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.


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