1. Amy Parks
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Exploring the Role of Context in Early Childhood Mathematics
  4. Michigan State University
  1. Carol Yancho
  2. Producer/Director
  3. Exploring the Role of Context in Early Childhood Mathematics
  4. WKAR
Public Discussion

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  • Icon for: Sharon Lynch

    Sharon Lynch

    May 15, 2017 | 04:34 p.m.

    This looks like a lot of  fun for the kids, developmentally appropritate, and still gets the math and math language in there.

    Is there a a curriculum associated with it? Seems like it would be great for day care and school.


  • Icon for: Nancy Bunt

    Nancy Bunt

    May 15, 2017 | 05:42 p.m.

    Your outreach PD seems to share goals with our ELM2 project.  Could you please provide more details about your professional development?  How many hours were involved?  When did they occur (school year, summer)?  Were you able to measure any changes in math awareness and understanding of child's development in mathematics among educators?  If so, what tools did you use

  • Icon for: Wendy Smith

    Wendy Smith

    Associate Director
    May 15, 2017 | 07:14 p.m.

    I would echo the questions so far--what kinds of teachers were involved in your professional development (public school, head start, private preschools or charter schools), and for how many hours? Do you have other ways to reach parents than the filming and then TV segments? How else can a project like this reach parents, to teach them how to "mathematize" the world around them and help them to see math in their children's play?

  • Icon for: Amy Parks

    Amy Parks

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 16, 2017 | 11:14 a.m.

    Thank you everyone for your comments. I have done the PD in a variety of contexts, including with public school teachers and Head Start teachers and for a variety of time periods. The major research goals of the project were actually around documenting children's mathematical experiences in early childhood classrooms (Prek - Grade 1) and the PD grew out of that work so there has not been an effort to study or evaluate it.

    I am currently working with extension agents to develop curricula for math PD that can be shared more widely with people who do mathematics professional development with childcare providers, and there will be an evaluation aspect to that project.

    I have also worked in parents in more close-up "family nights" where we engage in activities to make mathematics in the world around them more apparent and have done outreach programs where we send home recipes and materials for making play dough or Lego kits and ask parents to take pictures so kids can share what they did in school. That was also a lot of fun and -- based on interviews -- seemed to positively impact parents' perceptions of mathematics.

    As for the question about curricula, the goal of the PD is to help teachers more productively engage with mathematics whatever the curricula they use. In Michigan, this is mostly High/Scope and the Creative Curriculum. To preserve the spirt of PK it seems important not to move toward multiple disciplinary based curricula as in elementary schools.

  • Icon for: Miriam Sherin

    Miriam Sherin

    Professor, Associate Dean of Teacher Education
    May 16, 2017 | 05:49 p.m.

    Your approach of infusing math language and math concepts in activities young children are already doing is very interesting! I'm wondering about the work you've done with teachers - It was exciting to see teachers in the video exploring the kinds of materials that children also use - I'm wondering what specific goals or tasks you set for teachers around that work and to what extent you found that teachers took those ideas back to their classrooms. Great to learn about your project!

  • Icon for: Amy Parks

    Amy Parks

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 17, 2017 | 10:15 p.m.

    First, I feel like I should say the work with teachers is very preliminary. The heart of the this research project was looking at children's experiences with mathematics; however, as part of dissemination and outreach, I have been designing and piloting professional development materials with teachers. I had three goals for the teachers I worked with -- the first was some specific learning around geometry content (e.g., recognizing a square is a special kind of rectangle, understanding the importance of showing children triangles oriented in a variety of ways, etc.), the second was helping teachers recognize settings in their classrooms that might be productive for attaching mathematical vocabulary, and the third was to help teachers think about planning playful small-group lessons intentionally focused on mathematics. We've found in working with PKs in Michigan that small group lessons are more likely to highlight literacy or science and I wanted to help teachers see that mathematics can also be addressed in developmentally appropriate ways. 

  • Icon for: Sybilla Beckmann

    Sybilla Beckmann

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 17, 2017 | 08:14 p.m.

    Hi Amy, It's great that you encourage not just kids to play with mathematical ideas but also teachers. Do you find that the idea of playing with math resonates with teachers? How do you foster teachers' sense of playfulness with math?


  • Icon for: Amy Parks

    Amy Parks

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 17, 2017 | 10:10 p.m.

    Hi Sybilla,

    It's great to hear from you. And yes this idea does resonate with pk teachers. I find it's a great entry into thinking about how to plan intentional -- but playful -- small group math lessons in ways that early childhood people find developmentally appropriate.

  • Icon for: Karen Rothschild

    Karen Rothschild

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 19, 2017 | 11:10 a.m.

    It is gratifying to know that research is finding its way to teachers and parents.  Nothing could be more important.  The Math for All project (see our video here) is a PD program that has a similar intent.  We bring general ed and special ed teachers together to plan K-5 lessons with an eye to making lessons accessible to all students while maintaining high level math thinking.  We also begin with asking teachers to actually do the problems they assign to their students.  It looks like you do that too.  What insights have you had about teachers doing the work their students do? 

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