AN IMPORTANT AND DELIGHTFUL CONFERENCE

The Bank Street Kindergarten Conference is only SEVEN weeks away. I know how stressed teachers are. -This conference will definitely be uplifting and teachers them move forward!! The Bank Street Kindergarten Conference is only 7 weeks away. I know how stressed teachers Please help us spread the word!! There are still some scholarships available.
Hope to see you and your colleagues virtually at the conference!
Stay healthy and stay strong!

Teaching Kindergarten Conference:

Where did the Garden Go?: Making Good Trouble

This online conference honors and celebrates the hard work of all kindergarten teachers during this extraordinary time. Conference presenters will inspire participants to re-imagine curriculum and incorporate the values of social justice, equity and fairness.To quote John Lewis:  “You must be bold, brave, and courageous and find a way… to get in the way.”

Online April 16 and 17, 2021

REGISTRATION INFORMATION: https://graduate.bankstreet.edu/educator-resources/conferences-institutes/kindergarten-conference/information-and-registration-2/

Friday, April 16, 2021

Teaching and Learning in the Midst of Global Pandemic(s): Race, Politics and Young Children

Whose childhood matters at the intersecting politics of race, gender, age, class, ability, citizenship, and sexuality? With the COVID-19 pandemic against the enduring pandemic of racial violence, children are experiencing and participating in a world fraught with turmoil and tension. They are taking part in conversations, observing (in)action, encountering limitations to their agency and voice, and understanding the threats to their own livelihoods. As political beings, what are children creating, embodying, and doing in the course of their everyday life at school through moments of play, curricular conversations, and inquiry? During a particularly tumultuous political moment, I feature young children whose conversations lead teachers to reimagine curriculum and pedagogy; I show children engaged in thoughtful dialogue around issues of race, gender, and religion; I bring together playful exchanges that make prominent the social, cultural, and political issues children are grappling with. In doing this, I highlight the importance of capturing and following children’s inquiries and questions as we strive to engage alongside young children towards civic action.

Dr. Haeny Yoon is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University where she teaches courses on curriculum, language/literacy, children’s play, and qualitative methodologies. Her interest in how children play with materials, spaces, their peers, and in popular culture stems from working as a staff developer and primary school teacher. Her book, Rethinking Early Literacies: Reading and Rewriting Worlds (2018), co-authored with Dr. Mariana Souto-Manning, honors the diverse languages and practices of families, homes, and communities across the United States. Dr. Yoon received her MA in Elementary Education, and her Ph.D in Curriculum and Teaching from the University of Illinois  at Urbana- Champaign.

Stories that Nourish the Hearts of Children

Storytelling is a powerful tool for teachers and children, especially in these times of remote learning in a world filled with uncertainty.  While telling selected stories, Laura Simms will provide practical steps about the art of telling a story that participants can use to support their work with Kindergarten.  Simms explores how story- telling builds children’s inner capacities for sharing, develops self-confidence, increases children’s ability to communicate and encourages them to be self-reflective.  In addition, participants will learn how to encourage children to tell their own stories by exploring the richness of “participatory stories”.  Short, meaningful and enjoyable tales from throughout the world will be shared.

Storyteller, writer, arts-educator, and humanitarian, Laura Simms has been telling stories and training teachers for over forty years. She is the author of several books, recordings, and articles including Our Secret Territory (2011) and Stories To Nourish The Hearts Of Our Children (2013). Simms is the artistic director of the Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center in New York City and is a senior teacher of Dharma Art in the Tibetan tradition of mindfulness. Previously, she was a Senior Research Fellow at Rutgers University and worked with UN Women, Mercy Corps, Common Ground, and The Arthur Mauro Peace and Justice Center. In 2010 Simms received the Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Back to the Garden: Inspiring Kindergarteners to Grow into Curious and Generous Citizens of the World

In the presence of gifts of nature- seeds, tall trees, rainstorms, birds, and leaves that change color- Kindergarten children wonder, explore, and talk about how things grow and change as they seek to become experts. The educators in their life have a responsibility  to nurture children’s innate curiosity and encourage them to  explore the concepts  of health, food, shelter, conservation and climate as they  shape and share a better tomorrow.

Dr. Maritza Macdonald has been on the faculty of Bank Street College, Columbia University, Teachers College, and the American Museum of Natural History. Her expertise and research focus on the importance of learning outside school, the importance, beauty, and humans’ need for nature, while encouraging cultural and linguistic knowledge for all. Her major contributions at the AMNH include the development of URBAN ADVANTAGE, a partnership between museums, botanical gardens, zoos, and The Hall of Science. Most recently she created the Master Level Science Teacher Preparation Program. Dr. Macdonald is an Alumna of Bank Street College and Teachers College and the recipient of two Honorary Doctorates in Humane Letters: Bank Street (2011) and Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History (2019).

Songs that Nourish the Hearts of Children
Singing is Connection!  It brings people and communities together across languages, cultures, borders and oceans. The  experience of singing together is powerful for young children and allows them to be seen and feel joy. We’ll raise our voices together, celebrate the power of song, and leave with kindergarten-tested songs and a lighter heart.

Jaquetta Bustion‘s love of music began in her earliest school experiences in Philadelphia. At Brown University, she earned degrees in music and comparative literature, followed by a master’s in music and music education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Bustion began teaching in NYC public schools soon after, and has been a music educator ever since. Over decades in the classroom, she has taught in both public and private school settings. Bustion currently develops curriculum and teaches elementary music at Community Roots Charter School in Brooklyn.

  • Morning Workshop sessions:

    • Conference participants will register for workshops session after registering for the conference here.
    • All workshops will address both virtual and socially distanced classrooms.
    • All keynote and workshop sessions will be recorded and available to participants through June 1, 2021.

    An Unexpected Baby Study
    When the teacher became visibly pregnant, the children became curious and began asking questions and making observations. This led towards a class inquiry project, The Baby Study. However, when multicultural baby dolls were introduced and each child chose a baby doll to be their own, an unexpected can of worms opened up changing the focus of the study.
    Renée Dinnerstein has been a classroom teacher, university teacher, curriculum developer and early childhood consultant for over 50 years. She is a strong believer that the primary way that young children learn is through investigative exploration and play and she supports this idea in her blog, Investigating Choice Time: Inquiry, Exploration and Play. Dinnerstein earned her BA in sociology and MA in Early Childhood from Brooklyn College.
    Fanny Roman currently teaches Kindergarten and works with English language learners at PS244Q, The Active Learning Elementary School, in NYC. Roman received her BA in Early Childhood Education and Sociology and her MS in Children’s Literature with a Bilingual Extension from Queens College, CUNY.

    Artists and Kindergartners Have a Lot in Common!
    As teachers rethink the strategic place of visual arts in virtual and socially distanced kindergartens, this workshop offers  an investigative, exploratory approach. Experimenting with the potential of tools, materials and studio art processes takes the mystery out of being an artist and opens the possibility of joyful discovery and artistic expression to everyone. Through sharing ideas, and listening and offering feedback as others share, children come to respect the work of their classmates, as well as that of other artists and cultures. In this way, everyone in the class is thinking and working as an artist.
    Cathy Weisman Topal, is a professor of visual arts education in the Department of Education at Smith College where she is also a studio art teacher at the pre-school and laboratory school and a research associate. Topal is a frequent speaker and workshop facilitator in the U.S. and abroad. Recent presentations include The History of Beautiful Stuff from Nature at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA (2019) and What Makes Stuff Beautiful? Manitoba Child Care Association Conference, Winnipeg, Manitoba, CA (2016). Topal has a BA from Cornell University and an MAT in Visual Studies from Harvard University.

    Creative Re-use of Everyday Materials with Kindergarteners
    Children are hands-on learners, exploring, transforming –both physically and symbolically– and making meaning from the materials in their everyday environments. As educators, how can we capitalize on this interest, whether teaching children online or in-person? Presenters will discuss their own experiences teaching with materials found at home, and invite participants to share their own relevant  experiences, ideas and questions. The workshop will include “hands-on making” with materials collected from participants’ own environments, with the goal of brainstorming ideas that can be implemented in their teaching settings. Participants should have ready a collection of materials from their homes to experiment with for this workshop: for example, cardboard tubes and/or boxes, bottle caps, corks, rubber bands, twist ties, wooden chopsticks. Tape and/or glue are also helpful.
    Kerry Elson teaches kindergarten and first grade in a loop at Central Park East 2, a public elementary and middle school in East Harlem. She has contributed articles to Bank Street’s Occasional Paper Series, Rethinking Schools, and Edutopia and has presented at the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention. Elson holds a BA degree from Bowdoin College and a Masters Degree in Early Childhood & Childhood General Education from Bank Street College of Education.
    Diana Jensen is the Lower School Art Teacher at the Bank Street School for Children. She holds a  BA in Art from Smith College, and an MA in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

    From Control to Co-Construction: Leaning into Good Trouble
    Problems that inevitably arise each day, in the classroom or virtually,  may become powerful opportunities for collective action. Inviting kindergarteners to engage in a predictable problem-solving process fosters compassion, social responsibility, and advocacy.  Teachers will leave this workshop with resources for recognizing and responding to a wide range of challenging moments as well as planning tools which center on consistency and co-construction.
    Kelsey Sorum teaches in a classroom that uses the Integrated Co-Teaching model in a progressive public school in Brooklyn, NY. Sorum has a BA in Elementary Education from Edgewood College, Madison WI. 

    Making Good Trouble Together:  A Story About a Teacher Collaborative Journey
    This workshop will tell the story of how public school preschool and kindergarten teachers in Omaha, NE created a teacher collaborative  to support each other in ensuring their student’s right to play. Over time the group’s goals evolved to include anti-bias and anti-racist practices in their classrooms. The story, told by three teachers of the collaborative, will highlight the organic process of the group’s organization and evolution as well as the impact on the children and the school culture.
    Deb Wisneski – bio to follow

    Math Goes Home: Sorting Laundry & Cooking Beans
    In this workshop, we will explore the potential in everyday life situations where families, their children, and teachers can optimize and promote mathematical thinking and reasoning at home and in school. In doing so, we’ll look beyond commercial materials as the only tools for developing mathematical skills. As kindergarten teachers our role is to make home and school connections that will support all learners of all backgrounds and cultures by engaging children and their families in everyday experiences through a mathematical lens.
    Marilyn Martinez currently teaches kindergarten/first grade at an alternative public school in NYC. She is co-author of All Kinds of Families (published in the Social Studies Docket, 2008) and a chapter in Teaching Kindergarten: Learner–Centered Classrooms for the 21st Century (Teachers College Press, 2015). Martinez holds a MA in Early Childhood Education from Long Island University.
    Patricia Godoy teaches kindergarten/first grade at Central Park East 1 (CPE1) in East Harlem, New York. CPE1 is a small, public, K-5 school with a proud history of progressive pedagogy, practices and traditions. A graduate of Brown University, Patricia received her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from City College of New York (CCNY). 

    Music & Dance, Rhythms & Rhymes
    We’ll sing, dance, create rhythms and rhymes, and revisit traditional circle games and poetry as we learn how these experiences build community and empower children to find their voices and develop self-confidence whether learning remotely or in socially distanced classrooms. We’ll also explore how these experiences support the development of math and language skills.
    Jaquetta Bustion develops curriculum and teaches elementary music at the Community Roots Charter School in NYC. She is Kodaly Certified and completed coursework in the Dalcroze Method, which influences her work with children in music. Bustion holds a BA from Brown University and an MA in Music and Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

    Teaching the Guiding Principles of Black Lives Matter to Young Children
    This workshop is designed to familiarize teachers with the guiding principles of Black Lives Matter, explore how these principles may already be present in kindergarten classrooms, and offer tools and strategies to bring these principles into the work of kindergarten, whether it is virtual, hybrid or classroom-based. Following the guiding principles of BLM, this workshop will focus on how engaging children in anti-bias work allows them to be civically engaged and feel empowered to be agents of change. Participants will leave with tools teachers can use to ensure children are provided with a true diversity of human experience, as well as some strategies to explicitly name and talk about race and equity in ways that allow children to take advantage of their age-appropriate curiosity, sense of fairness, and imaginatio
    LaLeña Garcia currently teaches kindergarten at Manhattan Country School, a public K – 8 school in Manhattan. She is a member of the Steering Committee of the New York City chapter of Black Lives Matter at School and works as a Gender and Sexuality Trainer at the NYS Professional Development Institute. Her children’s book, What We Believe: A Black Lives Matter Principles Activity Book, was published by Lee and Low in 2020. Garcia has a BA from Yale and an MS in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education.

    The Power of the Words You Choose to Use
    Teaching is so much more than talking. Using language in different ways, at different levels, for different purposes is a powerful tool that can make all the difference in the way children respond and learn. This presentation will speak to the influence of word choice, pace of presentation, volume, vocal characteristics, and the nuances of language use that can make both teaching and learning richer. This workshop will address both virtual and classroom based teaching.
    Lydia H. Soifer, PhD, is a teacher trainer, staff developer and parent educator who specializes in the role of language in children’s learning, literacy, behavior, and social-emotional development. Soifer is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY. She holds a PhD from Columbia University in Psycho-linguistics.

    Worldly Wonders: Kindergarteners Navigate the Globe Through Project Work
    Through examples of  project work, including an in-depth study of  different train systems around the world and local restaurants of culturally diverse cuisines, we will explore how children become caring and compassionate while also developing critical thinking skills that are essential for participating in social change movements and be successful in school.  This workshop will address both virtual and classroom based teaching.
    Allie Frosina is an early childhood educator in Maryland, where she has taught kindergarten for over five years. Frosina is passionate about project-based curriculum and teaching kindergarten in a Reggio-inspired classroom. Frosina has a M.S.Ed in Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education.
    Jenna Murdock is currently a kindergarten teacher at Concord Hill School in Chevy Chase, MD. While in the Peace Corps in Zambia, Murdock helped to expand access to education in rural parts of the country, trained new educators, and laid a solid foundation of cultural literacy and competency that she has carried with her throughout her career. Murdock continues to research and learn how artistic development and expression go hand-in-hand across the globe. She holds a BFA in Art Education from the University of Florida. 

    • Afternoon Workshop sessions:

      • Conference participants will register for workshops session after registering for the conference here.
      • All workshops will address both virtual and socially distanced classrooms.
      • All keynote and workshop sessions will be recorded and available to participants through June 1, 2021.

      Do Children See Color?
      In this workshop, we will learn about the different stages in children’s awareness of racial and cultural identities, when they begin to notice and respond to skin color cues,  and the impact this can have on children’s sense of identity and self-esteem.  We  will explore practical strategies to support anti-racist and social justice learning opportunities using culturally responsive teaching in virtual and socially distanced classrooms.
      Maimuna Mohammed is an Equity Specialist at the Center on Culture, Race & Equity at Bank Street College. Mohammed worked as an early childhood educator in community based programs in New York City and is an alumni of Teach For America and VISTA AmeriCorps. Mohammed is in the process of finishing her MA in Early Childhood Leadership at Bank Street College of Education’s Principal Institute.
      Zipporiah Mills is an Equity Specialist at the Center on Culture, Race & Equity at Bank Street College. Mills was a teacher in the NYC public schools and recently retired from the New York City Department of Education as the principal of PS 261, one of District 15’s most diverse elementary schools.

      Making Puppets for Story Telling and Dramatic Play
      This hands-on workshop invites participants to learn about the important role of dramatic play in children’s lives whether learning remotely or in their classrooms.   We’ll be creating different styles of puppets, and brainstorm different ways to develop and enhance your curriculum using these puppets.  Please bring: cardboard, paper bags, colored paper, socks, glue, and scissors.
      Maria Richa currently teaches Art in many at the Bank Street School for Children programs. In addition, she serves as a facilitator for the New Teacher Cohort, Racial Justice and Advocacy (RJA) curriculum in the Middle School, and Team Leader in the Art department. She is an adjunct instructor in the Bank Street Graduate School, where she teaches a course that introduces teachers to art-making experiences and children’s artistic development. Richa works in her own studio, focusing on original collages, quilt making, sculptures and prints. She holds a BFA from the Columbus College of Art and Design and a MA/EdM in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

      Modelling Democracy in Kindergarten
      This timely workshop, inspired by the work of John Dewey, bell Hooks and Sonia Nieto will encourage teachers to see their classrooms as communities for integrating democratic values: where children can find their voice; form their own opinions; learn to listen to each other; participate in dialogue and debate; make decisions as a group and take responsibility for themselves and for their community.
      Anna Sobel is the 5-6’s teacher at the Manhattan Country School, a progressive independent school in NYC. She has played a role in organizing the Progressive Education Network (PEN) national conference that promotes diversity, equity, and justice in our schools and society. Sobel holds a Masters degree from the Bank Street College of Education.
      Laura Swindler is the 6-7s teacher at the Manhattan Country School, a progressive independent school in NYC. In addition, she teaches graduate students in the Early Childhood Education programs at CCNY and Brooklyn College. Democracy in the classroom is a key component of both her graduate and classroom curriculum. Swindler holds a Masters degree from the Bank Street College of Education. 

      Not All Classrooms Have Four Walls
      We are living in a moment when the physical classroom that we’ve known for so long requires a dramatic re-definition,  as Covid-based regulations have rendered our classrooms unrecognizable. Never before has there been such a need to realize  that not all classrooms have 4  walls. In this workshop we’ll explore  how place-based learning provides opportunities to take your class outside the traditional 4 walls to spaces such as parks, woodlands, neighborhood gardens, etc.  This presentation is a “how to” get started, with recent examples of  how a public school in NYC uses the park as an extension of their classroom.
      Tatiana Rosa is currently in her 8th year of teaching at Castle Bridge Elementary School (PS 513). She teaches a mixed-age K/1st grade dual language ICT classroom and enjoys using the local NYC parks as an extension of her classroom. Rosa is a graduate from the Bank Street College of Education, with a degree in Early Childhood General & Special Education and a bilingual extension.

      Reimagining Traditional Kindergarten Classrooms through Play: A Case Study
      Learn how a collaborative approach among Bank Street Early Childhood faculty and the leadership at a traditional NYC Charter School led to a shared understanding of child development, teacher ownership and leadership support, resulting in deeper learning opportunities for young children. Presenters will discuss the challenging and successful implementation of  a work/play/exploration time that was built into the daily schedule of academic kindergarten classrooms.
      Natalie Flores, a classroom Special Education teacher, an Instructional Coach, is an Assistant Principal of Curriculum & Instruction  She earned a Masters in Urban Education with Special Education certification at Mercy College, as a part of the NYC Teaching Fellows Program.
      Wendy Pollock has been an advisor and faculty member in Early Childhood Leadership and teacher education programs at Bank Street College. Previously, she was a principal and director of Early Childhood Centers and elementary schools in Yonkers, NY and the Director of the Riverdale Y Early Childhood Programs in Riverdale, NY.  Pollock earned an EdD in Curriculum and Teaching and an MA in Psychology of Education both from Teachers College, Columbia University.
      Allison Tom-Yunger, a faculty member and advisor at Bank Street College, teaches in the Early Childhood Special and General Education Program. She was a Clinical Supervisor and Child and Family Therapist at the Association to Benefit Children, Bronx, NY and a Developmental Therapist and Social Worker at the New York Center for Child Development. Tom-Yunger earned an MSEd in Early Childhood General and Special Education from Bank Street College and an MS in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work.

      Simple Objects: Validating Children’s Imagination
      In this workshop participants will explore the simplest of objects to awaken our own imagination as we come to appreciate the sense of wonder and magic of young children who are learning to shape their own world. Now, more than ever, we have an urgent need to bring this innate experience and imaginative ability into the fabric of education whether virtual or in person.  As part of the workshop please bring a simple object – a paper clip, a flower, a pebble – anything that can become a universe at play.
      Richard Lewis is a teacher, author and the Founder and Director of The Touchstone Center for Children in New York City. Begun in 1969, the Center has worked with children and teachers in a variety of school settings that bring together the arts, the natural world, and the life of the imagination. A graduate of Bard College, he has taught at Bank Street College of Education, Lesley College, Sarah Lawrence, CCNY, and Rutgers University, among others.

      Teachers on Teaching During Pandemic Times: A Story Sharing Workshop
      The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamics of teaching for anyone working with children, regardless of their age, racial and ethnic background, immigration status or geographic location. Whether you’ve been teaching remotely or in person, the changes for kindergarteners have been dramatic. In this workshop, you will have the opportunity to share your stories about teaching during this pandemic. How have you moved through this time with the children in your classes, made space to hear their thoughts, concerns and feelings, and created time to connect with their families? How has this impacted your teaching and how you think about your role as a teacher?
      Catlin Preston teaches a kindergarten / first grade at a progressive public school in New York City. Using the Descriptive Process developed by the Prospect Center for Education and Research, Preston  has worked closely with teachers to provide a safe space for supportive dialogue.  He has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA from Bank Street College in the Leadership for Educational Change Program. 

      The Critical Importance of Kindergarten Friendships in Usual and Unusual Times: The Teacher’s Role
      This discussion-based workshop focuses on making and maintaining friendships in kindergarten as an essential foundation for overall school success. Two questions guide the discussion: What can classroom teachers do to support this primary developmental accomplishment? Also, in what ways do teachers unintentionally thwart children’s growth in this area? Topics to be discussed include how friendship skills at five differ from preschool, “popular” and “unpopular” children, helpful and not helpful children’s books, and the possibility, or not, of Zoom-based friendships.
      Patsy (Patricia M.) Cooper is Associate Professor and Program Director of Early Childhood Education at Queens College, CUNY where research and career focus is on teacher education. Cooper was awarded the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Teaching and Teacher Education Research Award in 2010. She holds an MA in Child Development from the Erikson Institute, an MA in English from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Educational Studies from Emory University. 

      The Magic of Story
      It is not only the content of a story that has far reaching benefits, but how we tell a story that matters.  Simms will offer activities that support engaging storytelling with kindergarteners and strengthen their capacity for focus, creativity, love of language and communication, while also inspiring them to play, imagine, and dream.  She will lead us in a practice of creating personal stories with children building on the images and emotions of their experiences. Storytelling is a valuable experience for both remote and in-person interactions.
      Laura Simms has been telling stories and training teachers for over forty years. She is the author of several books, recordings, and articles including Our Secret Territory (2011) and Stories To Nourish The Hearts Of Our Children (2013). Simms is the artistic director of the Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center in New York City and is a senior teacher of Dharma Art in the Tibetan tradition of mindfulness. Previously, she was a Senior Research Fellow at Rutgers University and worked with UN Women, Mercy Corps, Common Ground, and The Arthur Mauro Peace and Justice Center. In 2010 Simms received the Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling.

      Who you Gonna Call? Germbusters! Maintaining the health of teachers, students and the classroom
      Teachers are especially vulnerable to contagious illnesses like the common cold, flu or strep throat. An often unventilated crowded room, the proximity to young children, and the exposure to germs with limited opportunities for hand washing create a cabal of circumstances leading to the unnecessary spread of illness. During this pandemic it is even more important for schools and teachers to incorporate and promote healthy practices and routines that decrease the spread of germs and illnesses. This presentation will offer teachers strategies for educating young children about being healthy in fun and engaging ways. By developing routines that provide age-appropriate activities and teaching children about germs and hand hygiene, teachers can create environments that are safe and clean, but not scary.
      Genevieve Lowry is a faculty member and advisor in the Child Life program in the Graduate School at Bank Street College. Previously, Lowry worked as a Certified Child Life Specialist. She has a BS from Wheelock College in Early Childhood Education and Child life and an MSEd from Fordham University in Curriculum and Teaching.

      REGISTRATION INFORMATION : https://graduate.bankstreet.edu/educator-resources/conferences-institutes/kindergarten-conference/information-and-registration-2/

 

Note: Workshops and Keynote presentations will be recorded and available for participants to view through June 1, 2021.


 

Supporting and Nurturing Young Readers and Writers during the Pandemic and Beyond: Kathy Collins, Matt Glover, Aeriale Johnson and Vicki Vinton

 

Matt Glover

Vicki Vinton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2013, a University of Cambridge research team published a study that followed the reading history of two groups of children. One group began formal instruction in reading at the age of five. The second group had a more play-based curriculum and began their formal reading study at the age of seven. The results of the study were quite interesting. They concluded that by the age of 11 there was no difference in reading ability level between the two groups, but the children who started at 5 tended to develop less positive attitudes to reading, and showed poorer text comprehension than those children who had started later.The report  advised that “formal schooling” should be delayed until children are at least seven and that pushing it earlier is damaging children’s “academic achievement, especially when it comes to reading.” 

This report is particularly interesting to consider during this pandemic when children’s schooling has been so suddenly disrupted. No Child Left Behind, Race to The Top, Common Core Learning Standards, High Stakes Standardized Testing….all of these have traumatized educators, parents, and children, turning what should be the joy of learning into a competitive race. Now we add  to this pressurized school environment the terror of a destructive pandemic.

 There have been many magazine and newspaper articles where parents of young children expressed the fear that their children were falling behind. Parents and teachers worried that children would have difficulty when they were able to return to regular school. In a New York Times article, a mother of a kindergarten child voiced anxiety about her child and the other children in her child’s class. She worried about what would lie ahead for them when they entered first grade. ” If they are transitioning into first grade, will there be time to catch up and get them up to par?”

On Tuesday, January 5, 2020, I met with four extraordinary educators, Kathy Collins, Aeriale Johnson, Vicki Vinton and Matt Glover, to discuss their thoughts on how we can best support young learners during this time. What does reading and writing mean for a 4, 5, 6 and 7 year old? Should we have particular expectations? Can a child of that age be falling behind? 

Their conversation will, I believe, provide much comfort and food for thought for parents, teachers and school administrators. 

 

 

 

Books by the participating educators

 

Learn more aboutAlready ReadyLearn more aboutCraft and Process Studies

 

Learn more aboutProjecting Possibilities for Writers

 

 

 

WHAT PRICE DO CHILDREN PAY WHEN PLAY DISAPPEARS? In Conversation with Dr. Peter Metz, Nakoley Renville, Anne Haas Dyson and Peter Rawitsch

“The protected place in space and time that we once called childhood has grown shorter.”

 Mary Pipher

 

 

 

 

 

In 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a report, The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. The report included this statement: “Because every child deserves the opportunity to develop to their unique potential, child advocates must consider all factors that interfere with optimal development and press for circumstances that allow each child to fully reap the advantages associated with play.”

The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, in their 1989 Declaration of the Rights of the Child, declared, in Article 31,  that every child has the right to play.

Considering these two important documents, one wonders why, in 2020,  we still have to advocate for the child’s right to play, both in school and outside of school?

On December 17, 2010 I had a fascinating and illuminating conversation with four outstanding advocates for the rights of children – Dr. Peter Metz, Nakoley Renville, Anne Haas Dyson and     Peter Rawitch. It is, I believe, a discussion to ponder carefully and, perhaps, to share and discuss with parents, teachers and anyone interested in the well-being of young children.

 

Parenting During The Pandemic: In Conversation -Christy Ziegler, Pier Imbriano, Katie Rust-Brown, Sheldon Brown, Melissa Toogood and Dana Roth


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“One reason to stay calm is that calm parents are the ones whose children keep talking. ”

 (Mary Pipher)                    

On December 15, 2020, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of parents, via zoom, so that we could discuss their experiences parenting during this unusual time in our history. The ages of their children varied from almost two years old to a just-starting- middle- school eleven year old. 

Did any of their experiences overlap? How were their children adapting to the changes in their schedules and in the life-styles of their families?  In addition to caring for their families, supervising school-age children with schoolwork, doing their own work from home, and generally worrying about when this would all end, how were these hard-working adults taking time to care for themselves? 

Join us…

 

Bringing Choice Time to China: A Conversation with Larry Leaven and Nancy Du

 

In 2018 I had the very exciting experience of traveling to Hong Kong to work with the educational staff of the Hong Kong Dalton School. Larry Leaven, who was director of the school at that time, had introduced my book on Choice Time as a professional study text to his staff. I had my first experience doing a professional development session over Skype and then Larry proposed that I come to Hong Kong in August and spend a week working with his staff. What an exciting experience I was in for.

The teachers were all interested and so engaged in their work. I went into classrooms to work with them and we also had one full day dedicated to professional development. Teachers from other schools in the city were invited to join us. Nancy Du was the assistant director of the school at the time (She is now co-director with Shaun Porter) and she and Larry had the wonderful idea of translating my book into Mandarin. The Beijing Normal University Press was interested in the idea. They all believed that the teachers in China were eager for information on how to bring more inquiry and play into their classrooms.

Over the next few months, Nancy worked on the translation, occasionally asking me to clarify some points in the book. And so, at last, the Mandarin version of the book was published and went into the hands of many teachers in China!

 

One evening in New York, (morning in Hong Kong,) Larry, Nancy and I met via zoom to discuss their experience of bringing Choice Time, the book and the ideas in the book, to China. Here’s a bit of their personal  backgrounds. 

Larry Leaven, most recently the Founding Principal of the Dalton School Hong Kong, has worked in education for 32 years. He earned a degree in elementary education and in music education from Houghton College, Houghton, NY and received his master’s degree in education and a certificate of advanced study in educational administration from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. Before moving to Hong Kong in 2016, he served two years as the principal of the Beijing International Bilingual Academy in Beijing, China. Prior to that, Mr. Leaven served in various capacities in New York State, including: teacher, principal, adjunct lecturer, and assistant superintendent. In addition to his teaching and leadership roles, he has presented at international education conferences and has served on various non-profit boards.

Dr. Nancy, Lijuan, Du grew up in Beijing, and studied at the Beijing Normal University, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the University of Hong Kong. She has degrees in Pedagogy, Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language and Assessment. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Du has been working in different international school settings in Beijing and Hong Kong, and has been serving in many leadership roles. She is currently the Co-Principal of Dalton School Hong Kong. She is super passionate about education, and is a great advocate of Chinese culture, dual Language program and child-centered philosophy.

 

In Conversation: Bill Fulbrecht, Amy Binin, Merril Miceli and John Allgood – Bringing Children Into the Natural Environment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Let children touch nature because that which is untouched is unloved.”  (Emma Morris)

John Allgood, a very dedicated kindergarten teacher, observed that when he brought children  into the natural environment, they quite naturally become engaged in collaboration. Although there were still disagreements, they were of a different nature than those that took place in the classroom and children more naturally learned to resolve them. He said that the hierarchy that often exists in the playground, where students with the greatest physical facility  become dominant, was devalued when children are playing in parks and in the woods.

On Thursday, December 10, 2020, I met, via zoom, with John and three other early childhood teachers, Bill Fulbrecht, Amy Binin and Merril Miceli. All four of them have found ways to incorporate bringing children into the natural environment into the lives of their classrooms.

Here is our very informal and engaging discussion,followed with a link to Emma Morris’s TED talk, and also a link to an exciting early childhood program in China, Anjiplay.

Emma Morris’s TED talk – https://www.ted.com/talks/emma_marris_nature_is_everywhere_we_just_need_to_learn_to_see_it

Anji Play – http://www.anjiplay.com

In Conversation With Richard Lewis and Kristin Eno: Living by Wonder-The Imaginative Life of Childhood

 

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In his book “Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul,Stuart Brown writes, “Joy is our birthright, and is intrinsic to our essential design.” However, it is probably obvious to many people, now and before this devastating pandemic, that joy been put on a back burner in many classrooms around the country. Joy, as an important priority, has been taken over by the anxious drive to get young children ready for upcoming high-stakes standardized tests.

Thank goodness we have educators like Kristin Eno and Richard Lewis. They both prioritize joy, wonder, poetry, art and music when they work with children and they don’t forget about how important parents are in this equation.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, December 9, 2020 I had the delightful opportunity of taking part in a conversation with Richard and Kristin. The discussion became so exciting that we decided on making plans for a part two. But that is still in the works. For today, here is part one of Living by Wonder: The Imaginative Life of Childhood. After listening to our talk, you can view one of Kristin’s studio lessons for the preschoolers that she works with at Beginnings Nursery School at the bottom of this post.

 

A Conversation With Lella Gandini and Cathy Topal: The Gift of Discovery

I met Lella Gandini in 1996 when my husband and I were visiting Rome and staying at the American Academy . At the time, her husband, Lester Little, was the director of the Academy. On the plane trip I was reading The Hundred Languages of Children and I was so surprised when we reached the main desk of the Academy to check in and I saw Lella’s photo on a bulletin board above the receptionist’s desk. We have remained correspondents since that visit.

Amazingly, I had a second surprise visit connected with Lella. This one included Cathy. When my daughter was having a concert in Worchester, Massachusetts, I was introduced to the publisher, Wyatt Wade. He invited me, along with my daughter and son-in-law, to visit his newly restored office. When we arrived, Lella and Cathy were there waiting for me! After a tour of the office, we all went to Wyatt’s home for dinner. It was a visit that I’ll always remember.

When I came up with the idea for this new series of conversations, I immediately thought of these two inspiring women. I crossed my fingers when I invited them to participate and to my utter delight, they immediately accepted the invitation.

Lella serves as Reggio Emilia Liason in the United States for Dissemination of the Reggio Emilia Approach. The Principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach include:

  • a deep respect for the ideas of children and teachers.
  • a belief that knowledge is constructed through social interchange.
  • the value of using materials and media to express and communicate feelings, thoughts and understandings.
  • the desire to document children’s and teacher’s processes to preserve memories and sustain in-depth work.
  • the joy and growth that comes from collaborating with other teachers and with children in the search for knowledge and understanding of relationships.

    Cathy Topal and Lella Gandini took some time the morning of November 17, 2020  to talk about Beautiful Stuff and the Gift of Discovery.

To see a more in-depth demonstration of the work that Cathy and Lella have done together with Susan MacDonald, this is a must-see PowerPoint presentation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Yd7y6MssD1_q7DoUcrB–xUQXONFBsXv/view

Here is a very apropros and  entertaining video of how the artist Hanoch Piven uses beautiful stuff in his art. You might want to share this with your children. They will love it! https://youtu.be/f7bZWbzuW_I

 

 

A Conversation With Deborah Meier And Anna Allanbrook: • The Interplay of Democracy and Play in Education

 

When I began teaching in the late sixties and early seventies, I heard about the new public school in Harlem, Central Park East, and its foundation of progressive education. At the same time, I was reading Charles Silberman’s magisterial anthology, The Open Classroom Reader. These possibilities for creating schools and classrooms that honored children’s innate intelligence, desire and need for play and exploration filled me with an excitement for teaching.

Then, as the years went on, the educational landscape changed. Testing and rigid standards that didn’t take into account all that we know about children, how they develop and what they need to become creative thinkers and future adult citizens, took over what was happening in classrooms across the country.

Some, however, stayed strong and true to their ideals. Deborah Meier and Anna Allanbrook are two of the shining examples of progressive leaders in education who did not give up and who keep fighting for what they know education should stand for.

I’m honored to have had a conversation with these two noted educators and inspired thinkers. I hope you enjoy this important dialogue.

Thinking of Children in the Time of Covid

During this frightening and sad time in our history something personally disturbing happened to me. While I stayed practically locked up in my house with my husband, I saw so many people busy at their important work. We live near a hospital and in addition to the painful sound of ambulance alarms, day and night, I was so aware of all the brave people who were working in the hospital, always facing personal danger of catching the virus themselves.

Teachers were quickly learning the technology that would allow them to reach out to their students, hoping that they could soothe, assure and instruct them at the same time. Parents were working from home while simultaneously becoming home-schoolers, teaching their children how to manage often-confusing technology and helping them to stay focused on this new mode of instruction.

In my own family, my husband,  whose time had been taken up with some exhibitions of his work, was now back in his studio, totally immersed in an exciting new painting. My daughter  saw her entire year of piano concerts get cancelled one by one. After a few months, she pulled herself out of an understandably depressed state and began recording CDs, teaching students, via Zoom, as far away as Asia, and performing concerts that are being streamed on the internet. My son-in-law took on a huge project, with the help of my grandson, and built a magical, screened-in summer room in their garden. Now he’s back at work, teaching 4th grade students at P.S. 321. My grandson, who has been studying acting in London, auditioned and was given an important role in a new Netflix film about a group of teenagers who attempt to start a heavy metal band. He’s now in Portland, Oregon filming Metal Lords!

That leaves me. I seemed to be faced with a personal, existential crisis. Where is my place during this unusual time? As an early childhood consultant, focusing on exploration, play, Choice Time and inquiry, my work disappeared for now and possibly in the future. I seemed to have no constructive purpose and I felt, to put it mildly, useless.

My daughter wondered why I wasn’t writing on my blog. How could I? I don’t have an authentic voice. I’m not working with teachers or children now. I’m not parenting a young child. Why would anyone have an interest in what I would have to say?

Simone, forever wise, suggested that I interview interesting people and post the interviews on my blog. I thought about her suggestion and came up with a twist to her idea. Instead of interviews, I am going to record conversations between people who have very interesting and provocative contributions that should inspire refreshing thinking about the education of young children.

Perhaps these ideas might guide us in taking hold of education and assuring that something positive will grow out of this challenging, distressing time.

Here is the list of the upcoming blog post conversations:

Richard Lewis and Kristin EnoLiving by Wonder: The Imaginative Life of Childhood

Deborah Meier and Anna AllanbrookThe Interplay of Democracy and Play in Education

Nancy Du and Larry LeavenBringing Choice Time to China

Bill Fulbrecht, Amy Binin, John Allgood and Merril MiceliBringing Children Into the Natural Environment

Lella Gandini and Cathy TopalBeautiful Stuff: The Gift of Discovery

Dr. Peter Metz, Peter Rawitsch, Nakoley Renville and Anne Haas Dyson – What Price Do Children Pay When Play Disappears?

Christy Ziegler, Melissa Toogood, Katie Rust Brown, Sheldon Brown and Pier Imbriano – Parenting Young Children During the Pandemic

Kathy Collins, Matt Glover, Vicki Vinton and Aeriale JohnsonNurturing Young Readers and Writers During the Pandemic and Beyond