Thankful for Three Dr. Stirling McDowell Foundation Research Projects, 2003, 2006, 2007

The Dr. Stirling McDowell Foundation projects offered multiple opportunities to pursue research interests while collaborating with humble yet gifted colleagues and personalizing education experiences for students and their families. For example, Diane Diebel, deceased in 2015, was a testament to the thoughtfulness, dedication, and talent abounding in our schools. Her concerns about children’s struggles, despite our best efforts, helped direct my inquiries about increasing lap time to promote early reading success.  Data from Photobooks as a Shared Home-Reading Tool showed keepsake photobooks significantly increased lap time with both immediate and extended family members.  Administrative and support staff were frequent helpful sources of encouragement. Those early days of technology –yikes!

Over the course of three projects, data was collected through surveys and interviews involving students in and teachers of grades prekindergarten, kindergarten, 1, 2 and 5.  Two projects directly involved family members. Learning concepts and curricular expectations were portrayed through photos of their children experiencing numeracy, reading, language and social literacies. Memorable to me were tearful comments made by parents who, for various reasons, had not finished school:  “I can’t believe Sally knows so much in math, already!”  Using Photobooks to Increase Family Involvement in the Learning and Teaching of Mathematics demonstrated that positive meta cognitive foundations of math literacies can begin in or are supported by prekindergarten and kindergarten experiences.

Instructional Strategies and Story Experiences for Improving Expressive Language in Kindergarten and Grade Five Buddy Classrooms revealed significant language growth of Grade 5 students who had instructed kindergarteners in the completion of challenging big buddy activities. The collaborative nature of our language and speech pathologist was integral to this project’s success.  

Noteworthy – I have sucessfully used a photobook approach within a tutoring assignment.

Submitted by Janet Peti, B.Ed. M.Ed., retired

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