For years the Collaborative has been expanding their efforts in cities, states, and countries outside of Chicago. In 2015 one such effort took the team to Hawaii, where a partnership with the Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) and the Chaminde University of Honolulu allowed 25 preschool teachers to learn approaches and content designed by Erikson instructors.
Funded by the Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation of Honolulu in collaboration with Erikson’s Department of Continuing Education, the first year of the project consisted of two visits and four synchronous, virtual learning labs using the LifeSize Icon camera system, technology that uses high-definition video and sound to make live distance learning a seamless experience.
We have been able to look at growing patterns in a different way throughout our classroom day.
Collaborative instructors Donna Johnson and Lisa Ginet led the cohort of teachers in learning labs that explored such concepts as sets, number sense, operations, pattern, measurement, and data. In December teachers presented posters that demonstrated their learning over the course of the year. Poster presentations included “Look Who’s Here Today,” in which an attendance routine was used in multiple ways to accentuate concepts such as sets, operations, and sorting.
Another poster presentation centered on the children’s book A Frog in the Bog. The classrooms engaged in an activity involving frogs and the growing number of bugs they were eating, making sure to discuss what changes were taking place along the way. After the activity, teachers reflected on what worked and didn’t work and decided to adjust the activity in order to “help the 3-year-old class to engage and understand.” Similar observations were made and used by another group to adapt an activity built around The Napping House.
“We have noticed that we have been intentionally looking for ways to bring out patterns and math in general within stories and songs,” highlighted one poster, “because we are more aware of different strategies to teach math with children. We have been able to look at growing patterns in a different way throughout our classroom day.”
A number of teachers shared how the training from the Collaborative helped them overcome their fear of math and impacted their math understanding and ultimately their own practice. “What I have experienced these past months,” one teacher participant said, “has been so enlightening. I have been able to see our children grow in understanding.”
Beginning in January of 2016, the second year of the project will explore similar concepts with a new cohort of teachers. Together with the Center for Early Education and Development and the research-based professional development that Erikson provides, children in Hawaii are enjoying a more thoughtful and in-depth exploration of mathematics.