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Taking CREATE Public -- Collaboratively

LRA presentation: engaging the audience as participants - Donna Jurich


LRAThe session we presented at the Literacy Research Association annual meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, “Communities as Resources in Early Childhood Teacher Education Enacting a New Vision of Early Childhood Literacy Education” in November marks what I think of as our first public presentation and discussion of our work. Prior to this session, we have primarily discussed CREATE with participants—district administrators and teachers, early childhood center staffs, students in the Early Childhood Education Program, our advisory board, and the Helios Foundation, our grantor.

In our alternative format session at LRA, we asked the audience to join with us in our research process. We began by briefly explaining the CREATE principles and the data being collected on each. Then, we discussed issues that our initial work with the data have revealed. After a glimpse into each principle, the audience had three minutes to free write on two questions: What are the issues that need to be considered on research about an early childhood education program? What are the issues that need to be considered about the design of an early childhood teacher education program? These questions were adapted to fit each of the principles. We concluded the session by creating a circle with the audience members to discuss their suggestions for, questions about, and insights on our work. (PowerPoint for our session can be located on our site at:

Before the session, I was concerned about whether we could clearly convey the very complex endeavor that is CREATE. CREATE has five co-principal investigators and a large number of participants and activities. We had a very limited time-ten minutes-to give each principle, our process for data collection and analysis, and issues from the data analysis. Could we effectively present CREATE and engage the audience in such a short time period? The answer was “yes”!

From the very first question from the audience, it was evident that they had grasped the complexity of the project. We were asked, “How are you managing the massive amount of data you are collecting?” We explained that we have been developing a system for data management that provides access for those in CREATE while maintaining the degree of confidentiality that we need. We continue to grapple with how we can collect data from the different activities of CREATE and complete our analysis in a way that allows the data to inform our research questions, data analysis, and further data collection while at the same time informing the program development.

Many questions and comments from the audience focused on our work with story and funds of knowledge. The audience saw the power that could develop from the collection of stories from the young children and families as well as teachers and teacher candidates. The families’, children’s, teacher candidates’ and teachers’ stories collected through CREATE offer opportunities to challenge the dominant stories being told about families, English language learners, and early childhood educators.

Several audience members also discussed the importance of having story encompass written and oral traditions as CREATE does. Research being done in the children’s literature course has started to help us think about the ideas and beliefs that teacher candidates have about “story” and the ways those ideas and beliefs change over the course of the program. Audience members recognized that the expansion of the idea of story and the move from literacy to literacies challenges some current thinking and will be an area for us to study.

In 1996, Bruner wrote, "It is only in the narrative mode that one can construct an identity and find a place in one's culture. Schools must cultivate it, nurture it, cease taking it for granted." From our LRA interactive session at LRA, I once again realized that our work is addressing both the children with whom the teacher candidates are working as well as the children with whom they will be working in the future. The transformation of an early childhood teacher preparation program is also a story of school change.

Dec 15, 2011 04:10 PM | Comments (0)
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