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Common Core: What do I need to know as an early childhood educator?

The Common Core is a set of academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA) which are learning goals that describe what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade, for K-12 education. The intent of these common standards is to establish consistent learning benchmarks for all children across the country, to increase the likelihood that students, regardless of the state in which they live, graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life. Currently, forty-five states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have adopted the Common Core. Find more information on the Common Core at: http://www.corestandards.org.

Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Direct Child Assessment: Are they compatible?

I am asked often, “Is it a violation of developmentally appropriate practice to ask a preschool-age child questions about his/her knowledge in a testing situation?”

This question may be common because direct child assessment can have a negative connotation for young children. Some testing situations are: time-intensive, which makes them uncomfortable; conducted by professionals who may not have a lot of experience working with young children; and, somewhat unnatural in that many young children do not often find themselves sitting one-on-one with an adult in a structured setting. But, what if testing is conducted in a manner that addresses these concerns?

What are the keys to successfully implementing RTI in early childhood classroom settings?

There are some basics that need to be in place to implement a model of Response to Intervention (RTI) in an early childhood classroom. The first is to be clear on the goals and intentions of implementing the model. What is your intended outcome for the students in your class? You might answer, “I want all of the children in my classroom to be on track for Kindergarten entry by the end of the preschool year.”

Iowa schools to use Univ of Minn-developed early literacy and reading assessment tools

In partnership with Early Learning Labs, the University of Minnesota has signed an agreement with the Iowa Department of Education to provide universal screening and progress monitoring assessments for reading achievement from pre-kindergarten through grade six. As part of the agreement, two sets of assessment tools developed by U of M researchers, one for preschool programs and another for elementary grades, will be implemented by Iowa teachers statewide starting in the 2013-2014 academic school year.

Iowa schools to use Univ of Minn-developed early literacy and reading assessment tools

In partnership with Early Learning Labs, the University of Minnesota has signed an agreement with the Iowa Department of Education to provide universal screening and progress monitoring assessments for reading achievement from pre-kindergarten through grade six. As part of the agreement, two sets of assessment tools developed by U of M researchers, one for preschool programs and another for elementary grades, will be implemented by Iowa teachers statewide starting in the 2013-2014 academic school year.

How do I build an effective curriculum on a budget?

with special contribution from Marcia Reed, Lead ECSE teacher of Mounds View Public Schools

In an age of increased accountability and expectations, early childhood programs, school districts and other early care and education settings are often inspired to employ best-practices and high-quality interventions to meet the needs of their students. Research findings have contributed to resources for early childhood professionals to access such practices, such as the What Works Clearinghouse. However, contrary to popular opinion, there isn’t necessarily a correlation between quality and cost. While it’s true that there are some exceptionally well-constructed measurement tools, curricula or intervention that may be worth their weight in gold, there seem to be just as many poorly designed or ineffective measurement tools, curricula or intervention that don’t measure up.

What is early numeracy and why is it so important?

Geometry. Algebra. Measurement. Arithmetic. These terms all represent a collection of skills often categorized in research literature as mathematics. However, findings supporting mathematics generally reference performance of elementary students through adults. Recent research demonstrates increasing attention to the development of early numeracy, or the early skills within a developmental continuum that function as precursors and prerequisites to mathematics.

Why do we assess preschool children?

The title of this article is “Why do we assess preschool children?” Ironically, this question represents the central tenet of what should guide our thinking when approaching assessment of young children. Very young children are exposed to a variety of assessments, from the height and weight measurements they receive at every well-child check-up, to intensive diagnostic developmental assessments. What needs to be understood and very clear is that before a child experiences an assessment interaction, those conducting the assessment must be certain of the purpose of the assessment and how information from the assessment will be used.

How do I know if my classroom practices are working?

Teaching young children is, without question, a tough job! Preschool classrooms often have students who differ in age and developmental level – some kids have already mastered all the preschool skills and competencies we think will help them in kindergarten, and others have a long ways to go before “school success” is a likely outcome. Earlier posts in this blog series have discussed why we assess kids and what goals we hold for kindergarten readiness. But how can we be confident that the services we provide are actually helping the children we teach and the families we serve?

What does kindergarten readiness really mean?

During the first few months of the academic year many teachers and early educators are already starting to think about kindergarten. Kindergarten readiness, that is. Educators often ask themselves questions like, “Will my students be prepared for kindergarten?”, “How do I intervene with students who may need supplemental intervention to be ready for kindergarten?” and “Are my students on track to be successful in Kindergarten?” To address these types of questions, though, it’s important to understand what kindergarten readiness is, why it’s important, and how assessment can contribute to evaluating kindergarten readiness.