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The Little Makerspace that Could

Student in maker space using two 3-D printer penThe Maker Movement has been gaining momentum over the past 14 years with the publication of MAKE magazine in 2005 and the first Maker Faire sponsored by John Dougherty. The book titled Invent to Learn, 2nd Ed.  (2019) has become what is known as the Maker’s Movement Bible. Written by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager, the book goes into detail about how teachers and students can let loose their creativity in a myriad of ways if they are provided with space and materials to do so. 

There have always been “makers” who used their hands, brains, and hearts to invent and produce the things that people use for work and play. Classrooms have long been known as places where students could be caught making things on any given day. Why the hype about maker spaces, then?

Perhaps it has to do with the disconnect that appears to have occurred due to the technology revolution that has moved learning through exploring with material objects to learning from screens. On our small campus in Northeast Ohio, we have seen a constant move toward emptying the library of books and journals in favor of digital texts. Getting a hard copy of a textbook from publishing companies is becoming more of a challenge as well. Students on all levels rely more on Google than library stacks to conduct their research. It may be that the pendulum, as it always does, is beginning to swing the other way, and humans are craving the need to get back to hands-on learning that can leave printing ink on your hands, and clay under your finger nails.

Educators help dual-language learners through the IMPACT-PD grant

Teacher pointing at words on blackboardThe IMPACT-PD grant—Improving Preschoolers’ Acquisition of Language through Coaching Teachers and Professional Development—is playing an integral role in providing preschool educators the tools they need to help their students develop proficiency in English as a second language.

The United States Department of Education National Professional grant, funded by the Office of English Language Acquisition, aims to provide educators with professional development opportunities for improving instruction of dual-language learners in preschool.

The IMPACT-PD program, a partnership between the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, focuses on four goals to further training and education to children learning English early in life:

JSU Creates Teacher Prep Program with Southern Union State Community College

JSU and Southern Union State Community College are joining force
JSU and Southern Union State Community College are joining forces to provide a smoother route to an early childhood or elementary education degree through the newly established Teacher Prep program.

Teacher Prep creates opportunities for Southern Union students to seamlessly enter JSU’s School of Education through concurrent enrollment. Students are able to earn college credit simultaneously at the community college and university level, placing students on a quicker and more cost-effective pathway to receiving an associate’s degree and a

Tips From PSU on Navigating an Inclusive Educator Prep Program

Representatives from PSUAs the student population has diversified so has our understanding of the general education classroom, specifically who we serve in an inclusive setting. Our students with special education services are learning the majority of their grade level curriculum in general education classrooms. This paradigm shift requires effective collaboration between service providers and teachers as well as a deep understanding and application of differentiation to meet the needs of all students.

For years, the two fields of general education and special education have been siloed. Persistence and partnership is how 

Respond to the Needs of Immediate Communities, Advises BGSU

Teacher in front of classroom of studentsThe key to developing the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) dual licensure program is reaching out to the local area to ensure the program is built with the local needs at the forefront. “The local data is how the university can drive change,” recalls a district leader. Faculty also believe collaboration with the district is central to their mission and their success with candidates. Making connections with the field office and the supervising teachers ensured faculty could relate what candidates were seeing in the field to what they were learning in their coursework.

University systems must also be taken into consideration, especially when working across colleges and across departments. Two questions drove the BGSU program leadership as they developed their dual licensure program: What is best for our students in this program? An what is best for this program? One significant concern was finding strong clinical placements for each teacher candidate. The success of a program with hundreds of teacher candidates rested with strong clinical partnerships.

Finally, serving all students that walk into the classroom was the priority when developing the dual licensure program at BGSU. “This wasn’t an experiment, this is the way BGSU does business,” reflected a faculty member. It was a choice to move away from single licensure that, over time, changes the makeup of the district teaching population, which is why district leaders were involved at every step in the program development.

To learn more, watch the Advice to Others video highlighting BGSU’s Models of Inclusive Clinical Teacher Preparation, part of AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series.

Young scientists in App State’s Lucy Brock School make learning visible

This articleYoung children in lab coats taking a science course and photo originally appeared in Appalachian Today and are reprinted with permission.

It began with a curiosity of wanting to know more about the human body and culminated with a poster presentation. No, this is not a research project designed by one of Appalachian State University’s senior science majors. The 3D project was completed by some of the university’s youngest Mountaineers at the Lucy Brock Child Development Lab School (LBCDLS).

In late June, the LBCDLS preschool class shared with Appalachian faculty, staff, students and practicum students, as well as family and friends, the knowledge they gained about the human body through the project. Some examples of what they shared:

  • A song they wrote with Emily Wills ’19, a graduate student in Appalachian’s master’s music therapy program from Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Life-size tracings of their own bodies, which included their drawings of bones and organs.
  • A large, mixed media sculpture of the human body consisting of recycled materials, which was created by the class as a collaborative project.

The health science project provided a reciprocal learning opportunity — broadening the inquiring minds of young scientists while giving Appalachian’s budding educators a front-row seat from which to study 

Students Discuss the Value of PSU’s Secondary Dual Education Program

PSU students reflecting on their experienceA number of students in Portland State University’s (PSU) Secondary Dual Education Program (SPED) recently reflected on advice they were given before entering the graduate program. “I always want more education than less,” one teacher candidate was advised by a mentor in the field of medicine. The candidate now looks back on her experience in the program with appreciation. “I was ready. I had the resources. I had been in the classroom for two years; it felt natural. I didn’t have the same level of trepidation as some of my first year friends.”

The students who complete the PSU program graduate with a dual endorsement in a secondary education content area and special education. Another candidate reflected on the importance of serving every student in the classroom. His decision to pursue a two-year graduate program in secondary English and special education was an obvious one; it ensured he would be prepared to meet the needs of all students with a range of abilities.

The benefit of being profession-ready is not only valued by the teacher candidates. High school students also note the tremendous advantage they have when a teacher who understands the unique needs of students with IEPs is leading the classroom. In particular, college access traditionally has been stymied for students with significant disabilities. However, one high school student reflected that she has a mentor in her teacher, someone who has guided her toward college-ready curriculum. Learning from their students is another area of mutual benefit expressed by the candidates. The necessity to meet the needs of each student in the classroom is universally acknowledged by candidates, students, and administrators.

To learn more, view the What’s in it for me? video highlighting PSU’s Secondary Dual Education program, part of AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series.

BGSU Inclusive Early Childhood Program Builds Strong Partnerships with Local Schools

Teacher working with two young girls in classroom. Developing and sustaining partnerships with local school districts are critical to the success of the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Inclusive Early Childhood (IEC) program. Superintendents who work with BGSU assert that all parties need to understand the challenges each school district and university face and must be willing to bridge the gap between research and clinical practice together. BGSU’s teacher candidates are deployed for clinical practice in special education at local schools including in rural areas.

“One of the pieces that works really well for us is that all of the people working in the education department at the university are parents themselves of students in our district so there’s a vested interest,” said Francis Scruci, superintendent of Bowling Green City Schools. “I think there’s a mutual respect. We certainly respect what the university does and I think they respect what we’re trying to do at the K-12 level and we understand the challenges that both of us face. We are willing to bridge that gap and try to help each other become successful.”

BGSU’s overall objective is to prepare graduates of the IEC program to teach young children with and without disabilities in inclusive settings. The IEC program blends the best practices from early childhood education with early childhood special education. It addresses the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to meet the needs of each child. Graduates of the program are prepared to provide differentiated, evidence-based instruction to young children from birth through grade 3. 

To learn more, watch the Developing and Sustaining Partnerships video highlighting BGSU’s Models of Inclusive Clinical Teacher Preparation, part of AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series.

PSU Partners with Schools to Advance Inclusive Education

Teacher working in classroom with students

One of the key components of Portland State University’s (PSU) Secondary Dual Education Program is its success in developing and sustaining partnerships with local school districts.

Marvin Lynn, dean of the Graduate School of Education at PSU, shares how the program prepares secondary education teacher candidates to bring content knowledge and “the knowledge that special education teachers have to bare about the learning process and about how to work with these unique populations” to local schools.

Educators like Ana Capac, a special education teacher at Evergreen High School, specifically ask for student teachers from the PSU program because of the mindsets and approaches they bring to the classroom and community. “It is really important that I’m supporting both the student teachers I’m working with on how they are developing this mindset of inclusion, supporting all students, and working within the school to support their colleagues as well,” says Capac.

Andrew Gilford, assistant principal at Clackamas High School, emphasizes this culture shift to more collegial relationships where the PSU teacher candidates and the classroom teachers “speak the same language” and can work together to serve students with disabilities and improve learning outcomes. “Coming from this kind of program and this kind of background, you are immediately an advocate,” adds Rob Parness, special education teacher and former academic coach at Tigard High School.

In discussing the culture shift, Will Parnell, curriculum and instruction department chair at PSU, emphasizes that the program was built based on relationships with the community. “There were local districts that were saying ‘we want special ed teachers that can support students in general ed classrooms’ but they found out that teacher prep programs were not focused on that,” says Susan Bert, assistant professor of practice, special education at PSU.  “So there was a need.”

To learn more, view the Developing and Sustaining Partnerships video featuring PSU’s Secondary Dual Education program.

BGSU Inclusive Models Benefit Early Childhood Teachers and Students

Children in an elementary classroom

The Dual Licensure component of the Inclusive Early Childhood Program at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) supports teachers by improving their teaching craft and ensuring that teachers’ instructions remain relevant to their students.

Brenda Gift, the director of student services at Educational Services Center of Lake Erie West, applauds the program for providing high quality teachers who are eager to work in integrated classrooms. She further asserts that school districts are more likely to hire BGSU teacher candidates because of their dual licensure. Not only does the dual licensure indicate that teacher candidates can support all students, but it makes them marketable and competitive for hiring.

Some of the mentor teachers in partner school districts who support BGSU teacher candidates are BGSU alumni. Despite the responsibilities of being a classroom teacher, they value mentoring BGSU teacher candidates because they know how important it is to have an effective and supportive host teacher. The early childhood students benefit from teacher candidates because it provides a smaller teacher-to-student ratio. Teacher candidates agree that having proper training for inclusive education benefits them and the students they teach, assuring they are ready to instruct all learners once they enter the classroom.

To learn more, watch the What’s In It for Me? video highlighting BGSU’s Models of Inclusive Clinical Teacher Preparation, part of AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series.

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