29 Dec

Bam!Radio: Teaching Students Who Face Adversity Beyond Your Experience

Rae Pica with Sara Langworthy, Ross A. Thompson, Heidi Veal

picHow do you build relationships with students who face adversity  that extend beyond anything you’ve experienced.  How can your bridge the reality gap?  Our guests provide a useful road map.

Follow: @bamradionetwork @raepica1 @DrLangworthy @vealheidi @RedleafPress

#edchat #edreform #ece #earlyed #AskingWhatIf


This post was created by Bam! Radio and used with permission

28 Dec



Carlson,Stephanie_hsWhat researchers call “executive function” and most parents call “self-control” encompasses everything from paying attention in class to resisting the impulse to punch someone who gets in your space to managing frustration with a difficult project. However it shows up in daily life, executive function is key to school success and positive relationships. So how does executive function develop in children and what role do we play as parents in promoting good executive function? Dr. Stephanie Carlson, professor in the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development (College of Education and Human Development), has been studying this important aspect of child development and brings helpful insights and practical tips to her discussion with Marti and Erin in this week’s Mom Enough show. TUNE IN HERE!

Whatever the ages of your children, what examples do you see of their growing “executive function” or self-control? In what situations do your children seem to lack (or struggle with) self-control? Based on what you heard in this Mom Enough discussion, describe two or three things you could do to support your children’s development of executive function. Comment/Reply below.


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24 Dec

TBT: Language/Literacy Activity Ideas

This language post is a throw-back of mine from January 2009.6ab5ab17881c674bd1a45087566e73de

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for simple activity ideas for children. It’s important to make sure that they are developmentally appropriate and safe. (Ex: Marbles would not be a developmentally appropriate activity for infants/toddlers). The activities should also be educational in some way. What’s the purpose of the activity? What will the child learn or ‘get’ from completing the activity. Of course, the activity should be FUN and enjoyable for the child as well.

Today, I’m going to focus on language/literacy activities for preschoolers. These are quick and easy activities that don’t require a lot of extras. Use a box lid (shoe or larger) to create a writing slate. The child can add a bit of salt or sand into the lid. (You can reinforce edges with ducktape/booktape, if desired) Make sure he/she pours in enough to cover the bottom of the lid. The child can then write their name, draw shapes, and letters in the salt/sand. The child can gently shake the lid side to side to ‘erase’ their work and begin again.

Another fun activity is called Add-On. It usually works best as a one-on-one activity. You’ll need a tablet and pencil. Draw simple objects with obvious missing parts. Encourage the child to add on the missing part. (Ex: Rectangle with one side missing, Car with no wheels)

Here’s a simple writing activity using page protectors and crayons. Write child’s name on piece of paper. Put paper in page protector. Encourage child to trace name with crayon. Using a cloth, etc. child can erase crayon name and begin again.

What simple DIY language/literacy activities for preschoolers do you use? Comment/Reply below.

22 Dec

Another Semester Down…Almost

grading papersThe end of the semester has come. As I grade through the seemingly never-ending pile of papers, I reflect. How did the students respond to the textbook and certain activities this semester? How engaged did they seem during class? I consider the success level on student assignments and how that success was determined. Should I modify the assignment? The rubric? Do I allow for students to “show what they know” in a variety of ways, depending on their personal preferences and learning styles? Although the semester is over for students, my learning continues.

In fact, I learn quite a bit each semester. Did that new approach produce the desired results? Was that structure a headache or worth it? Were there student needs I was unprepared for? How can I better set each student up for success, while still allowing them to meet high standards?

One of my favorite reflection tools at the end of the semester is the exit ticket. Each student completes one, whether in a face-to-face or online course, before they leave the course. It’s their final task. The exit ticket provides me with student insight for the course but also assists me in learning more about each student. Although I modify it slightly every semester, here’s what the exit ticket entails:

When answering the following, reflect on the entire course.

  • Top 10 takeaways
  • Favorite aspect or activity
  • Talk about the textbook
  • Syllabus assessment
  • Personal growth/new insights
  • Do over- what is something you’d do differently?
  • Greatest achievement
  • Anything else you’d like me to know…

Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to semester break like the next person, but I also recognize the importance of reflecting during those final hours. In fact, this is a crucial step in reflective practice. According to Educational Psychologist, Dr. Kenneth Wolf, “Reflection is what allows us to learn from our experiences: it is an assessment of where we have been and where we want to go next.”

After the final grade has been entered, I will take a break to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. This short break provides me with a much needed breather so that I can return next week, ready to apply what I’ve learned and move forward in planning the next semester.

What tools do you use for self-reflection regarding your teaching practice? Comment/Reply below.

21 Dec




Kurcinka,Mary Sheedy_book spiritedLet’s face it; some children have us walking on eggshells. They get rattled when something interferes with their usual routine. If we try to rush them out the door in the morning – or if they’ve missed a couple hours of sleep – they may go into a complete meltdown. Parent educator and author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka calls these children “spirited” and, in her popular book, Raising Your Spirited Child (just released in its 3rd edition), helps us understand what’s going on in the brains and bodies of these children. In this week’s Mom Enough show, Mary offers practical, concrete tips for helping a spirited child adapt and thrive. Marti & Erin have some stories and insights about the spirited children in their own family, too! TUNE IN HERE

How does this week’s guest, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, define what she calls the “spirited child”? Do you have or know a child who fits that profile? What in this Mom Enough discussion helped you better understand that child’s behavior and think about what you can do to help that spirited child (and those around him or her) be more comfortable and adaptable? Comment below. For Mary’s resources, click here.


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20 Dec

Bam! Radio: Common Core

Squeezing Social-Emotional Learning into the Common Core

Rae Pica with Maurice J. Elias, Ed Dunkelblau, Melanie Link Taylor, Jason Flom


Our guests argue that social and emotional learning must precede numeracy and literacy. Tune in as we talk about how teachers can find ways to balance these needs in the current educational climate. TUNE IN HERE.

Follow:  @mzteach @JasonFlom @bodymindchild @bamradionetwork

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18 Dec

Divided and Fragmented…Change on the Horizon?

Many in the early childhood field would agree that the momentum surrounding early childhood education throughout the country seems to be building in our favor. On local and national levels, in the media and the government, with educators and politicians, early care and learning is in the news. This is exciting, but I’m torn because although the polls are showing that a majority of Americans believe in the importance of early education and care, I wonder if change is actually on the horizon.

We in early learning and development have known for years, backed by science, that the early years are critical. We also know through research findings that professional learning is a key component in consistent high quality care. Many in the field have been shouting these facts for years! In fact, I’d argue that although our field has made recent strides forward, historically we’ve been moving at a snail’s pace. We need a sense of urgency – now is the time for a monumental push (and perhaps a shove!) Stacie Goffin is calling on us, within the field, to develop a “collective will or a shared passion for creating an alternative future” for tomorrow’s children. (Dahlin)

Did you notice that different early childhood terms were used in the first two paragraphs? Early childhood education, early care and learning, early education and care, early learning and development… why are there so many? Do they refer to the same thing? Why is it that in nearly every state there are various early childhood systems working individually, disconnected from others doing similar work. I’ve always questioned these “silos” that seem to be deep-rooted within our field. Why reinvent the wheel ourselves when we can tap into our field’s greatest asset…each other!

Last spring, the Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences released the Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8 report calling for the transformation of the early childhood workforce.

“Persisting with the status quo for the professionals who do this important, complex work will perpetuate today’s fragmented approach to the care and education of young children, resulting in inadequate learning and development, especially among America’s most vulnerable families and communities. The report offers recommendations to build a workforce that is unified by the foundation of the science of child development and early learning and the shared knowledge and competencies that are needed to provide consistent, high-quality support for the development and early learning of children from birth through age 8.” (Institute of Medicine)

“This is a defining moment for ECE. Despite the best of intentions, we remain a divided field of practice and lack what it takes to ensure that each and every child with whom we interact as early educators experiences an optimum early learning experience. There is a starting place for the work, though — conversations with intent. These are conversations that engage us in personal and collective reflections that invite thinking together about creating an alternative future for ECE as a field of practice. Catalyzing these conversations is the focus of Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era.” (Goffin)

How are we going to think together in conversations with intent and unite as a field of practice, when we are spread across the nation engaged in varied areas of the workforce? I thought about this very question for nearly two years after I met Stacie. Beyond The Pages (BTP) was launched in August, 2015, as a vehicle to promote conversations with intent and inspire a passion for change. BTP is an innovative online book study. This online feature takes you ‘beyond the pages’ and creates group dialogue. What makes it unique? The group dialogue is prompted and informed by content experts who bring their voices to each week’s discussion.

I had the opportunity recently to sit down with Dr. Lilian Katz to discuss her thoughts on our profession’s future. She said that “we need to come to an agreement on the body of principles…to sit down and agree on principles of practice​ for early childhood educators​.” I told her about BTP and waited for her response. “I’d say the blog book study is worth trying…to develop more insight and interaction between practitioners. You see, when practitioners come together and exchange information, they deepen their insight, understanding, and awareness of complexities in the field.” I whole-heartedly agree Dr. Katz!

Together, we can help ECE realize its potential! It is with that in mind that I invite YOU to participate in the next Beyond The Pages blog book study, beginning Feb. 1st, 2016. This study will center around Stacie Goffin’s book Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next EraVisit the following link to learn more about this fantastic way to get involved. http://goo.gl/m3u5qo It is my genuine hope that this book study feature intrigues individuals, serves as inexpensive professional development, provides access to resources otherwise not attainable, and encourages meaningful conversations. Learn. Love. Lead.



Braa, Dawn M., MAEd., and Stacie G. Goffin, Ed.D. “Beyond The Pages Book Study Frequently Asked Questions.” Enhancing Young Minds. Dawn Braa, 15 Dec. 2015. Web. 17 Dec. 2015. <https://enhancingyoungminds.com/2015/12/beyond-the-pages-book-study-goffin-frequently-asked-questions/>.

Dahlin, Melissa, MA. “2015 Roundtable: Leading for Excellence – Summary.” CENTER ON ENHANCING EARLY LEARNING OUTCOMES(n.d.): n. pag. 15 Aug. 2015. Web. 2015. <http://ceelo.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/ceelo_roundtable_2015_summary_final_web.pdf>.

“Institute of Medicine.” Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. Packard Foundation, McCormick Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Department of Education, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (HRSA), Administration for Children and Families , HHS, 1 Apr. 2015. Web. 18 Dec. 2015. <http://iom.nationalacademies.org/Reports/2015/Birth-To-Eight.aspx>.