Children made guesses about what would float and sink, and tested their hypotheses through trial and error.
  • Technology: Children fashioned tools to help them make holes in their boats or to scrape off bark, and used leaves to create wind catchers.
  • Engineering: Students used their knowledge of the properties of natural materials and how they behave to design something that could be a solution to a human problem.
  • Arts: Some students added embellishments to their rescue boats, such as leaves, flowers, and pinecones, in order to make them more aesthetically pleasing.
  • Mathematics: Children counted the number of strings and sticks they used; considered balance as they added floatation devices to their boats; and created and used their own non-standard units of measurement.IMG_4272

 

Fine and Gross Motor

  • It’s not uncommon to hear teachers and occupational therapists who have been in the field for longer periods of time to talk about an increase they have seen in students’ difficulty with motor planning and coordination, and inability to sit still. One possible theory that explains this beyond the “kids these days” explanation is that as children have become more removed from nature over the last several decades, they have lost out on opportunities to develop gross motor skills. Rather than walking across fallen logs and climbing up trees, children increasingly only have experience with flat surfaces. When children pick up big sticks, how often do you hear adults telling them to put them down? Notice Jen’s students climbing trees and picking up sticks in this clip (and note the adult reminds them to “be safe” rather than to “be careful” or telling them to put them down), and imagine what this is doing for their proprioceptive system!
  • Have you been in a classroom of kindergarteners recently and watched them try to tie their shoes? Not an easy task. Notice the fine motor skills displayed by this individual, motivated to construct a successful boat.

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Developmental Appropriateness and Trust in Children:

  • We are all probably familiar with that term coined by Vygotsky, the “Zone of Proximal Development,” or ZPD. This describes the difference between what a child can do independently, and what s/he cannot yet do. This zone between the two is the ideal learning environment in that – when provided with the proper scaffolding, or support from a more capable peer or adult – it stretches the child’s abilities to achieve a new task and ultimately be able to do it independently. When Jen first introduced the boat design challenge to her group, I admit thinking to myself, “Do they not need more guidance or explicit instruction on how to construct the boats?” Rather, Jen and her colleagues had simply established the real-life purpose for the challenge, introduced the goal of creating a boat that could float and carry supplies, then told the children they would be able to use only materials they could find in nature to construct the boats. She gave them a chance to brainstorm what materials might be appropriate, then sent them on their way. I was taken aback by how much the children were able to achieve on their own. Where I had thought I might hear a good deal of “I don’t know what to make,” and getting frustrated with how to connect the materials, the children came up with their own visions and were able to do much of their own problem-solving. At the same time, Jen had planned to have enough adult hands on deck to make sure that when children did get stuck with a fine motor skill or a question of design, there would be someone there who could scaffold the child. I heard Jen and Anna asking children how they thought the sap on a pinecone might affect the boat, what would happen if a stick were turned in a different direction, and all the adults (including the parent/family volunteers) offering to hold sticks steady while children worked to tie twine around them. Jen knew what would be the appropriate ZPD for her students such that they were pushed beyond what they might be able to do on their own, without getting so frustrated as to shut down from the task.
  • Trusting in children’s abilities and not needing to over-structure a project is a sign of a skilled, seasoned educator in my book. Another way in which Jen demonstrated real trust in her students was in her giving them the time and space to approach the project in their own fashion. Ultimately the children had about 30 minutes to complete the construction phase of the design challenge, but this timeline was never shared with the group, nor was there a great deal of pressure to hurry up and finish when it was announced that the group would be going down to the stream to test the boats. Some children jumped right into the design and construction phase, while others observed and explored for some time. Over time, every child engaged at a pace that felt natural to him or her and completed the task within the given amount of time. Those who finished early spent time sharing about their boats with anyone who would listen, or playing freely in nature. Those who took more time to get started worked diligently right up until the end. No one was rushed, and no one complained, “I’m done! Now what can I do?” Because she trusts in them, Jen gave her students the gift of time and space – true luxuries in the traditional school environment.

 

We don’t all have the ability to rent a bus and take our students into an idyllic wooded setting. (Though nor does Jen have these things given to her – remember, she applied for and received a grant to support this work.) But the lesson falls beyond this extra bonus of taking learning outside and off campus: Jen looked for ways to make required curriculum (weather) relevant to her students’ lives and interests by making use of resources available to her (i.e. bringing Wilfred in as an expert on Puerto Rico; using natural materials), collaborating with colleagues to develop a richer curriculum, and integrating other disciplines to help connect with children’s lives, interests, and needs. These are not easy feats by any means, but they are achievable in the traditional classroom setting and the results can be astounding.

Supporting Students Through Anxiety-Producing National Events: Two Experts Weigh In

In a meeting with teachers from a variety of schools and grade levels in October, it came up that across the board, it was taking longer for their students to settle into the rhythm of the classroom. Teachers often plan for the first six weeks of school to be focused on developing community and adjusting to new expectations and routines. However, in some years, for a variety of reasons, it just takes longer. It could be related to the personalities of the group. It could be related to changes in your school or program. It could be related to things occurring in the home lives of your students. As much as we as teachers feel we are accountable for all that occurs in our classrooms, the truth is that there are many factors impacting your students’ daily experiences that are beyond our control. In the meeting that occurred earlier in the fall, as teachers shared about the challenges they are facing, what became clear was that many of their students were worried. Worried about things they hear in the news or hear about in conversations at home. Worried that family in Puerto Rico continued to be in peril two weeks after Hurricane Maria. Confused about how close in proximity the hurricanes were to Connecticut. Worried about loved ones being deported. More recently, students are bound to have heard of more mass shootings. Unhinged by their adults’ uncertainty about the future. We know, and research shows, that when children’s basic needs, including the need for stability, are not met, their brains are less available for learning. The affective filter obstructs the learning process. The question, then, is what can we as teachers do to best support our students in what may be a challenging time for them, while also ensuring that the classroom environment is rich for learning?

We turned to Kossouth Bradford, school social worker at The Foote School, and Nancy Close, child development consultant for Seedlings, Assistant Professor at the Yale Child Study Center and Associate Director of the Yale Program in Early Childhood Education, for their thoughts on this topic.

Nancy Close

On general classroom anxieties:

On potential behaviors and emotions around national trauma:

On the teacher’s role:

On resources:

Kossouth Bradford’s Thoughts

1) Ask the students open-ended questions to get an idea of what is impacting/affecting them: (a) What have they heard about the Hurricane, DACA (gives an idea of how valid/true their information is and what they concerned about)? It’s also important to find out where they get their information from: news, friends, parents etc. (b) Inquire what thoughts and feelings they are having as a result of this: How is it impacting family members, people they know? (c) What do they want to know? Share what you can, be honest when you don’t know the answer but let them know you will do your best to obtain the information. There are a lot of relief organizations right now assisting Puerto Rico.

2) Let children lead you in regards to how much information to share. Be careful about over explaining, or giving more information they can process: “There are many things happening that are pretty scary, is there anything you have been told or heard that you have questions about or want to talk about?” If a friend has been impacted, how can we support their friend?

3) Emphasize the importance of talking about their feelings, there is an expression “name it to tame it”. Help them express and communicate their feelings through art, talk or writing. If they keep them in, they can come out in unhealthy ways – constant worrying, becoming angry quickly, isolating themselves etc. The more granular, specific they can be when explaining their feelings, the better.

4) A positive way to deal with feelings of helplessness and fear is through action. Is there a project or fundraiser etc. they could do to address the issue?

5) Review all the things that the adults in their life are doing to keep them or loved ones safe: keeping them with safe adults (teachers, friends family), checking in with family PR, following the laws, meeting with public officials etc.

6) Normalize the fears and thoughts are they are having. There are no wrong feelings, questions or thoughts.

7) Depending on the age, you could also explain the 5 stages of grief (grieving that the world isn’t as safe or fair as they thought it was): Denial, Sadness, Bartering, Anger, Acceptance. They are not linear, but more circular. You can return to an emotion you thought you had already processed.

8) Exercise, being with friends/family, getting out in nature, mindfulness activities, engaging in activities they enjoy, listening to music, cooking, crafts, sports etc. are all things that help with stress.

Further Information

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network http://www.nctsn.org

NPR story: “For Puerto Rico’s Children, Finding A ‘Safe Place’ In The Few Schools That Are Open” 

New America article: “What Teachers Can Do In the Face of National Trauma”

SEC Fellowship at Troup: Integration in PreK

Shandra Patton is our Seedlings Fellow at Augusta Lewis Troup School in New Haven. She teaches preK and is collaborating with kindergarten teacher Gyna Grant and art teacher Rebecca Looney, both two-time participants at the SEC summer workshop, to integrate curriculum and explore process art at various age levels. Below is Shandra’s first blog entry describing how one integrated unit emerged in her classroom in the beginning of the year. 

 

I have been fortunate to be able to work with other like-minded educators that are both creative and well versed on the meaning of developmentally appropriate practice and project based learning.  By attending the Seedling Educators Collaborative one of the most important things that I have learned are the advantages of using an integrated curriculum. Use of an integrated curriculum is a natural way to not only provide activities, projects, and challenges based on the children’s interest, but also a way to add another element to existing materials and activities. Integrated curriculum is a more intentional way of stimulating a child’s natural want and desire to explore, discover, and play.

With the ever-changing demands of state standards, accreditations, and assessments, this balanced learning approach is what NHPS School Readiness Consultant & Professor Beth Young calls, “planning to get more bang for your buck.”  With an integrated curriculum you are able to aid in the development of a variety of areas.

The movie and the accompanying description here is an example of a beginning of the year integrated unit in our Pre-K class at Troup involving language skills, process art, math, science, fine motor, and movement.

 

At the beginning of the year our introduction of phonemic awareness word list consisted of words like: blue, beach, bounce, bubble, ball, and bobble.

Slide #1

After looking through several objects this child selects an object that he believes will bobble. This alone demonstrates development that takes place in the cognitive and mathematic domain indicating use of logic reasoning, and an understanding of attributes and relative properties of an object. Look at this child’s curiosity and wonder as he explores sensory materials while layering his art with white paint.

Slide #2

This child selected an object that she predicted would bounce. She went on to count the number of white circles she created on her blue painting.

Slides #3, #4, #5, #6

This small group instruction was inspired by conversation during a phonemic awareness activity. This specific conversation about the things we find on the beach prompted teachers to use information from a book about sea glass. Our investigation of sea glass generated a powerful conversation that allowed the group to use old ideas to create new ones, encourage an appreciation of books, explore concepts of print, matter and its properties, and question cause and effect.

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Please note that these wonderful outcomes were sparked by a simple phonemic awareness activity and the interests of the children. This led to the construction of a community art piece that incorporated a multitude of activities and discoveries, while weaving together several learning progressions across most of the children’s developmental domains.

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After deciding what our essential question would be for the school year, it was clear that we dedicate some of our focus on community, and provide the children with multiple opportunities to discuss their school community and the things that they may discover around it.

Slides #9 and #10

Plan a nature walk for the children and you will see how often exploration leads to many developmentally appropriate opportunities.

In these pictures we see the children collecting evidence and discussing what they see while they explore new vocabulary and language. When the children got back to the room they were able to examine their natural finds and discovered something…

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The children discovered a creative way to use the natural materials they found by using it to create 2D art, and it is displayed to summarize their experiences. During this open-ended visual arts experience children created and discovered patterns, were exposed to positional phrases that aided in developing their knowledge of spatial awareness, and used their fine motor ability to manipulate a variety of materials.

 

There are times when a process art idea or activity will start with a question, use of evidence or an investigation, and naturally transform into an integrated learning experience that all the children are excited about. Within these pictures you can see the support of cooperation with peers, use of different materials, acquisition of new skills, a better knowledge of letters in the alphabet, and a fortified understanding of phonemic awareness.

Learning Opportunity: TeachTech

We have learned about an exciting STEAM-related professional development opportunity coming up on Saturday, December 9th, 2017 from 10am-3pm that we would like to share with you:
TeachTech is a conference and opportunity for teachers run by Code Haven, a Yale student organization that teaches computer science to middle schoolers in New Haven. This conference is designed for non-computer science teachers interested in incorporating computer science into their classrooms. We will be teaching computer science fundamentals and ways of demonstrating them to students as well as demo-ing softwares that teachers can implement in their classrooms to make CS appealing to students.=We would love for any interested teachers to attend, and the conference is free! Teachers of students K-8 can RSVP here and we will send more information within the next few weeks. Download a flyer here and share this information with anyone you think might be interested!

SEC Fellowship at Six to Six

Eva Kibby is our Seedlings Fellow at Six to Six Interdistrict Magnet School in Bridgeport. She has been collaborating with the school’s preschool team, two of whom attended the Seedlings summer workshop in 2017, to apply their Seedlings thinking in their classroom practice. Below is Eva’s first blog entry about the beginning stages of this collaboration.

 

Carol Barker and Marilyn Della Rocco are both preschool teachers at Six to Six Interdistrict Magnet School. They work with 3 and 4 year olds.

After attending Seedlings 2017, they felt a mind shift. The idea of working in and outside with nature is their new norm. One of the big takeaways from the summer experience was from a visit to Common Ground High School. On that trip they observed the playscapes and ideas of ways to enhance the exploration of natural resources.

Through collaboration these educators decided to make the Six to Six yard more environmentally appreciative.  The school has a playground that is surrounded by fence, but not locked up. Therefore, they needed to come up with a plan. Whatever they decided, it would need to be mobile so that it could be locked into the building at night.

Together, they decided a cart with tools could be managed and brought in and out of school daily. They shared their thoughts with administration and the 2 other preschool teachers. Everyone was on board and spent the summer visiting tag sales and thrift shops for items to put on the carts. Below you will find an inventory of the carts. Of course they will continue to change as the year moves on.

Cart 1 Cart 2 Cart 3 Cart 4
digging tools (metal spoons, sand shovels)

baskets

bubbles

chalk

small cars

large trucks

scarves

balls

magnifying glasses

 

 

 

 

 

 

binoculars

bubbles

chalk

scarves

rainbow ribbon

musical instruments

ribbon wristlets

bug catchers

magnifiers

homemade bowling set

balls

collection buckets

musical spoons

shovels

chalk

bubbles

baskets

small cloth bags

cheerleader pompoms

scarves

magnifying glasses

pinwheels

clothespins

small cars

small balls

 

 

 

baskets

plastic potting containers

large dinosaurs

large wooden cars and trucks

magnifying glasses

tweezers

butterfly wings

wands

scarves

shaker instruments

balls

chalk

 

 

Some of the ways children have been using materials from the carts include:

  • Collecting of pine cones, sticks, rocks
  • Counting
  • Comparing
  • Creating designs, somewhat like mandalas
  • Finding ways to connect items. This became a class engineering activity. Once the children had the sticks they were going to connect they used yarn and pipe cleaners to connect them. They made the stick constructions into frames to weave with.

Teachers have noticed a shift in the children’s play. Carol Barker noted that “Having scarves on the carts has promoted dance, imaginary play, as well as wind exploration. One cart even has soda bottles filled with sand to be pins and small balls to knock them down with. The kids are more creative on the playground. There are less ‘chase and fighting’ games.  They are enjoying picking up sticks and rocks and bringing things back into the class.  In addition, the scarves add to creative play. Today they draped them all over the climbing structure and added the pinwheels to make a “castle”.  It started out as two kids and ended up being more than half the class that was involved.  We are thinking of adding crowns, wings, wands and other things like that.” Lauren Faugno wrote, “We have noticed that students are so engaged in collecting items in the baskets and observing them with magnifying glasses and tweezers. I did have bug container magnifiers at one point and the children were finding caterpillars to look at [….] Our students are playing cooperatively and using creative pretend play with the dinosaurs, wings, wands, and vehicles. Having the cart also makes the materials easily available for the children so they can make their own choices as they please during recess. We LOVE the cart!”

 

Meet our Seedlings Fellows!

We are proud to announce that this school year we are piloting an exciting new component of the Seedlings Educators Collaborative: The SEC Fellowship. The SEC Fellowship supports a small number of SEC alumni in their ongoing efforts to implement SEC work in their schools, and in their role as a mentor to similarly motivated SEC alumni within their school. Two overarching goals are to (a) connect the curricular work created during the summer workshop with classroom practices inspired by SEC’s educational philosophy, while meeting the goals of Districts and National Standards, and (b) strengthen collaboration and communication among SEC alumni.

Three alumnae who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the program’s philosophy by putting SEC thinking into action in their own classrooms were selected as Fellows for the 2017-2018 year: Diane Huot, Eva Kibby, and Shandra Patton. Through the coming year, these Fellows will be inspiring us with stories of collaborating with colleagues, connecting with community resources, and developing meaningful curriculum through regular entries on our blog.

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Diane Huot is a master teacher with 34 years of experience teaching 1st through 3rd grades in public and parochial schools. She is currently teaching first grade at Conte West Hills School in New Haven, where she has been for 17 years. Enter her classroom and you will be struck by how much knowledge her first graders have to offer about food chains and organisms in their local environment. It is the kind of depth of knowledge that at that age can only have been acquired through personal experience. Indeed, inspired by her Seedlings work, Diane has been taking her classes to Quinnipiac Meadows Salt Marsh regularly for the last two years. There, students have gathered data about the wildlife they discover. (Read more about this here.) Diane has worked hard to develop strong relationships with community partners who have in turn helped her students to integrate their experiences into a broader understanding of food chains, watersheds, habitats, and human impact on the environment. Cesar Garcia Lopez, Diane’s Yale Mentor, and Ivette Lopez of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have accompanied Diane’s students on tens of field trips and visited the classroom numerous times to do follow-up work. In the last two years, Diane’s classes have won the city science fair twice. Over the years, Diane has participated in a wide range of professional development workshops, including attending Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, and the space program at the Air Force Academy. (Following these space and astronomy workshops, she developed several space/solar system centers and organized sky observations and science nights using a portable planetarium!) Diane credits her work with Seedlings as a participant for two years and now a Fellow, together with her partnerships with community mentors, with helping her to integrate STEAM into her classroom. Diane is clearly someone who never stops learning and trying new things, but even with 34 rich years of experience, she feels that Seedlings is helping her teaching to become “fresher” and “more authentic.”

fullsizeoutput_1b32Eva Kibby is a highly respected teacher with 31 years of experience under her belt. Twenty-two of those years have been spent at Six to Six Interdistrict Magnet School in Bridgeport teaching PreK, 2nd, 3rd, and currently 5th grade. In the next school year, she will be taking on a new role as Science Coordinator. Eva has been recognized over the years as a gifted educator: She was named CES Teacher of the Year for 2011, and has been nominated for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. A true teacher and leader, Eva’s passion is for continued learning. She believes that an effective teacher must be a life-long learner. This philosophy has helped her seek out professional development and share her learning with her colleagues. She is a member of Associated Teachers of Mathematics in Connecticut (ATOMIC), National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and ASM Materials Education Foundation. Eva learned about Seedlings after watching a colleague carry out an integrated restaurant unit that had been developed over the summer workshop, and has since participated for two years as a participant. She has successfully incorporated many components of the program, including devoting Friday afternoons to “TEAM Time” in her classroom. During this time, students are given a challenge. As a small group, they design a solution to a problem, such as making a track that has to go through something or take a right turn, making a double loop roller coaster for a marble to travel through, or making a boat that can float and hold weight. Seedlings, she says has brought her “back to the foundational ideas of developmental appropriateness and learning through play and inquiry.”

SEC_0617_previewShandra Patton has been teaching preschool in the New Haven Public Schools for 11 years, though she has the energy and passion of someone who has just stepped into the classroom for the first time, enthusiastic about young children and eager to try out new ideas. The children’s work on the wall in her classroom at Augusta Lewis Troup School in New Haven, and Shandra’s masterful interactions with her students, however, demonstrate a confidence in pedagogy and trust in children that comes only with experience. Shandra has abandoned manufactured bulletin board materials and charts in favor of children’s artwork and documentation of their words and ideas. She uses art to teach math, science, and literacy. Her block corner takes up a significant portion of the room, and it is always in use. Shandra is passionate about creating developmentally appropriate emergent curriculum, and enjoys helping children engage in learning that reflects their interests.  (Click here to get a more in-depth view into Shandra’s classroom.) Seedlings, Shandra says, has supported her classroom practice by sparking her creativity, helping her to think in an integrated way, and reconnecting her with child development. As a practitioner, she has found herself becoming more reflective and willing to accept mistakes as opportunities to grow. With this process-oriented mindset, Shandra is eager to collaborate as a Seedlings Fellow with colleagues in and outside of her school to share ideas, exchange community resources, and honor the teaching and learning process.

Be sure to check back here often to learn how these talented educators are impacting their students and schools through collaboration, inquiry, and making connections!

Upcoming Event: Educators’ Open House at the Yale Art Gallery

Educators’ Open House coming up at the Yale University Art Gallery Wednesday, October 11th from 5pm-7pm. This would be a wonderful opportunity to learn about the resources the Gallery has to offer teachers and students, as well as reconnect with some fellow SEC alumni. You don’t want to miss it!

Registration required. RSVP to yuag.education@yale.edu

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SEC Alumna Named CT Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to Erin Berthold on being named Connecticut’s 2018 Teacher of the Year!!! Erin teaches first grade at Wallingford’s Cook Hill School and was a Seedlings participant in 2017 and 2016. Her dedication to her students, work ethic, and commitment to continued learning shine through in all that she does.
 

Addressing Real-World Problems: Hurricanes in the Classroom

With all the beautiful weather we’ve been experiencing in Connecticut this September, the extreme weather occurring in other regions of our country may be especially distant in the minds of our students. Additionally, the extent to which students are developmentally prepared to grapple with these calamities will depend on their ages and stages. Regardless, there are developmentally appropriate ways for children across all grade levels to practice becoming engaged, active citizens – especially when experiences are anchored in an authentic, meaningful context that connects content and skills with children’s interests.

Enter the focus group topics for this past summer’s participants: Land and Water (4th-6th grade group), Oceans (2nd and 3rd grade), Building (kindergarten and 1st), and Gardens and Natural Spaces (preschool). Can you imagine how these studies might help your students connect to and understand the hurricanes occurring in other regions? Have you already done some work in your classrooms around relief efforts or learning about extreme weather? Could this help you jump start your study of land and water, building, etc. in a meaningful way? If so, we would love to hear about your work and share with others. Please describe what you’ve done in the comments section, or contact Katy at kbseedlingseducator@gmail.com.

Here are some thoughts and resources to support you:

  • Each group developed a potential essential question to guide their study – could your essential question address issues around the hurricanes?
    • The 4th-6th grade groups’ question was “How do we shape and how are we shaped by our environment?” Could this be extended to “How are people in other regions of our country currently being shaped by their environment?” Or, as a sub-question: “How does water change the land?”
    • The K/1 group’s question was “How does where we live affect what, how, and why we build?” There are places right along the Connecticut shoreline from Greenwich to East Haven that illustrate different ways of building in response to extreme weather post-Hurricane Sandy. How are these structures similar to or different from those in Texas, Florida, or Puerto Rico?
  • Harness the power of design challenges. Remember how engaging and fun it was to collaborate with your focus group around building a structure that could hold a book using only the materials that were given to you? This is a perfect time of year to introduce such design challenges. They are opportunities to build community while also setting the tone for the type of learning that will be occurring in your classroom: collaborative, engaging, fun, authentic. Are there design challenges that could help your students develop empathy for the plight of people in hurricane-stricken regions? Challenges that empower students to consider what they could do to support relief efforts? Or challenges that engage students in problem-solving and designing for the future?
    • The Ocean group developed the essential question, “What is the interplay between humans and the oceans?” and imagined that a study of boats might be an important part of their investigation. As President Trump recently said, Puerto Rico “is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean. And it’s a big ocean.” Learn about the most pressing needs of people living in Puerto Rico at this time. Consider the constraints in meeting those needs. Design a vehicle or vessel that would most effectively address the needs and challenges of Puerto Ricans post-Hurricane Maria.
    • Design a structure using only _____ that could successfully withstand the effects of hurricanes.
  • Projects, social studies, and activism. Make sure the learning that occurs includes actionable steps toward helping those in need that are appropriate for your grade level. We also want to teach our students that engaged citizenship means finding out about the real needs of those we intend to help, rather than making our own assumptions. This requires some understanding of the social issues surrounding natural disasters, and ideally, relationships with the people experiencing the effects.
    • Do you have personal relationships with schools or teachers affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria? If possible, establish pen pal relationships with students in these areas so your students can learn first-hand about their situation and needs while forging their own relationships.
    • For the youngest children who have a difficult time distinguishing between fantasy and reality and near and far, learning about the devastating effects of hurricanes on human lives might be inappropriate both cognitively and emotionally if they are not already aware of the events. However, young children empathize with animals and naturally identify with them, and may be better equipped to learn about the current hurricanes through their plight of animals. The PreK groups’ essential question, “How do we care for living things and how do they care for us?” could lead into a discussion of how people are helping the animals affected by these hurricanes. Visit or invite a representative from your local Humane Society chapter or shelter to find out about how to support their efforts in helping animals.
    • Engage your students in primary source research and interviews. If your school is in or near a community that was affected by Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, establish relationships with people who lived through these events and invite students to find out their stories. How does this inform their thinking about the needs of citizens living through the recent hurricanes?
    • Schools from Miami to New York to Waterbury are preparing to enroll students from Puerto Rico. Share this information with your students and see what questions and ideas are generated as a result.
    • For older students who are starting to develop abstract thinking skills, compare and contrast the ways our government has responded to hurricanes current and past. What were/are some of the unique social/environmental/geographic circumstances surrounding some of the biggest hurricanes and how did these factors impact responses from citizens and government? Puerto Rico is indeed in the middle of the ocean. Are there are factors that have contributed to the delay in aid? Using the knowledge they have gained, invite students to write letters to political representatives.
    • Find out what you yourself can do as a teacher to help with hurricane relief. See this article published in Education Week after Hurricane Harvey.
  • Connect with local resources

Welcome Back!

From all of us at Seedlings, we hope your school year is off to a great start. The first weeks are so full with preparing materials, practicing routines, setting expectations, and building community; often times those exciting new plans for curriculum and projects that we developed over the course of the summer can seem discouragingly out of reach. Take a deep breath, think back to the end of your last school year, remember the growth your students made as they gained trust in you and their environment, and — importantly — don’t forget that Seedlings is here to continue supporting you through the year.

As you delve into the year, here are a few take-aways from Seedlings summer workshop participants that we hope can help you hold onto those big picture goals:

  • We’re with you. Every year, participants share that one of the greatest gifts of Seedlings is connecting with and learning from a community of like-mined educators. The process of curriculum development and the courage it takes to experiment with new ideas is so greatly enriched and more enjoyable when you have a partner in crime with whom to collaborate.

    Reconnect with your focus group members. Contact your facilitator. Reach out to community resources. If you have fellow Seedlings alumni in your school, find a simple way to collaborate on a regular basis (i.e. agree to try out and share new design challenges once a month; eat lunch together once a week; look at your science kits and together figure out how they meaningfully connect with your community and environment.) Share what you are doing in your classroom and find out what’s happening in others’. Don’t have time to visit other people’s classrooms? Stay connected through our blog.

  • Think locally. “I had no idea New Haven had so many rich resources,” and “I’ve lived here my whole life and saw my city in a whole new way,” are common refrains at the end of the workshop.While so many of us gain a new appreciation for the city of New Haven, it’s important to remember that this workshop could be run in any community across the country, and our outcome would likely be the same. It’s about seeing with a new perspective: How can your local community and environment serve as a spring board for learning? What stories are held there that spark interest and curiosity? How do they connect to curriculum and your students’ lives in meaningful ways? How can you partner with local individuals, organizations, institutions, and workers to enrich learning experiences?DSC_0016

  • Honor child development. School can be empowering to children if they are given opportunities to explore learning at a level that is appropriate to them. If the student is not up to the task, powerlessness lives in the classroom. Ask yourself whether the tasks and curriculum in which you engage students are developmentally appropriate. If not, readjust. Students should feel stretched and challenged, but not incompetent. Nobody knows your students and their stage(s) of development like you. Arm yourself with knowledge of child development so that you can defend your choices. Know the language of Common Core standards so you can demonstrate how it applies to your developmentally appropriate practices. Be confident in your expertise. Play, projects, and stories can help integrate standards in ways that are relevant to your students.

Finally, keep these resources close at hand:

  • Seedlings booklist: seedlings.libib.com, our online library database for books that connect to your focus group topic
  • Child Development: Nancy Close — nancy.close@yale.edu
  • New Haven Tour: Colin Caplan — colin@tasteofnewhaven.com
  • CT River Museum: Bill Yule — byule@ctrivermuseum.org
  • Architecture: Alan Organschi — alan@grayorganschi.com
  • Art: Dita Carley — chesamstudio@sbcglobal.net
  • Technology: Karen Zwick — kzwick@coldspringschool.org
  • Peabody Museum: David Heiser — david.heiser@yale.edu
  • Yale Art Gallery: Jessica Sack — jessica.sack@yale.edu
  • Movement: Leslie Prodis — bupster@me.com
  • Math/Art: Beth Klingher — bklingher@yahoo.com
  • Math: Denise Quinn — dquinn@footeschool.org
  • Music: Susan Harris — susharris@gmail.com
  • Common Ground High School: Suzannah Holsenbeck — sholsenbeck@commongroundct.com
  • New Haven Land Trust: Justin Elicker — justin.elicker@newhavenlandtrust.org
  • New Haven Museum: info@newhavenmuseum.org

Have a great Fall and please keep in touch with us!

It’s Here!!

You know that feeling of the night before the first day of school? The tables are arranged, the books in order, name tags are waiting to be worn. Now it’s just the last few hours of waiting before you meet your new group….That’s kind of how we feel the night before a new week of Seedlings!

Tomorrow is the first day of what will be a wonderful week full of inquiry, collaboration, affirmation, new ideas, new friendships, good food, and joy. We just can’t wait to meet our new participants and reconnect with returnees. Let us know your favorite Seedlings memories in the comments section.

Bonus: Not a bad view for the week!

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Full STEAM Ahead at St. Thomas Day School, New Haven

Community connections run deep at Seedlings Educators Collaborative, and not just for the classrooms taught by Seedlings Workshop alums! Since many of the Seedlings staff live and work in the New Haven area, there are always chances of running into someone, as was the case this spring when St. Thomas Day School fourth grade teacher Maria Freda ran into SEC director Judy Cuthbertson.  That chance encounter yielded the following note,  which we wanted to share with you.

 

Dear Judy,
 
Great running into you today at Staples. It must have been fate because you have been on my mind.
 
Knowing that Seedlings Summer 2017 was kicking off soon, I knew that I just had to share the many ways Seedlings and STEAM influenced my math curriculum this past school year. I must mention that Janie Lange helped to support the marine biology component of the project. And it was Janie who suggested that I pass this experience on to you. I am so glad she did.
Teaching with objects and manipulatives is my catalyst for making lessons come alive. Hands-on dimensional learning, especially in fourth grade, transforms the classroom into a laboratory where curiosity percolates, imagination erupts, and solutions flow—making connections with young scientists, technicians, engineers, artists, and mathematicians. STEAM is the integrated power behind the learning. Here’s how it began in our classroom.
 

It’s a Leatherback Turtle Thing

Perhaps it started with one of my student’s love for turtles.  It might have been inspired by the origami talents of another. It could have stemmed from thinking outside the box due to a need to create a fun and exciting math lesson on proportions. But what I do know for sure is that before too long, the fourth graders had to make room for a full size 9 foot by 8 foot model of a Leatherback Turtle. 

Without a doubt, this turtle project went full STEAM ahead. It became a school-wide topic. So much so that a Town Hall meeting was scheduled as a way to share the project with all grades. Since STEAM reaches out beyond the classroom, the 4th grade decided that when the turtle was complete and waterproofed, they would present the turtle to their kindergarten buddies as a new addition to the K playground. 

I will let the pictures tell the story.

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Materials included lots of cardboard, newspaper, waterproofing spray, paint, styrofoam, duct tape, patience and lots of love.

One extraordinary moment was when one of the project managers recognized that STEAM does not happen without a TEAM. This insight was meant to emphasize how important it was was to work together. 

I hope you enjoy reading about the project as much as we enjoyed creating it. Please share this with everyone. Thank you again for your love of teaching. 

All good wishes for a successful Seedlings summer,

Maria

Spring Field Trips

Brooksvale Park is teeming with life! We saw thousands of tadpoles, lots of salamanders, a few frogs, turtles, water snakes, and tens of varieties of birds. The pond was truly singing with the sounds of spring. If you were in the water habitats focus group last summer and integrated SEC work into your curriculum, consider the possibility of taking your class to Brooksvale for a field trip. I’ve been able to see a couple school groups in action on my recent trips to Brooksvale, and can tell you the students are enthralled by the pond life. For those of you unfamiliar with the park, it is located in Hamden, and includes a small farm with chickens, bunnies, miniature horses, and goats, as well as plenty of space for running around and picnicking. Check out their website at:

http://www.brooksvalepark.com/school-programs/

Anyone have any exciting field trips coming up for the end of the year?

Kindergarten: Where Did our Garden Go? Practice, Policy, and Advocacy at the Bank Street Teaching Kindergarten Conference

On April 21st and 22nd, Bank Street College of Education hosted an inspiring and much-needed conference called the “Teaching Kindergarten Conference: Where Did Our Garden Go? Practice, Policy, and Advocacy.” Over 200 teachers, school leaders, and policy makers from all over the country and world, including Chile, Romania, and Nigeria, gathered in New York City to consider the unique and important role of kindergarten in the life of a child. The conference grew out of deep concern about the push-down of academic standards and pressures placed on Kindergarten teachers and the students they teach, and centered around how we as educators can “push up” from developmentally and experientially informed perspectives to advocate for healthy practices in kindergarten. Keynote speakers presented current research on learning and development and its implication for kindergarten practice, while workshops engaged participants in interactive sessions on project-based learning, literacy, math, music, blocks, science, field trips, family engagement, and more.

Some of the highlights included:

Dr. Derrick Gay, consultant to educational, artistic, and philanthropic organizations around the world on issues of diversity, inclusion, and global citizenship transporting us to a time when kindergarten was full of music, play, arts, and blocks through discussion and song. We were even treated to his performance of “Deep River”:

Dr. Gay presented research showing that kindergarten classrooms today are 4-6 times more focused on literacy and numeracy than play, and on average spend 20 minutes a day on test preparation. At the end of his address, he left us with questions about reimagining kindergarten that were considered throughout the remainder of the conference, including:

  • “What would an ideal kindergarten look like?”
  • “What is the vision of kindergarten that is developmentally appropriate while also providing equitable access to all students?”
  • “In light of changing demographics, how do we differentiate teaching and learning to support all students – learning styles, race, gender, SES, religion, etc.?”
  • “What does learning-centered kindergarten look like within a paradigm of high-stakes testing and different parental and societal expectations?”

Dr. Lesley Koplow, Director of the Center for Emotionally Responsive Practice at Bank Street College, grounding our thinking in “reclaiming the garden” in an understanding of who the five-year old is. She posits that the core developmental issue for the five-year old is one of power versus powerlessness. It is critical that the kindergarten classroom provide time, space, and respect for symbolic play through which children can explore this theme. Regarding academic standards and tasks, school can be empowering if students are given opportunities to explore their learning at a level that is appropriate to them. If the five-year old is not up to the tasks asked of him or her, s/he becomes vulnerable to feeling incompetent, and powerlessness thus lives in the classroom. Effective teachers in this era need to become “bilingual,” as Dr. Koplow describes it. That is, we must learn the language of the Common Core so as to be able to apply it to developmentally appropriate practices. Meaningful accountability, she argues, is knowing development and the individual child in front of you.

Susan Harris and Henry Chapin, music educators (and our own SEC integration team member!) actively engaging us in music for building community and engaging in social justice. Additionally, we considered how songs and musical games can be used as tools for skill development and for assessment. Watch some of it in action here:

Beverly Falk, Professor and Director of the Graduate Programs in Early Childhood Education at The School of Education, The City College of New York, presenting high quality project-based learning occurring at several public and charter schools around New York City. One classroom at PS 244 in Queens, The Active Learning School, engaged in an aviation study, which emerged from the children’s interests in planes they would see flying over their school. The project involved visiting LaGuardia Airport (down the street from the school), creating an airport in the classroom, and integrating the study in all aspects of the curriculum during choice time. Effective teaching, Falk illustrated, needs to infuse standards into meaningful, purposeful experiences connected to children’s interests.

Museum Studies in Kindergarten – Project-based learning presented by Washington Heights school PS 210 kindergarten co-teachers Margaret Blachly and Andrea Fonseca. These teachers shared how they used the process described in Young Investigators: The Project Approach in the Early Years to craft an experience-based, integrated, developmentally appropriate curriculum while meeting the demands of a Reading and Writing Workshop bilingual school. Born in part out of a desire to help families learn about the resources of the city, the project entailed visiting museums all around New York City, reflecting on these shared experiences back in the classroom, delving deeper into the learning through dramatic play, blocks, surveys, nonfiction reading and writing, art, and lots of music, and ultimately culminated in planning for and operating the class’s own museum open to families and the school. These wonderful artifacts gave us a sense of how the project unfolded:

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Wise words from Yvonne Smith, a veteran teacher who was been teaching kindergarten for 42 years, 32 of those years at Central Park East 1. She described the role of the teacher as “holding up a mirror and helping [children] see what it is they know.” When asked about some of the obstacles that educators currently face, she spoke about critical the role of trust in the classroom, and how challenging it can be to uphold trust when teachers themselves are not trusted. She encouraged us to continue valuing and standing up for the immeasurable.

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Dr. Shannon Riley-Ayers, Associate Research Professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, presenting her work with 17 kindergarten teachers in New Jersey to transform their classrooms to be of higher quality. Using the APEEC assessment to evaluate the physical environment, the social context, and the instructional context of the classrooms, Dr. Riley-Ayers, her colleagues, and the classroom teachers illustrated that rigor can be developmentally appropriate.

Sal Vascellaro, course instructor at Bank Street College, and former classroom teacher and head of elementary school, presenting on the essential role of trips in the kindergarten curriculum. Vascellaro described three field trips he took his students on in 1970’s New York City. While walking around the school block with his students, seeing the city through their eyes, Vascellaro noticed three small shops to which the children were particularly drawn: a tailor shop, the shoe repair, and the florist. He spoke with the shop keepers and arranged for the students to visit the work sites in three simultaneously occurring groups. Equipped with clipboards in hand for sketching and questions the students had developed, each group visited their assigned shop to learn about the nature of the work, how it is done, the shopkeeper himself, and had an opportunity to learn and practice one of the skills performed by the shopkeeper, with each group bringing back to the classroom some memento from the trip. Vascellaro shared videos and anecdotes of similarly motivated trips and projects, one at a public school in Memphis that grew out of students’ interest in paper airplanes and took them to the local airport, the other at a private school in Manhattan in which students visited post offices and created and ran their own school post office. The learning that occurred from these instances of “venturing out into the world out there” was different, more visceral, and longer lasting than any other – including other field trips which had been exciting, but more observational –  Vascellaro shared with us, because it enabled the students to experience the connections that exist in the physical and social worlds around them and see how these connections affect their lives. Field trips build on the students’ desire to make sense of the world around them and become active citizens in that world. Check out this inspiring book written by Vascellaro, Out of the Classroom and into the World, to learn more.

“Hopes, Hurdles, and Dreams for Kindergarten” Advocacy Poster – Participants left sticky notes with thoughts about obstacles and possibilities for kindergarten.

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Resources

Websites:

www.highqualityearlylearning.org — Includes video examples of high quality learning in early childhood

www.investigatingchoicetime.com — Blog by Renee Dinnerstein that investigates how choice time is used in early childhood classrooms

www.historyofkindergarten.com — A new film about the history of kindergarten is coming out this summer! Watch the trailer and learn more on this website.

www.deyproject.org — Defending the Early Years website. The principal goals of the project are to: “(1) To mobilize the early childhood community to speak out with well-reasoned arguments against inappropriate standards, assessments, and classroom practices. (2) To track the effects of new standards, especially those linked to the Common Core State Standards, on early childhood education policy and practice. (3) To promote appropriate practices in early childhood classrooms and support educators in counteracting current reforms which undermine these appropriate practices.”

www.allianceforchildhood.org — “The Alliance for Childhood promotes policies and practices that support children’s healthy development, love of learning, and joy in living. Our public education campaigns bring to light both the promise and the vulnerability of childhood. We act for the sake of the children themselves and for a more just, democratic, and ecologically responsible future.”

http://nieer.org/ — The National Institute for Early Education Research promotes early learning and development through science and evidence-based policy making.

Books:

* Conference Presenters

 

 

 

 

 

Student Reflections on Learning at CSS

Call it project based-learning, 21st century skills, or progressive education – these Cold Spring School students’ reflections on their learning from the fort project illustrate what good teaching looks like. Watch three students share about their experiences and note that they highlight, in their own words, the process of collaborating with peers, problem-solving, learning how to be flexible within their team, acting as entrepreneurs, and using their imaginations – all critical skills in any of these pedagogical frameworks – as essential components of their learning:

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