Teaching a New Curriculum in East Boston (#1)

How does classroom practice change as a result of Birth-Third work? How do children, teachers, and leaders experience these changes? Having summarized the strategies of the first five Birth-Third Alignment Partnerships in Massachusetts (Boston, Lowell, Pittsfield, Somerville, and Springfield), I am now posting an occasional series of articles describing the on-the-ground experience of implementing these strategies. I began these profiles of direct service by describing teacher professional development in Lowell’s Communities of Practice for family child care and center-based preschool teachers. Future posts will cover home visits in Pittsfield and literacy coaching in Somerville. This week I begin a series of three posts that examine the experience of implementing a new preschool curriculum from the vantage point of two teachers and the program director at the East Boston YMCA.

For this series I’m trying out a new blogging platform called Medium. When you click on the link below, a new tab will open in Medium with the first post on the East Boston YMCA. Medium provides an attractive environment for article-length posts and photos. The type is clean and big, and it’s a distraction-free place to read. There are no sidebars with links inviting you to go somewhere else. Medium also has improved notes and commenting capabilities. Click on the discreet numbers to the right of paragraphs for notes from me (like footnotes) or from other readers. You do not have to sign in to read posts, but if you sign in using your Twitter or Facebook account, you can comment on paragraphs or even sentences or words. Nothing will be posted to your account unless you want it posted. Click the plus sign (+) to the right of a paragraph (or highlight text and click the plus sign) to add comments.

I welcome your comments on the posts, and let me know what you think of Medium via comment or email.

Here is the first post:

Teaching a New Curriculum in East Boston

Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education

Beyond SubprimeBe sure not to miss this important policy brief from the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation: Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education.

The report presents a vision for early education (on page 3) and 8 overarching actions for realizing that vision:

  1. Bridge the Continuum: Streamline Systems Across the Birth-through-Third-Grade Years
  2. Upgrade Educators: Professionalize and Improve the Early Education Workforce
  3. Emphasize Families: Develop Dual-Generation Strategies for Children’s Success
  4. Intentionally Support Dual-Language Learners: Embrace Children’s Languages as Assets
  5. Rethink Standards and Assessment: Coordinate Teaching and Learning for Young Children
  6. Strengthen and Improve Accountability Systems: Promote Children’s Learning and Development
  7. Collect and Use Data Responsibly: Inform Educators and Policymakers
  8. Bring Research Closer to Policy and Practice: Use Implementation Science and Openness

New State Website on Birth-Third Policy

The Executive Office of Education has created a new website: Building the Foundation for College and Career Success for Children from Birth through Grade 3

According to the announcement,

We designed this website to achieve two goals: first, it will serve as a resource for educators from birth through postsecondary education, policymakers, municipal and state officials; legislators, community and business representatives; and other stakeholders regarding the development and implementation of exciting strategies in Massachusetts; and second, it will serve as an important tool for sharing information about our work and highlighting upcoming activities and events.

And from the website:

Massachusetts is developing a birth through grade 3 policy agenda, one that builds on our ongoing efforts to create a public education system that supports our children from birth through postsecondary education.  By creating this agenda, we will enhance the quality of educational and other services provided to children and families and also increase policy alignment and collaboration among our state education agencies – the Department of Early Education and Care, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Department of Higher Education.  Lastly, we will strengthen essential partnerships with educators, parents and families, local and state officials, legislators, community and business partners, and other members of the Commonwealth community, which will enable us to make an even stronger commitment to our children.

Check out the website for additional information on Massachusetts’ emerging Birth-Third policy agenda.

Early Learning Assessment Literacy

Early Learning Assessment Literacy

See The Early Learning Assessment Literacy Challenge at New America EdCentral for an article on the effective use of assessments in early childhood education. The article includes a number of embedded links to useful guidance documents, including Early Childhood Assessment: Implementing Effective Practice.

From the EdCentral article:

“A strong consensus among education experts supports the notion that one of the best ways to improve instructional strategies and ultimately boost outcomes for individual students is through the use of assessment-generated data. This focus on assessment and using data to drive decision-making for both accountability and instruction has resulted in a proliferation of new policies and practices. It has also encouraged development of new resources, materials, and products, as well as  sparked conversations among stakeholders about the appropriate use of assessment. In the current educational landscape, classroom teachers, school principals, district administrators, and state and federal policymakers spend significant time thinking about who, what, why, how, and when to assess.”

New Brief on Reading Proficiency Learning Network and Other Resources

Strategies for Children (SFC) has released a new brief describing the work of the Massachusetts Third Grade Reading Proficiency Learning Network: Changing the Trajectory: Communities Take Action to Increase Reading Proficiency. SFC convened a group of Massachusetts communities to engage in a strategic planning process in collaboration with Harvard literacy expert, Nonie Lesaux. This process included a robust impact analysis drawing on two tools: a Program Design Evaluation Tool and a Funding Analysis/Stability Index.

According to the brief, “After one year of engaging in this comprehensive and innovative effort, these four Massachusetts communities have:

  • Refined strategic plans;
  • Developed a comprehensive asset map of resources and outcomes;
  • Created a profile of the public and private funding supporting those resources; and
  • Determined an action plan for more effective and impactful resource allocation and coordination.”

Check out Changing the Trajectory to learn more about this important work.

Other resources of note:

The current issue of American Educator is on early childhood education. Articles include:

  • The Magic of Words: Teaching Vocabulary in the Early Childhood Classroom
  • Starting off Strong: The Importance of Early Learning
  • Taken for Granted: Why Curriculum Content Is Like Oxygen

Vicky Shippers makes the case for 0-3 programs in an Education Week commentary, “Waiting Until Pre-K is Too Little, Too Late.”

NationSwell has a summary of early education policy and funding issues, “Ask the Experts: How Can We Fix Early Childhood Education?”

“The first eight years of life are crucial to academic success. So why aren’t early education programs a priority in the U.S.? NationSwell asks the experts.”

Upcoming Learning Hub posts:

  • Implementing a new curriculum in East Boston
  • Tagging along on home visits in Pittsfield
  • Literacy coaching in Somerville: a teacher’s experience

The Work of Kindergarten Readiness in Review

Somerville Buildings 2

Tufts intern Jess Petraglia has compiled an impressive booklet documenting the learning of Somerville’s Kindergarten Readiness Group over the last 18 months: Somerville Kindergarten Readiness Booklet_2013-14.

The Kindergarten Readiness Group is a professional learning community of community-based and public school early childhood educators. The booklet includes Somerville’s kindergarten transition form and visual summaries of the following topics:

  • Play in the Early Childhood Classroom
  • Connecting Play-Based Learning and the Standards
  • Cross-Classroom Visits
  • Collaborating to Create Curriculum

The Collaborating to Create Curriculum section provides guidance on aligning activities, developmental domains, and standards for four high-quality picture books:

  • The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
  • Oscar and the Snail by Geoff Waring
  • Zero by Kathryn Otoshi
  • Do You Have a Hat? by Eileen Spinelli

Congrats to Jess and the Kindergarten Readiness Group.