University of California, Irvine
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PreK Science, Mathematics and Reading Training Schools (SMARTS)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) - funded FOCUS! SMARTS PreK/K Leadership Institute emerged as a collaboration among UCI California Subject Matter Project (CSMP) leaders specializing in Science, Math, and Literacy working closely with early childhood district leaders from three partnership districts.

The UCI California Reading and Literature Project facilitated planning meetings for the Leadership Institute which began with a four-day institute followed by three academic year institute sessions in Fall, Winter, and Spring.

A goal of the year-long institute is to train PreK and Kindergarten educators to become leaders who work with colleagues and parents in their schools. Institute content focuses on research-based assessment and instructional practices designed to integrate math, science, and literacy to improve learning for young children at home and in school settings.

Participants in one or more of the first three years of the FOCUS!/SMARTS Leadership Institute are supported and guided as mentors to other early childhood educators. “New” participants communicate with “mentors” as they complete two case studies and other institute expectations.  The case studies focus on assessing young children’s strengths and needs while planning and implementing developmentally-appropriate science, math, and literacy strategies.

Institute participants work in teams to write leadership action plans which provide opportunities for creating and implementing (1) research-supported assessment practices; (2) developmentally-appropriate practices; and (3) home-school communication links.

The leadership institute provides professional development, support and resources designed to enable early childhood educators to create a foundation of knowledge that will lead young learners to become literate science and math leaders of the future.