Effective support and training are keys to the successful implementation of any curriculum. Early educators who understand and support a curriculum's goals and objectives are more likely to implement the curriculum as it was intended and to promote positive outcomes for all young children. We recognize the importance of providing effective curriculum-implementation training as well as ongoing opportunities for early educators to learn and enhance their professional knowledge, skills, and practices.
Get started with ease! We offer a variety of instructor-led and online learning opportunities to ensure your team is confident and ready to implement Connect4Learning with fidelity.
Getting Started with Connect4Learning: Initial Implementation Training (virtual or on-site delivery)
In this instructor-led session, we introduce you to this truly interdisciplinary curriculum created specifically for pre-K by leading early childhood researchers. We share the story of why Connect4Learning was created and unpack the curriculum, so participants will know what is included and how to use the materials throughout the year. We share an overview of this interdisciplinary approach and each of the domains it addresses and introduce scheduling, including the virtual day and/or face-to-face instruction, tailored to the needs of participants. This session wraps up with an overview of Connect4Learning instructional lessons, which are spread throughout the day to maximize interactive learning opportunities that are both child- and teacher-directed. Let the adventures begin!
Online Implementation Training
Intended for programs that have already completed in-person implementation training and desire a flexible option to get new teachers on the team started with ease, we offer online implementation training. This online course has two modules. In module 1, “Unpacking Connect4Learning,” participants meet the research team behind the curriculum and gain a comprehensive overview of the curriculum's interdisciplinary approach and framework. They review key curriculum components and resources, discover how to organize learning centers, and explore a day in the life of a Connect4Learning classroom. In module 2, “Implementing Connect4Learning,” participants review core concepts of project-based learning and explore strategies for differentiating teaching, individualizing learning, supporting dual-language learners, and engaging families to connect the classroom to home.
After initial implementation training, we recommend a series of follow-up training sessions. Explore domain-based topics such as mathematics, science, literacy and language development, and social-emotional learning, or take a deeper dive into adaptations. We’ll partner with you to determine the best combination of sessions for your team and will recommend a plan that meets your needs.
Embracing the Change
In this follow-up to implementation training, we share practical tips for organizing materials and adapting your classroom to the Connect4Learning curriculum with fidelity each day. Seasoned Connect4Learning practitioners share organizational strategies they’ve discovered and ask participants to share ideas, too. Foci include a scavenger hunt to identify all the materials included in your Connect4Learning classroom kit and a review of each of the six units and the daily schedule. We share tips for expertly managing the curriculum-driven center time and project work. We also introduce some appropriate ways to adapt Connect4Learning for children with IEPs as well as for multi-age classrooms. We explore effective practices for building relationships with families as we encourage children’s independence in the classroom and beyond.
Adaptations I: Making Modifications to Meet the Needs of All Learners
Universal design is the idea that, when we create environments to meet the needs of a few, many people benefit. For example, curb cuts on sidewalks were created for those in wheelchairs but are used by people with strollers, on bikes—everyone, really. The same can be true for your classroom. In this session, we provide strategies to create a classroom environment that supports the goals children are working toward and systems that support individual needs. We present strategies for implementing Connect4Learning in inclusive classrooms, including schedule and lesson planning, working with support staff, addressing IEP goals, collecting data, and using that data to plan instruction.
Adaptations II: Meeting the Needs of Individual Children within the Connect4Learning Framework
How can we ensure that all children are engaged throughout the preschool day—neither frustrated because work is too hard nor bored because work is too easy? In this follow-up to the Adaptations I session, we introduce two case studies to use as we practice individualizing instruction for particular children. We brainstorm together to identify opportunities throughout the day for providing individualized instruction, as aligned with DEC recommended practices. We learn how to use data to make instructional decisions that lead to positive outcomes for each child. We explain the Connect4Learning rationale behind what to teach, how to teach, and when to teach using formative assessment and progress monitoring to ensure that we are meeting the needs of each child. (Prerequisite: Adaptations I)
Adaptations III: Building Equity and Growing Our Classroom Community
This session provides ideas and recommendations for implementing culturally responsive pedagogy with Connect4Learning. We focus on eight main points to support a culturally responsive approach to teaching and learning in the classroom. We reflect on personal cultural experiences and practice identifying bias. We learn how schools can develop a cultural-responsiveness committee and systems of support for students and families. We explore social and emotional learning through a cultural-responsiveness lens. We examine strategies for engaging with families and communities and for understanding relevant cultural and linguistic backgrounds. We look at ethnic and cultural representation in the Connect4Learning curriculum content and generate a list of ways to demonstrate how we value cultural and language diversity.
Adaptations IV: Supporting Multilingual Learners through Connect4Learning
In this session, we discuss how to use the Connect4Learning interdisciplinary curriculum to support preschoolers who are dual-language learners (multilingual learners). We offer a special emphasis on the early biliteracy development of dual-language learners. This session highlights how to establish developmentally and culturally sustaining early childhood environments, and we explore ways to connect and work with families.
Adaptations V: Connect4Learning in a Multi-Age Classroom Serving 3- to 5-Year-Olds
In this session, participants learn how to implement Connect4Learning in a multi-age classroom with varying ability levels. We explore the benefits of the multi-age approach for diverse learners and investigate a variety of visual and social-emotional supports crucial to setting up the learning environment for success. Participants discover how to scaffold and differentiate lessons to maximize children’s engagement. The strategies and resources provided help teachers extend the Connect4Learning content to families. In addition, we share considerations for the multi-age classroom approach in the virtual learning environment.
Connecting through Engaging Projects
What is a project? Why is project work important in the Connect4Learning day? In this introductory session, we look at the learning theory behind project work for 3- to 5-year-olds. Connect4Learning projects provide authentic ways for children to practice reading, writing, listening, and planning as they think creatively and scientifically to address real questions. We explore the projects from Unit 1: Connecting with School and Friends and Unit 2: Our Environment. We emphasize the importance of creative thinking—“the having of wonderful ideas”—as well as ways that inquiry promotes equity among children by valuing many ways of knowing. We explore building a classroom community through a project to transform the classroom into a coral-reef environment using recycled materials.
Making Deeper Connections with Connect4Learning Projects
In this more in-depth exploration of projects in Connect4Learning, we explore the projects in Unit 3: How Structures Are Built, Unit 4: Exploring Museums, Unit 5: Growing Our Garden, and Unit 6: How We’ve Grown. We discuss ways to incorporate projects throughout the Connect4Learning day and how to extend the learning by working with other classrooms in the building or via the internet, creating an audience where each child can practice explaining their thinking processes. We include ideas for involving families in constructing and sharing project work, including creating a toy and the instructions for making it, building exhibits for a class museum, celebrating a family museum night and a garden party, growing plants, and creating a mural.
Scaffolding Success: Social-Emotional Competency in Connect4Learning
This session explores the social and behavioral classroom expectations of Connect4Learning that support children’s emotional development. We discuss how the expectations work in the classroom and how they translate to other in-school settings, such as the playground, hallways, and gym, as well as out-of-school settings such as the park, home, and virtual learning. The Pyramid Model for Promoting Social-Emotional Competence provides guidance for educators on the use of research-based instructional practices and behavior supports for all children, including those with behavioral challenges.
Connecting the Triangle: Child, Family, Teachers
A child’s first and most important teachers are their family. Positive partnerships with families provide opportunities for more effective communication and support of classroom activities. Engaged families are more willing to participate in projects and volunteer to help prepare materials and work with small groups. Every child has potential tutors in their family. How do we identify each family’s strengths? In this session, we discuss Connect4Learning school-to-home letters and academically related family activities. We explore how to help families act as social-emotional resources and how to encourage them to provide valuable insights for working with their child.
Exploring Language and Literacy with Connect4Learning
In this session, participants deepen their knowledge of teaching the key components of literacy throughout the Connect4Learning lessons. Using the lessons in the unit guides, participants practice seven key aspects of literacy development and strengthen their teaching skills. We explore building literacy into every area of the classroom and throughout the daily routine. Participants discover how literacy is woven throughout all aspects of the Connect4Learning curriculum. We look at Connect4Learning formative assessments for literacy instruction and discuss how to give positive feedback to parents that will allow them to support their children’s literacy and language at home.
A Deeper Dive into Literacy with Connect4Learning
In this session, participants delve into teaching literacy with the Connect4Learning curriculum. We explore strategies for teaching interactive and scaffolded writing to differentiate instruction. We co-create ways to embed literacy throughout the classroom and discover ways to engage children in all areas of literacy development. We learn more about enhancing our read-alouds with a focus on comprehension and vocabulary. We cover the research for effective instruction in letter-sound knowledge, with an emphasis on the tools that support effective learning. Finally, we share ideas of ways to collaborate with families in promoting literacy learning outside the classroom.
Exploring Mathematics with Connect4Learning
Finally! A session for the love of math. In this session, we discuss why is it important to help young children develop greater competence and confidence in mathematics and, yes, even a love of mathematical thinking. We illustrate how meaningful mathematics are integrated across domains and throughout Connect4Learning’s daily activities, including centers, small groups, and read- alouds. We emphasize the importance of discussing specific definitions of shapes and of giving children opportunities to answer “How did you know?” We discuss research-based learning trajectories that help us understand children’s developmental progress. We explore using integrated learning experiences to help children develop mathematical thinking, language skills, social skills, self-regulation, executive-function skills, and higher-order thinking skills—all at the same time.
Meaningful Science with Connect4Learning
Connect4Learning emphasizes connections among children's learning and the content domains through units and lessons that are often centered around science concepts. In every unit, Connect4Learning emphasizes inquiry and exploration through hands-on, collaborative science-learning experiences. This session highlights the role of the early childhood educator, who acts as both guide and facilitator in planning, implementing, and assessing science learning. We explore ways to encourage children to think critically about scientific concepts for extended periods. Using walks, scavenger hunts, hands-on science activities, and books, children learn about the people, plants, animals, and earth features in their local environments and those beyond their everyday experiences. This session empowers teachers to use the materials in the Connect4Learning classroom kit to promote children's learning and thinking, creativity, cooperation, problem solving, and communication skills and abilities.
How Schedules are Built: Constructing the Connect4Learning Day
This session is designed to help teachers, district coaches, and administrators adapt the Connect4Learning daily lessons into their specific schedules in a variety of programs, including Head Start, public-school, and private pre-K, as well as center-based preschool programs. We share ways that Connect4Learning can be adapted to half-day, four-day, and year-round calendars. We learn about the importance of each part of the Connect4Learning daily schedule, brainstorm ways to make changes to fit individual classrooms and programs, and reflect on the ideas generated. We discuss ways to ensure fidelity to the curriculum, and we look at how the Connect4Learning schedule is aligned with DEC-recommended practices.
Learning Through Play: Centers and Small Groups
This session focuses on why learning centers are a vital part of the Connect4Learning day. Curriculum-driven explorations, developed in small groups and extended to centers, are designed to provide specific learning opportunities that help develop children’s social-emotional, math, science, and literacy skills while offering child-directed experiences. Connect4Learning’s centers provide a variety of ways for children to engage in exploring topics; some stress independence, while others emphasize opportunities for social interaction and cooperation. We discuss how to set up the learning centers at the beginning of the year and examine ways to organize and use the Art, Book Nook, Computer, Construction Zone, Dramatic Play, Exploration Station, Games and Puzzles, Listening, Writing, and Show What You Know centers throughout the year.
Tracking Growth: Using Summative and Formative Assessment with Connect4Learning
What are formative and summative assessments in Connect4Learning? How can we use them to benefit teachers and each child? In this session, we explore the variety of summative and formative assessments that early childhood educators can use in authentic contexts throughout the day. This session supports classroom teachers in their understanding and use of both assessment and observational data to shape children’s learning and nurture development. By encouraging teachers to view themselves as classroom researchers, this session empowers teachers to understand and use data gathered from developmental instruments, their own observations, and children's work samples to promote change and growth in their pedagogical and curricular practices. Using sample assessments across content areas, we explore the direct connections between student data and curriculum planning for student learning. In addition, participants explore ethical principles of developmentally appropriate evaluation practices with young learners and their application in an early childhood context.
How We’ve Grown: Preparing for the Transition to Kindergarten
In this session, we look at ways to help children prepare for the transition to kindergarten while looking back over the Connect4Learning year. Teachers discover how to encourage children to use the vocabulary they’ve been learning across domains all year to describe the lessons, events, and celebrations of their pre-K experience. In addition, teachers learn tips for offering guidance to families as they help their children prepare for the next steps in their education journey.
Children who are hesitant to write can be motivated with real-world purposes for writing. In this session participants will explore the developmental stages of drawing and writing. We will share strategies for teaching interactive and scaffolding writing to differentiate instruction. We will discover ways to engage children in all areas of writing throughout the learning environment. We’ll identify opportunities throughout the C4L day to integrate children’s writing into the curriculum.
Universal Design for Learning in Connect4Learning
Universal design is the idea that, when we create environments to meet the needs of a few, many people benefit. For example, curb cuts on sidewalks were created for those in wheelchairs but are used by people with strollers, on bikes—everyone, really. The same can be true for your classroom. In this session, we provide strategies to create a classroom environment that supports the goals children are working toward and systems that support individual needs. We will look at specific examples of academic and social supports and learn about Universal Design for Learning and why it is helpful for all learners.
Collaborative Coaching in the Connect4Learning Classroom
In this session, district coaches discover how to best support teaching teams in implementing the Connect4Learning curriculum with fidelity. This session focuses on helping teachers new to Connect4Learning to adjust to the curriculum, as well as on ways to support more-experienced teachers in continuing to learn and grow in their understanding.
INTRODUCTORY UNIT MODULES (Online, Self-Paced)
The Connect4Learning Online Portal includes self-paced learning modules that introduce each of the six curriculum units. Designed to support educators with effective curriculum implementation, these engaging and interactive modules highlight specific teaching methods, project preparation, and teaching tips for each unit. Watch the video trailers below for a sneak peek at each module.