From Pre-K to Grey
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From NATIONAL GIRLS COLLABORATIVE PROJECT: Beginning in pre-kindergarten, research has shown that subtle features of common language used by teachers (and other adults, like parents and caregivers) can interfere with – or facilitate – the development of children’s own engagement with science. If you are an educator or caregiver working with young children, consider making a few shifts in the language you use when teaching STEM. Here are 3 simple suggestions from Amanda Cardarelli, a researcher at Education Development Center (EDC) who previously spent five years working at New York University (NYU) in a cognitive developmental research lab.
Young learners in Louisiana’s Ascension Public Schools make great strides in literacy thanks in part to Elise Frederic. A first grade teacher at Lakeside Primary School in Prairieville, Frederic is a resident expert in helping to meld phonics with comprehension. Her students use mirrors to visualize new phonetic skills and write words in sand or gel as they transfer new learned sounds to writing. Literacy is visible in Frederic’s room, which includes a “sound wall” that links new sounds and mouth movements, and floor tiles covered with pictures representing reading criteria. Frederic helps each child set daily goals and pairs students strategically to address their specific needs. Her laser focus on literacy delivers in spades—in 2021-22, more than 90% of her students reached mastery on district benchmark assessments in ELA, and 70% achieved mastery in math. Colleagues have adopted many of Frederic’s literacy strategies, seeing significant growth across Lakeside’s early grades as a result.
Frederic constantly researches innovative instructional strategies, introducing concepts like The Writing Revolution to Ascension’s master teachers for field testing. She has served as a TAP mentor teacher, leads her grade-level professional learning community, contributed to district math and ELA committees and attended the Ascension Leadership Academy. Frederic is a teacher leader advisor for the Louisiana Department of Education, helming its K-2 instructional materials review team, and welcomes student teachers into her classroom. She is a resource for literacy instructional strategies in her building and district, but also beyond: Frederic created a Facebook group for Louisiana educators to discuss the science of reading, connecting hundreds of teachers who share resources and professional development opportunities.
When the pandemic closed school buildings in March 2020, Frederic created an informative video series for parents to share strategies for building fine motor skills, conducting read-alouds and helping children with phonological awareness and phonics. As classrooms reopened, Frederic focused on student well-being, holding morning meetings where students made commitments for the day and checked in on their emotions. Students had personal “calming corners” under each desk where they could regroup, and visual schedules and classroom jobs helped the young learners feel valued and part of Frederic’s classroom family. When illness or quarantine kept students home, Frederic went to great lengths to keep them connected to their peers and class routines, making each return to school an event to be celebrated.
Frederic earned a bachelor’s in elementary education (2007) and a master’s in educational leadership (2016) from Southeastern Louisiana University, as well as a master’s in education with reading specialist certification in 2010 from Louisiana State University.
First grade teacher Elise Frederic talks with the Milken Family Foundation after her surprise Milken Educator Award notification at Lakeside Primary in Louisiana's Ascension Public Schools.
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