DU to partner with a local school district

 

DENVER – The Morgridge College of Education (MCE) at the University of Denver is pleased to announce three faculty members have received prestigious U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES) grants to fund their research in education and to develop solutions that improve school readiness and academic achievement.

 

MCE’s Marsico Institute of Early Learning co-directors Julie Sarama, Ph.D., and Douglas H. Clements, Ph.D., Principal and Co-Principal Investigator, have been funded to evaluate the comprehensive interdisciplinary curriculum Connect4Learning (C4L), previously developed by Sarama and Clements through National Science Foundation (NSF) funding with colleagues Drs. Nell Duke, Kim Brenneman, and Mary Louise Hemmeter. The $3,295,431 IES grant, “Evaluating an Interdisciplinary Preschool Curriculum” will be conducted over four years in collaboration with a yet to be decided local school district.

 

Although the importance of all young children gaining competence in four core curricular domains—social-emotional, language and literacy, mathematics, and science—is well established, research results on the efficacy of comprehensive curricula are dismal, with no measurable effects in comparative studies and near zero effect sizes for the most commonly-used preschool curricula. C4L builds upon and integrates empirically-tested practices, connecting the four domains to achieve more than the sum of its parts. C4L seamlessly weaves together child-centered, play-based and teacher-directed intentional education, placing math and science at the core to build sequences of topics that are grounded in empirically-proven learning trajectories. Literacy and social-emotional skills develop in the context of these sequences, as well as through focused lessons. With this new IES grant, Sarama and Clements will be able to evaluate and possibly improve C4L.

 

Additionally, Garrett Roberts, Ph.D., has been awarded a $499,311 four-year IES Early Career Development and Mentoring Grant. Roberts will serve as the Principal Investigator and Phil Strain, Ph.D., of MCE’s Positive Early Learning Experiences (PELE) Center, will serve as the primary mentor. The goal of the grant is to develop a reading program with behavioral supports to improve reading outcomes for students with reading disabilities and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in upper elementary grades.

 

“Based on the importance of both reading and student engagement in lifelong positive outcomes, this is a really exciting opportunity to directly improve outcomes for students in need of extra support,” said Roberts.

 

Both grants bring new possibilities in research opportunities to students at MCE and have been funded, in whole, by the Institute of Educational Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

 

About DU’s Morgridge College of Education (MCE): MCE is a graduate college of education dedicated to creating positive change by unleashing the power of learning. The college infuses social justice, diversity and inclusion across its 23 advanced degrees in higher education, teacher preparation, public policy, special education, counseling psychology, research methods, and information science.

About the The Institute of Education Sciences (IES): IES is the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Independent and non-partisan, its mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public. IES conducts six broad types of work that addresses school readiness and education from infancy through adulthood and includes special populations such as English Learners and students with disabilities.

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.

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.


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