By Bev Caswell
Last week, the Robertson Program had the wonderful opportunity to present our research alongside two educators from one of our partner school boards, the Rainy River District School Board. Kindergarten teachers Michelle Cain and Nicole Thomson presented the collaborative work of the M4YC program and shared their own classroom research with an audience of scholars at the very prestigious International Mind, Brain and Education Society (IMBES) conference on September 15-17 in Toronto.
Our very own Zack Hawes organized this well-attended and highly engaging symposium titled Integrating Mind, Brain and Education through Teacher-Researcher Collaboration. The session involved teachers, researchers, and school board consultants presenting a teacher professional development (PD) model that offers a promising approach to bridging the gap between research and practice.
Our colleagues Dr. Cathy Bruce and Tara Flynn (Trent University), along with Petra Le Duc, presented our classroom-based teacher professional development (PD) model. Dr. Joan Moss and Zack Hawes then shared how children in our experimental sites have demonstrated significant pre-post gains in spatial reasoning, geometry, and basic number skills and numeration.
There was great excitement when word came that classroom teachers would be at the conference! Cognitive scientists are always looking for ways to work with teachers to bring research to practice and have classroom practice inform research.
Michelle and Nicole did an outstanding job of emphasizing the importance of embedding research within everyday classroom practice. They shared how they implemented the Math for Young Children PD model in their own classrooms and conducted their own research study using a randomized controlled trial study adapted from Siegler’s Number Line Study. The audience was fully engaged and highly interested in all aspects of their presentation.
Over and over again during the three-day event, many scholars of distinction were excited to meet Michelle and Nicole and hear about the work they have been doing in their classrooms.
Nicole and Michelle had the opportunity to meet Dr. Greg Duncan, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Education at the University of California, Irvine and an adjunct faculty member at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. Dr. Duncan is well known for his study using longitudinal data sets, showing that early math skills have the greatest predictive power of later school achievement, followed by reading and then attention skills (Duncan, et. al, 2007). We often refer to his work in our PD sessions. Read more about Dr. Duncan here.
They also had the opportunity to meed Dr. Douglas H. Clements, Professor, Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning, and Executive Director of the Marsico Institute of Early Learning and Literacy at the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education. Dr. Clements created the “Building Blocks project,” exemplary early years mathematics materials and complete mathematics curriculum. Read more about Dr. Clements here.
Thank you to the Rainy River District School Board for your continued collaboration and support. Thank you Michelle and Nicole for all of your hard work and commitment to this project. Thank you to Cathy Bruce, Tara Flynn and Petra Le Duc for your partnership. Thank you to Dr. Joan Moss and Zack Hawes for your wisdom and leadership. Thank you to IMBES for inviting us to present at such an important event.