More recently, the Faculty of Education launched a second website, Early science matters, which began in 2019 with a grant from the Caplan Early Childhood Foundation and a gift from philanthropist Marjorie Pelino. The goal is to replicate the success of the Early Math Counts website, which has been used by early childhood teachers and parents around the world.
“We are focused on providing free access online professional development for early care teachers. It is often difficult for early childhood teachers to access professional development because they are often limited by geography, time and affordability, ”said Kathleen Sheridan, project director, associate professor and chair of the department of educational psychology. “By providing free anytime access to professional development resources, the limitations faced by many early childhood teachers can be overcome.”
The Early Math Counts professional development website is at www.earlymathcounts.org and has four main objectives:
- Give early childhood educators the knowledge and skills they need to teach math in early childhood.
- Help early childhood educators create environments that promote math literacy.
- Provide math lessons and activities that encourage the development of early math skills.
- To help create a world of math literate children.
The website consists of early math lessons, videos to help early childhood teachers increase their knowledge and create math-rich environments, a bi-monthly blog, and access to eight online early math professional development courses. that focus on early math content and applications in child care and educational settings for young children. Each professional development course takes approximately one hour to complete and includes content, as well as interviews with education experts, videos, and assessments. Professional development course topics include: Number Sense, Geometry, Data Analysis, Patterns, Shapes and Spaces, Measurement, and Mathematical Processes.
“Our Early Math Counts website and professional development resources get over 10,000 users a month and people in over 90 different countries have accessed the site … from Australia to Zimbabwe.” Sheridan said.
Completed research on the effectiveness of early math professional development indicated that after participating in professional development courses, participants increased their attitudes, confidence, beliefs, and knowledge in teaching early math. Participants also reported positive changes in their classroom practices in teaching early mathematics.
After the success of the Early Math Counts site, Sheridan and her UIC colleague Catherine Main and doctoral students David banzer and Anne Pradzinski decided to create Early Science Matters, a similar science-focused professional development resource.
Since children are naturally engaged in science exploration and discovery at an early age, the goal of the Early Science Matters professional development site is to tap into this innate curiosity in children by helping early childhood teachers gain access to early science lessons, content, and professional development so they are able to provide high-quality early science education to support young child’s growth and development, Sheridan said.
- Give early childhood educators the knowledge and skills they need to teach early science.
- Help early childhood educators create environments that promote science literacy.
- Provide engaging activities and lessons that encourage the development of early science skills.
- Help create a world of science-savvy citizens.
The Early Science Matters suite of professional development resources includes lesson plans focused on early science, content to help early childhood teachers increase their knowledge and establish science-rich spaces for children, a blog, and access to a series of nine one-hour professional development programs. courses.
The nine free online early science professional development courses cover topics such as: early science concepts; processes such as land, water, and air; force and movement; Climate and seasons; and growth and change.
“Early Science Matters professional development course participants also learn how to engage young children in science activities such as observing, making predictions, and drawing conclusions,” Sheridan said. “Our science site is already getting over 3,000 users since the first months of launch.”