Dear Students, Something Happened Last Night…

vote

by Kyle Miller

Think back to November 9th, the day after the presidential election. How did you wake up? Maybe you woke up with a smile; maybe you woke up excited that the election was over; maybe you woke up annoyed; maybe you woke up not caring. I woke up in a complete fog. Donald Trump was our new president-elect, and I had to get to campus to instruct courses with teacher candidates.

As I drove to campus the looming question was, “Do I address this in class?” My first thought was to ignore the topic, get through the day, and process it with my family that night. My second thought was to spend the whole period discussing the election, and what this might mean for their current and future students, as well as the field of education. I decided to introduce it at the beginning of class and allow it to unfold without any specific expectations. This is how it unfolded…

After welcoming students I said, “So….something happened last night. I think we need to talk about it. I want to begin by telling you that I am very emotional right now. As you know, my husband is a Haitian immigrant and my daughter is biracial. This presidential campaign was very draining to watch and hurtful in many ways. However, I also want you to know that I respect all of the ideologies in this classroom, and I am not here to endorse a side. Rather, I want to process this major event.”

I continued with, “After any election, students come to school scared. They have heard many things about the candidates and may have fears or misconceptions of what will happen if a certain candidate is elected. When I worked in Boston Public Schools, I had one student arrive in tears because she was scared that her single mother would lose her public assistance and housing based on the positions of the new president. I had a Muslim-American student who stopped attending school for a while because her family feared how she would be treated. Even yesterday, a friend of mine told me that her first grade daughter came home from school and begged her mom not to vote for Hillary Clinton, because her friend’s dad said she “cuts off people’s heads” (yes, that is a true story). So, I want to open it up to the class – how would you address the election with your students?”

There was a significant pause in the classroom, and then students began to share. The suggestions began with taking a neutral approach to the election:

“I work with first graders, and I really don’t think they knew what was going on. They knew that people were voting for a new president, but my school didn’t get into the candidates or their positions. I think that is probably for the best.”

“My students learned about democracy and the voting process, but my teacher made sure to avoid talking about the candidates. So, they all voted on whether they wanted new swings or a slide for the playground. They were able to talk about the pros and cons of each and go through the process without getting too political.”

Then one student challenged the idea that young students are unconcerned with the election:

“I don’t think they are that oblivious. I work with first graders and we didn’t talk about it in class, but it definitely came up at recess. They even started forming teams for a game with the team names of Trump and Hillary. I would want to discuss it. My cooperating teacher didn’t talk about it, but maybe she should have.”

This opened up the discussion to explore the other side:

“I think my cooperating teacher has handled the situation well. Students kept asking her who she was voting for. At first she didn’t want to tell them, but then she finally let them know. But she also told them that her husband was voting for the other candidate. She explained her reasons and her husband’s reasons. She also emphasized that even though they have different views, they love each other and live in the same house.”

“I do agree that it is not the place of the teacher to encourage students to support a certain candidate. But I do think a lot of good can come from helping students understand different sides and perspectives. That’s one of the big things now, helping students be critical thinkers. Since they are going to be voting one day, I want my students to be able to think critically about their voting decisions.”

I agreed with my students that it can be intimidating to bring controversial topics into the classroom because you do not want to offend any students or their families. At the same time, classrooms are probably the best place to discuss controversial topics because you can set expectations and facilitate the discussion or activities in culturally responsive ways (McBee, 1996; Hess, 2002). I reminded my teacher candidates that knowledge of your students is the most important component of appropriately selecting which topics to bring into your classroom and how to facilitate the teaching and learning process. But, you also need to know yourself, and affirmed one student’s comment that she was too upset about the election to address it with her students in an unbiased way.

I ended the discussion by distributing a quote I found from a teacher educator in response to the election. I encouraged them to use it as a starting point to address the election or a tool for the future. I read it aloud:

Tell them that you will honor the outcome of the election, but that you will fight bigotry. Tell them bigotry is not a democratic value, and that it will not be tolerated at your school.  Tell them you stand by your Muslim families.  Your same sex parent families.  Your gay students.  Your Black families.  Your female students.  Your Mexican families.  Your disabled students.  Your immigrant families.  Your trans students.  Your Native students.  Tell them you won’t let anyone hurt them or deport them or threaten them without having to contend with you first.  Say that you will stand united as a school community, and that you will protect one another.  Say that silence is dangerous, and teach them how to speak up when something is wrong.  Then teach them how to speak up, how to love one another, how to understand each other, how to solve conflicts, how to live with diverse and sometimes conflicting ideologies, and give them the skills to enter a world that doesn’t know how to do this (Retrieved from http://alimichael.org/blog/what-should-we-tell-the-children/).

I am not suggesting this was the best or right way to process the election, but it is one example of how a post-election discussion transpired. It was an opportunity to model how controversy can be integrated into the curriculum and classroom. It was also an opportunity to begin the “healing” for many students. I walked away from class feeling a little more optimistic about the world, and I hope my students felt the same.

Works Cited

McBee, R. H. (1996). Can controversial topics be taught in the early grades? Social  Education60(1), 38-41.

Hess, D. (2002) Teaching controversial public issues discussions: Learning from skilled teachers. Theory and Research in Social Education, 30(1), 20–41.

 

Dr. Kyle Miller is an Assistant Professor of Child Development in the School of Teaching and Learning.  She has worked in a number of educational settings, as a teacher and student support coordinator.  Her research focuses on lower-income families and strengthening the relationships between families and schools. 

This is ‘US’

by Andrea Siefert

In August I started a new year, in a new grade, at a new school. With that much change in only my second year teaching, I wanted to make sure I grounded myself in what I want as a teacher. I made a list of all the things I want my students to feel in my class.

I want my students to feel loved, cared for, and appreciated.

I want my students to feel excitement over learning new things.

I want my students to feel determination when facing new challenges.

I want my students to feel a sense of togetherness with their peers.

At the beginning of the year I was lucky enough to attend a professional development course where I was introduced to the concept of creating an ‘Us’ Classroom. The whole idea is that a classroom should feel like a family. Everything done in the class should pull the students together and make them feel like a team. Many successful teachers have written about this strategy, but I love the power of tying that great idea to the word ‘us’. Us is such a powerful word, it brings everyone together. When I look back at my list, I know all of those feelings can be accomplished by creating an Us Classroom. In this post I will be sharing a couple of the tools that I use with my kindergarten students.

Greetings

Every morning I pull the students to the carpet for calendar and the start of our day. I use this time to remind my students how much I love them. I tell them how much I have loved every second of the 51 days of school. We celebrate a full attendance sheet. I tell them that I missed them over the weekend and that I am so excited it’s Monday. Since our calendar time is quickly followed by shared reading, both of which take place at the carpet, I needed a quick and purposeful body break. Without saying a word I turn on an encouraging song like “Best Day of My Life” or “Keep Your Head Up” and that is the cue for my students to stand up. They walk around the carpet greeting each other using sign language for good morning and giving high fives and hugs. It really is a beautiful sight. They are always so happy to see each other and it gives them a small moment to build those ever important relationships. I am usually right there in the thick of it, getting bombarded with hugs from all angles. Sometimes though, I have a small 30 second window to grab our shared reading book that I probably left in a bin. Of course when I do that, I have a trail of little ducklings all with their hand at their chins ready to sign good morning. I so look forward to this time.

Challenges

In this day and age we are asking so much of our kindergarteners. We are pushing them to expand their knowledge and I strive to encourage them to face those challenges. One thing I borrowed from the Quantum Learning model is a call and response that excites the students at the idea of a challenge. Anytime I say something is a challenge the students respond, “Bring it on!” while holding their hands out flat and pulling their fingers in. As if to tell the challenge they are ready to do whatever it takes. This has been so effective in all subject areas and it really energizes them for the task. I love seeing all those little faces full of determination. We also use another call and response that was created by chance when I asked the students if they could handle a change in our schedule. I explained the change and asked them, “Can we do it?” I was expecting this to be rhetorical but one of my students looked at me with a face that I can only describe as a “Duh Miss Siefert” face. She gave me this look and said, “Yeeeeah” with the perfect amount of attitude. It quickly became another call and response we use frequently.

Encouragement and Recognition

Kindergarteners need to know that they are supported and that their hard work is recognized. A lot of our shared instruction involves students coming up to the Interactive Whiteboard to show their learning. Of course at the beginning of the year many students were hesitant to share in front of their peers. I needed something that was supportive but not distracting. One day the student at the board looked back for support and another student gave him a thumbs up. It was so simple and so sweet I encouraged all of my students to do the same. Now when anyone comes up to the board the whole class gives them a thumbs up. All it takes is for me to remind the student, if needed, to look back and see that all of their classmates are rooting for them. We keep that momentum going to recognizing hard work. Before we discuss if the answer is right or wrong we always give the students two claps. It’s quick and effective without slowing the lesson down. After a student participates I say, “Give ____ two claps.” We then quickly move on. For bigger triumphs we have classroom cheers. The student we are honoring gets to decide how they want to be celebrated and they are always left beaming.

Problem Solving

Even though my students are five and six years old, they can be effective problem solvers. I knew I wanted them to approach problem solving as a team so I created a call and response that helps with that. Anytime someone has a problem they announce to the class, “I have a problem.” then the class responses, “We can help!” After this call and response the person explains their problem and I take suggestions on a solution from the class. It opens the lines of communication and allows them to collaborate on an issue that before might have just been handled by me. We use this a lot during our day. Anytime we try a new procedure I always ask if anyone had any problems. This was especially helpful when we started establishing our guided reading and math stations. All of the students benefitted from hearing the problems and solutions and I noticed a huge decrease in students interrupting my small group with problems. I also use this call and response when there is a sudden change in plans. I tell them what the problem is and ask if they can be flexible with the change. They are always so willing to help.

I am constantly striving to find more ways to build an Us Classroom. This sense of togetherness has been so effective and so rewarding. I know that my students are gaining confidence and friendships that will continue year after year. How do you create an Us Classroom? What strategies do you use to bond your students and help them face the day with determination?

Andrea Siefert is a 2015 graduate from the ECE program at Illinois State University. She now teaches kindergarten at Blackwell Elementary in Schaumburg, Illinois. 

The Pit

by Cassandra Mattoon

      At Metcalf this year we are focusing on developing learner characteristics. One of the learner characteristics we learned about last month was, “The Pit.” As we are all learning new things we may enter “The Pit.” This is that time when we may not really understand the information, feel stuck, and need to find a way to grasp the new information. Entering “The Pit” isn’t a bad thing, rather it is part of the learning process. It is the place where we problem-solve and truly learn. We as educators need to help our children understand “The Pit” and develop strategies for getting out.

I introduced this concept to my prekindergarten children a couple of weeks ago. We talked about “The Pit” and I showed them a picture of “The Pit” that was given to us during an earlier professional development session.

the-pit

It was quite a discussion. Some thought of the pit as a literal place that someone had fallen into and needed to get out of. We talked about how it was a pretend pit and they related it to other pretend play. As the discussion continued, their understanding became clearer and I referred to it as the place where they get stuck in their play and learning. They came up with the following examples:

  1. When you can’t find a toy you want to play with.
  2. When you don’t know where something is, like the crayons.
  3. When you don’t know what to do.
  4. When you can’t zip your coat.
  5. When you don’t know how to do something.

       These examples may seem simple, but are very real times of struggle for young children. One child even stated, “We get stuck a lot in the pit at school.” He was so right! It is part of school and the learning process, especially with young children as we work with them to become more independent and try new things. We then thought of ways to get out of “The Pit:”

  1. Ask a teacher for help.
  2. Ask a friend for help.
  3. Do something to help yourself. Don’t just stand there.
  4. Try again or do something different if it is not working.

       The children then went on to play in centers and I used teachable moments in their play to reinforce the concept of “The Pit.” At the end of the day a child was having trouble getting her folder into her bag because of the other items in the bag. I could tell the child was getting frustrated and then she yelled out to me, “Miss Mattoon I am in the pit!” I replied, “Yes, you are. You are having trouble doing something and are stuck. What can you do to get out?” She wanted to try again. Another child offered to help her out of “The Pit” and I encouraged him to go help her. The two sat on the floor trying to get the folder in the bag. After a couple minutes they had completed the job. The child who offered to help said with a smile, “We figured it out. You had to slide it behind the other things. It fits perfect. Miss Mattoon, we learned that and now we know!” The child who was in “The Pit” came running over to me all excited and said, “I am out of ‘The Pit’ and now I know what to do!” I was proud of them both for working together. These two children learned something that day, felt proud of themselves, and had to apply some problem-solving skills. I could have easily put the folder in the bag for the child and it would have taken a lot less time but then I would have taken away this learning moment from both these children and they wouldn’t have felt as proud.

       This small simple moment of being in “The Pit” reminds me to let them figure things out, provide an environment in which they can learn and problem-solve. When we simply do things for our children or just tell them the information a great deal of real learning is lost. Several parents have shared stories with me about their children talking about “The Pit” and referring to it when doing things at home. I am proud of them all for understand this concept and hope these experiences lay a foundation for learning that continues into their future.

Cassandra Mattoon teaches Pre-Kindergarten at Thomas Metcalf Laboratory School at Illinois State University in Normal, IL. She has been teaching in the field of early childhood education for 19 years.

Shadow Puppets

by Michael Vetere

When I was young, my parents took me and my twin sister to see the stage version of Peter Pan. When Peter got his shadow sewn back on by Wendy he was so excited that he sang a song about being proud and self-assured. During the song, Peter made giant shadow puppets with his hands on the stage – I was hooked! For weeks after you could find me making shadow puppets during play time, meals, and even at church – my mother also joined in the fun by pretending to eat my shadows with her hands in the shape of a mouth.

Shadow puppetry is an ancient art form dating back to…well…no one really knows. Many believe that it can be traced back to the Han Dynasty of China (206 B.C.E – 220 C.E) or the wayang kulit shadow puppet figures from Indonesia around 800’s C.E. However, shadow puppets can be found all over the world including Turkey, Mexico, and Australia.

puppet1                     puppet-2                    puppet3

 

Shadow puppets can be detailed and complex or they can be simple and interesting. They are a great way to teach about the science of shadows and the art-form of shadow puppet theatre. Not only can you share about indigenous puppets from various cultures to your students, but you can teach using shadow puppets in your classroom. So what do you need to engage young learners in shadow puppet theater? Three things:

  1. A light source: A strong light source is helpful to make clear and sharp shadows. Ideally, an overhead projector works great, but they are getting harder to come by. So think about a desk lamp with an adjustable neck or I like to use a clip light that focuses the light into a direction.
  2. An object or puppet to block the light: Shadow puppets can be made using cardstock and straws for the handles. Personally, I like to use small plastic balloon sticks that can be attached to the back of the puppet with tape. For younger students, precut shapes using foamies or die-cuts work well.
  3. A screen to project onto: Typically, a shadow screen is placed between the audience and the light source for the performers to play out their scenarios. I would suggest using a white shower curtain as it helps defuse the light and provides for a flat surface. However, a bedsheet draped over a garment rack works just as well.

puppet-4puppet-5

The fall season is always a good time to investigate shadows and shadow puppet theatre as the days get shorter and the nights longer. Students can work through different tasks such as investigating various materials and their reactions to light. These items could be transparent, such as plexi-glass, translucent, such as tissue paper or cellophane, or opaque, such as cardstock.

If you have access to a large wall and a darker room such as a gymnasium or cafeteria – place lights on the ground so students can stand in-front of the light to cast large silhouettes. Play music and explore how the shadows change when they move closer or farther away from the light source. Ask your students questions such as, “Why does your shadow get longer or shorter during the day?” or “What do you think would happen if we added two light sources?”

Thematic units are also very interesting for youth to explore. Themes can include: Autumn, Forest at Night, Under the Ocean, or even Out of this World! You can also connect shadow puppetry with literature. I always like to tell stories using the shadow stage or let the students retell stories. You can extend the learning by having students create a character or scene from the story in shadow form. Ask the student’s shadow character questions like, “What is your name? Where to do you live? What do you like to eat?” – Questions like these help students go deeper into the story and create more believable characters, necessary for good literature and theatre.

Some books you may find easy to connect include:

  • The Dark, Dark Night by C. Christina Butler
  • Who’s Shadow is This? by Claire Berge
  • Moonbear’s Shadow by Frank Asch
  • Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley

puppet-6                                                                   puppet7

Like Peter Pan, it is always beneficial to remember being young and discovering the world for the first time. Don’t be afraid to play and try out new experiences. Think about working with a teaching artist or your art or drama teacher at your school to help you connect the arts to your students’ learning. Or if you are looking to see a shadow puppetry show, join me at the Children’s Discovery Museum in Normal, IL for Fall stories at Halloween Hoopla on October 28, 2016.

Michael J. Vetere III, Ed.D., is an Associate Professor at Illinois State University in the School of Theatre and Dance.  His focus area includes creative dramatics, puppetry, and the arts for early childhood and elementary education.

 

 

Nurturing Student Wonder to Enhance Learning

by Laurel Schumacher

I feel lucky. I teach in a school that continually looks deeply at learning. We challenge ourselves to go beyond. This school year, our school improvement plan is based on the work of John Hattie and his research on Visible Learning. We are looking deeply at learner qualities with the objective of bringing student ownership and learner capacity to our students. We want to empower our students to build and increase their learning capacity, so they have the desire to drive their own learning.

The first learner quality we are explicitly teaching is wonder. We identify wonder as the desire to be curious about something. Being a first grade teacher, my initial thought was that this would be a simple and ordinary task for first graders. They are always asking questions; curiosity at this age level seems natural and instinctive.

When I asked my students what they thought wonder was, I got a mixed bag of expected answers. It became clear to me that although I knew my students were curious and full of wonder- they did not necessarily know this about themselves. If I wanted wonder to become a quality of learning, I needed to teach wonder. I needed to build wonder in to something that my students reflected on, so it would start to impact their learning.

I started with a few key read-alouds. Two wonderful books I found to springboard the concept of wonder are I Wonder by Annaka Harris and The Other Way To Listen by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall. Both of these pieces are rich in text and illustration and lead to very meaningful discussion about using wonder to think about ideas and what might be.

books

Two perfect books to enhance the idea of wonder.

 

 

 

 

Next I asked my students to be reflective about themselves in a specific way. I asked them to write about 4 concepts that I believed would lead to wonder. In a 4-box design, I questioned them to share with words and pictures: the thing they are best at, their best learning experience, the most fun thing they had ever done and one thing they wonder about. My objective with this was to ignite a sense of self and wonder. I want to teach them to become independent wonderers who can use wonder to generate ideas and perspective. I found out my students wonder about so many things I can tap in to, but even more so, I taught them to start thinking about themselves as a person who is curious and wonders about interesting things.

4-box

The 4-box springboard wonder concept-writing project.

boy-2           boy-1

 

Students completed the 4-box questions with intent and with purpose.

 

 

My next step was to create a wonder window in my classroom. This idea came directly from a resource I am finding invaluable- A Place For Wonder, Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades by Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough. I wanted to create a place where my students could sit and wonder. I wanted to provide a place where they could look outside and wonder about the things they see, hear or notice. My objective is to teach my students to stop and wonder and question. I gave my wonder window center some guidelines. My students needed to ask before spending time at the wonder window. They couldn’t ask to go to the window in the middle of my teaching. The wonder window is for one student at a time and it is a quiet place. They were free to jot down things they wondered about on one post-it note and hang it on the wonder spot. From time to time we’d share our wonderings with each other. I am overjoyed with my students’’ desire to spend time at the wonder window. It has stayed fresh and exciting because the outside world is constantly changing. Our conversations have been rich.

wonder-window-1                  wonder-window-2

 

Students using the wonder window.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The place where students can hang post-it notes about their wonderings.

what-do-you-wonder

As I move ahead in my explicit teaching of wonder, I’m also using a web site that a colleague shared with me: Wonderopolis.com. I registered to get “the wonder of the day” in my inbox each morning. This resource is free and has been a great asset in our wonder discussions. Here’s a bit from the home page of Wonderopolis~

Welcome to Wonderopolis®, a place where natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery in learners of all ages. Each day, we pose an intriguing question—the Wonder of the Day®—and explore it in a variety of ways.

Wonderopolis was created by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) in 2010, and it has become one of the most popular education sites today.

As I move forward in our school year, my hopes are that this explicit teaching of wonder will impact my students in ways that are tangible. I want them to recognize wonder as a learner quality and to use wonder to engage in thinking deeply.

An excerpt from the book by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall, The Other Way to Listen~

Do this: go get to know one thing as well as you can. It should be something small. Don’t start with a mountain. Don’t start with the whole Pacific Ocean. Start with one seed pod or one dry weed or one horned toad or one handful of dirt …

In closing, I encourage you to take a moment to view this short video on PBS. It will inspire you in nurturing wonder your classroom.

http://pbskids.org/rogers/video_wondering.html

Laurel Schumacher has spent 30 years in early childhood education. She is a first grade teacher at Thomas Metcalf Laboratory School, holds a BA in elementary education, MS in reading and is a certified reading specialist.

 

Starting Your Math Manipulative Library

     It is been found that some people experience anxiety and even a painful feeling when doing math. However, math does not need to be feared or create anxiety. Engaging students with real-life experiences and objects can create a love for math. Over the years I have found that there are 4 key mainuplatives every early childhood teacher needs to teach math. While there still are some standard-specific manipulatives that are not in my list of 4, this list is a great start and resource for building and brainstorming a math library.

by Anni Reinking

4 Math Manipulatives to Start a Math Library

Dominoes (multi-colored):

~Activity 1: Addition and Subtraction- Students add and/or subtract the two side of the domino and write the answer or find a domino with that number and match it to keep the game going.

~Activity 2: Sorting- Engage students in the simple task of either sorting colors or sorting by dots.

~Activity 3: One to one correspondence and matching- Play a simplified dominoes game. Match one side of the domino to a like side of another domino and keep the game going. Ask students not only to match dotted sizes, but also state how many and write the number.

Decks of Cards (Activity 1 and 2 can also be used with cards):

~Activity 4: Greater Than, Less Than- Play a game of war. Students are able to understand greater than and less than numbers, along with equal. For a simplified version, take out the face cards.

~Activity 5: Number Line- The guessing game is a great for students to get engaged and work with the number line. Separate the cards so you have only one suit set (i.e. all the hearts). Take out the face cards. Lay the 2 and the 10 down so they are on a number line. Then begin to have the students guess the next card by giving them the verbal clue of higher or lower. (Ex. Is it the number 5? Lower. Is it the number 4? Yes!) Once the card is guessed lay it down on the “number line.”

Dice (Activity 1, 4, and 5 can also be used with enough dice):

~Activity 6: Graphing have the students roll dice a specified number of times and have them graph the number rolled. Discussions of “how many more” or “how many less” can be a great way for teachers to engage with students.

~Activity 7: Ten Frames/Number Talks- Roll dice; transfer that number to a ten frame. The teacher or a lead student can engage students in a number talk. (Ex: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PH5RG4zmmHE)

~Activity 8: Measuring- (will also need unifix cubes) Roll dice. The number that is on the dice corresponds to the number of unifix cubes that need to be collected. Once the cubes are collected the students walk around the room to find something that is that many cubes long. (Ex: Roll a 5. Take 5 unifix cubes. Find that the book is 5 unifix cubes wide.)

Unifix Cubes (Many of the activities above can be changed to add in counting or measuring with cubes):

Activity 9: What’s missing?- Start with an amount, usually 10. Show the student you have ten. Put them behind your back and break them apart. Show the students how many now (while keeping some behind your back). Have the student tell you how many are behind your back. Keep the game going.

~Activity 10: Fractions While fractions are usually taught after Early Childhood grades, it may be something teachers begin to introduce. Teachers can engage students with simple fractions such as half and fourths by using unifix cubes. Take 10 cubes, half are red and half are black, put them together, and talk to students about the concepts of fractions.

Overall, you do not need a room full of maniuplatives, or the brightest and newest items for your students. There is a lot you can do with simple items if you begin to brainstorm and think outside the box.

This blog post was written by Dr. Anni Reinking and alumni of Illinois State University. Check out her bio here!

ECE Teacher Talk: Our Past and Future

Welcome back to the ECE Teacher Talk blog! This is your one-stop shop for all things related to early childhood education written by amazing educators affiliated with Illinois State University and written for the fantastic community of early childhood educators connected to the university and beyond! As we are gearing up for a new year of posts, we welcome new guest bloggers, a new editor, and new content!

In looking towards the future, we reflect on the growth of this little blog that could, by reviewing statistics related to the blog over the last few years and specifically last school year–2015-2016. Check out our exciting stats here:

9-16-blog-stats As you can see in this table from our host site: wordpress.com, our viewership has been steadily growing since the blog began in 2013! Hooray! This is due to you, our readers consistently returning to check out the great content that our bloggers create. 2016, thus far, has had the most views, and the year is not even done yet! Look forward to awesome content to come this fall!

9-16-blog-countriesOur viewers come from far and wide, and the reach of the blog has been growing every year! This infographic, created by WordPress, highlights where our readers were when they viewed posts from ECE Teacher Talk over the 2015 year. We are so excited to say that we have readers as close to ISU as in Normal, Illinois (our home base) and as far and wide as Australia (114), Singapore (7), Nigeria (4), Finland (1), and Malta (1). This year’s goals include maintaining our readership this year and continuing to grow. If you know anyone who is interested in early childhood education, please help us with this goal and pass our site along! Know that each of our posts offers quick and easy sharing links at the bottom of each post, making this goal an easy task!

9-16-blog-referrals

This image gives a quick view of how the messages of the ECE Teacher Talk blog were passed along this past school year. We are hoping that the formats our readers take for sharing this year will follow similar and new paths!

9-16-blog-top-posts Here is a quick list of our most popular posts from this last year. Woohoo to these bloggers, and all of ours from last year! This list provides a great example of the variety of content about which our bloggers write. Following the ECE Teacher Talk blog guarantees that you will find topics that connect to real practice from real educators in the field and in teacher preparation. We are so excited for the posts you’ll encounter this year!

9-16-blog-populars

This last tidbit is just for fun! We cannot wait to get this blogging year underway, but first,  appreciation is needed for everyone connected to ECE Teacher Talk! Thanks to all of the guest bloggers who have created the amazing content that has drawn these readers in over the past few years. Without you, our blog would not be as innovative and interesting as it is today. And a big thanks goes to you, our readers! Without you, our blog would not exist! We hope seeing these statistics instills a sense of ownership and pride in each of you for helping to make this initial dream of connecting with our ISU graduates into something more inviting and inspiring than we ever thought. Onward towards a great blogging year!

This post is brought to you by the ECE Teacher Talk team of editors: Kira Hamann ’05, Dr. Amanda Quesenberry, and Dr. Nancy Latham.

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