LEWISVILLE, N.C. – Kaplan Early Learning Company announced today the launch of an innovative approach to early childhood education that puts math and science at the forefront of learning. Connect4Learning: The Pre-K Curriculum is a research-based, interdisciplinary approach to learning that was developed by nationally recognized experts in early childhood education and through funding from the National Science Foundation.

The Connect4Learning (C4L) curriculum, available January, is exclusively sold through Kaplan Early Learning Company. A preview of the curriculum and its components will be revealed at the National Association for the Education of Young Children conference on November 18. Curriculum principal investigators are Julie Sarama, PhD, University of Denver; Kimberly Brenneman, PhD, Heising-Simons Foundation; Douglas H. Clements, PhD, University of Denver; Nell K. Duke, EdD, University of Michigan; and Mary Louise Hemmeter, PhD, Vanderbilt University.

After years of research and classroom testing, C4L’s principal investigators designed the curriculum to address growing concerns that the majority of Pre-K instructional time is not balanced among literacy, science, math, and social-emotional domains. One study found that a literacy-based curriculum teaches only 58 seconds of mathematics instruction in a 6-hour day.* Limited opportunities for early math and science learning are factors that can contribute to the United States falling behind other countries in math and science proficiency**.

The C4L prekindergarten curriculum includes 6 units that address 140 measurable learning objectives and support children’s development of 10 fundamental cognitive processes. The learning objectives are fully aligned with the new Head Start Outcomes Framework and state early learning standards. C4L seamlessly integrates child-centered activities with teacher-led instruction. With its project-based approach and rich vocabulary use, C4L aligns with recommended practices to support dual-language learners and children from under-resourced communities. Fundamental to the curriculum is the importance of play-based learning:

Research tells us that children naturally explore and engage with content areas such as mathematics during free play,” says Clements. “So we know that, when they are playing, they are acting out the foundations of their lessons from the classroom.”

Results from pilot programs report that children achieve their learning goals beyond expectations, and teachers and parents have been surprised at how effectively the curriculum improves the children’s performances across all domains.

The C4L curriculum also includes:

  • Pre-K Teacher’s Handbook
  • Director’s Handbook for Pre-K or Principal’s Handbook for Pre-K
  • Pre-K Kit
  • Classroom Book Set
  • Formative Assessments
  • Online Portal, including how-to videos, professional development offerings, classroom management tools, and math games

*Farran, Lipsey, Watson, & Hurley, 2007.

** Ginsburg, Cooke, Leinwand, Noell, & Pollock, 2005

 

About Kaplan Early Learning Company

Kaplan Early Learning Company is based in Lewisville, North Carolina, and provides products and services that enhance children’s learning. Since 1968, the company has delivered innovative products and services that support educators and caregivers worldwide in the creation of quality learning environments.

Dr. Julie Sarama, the Morgridge College of Education’s Kennedy Endowed Chair and Curriculum and Instruction professor, will be joining the Design for Impact in Early Childhood Education Initiative, funded by New Profit and its Early Learning Fund. Led by Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, former director of the Office of Head Start, this project brings together a network of scholars, program and policy leaders, communities, and support organizations to develop, implement, and evaluate variants of a comprehensive design for an early education program for three to four year olds. The goal of this initiative is to develop and test effective, adaptable, and holistic support models for early education programs that are based on contemporary evidence. The pilot program is scheduled to launch in 2016.

Dr. Sarama is a leading curriculum designer for early childhood education, particularly for mathematics instruction. She is the co-creator of the pre-K math curriculum, Building Blocks, Building Blocks Learning Trajectories (BBLT)—a teaching tool for early math educators—and the forthcoming Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories (LT2), a web application that updates BBLT to reach an even wider audience.

Doctors Julie Sarama and Doug Clements, the Morgridge College of Education’s Kennedy Endowed Chairs and Curriculum and Instruction professors, as well as Dr. Heather Ryan, Library and Information Science assistant professor, will present at the University of Denver’s Pioneer Symposium on September 25-26. During this two-day event, DU accomplished alumni and distinguished professors will present lectures and host panels and keynote speakers who will discuss a range of critical issues.

Doctors Sarama and Clements will lead a session entitled “The Surprising Importance of Early Math,” where they will discuss five research findings about early mathematics: its predictive power, children’s math potential, educators’ understanding of that potential, the need for interventions, and what we know about effective interventions.

Dr. Ryan’s session, “Preserving Our Digital Cultural Heritage” will address new challenges in maintaining access to our digital cultural heritage over the long term, and the “digital dark age.”

The Pioneer Symposium features a wide array of topics, including “The Right to Health in Practice: Lessons and Challenges,” “Film as Religion,” “Mental Illness and the Courts: Myths, Challenges, and… Hope?” among many others. DU’s Chancellor Rebecca Chopp will kick off the event during a welcome luncheon and panel discussion on September 25. View the full event schedule here.

The Pioneer Symposium is in its eighth year and open to everyone–alumni, parents, friends, and students of the University.

EVENT DETAILS:

Date: Friday, September 25 through Saturday, September 26, 2015
Time: 10 am to 6pm on Friday and 8 am to 2 pm on Saturday
Location:
The University of Denver
2199 S. University Boulevard
Denver, CO 80208
Cost: $40 fee covers all sessions and lunches on Friday and Saturday

MCE’s Drs. Doug Clements and Julie Sarama, have been awarded a $3.5 million grant to study learning trajectories in early childhood mathematics instruction. Drs. Clements and Sarama, both Kennedy Endowed Chairs at the Kennedy Institute for Educational Success, have been funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences for their research. The project, which evaluates the effect of learning trajectories used in early childhood mathematics instruction, looks specifically at whether learning trajectories are better than other approaches in the support of young children’s learning.

Drs. Sarama and Clements will be working with colleagues Art Baroody and David Purpura, conducting research out of the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy and the Kennedy Institute. By conducting eight experiments in local schools, they will investigate the efficacy of learning trajectories. Their results will impact the ways in which learning trajectories are used across a variety of subject fields, but the implications for mathematics is particularly important. Mathematics is a strong predictor of later school success in mathematics, but also for overall school achievement, graduation, and even college entry.

Doctors Julie Sarama and Doug Clements’ pre-K math curriculum, Building Blocks, is being implemented throughout New York City, following successful results seen in Boston, Buffalo, and Nashville. This roll out is part of the New York City Department of Education initiative, “NYC Pre-K Explore,” which also promotes improved literacy and science programs. Deputy Chancellor, Josh Wallack, expects the Building Blocks curriculum will be used by 13,500 children in 750 district and community-based classrooms by fall 2015, and by the vast majority of New York City children within the next three years.

Early math skills are seen as a strong predictor of success in school and later in life; however, preschools across the country tend to ignore anything beyond basic counting games. Dr. Clements says that many preschool teachers aren’t comfortable with numbers because they went through the U.S. education system, which “is just not very good about teaching math and making it fascinating.”

With the implementation of the Building Blocks curriculum, preschool teachers will have the opportunity to use puzzles, games, art projects, and songs to help children learn more about numbers, shapes, and patterns. Those who volunteer to adopt Building Blocks will receive the books, related games, seven days of training, and coaching for one year to help facilitate successful outcomes.

If you have a Wall Street Journal account, you can read more about the New York City Building Blocks implementation here.

 

Morgridge Curriculum and Instruction professors and Kennedy Institute staff, Dr. Julie Sarama and Dr. Doug Clements, are a part of a team working to advance math and science skills in early childhood learning. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Sarama and Dr. Clements have developed the Connect4Learning (C4L) curriculum. Through C4L, preschool students are getting the opportunity to spend more time engaging in fun activities that promote science and math. C4L aims to educate pre-K students with a holistic approach that integrates academics, social and emotional development, and play in the classroom.  A key element to their research is video analysis of the program in action; this allows for program growth and provides ways to create better support for diverse student bodies.

Dr. Sarama and Dr. Clement’s work on C4L has been showcased in a new Science Nation video created by NSF. The video features their work at the All Souls School in Englewood, CO, which has adopted the C4L project. Through the use of sea creatures, pre-K students at All Souls School are learning their numbers and shapes. The highly engaging activities not only promote science and math-based learning, but are also fun for the students.

The C4L author team includes experts in all four domains. Nell K. Duke is a professor of literacy, language, and culture and a faculty affiliate in the combined program in education and psychology at the University of Michigan. She studies early literacy development, particularly among children living in poverty. Kimberly Brenneman is Program Officer for Education at the Heising-Simons Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, Kimberly was research faculty at Rutgers University’s National Institute for Early Education Research where she led projects focused on curricular and instructional practices to foster science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning for young children in school and home settings. Mary Louise Hemmeter is a professor in the Department of Special Education at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and is a co-faculty director of the Susan Gray School for Children. She studies professional development, strategies for preventing and addressing challenging behavior, and instructional approaches for young children with disabilities.

The University of Denver Morgridge College of Education was well represented at the 2015 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting. This year’s AERA meeting was held April 16-20, in Chicago, IL, with the theme: Toward Justice—Culture, Language, and Heritage in Education Research and Praxis.

With faculty from Child, Family, and School Psychology (CFSP), Higher Education (HED), and Curriculum Studies and Teaching (CST), as well as HED doctoral student Kristin Deal and Project Director at the Kennedy Institute for Educational Success, Doug Van Dine, at the conference, MCE made a great impression on Chicago.  Below is a list of the MCE faculty presentations:

HED Presentations:

  • Weaving Scholarship and Policy Making to Promote Inclusive Excellence in Traditionally White Higher Education Institutions Dr. Frank Tuitt, Kristin Deal, et al.

 CI Presentations:

  • Black Girls and School Discipline: The Complexities of Being Overrepresented and Understudied Nicole M. Joseph, et al.
  • Blacks’ Mathematics Education before Brown: An Examination of Mathematics Curriculum in Industrial Schools in the Segregated South, 1854 – 1954 — Nicole M. Joseph
  • Which kindergarten Common Core domains are most predictive of later mathematics achievement — Dr. Douglas H. Clements, Dr. Julie Sarama, et al.

CFSP Presentation:

  • Preschool Teachers’ Perceptions of Shared Book Reading Strategies that Promote Content Vocabulary Learning in DLL Children Sharolyn D. Pollard-Durodola, et al.

Morgridge College of Education faculty member, Dr. Douglas Clements, sat down with NPR Morning Edition to discuss Why Math Might be the Secret to School Success. Across the country, enhancing the education of young children has been a major area of focus from academia to politics. This podcast focuses on Building Blocks, a math curriculum developed by Dr. Clements and Dr. Julie Sarama.Currently, in New York City, a $25 million study is collecting evidence on ways to effectively raise educational outcomes for children in poverty. Building Blocks is one math curriculum being tested in the study. Dr. Clements and Dr. Sarama believe that math may be key to increasing educational outcomes.

The NPR Morning Edition podcast was released a day prior to the December 10, 2014, White House Summit on Early Childhood Education. Morgridge faculty are at the forefront of the conversation of early childhood learning. Their work is pushing the envelope on how teachers engage and promote educational outcomes for future generations.


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