Learning and Teaching Early Math: The Learning Trajectories Approach, 2nd Edition by Douglas H. Clements, Julie Sarama
In this important book for pre‐ and in‐service teachers, early math experts Dr. Douglas Clements and Dr. Julie Sarama show how "learning trajectories" help diagnose a child's level of mathematical understanding and provide guidance for teaching. By focusing on the inherent delight and curiosity behind young children's mathematical reasoning, learning trajectories ultimately make teaching more joyous. They help teachers understand the varying levels of knowledge exhibited by individual students, which in turn allows them to better meet the learning needs of all children. Using straightforward, no‐nonsense language, this book summarizes the current research about how children learn mathematics, and how to build on what children already know to realize more effective teaching.
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Math in the Early Years: A Strong Predictor for Later School Success
This issue of The Progress of Education Reform reveals five surprising findings about the strong relationship between early math instruction and later student achievement. Researchers have found that early knowledge of math not only predicts later success in math, but also predicts later reading achievement even better than do early reading skills. The paper concludes with implications and recommendations for state policy that will support the development of early math competencies and young children. (Dr. Doug Clements and Dr. Julie Sarama, University of Denver)
Preschool Pays Off for Denver Third Graders
Melissa Mincic, PhD, Assistant Director of Policy and Practice, commented on Colorado Public Radio about a new study of 3,000 Denver third graders that shows preschool is paying off. Click here to read the article or listen .
Morgridge's Doug Clements named to Colorado's Early Childhood Leadership Commission (ECLC)
The Early Childhood Leadership Commission recently named new members, appointed by Governor John Hickenlooper, to their groundbreaking organization. Doug Clements, PhD, Morgridge College of Education Professor, Kennedy Chair and Executive Director of the Marsico Institute, was selected to serve as a Representative of Foundations and Non-profits on the 3-year-old committee with the mission to improve outcomes for young children ages birth to eight.
"I was delighted to be invited to join this committee, which is doing such important work for the young children of our state. Colorado is far ahead of most other states in bringing together the diverse organizations, institutions, and individuals concerned with early education and helping them combine their forces and visions to support the development and education of all young children."
Colorado is a national leader in early childhood education and has been cited for exceptional work in the update to "From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development" sponsored by the National Research Council (of the National Academy for Science).
Colorado has established a network of 30 local early childhood councils serving 55 counties to collaboratively plan, network, develop resources and implement early childhood initiatives at the community level. The aim is to materially improve the quality of, and access to, services for young children and their families.
"I had read that update to From Neurons to Neighborhoods," remembers Clements, " just before our research team moved from New York state to Morgridge College of Education here at the University of Denver. I saw Colorado, in specific, mentioned as a national leader. That report and what I have seen firsthand, confirms my notion that the climate for innovative early childhood education is exceptional in here in Colorado."
Marsico Institute's Doug Clements, PhD, Urges Congress to Heed Surprises in Early Childhood Mathematics
The United States, world leader in technological innovation, is sadly lagging behind in math education. By fourth grade 7% of US children are considered "advanced" in math while in Singapore for instance, 38% meet the advanced standard.
Enter Doug Clements, selected by the IES (Institute of Educational Sciences) and the SRDC (Society for Research in Childhood Development) to take the podium for a recent congressional briefing. Clements is a former preschool and kindergarten teacher and presently a Kennedy Endowed Chair, Professor at the University of Denver, Director at the Marsico Institute, and internationally recognized research scientist in early childhood mathematics education. Clements appealed to the packed room to recognize the "surprising importance" of early childhood mathematics intervention. The urgency of this hearing was heightened by the effect that Sequestration has had on research budgets.
"I wanted to highlight our research findings and quickly communicate the unexpected potential...the far reaching effects that early childhood mathematics holds for our nation's future – the children we are educating now hold the key to that future" Clements noted.
In Clement's Congressional Briefing he emphasized these five surprises from his team's research—especially that of Julie Sarama, also a Kennedy Endowed Chair and Professor at DU—in building the TRIAD (Technologically-enhanced, Research based, Instruction, Assessment and professional Development) educational model.
Surprise 1: Math's Predictive Power
"Our research has revealed that mathematical thinking is cognitively foundation," Clements asserts. "For instance, mathematics skills improve language skills and literacy. Further, building that mathematics education foundation turns out to be the best predictor of school success.
Surprise 2: Children's Math Potential
"This is a surprise you can see with your own eyes in a classroom setting," Clements smiles. "Integrating math skills into play reveals a surprising capacity for solving numerical and even geometrical problems by children as early as three years of age. The bonus here, is that you quickly discover that children have a natural love of math."
Surprise 3: Educator's Underestimate Math
"Often math is missing in early childhood classrooms. I'm afraid that some teachers get into early childhood education because they want to avoid teaching math" laughs Clements. "Most are simply unaware of the power of a math intervention. Once they see the amazing competence their students can develop with good teaching, the teachers love it as much as the children and they are able to challenge them appropriately."
Surprise 4: Math Intervention beyond Early Childhood
"We see that early gains – cognitive seeds — can be lost if children are not challenged to take on higher levels of play. The key is to understand how children learn in levels and to promote thinking at each level.
Surprise 5: We Already Know a Lot
"We are making new discoveries every day about early childhood mathematics. But I can't emphasize enough," Clements states with intensity, "that we already know a lot about how children think and learn math. Learning trajectories synthesize this knowledge. Here is an area where we can make the most gains on every developmental front."
The sandy haired, mild looking professor and father of four, eases back in his chair. Known as a research dynamo, he fills up all the small spaces in his professional life in order to preserve balance with his family life. "Going to a conference, he will be fine tuning his speech in the car on the way to the airport, and even have his laptop open on the tram from the parking lot" comments his wife Julie Sarama, also a Ph.D., and Clement's invaluable research partner. Together the pair have garnered over 20 million dollars in research grants, are both endowed chairs for the University of Denver, head up the innovative Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy and have published 120 refereed research studies, 18 books, 70 chapters, and 275 additional publications.
"The idea of a Congressional briefing is just that...to be brief" Clements observes. "I decided not to inundate them with the data from our research. I got off the podium and walked around so that I could make a better connection with the decision-makers, influencers and staffers in that room. If they are surprised by our results, they may be more willing to learn more and perhaps make substantive changes in the future."
Saying Good-bye to Amanda Moreno, PhD
After almost four years at the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy, Dr. Amanda Moreno will be stepping down from her Associate Director position to take a tenure-track faculty position at the Erikson Institute. Although we are very sad to see her go, this is a wonderful opportunity for her and we at the Morgridge College of Education and the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy wish her the best in her new position.
“I am thankful to every one of you for sharing in this work and teaching me so much,” Dr. Amanda Moreno said. “Given that the Institute is now in the extraordinarily capable hands of Dr. Douglas Clements and the rest of our wonderful staff and students, I have absolutely no doubts that the best is yet to come.”
We certainly wish Dr. Amanda Moreno the best in her future endeavors and we are thankful for her four years of leadership. She played an essential role in the successful launch of the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy.
Why the Head Start Headlines Are Wrong by Amanda Moreno, PhD
Why the Head Start Headlines Are Wrong by Amanda Moreno, PhD
January 24, 2013 - Excerpts from The Huffington Post
If you take a bath on Friday, and get dirty on Saturday, this means the bath was ineffective. The preceding, clearly flawed, logic sums up the misguided hysteria over a recent HHS report showing that the positive effects of Head Start fade out by third grade. The early childhood field has grappled with the "fade-out effect" multiple times before. We seem to have no trouble understanding why people lose ground after weight loss, addiction recovery, or treatment for depression because we know intuitively that an intensive intervention represents an extraordinary divergence from the natural course of human difficulty. And so it is with children growing up in poverty.
Consider this: despite the fact that cognitive impacts were not sustained into third grade for the overall sample, children who received their Head Start treatment year when they were three years old and whose mothers were not depressed did sustain cognitive outcomes. Given the large size of this group, this equates to a full 34 percent of the overall three-year-old cohort not experiencing fade-out on these critical outcomes, five years after attending Head Start. This proportion should be considered remarkable given the fact that most of the control children still attended some type of formal early education program.
Why am I so stubbornly convinced that the solution is to fix rather than chop? Because I don't believe in magic, and because of research that indicates that higher resources and additional enrichments in elementary school lead to more long-lasting effects of early educational programs. Such an analysis hasn't been done yet for Head Start (and given that these data are available, it is frustrating that the fade-out results were released without looking into this obvious question), but it has been done for Early Head Start.
A long-term follow-up of Early Head Start children through fifth grade showed, familiarly, that many of the broad impacts seen in early childhood had faded. However, children who had Early Head Start, plus formal care at ages three and four (which, in many cases was Head Start), plus a lower-poverty school at age five had superior outcomes on measures of cognitive performance seven years later in fifth grade to those students who had any two, any one, or none of these early educational experiences (and having any two of the experiences was also significantly better than having one or none.)
This shows the critical importance of that ongoing force on the other end of the tug-of-war rope that gives children a fighting chance to combat the natural course of risk. If you throw disadvantaged children back into environments rife with their own risk factors and provide no further mitigating (let alone enriching) efforts, why would you expect any outcome other than a slide? Try to do something similar with obesity, addiction, or depression and then call their interventions ineffective, and you would be (or should be) laughed out of any room. Read more
Dr. Moreno is the former the Associate Director of the Marsico Institute.
Additional posts by Dr. Moreno:
- Killing Kindergarten in The Huffington Post
- Four Myths of Education Reform Nobody Is Talking About in The Huffington Post
- Time to amend SB 191 in the Denver Post online
- Pre-K Testing: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly : Interview on BAM! Body Mind and Child with Rae Pica
Renowned Marsico Institute at the University of Denver Names New Executive Director
January 9, 2013
The University of Denver’s Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy (MIELL) at the Morgridge College of Education has named Dr. Douglas Clements as its new Executive Director.
Dr. Clements, Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning and current member of the Marsico Institute’s Advisory Board said in a statement, “I am honored. The Marsico Institute has a well-deserved reputation for developing and disseminating research-based innovations and information in early childhood education and care. I promise to enthusiastically extend and expand that reputation—MIELL’s work deserves widespread, national attention."
Prior to joining the Morgridge College of Education (MCE), Dr. Clements was Professor of Early Childhood, Mathematics, and Computer Education at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, where he was granted the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2007. Previously a kindergarten teacher for five years and a preschool teacher for one year, he has conducted research and published widely in the areas of the learning and teaching of geometry, computer applications in mathematics education, the early development of mathematical ideas, and the effects of social interactions on learning.
He has authored over 100 refereed research studies, 8 books, 50 chapters, and 250 additional publications. Equally impressive, over the span of his prestigious career, Dr. Clements has been awarded, either solely or in partnership with others, approximately $35,000,000 of sponsored research funds. Clements was a member of the National Math Advisory Panel, convened to advise the President of the United States on the best use of scientifically-based research to advance the teaching and learning of mathematics. He also was a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Early Mathematics. Clements helped develop the Common Core State Standards Committee of the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, writing national academic standards and the learning trajectories that underlie them.
01/01/13 Dr. Douglas Clements is named as Marsico Institute's new Executive Director
12/06/12 Colorado awarded $29.9 million in Race to the Top Early Learning Funds
11/15/12 Community Lecture Series: Supporting Parental Engagement in Children's Developing Literacy by Dr. Eric Dearing
07/31/12 Dr. Ginger Maloney steps down as Marsico Institute's Director
11/11/11 Community Lecture Series: Promoting Literacy from Birth to Five by Dr. Nell K. Duke
08/03/11 Dr. Amanda Moreno is featured as a contributor to The Huffington Post in Four Myths of Education Reform Nobody is Talking About | All Blog Entries by Amanda Moreno | RSS feed
06/13/11 Dr. Amanda Moreno is interviewed as part of a discussion panel on Pre-K testing in the new Race to Top - Early Learning Challenge program on BAM! Body Mind and Child with Rae Pica on Pre-K Testing: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly | Listen | Join the Discussion
05/12/11 Marsico welcomes new staff member Sheridan Green
03/12/11 Dr. Amanda Moreno's manuscript detailing the reliability and validity of an infant-toddler authentic assessment she developed in partnership with the Clayton Early Learning Institute was accepted for publication
Moreno, A.J., & Klute, M.M. (in press). Infant-toddler teachers can successfully employ authentic assessment: The Learning Through Relating System. Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
03/10/11 Dr. Amanda Moreno wrote a guest commentary on measuring teacher effectiveness in the early childhood years for the online edition of The Denver Post
11/01/10 Dr. Amanda Moreno quoted in parenting magazine Parent-Digital.com
10/29/10 The Marsico Family Foundation hosts the dedication of MIELL at the new Morgridge College of Education building
10/28/10 Community Lecture Series: Brain Rules for Baby by Dr. John Medina
10/20/10 Dr. Amanda Moreno quoted in parenting magazine Parenting.com
10/07/10 K-ching! Kindergarten Determines Future Income features studies showing that kindergarten quality affects adult income
04/29/10 Community Lecture Series: The Science Behind Why Early Childhood Matters! by Dr. Jill Stamm
11/13/09 Colorado mentioned as leading the pack on reform in New America's Blog
06/01/09 Original article announcing Marsico gift and establishment of the Institute
Spring 09 Original article discussing early vision of the Marsico Institute
03/30/09 Community Lecture Series: Best Practices for Serving Very Young Latino Children and Their Families by Dr. Michael Lopez
Community Lecture Series: The Building Blocks of Pre-K Math by Dr. Doug Clements