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Minnesota Early Literacy Project

Early Childhood Educator Professional Development Program

Minnesota Early Literacy Project

“The seeds of literacy are planted before children enter school. Important literacy skills do not develop spontaneously, instruction shapes them.” (Snow, Burns, and Griffen, 1998)

Working with a broad-based coalition of local and statewide early education advocates, the goal of this project was to prepare preschool educators to help Minnesota children develop early literacy and language skills. As a result of this, children from poor neighborhoods, children with limited proficiency in English, and children with disabilities would have access to early childhood environments that promote language and literacy growth and provide them with a solid foundation for later reading.

"MELT 1"

The Minnesota Early Literacy Training (MELT) Project sought to address early literacy concerns by working with community partners in a variety of activities:

  • Revise and refine existing early education curriculum that focuses on literacy and language.
  • SEEDS of School Readiness, an emergent literacy curriculum written by Kate Horst, one of the co-coordinators of MELT, was used for training early childhood educators. The curriculum was developed and piloted with the Minneapolis School Readiness Collaborative between 2000 and 2002.
  • Select and train a cadre of trainers from existing networks who then train early educators across the state. Early Educators were trained to monitor the development of language and literacy skills using the Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDIs), which are one-minute assessments of language and early literacy. This helped link assessment procedures and provided a consistent measure between preschool and elementary school. The Minnesota Childcare Resource and Referral Network was responsible for training early educators across the state of Minnesota. It began serving the state through a distance training model, using the same literacy training curriculum.  
  • Work closely with selected sites in Minneapolis and the White Earth Indian Reservation. Each site received training, ongoing technical assistance, and evaluation.
  • Work with faculty at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College, State University system, and the University of Minnesota to assure that preservice early education programs include early literacy and language competencies. Project staff worked with Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) to offer the SEEDS of Emergent Literacy Training as a course for credit.
  • Provide access to T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education and Compensation Helps) to increase early educators' professional development and reduce turnover.

"MELT 2"

MELT2 was an expansion of the MELT1 project, which offered early literacy skills-based training and coaching to child care providers in Minneapolis and White Earth. Children were assessed using the Individual Growth and Development Indicators (GDIs) and other tools, and the literacy environment was measured with the Early Literacy and Language Classroom Observation. Literacy coaches met with teachers to set goals based on training, observation, and data from the assessment tools.

These ingredients continue to be included in MELT2. Through the partnership with the Minnesota Child Care Resource & Referral Network (MN CCR&R), additional trainers and coaches were recruited and trained. Each of the district CCR&Rs identified two communities and recruited a group of center-based and family child care providers who committed to SEEDS of Emergent Literacy training, coaching, and ongoing assessment.

In addition, MELT2 included a systems integration component for this professional development model of training/coaching/progress monitoring. MELT 2 partnered with advocates, policymakers, and service providers to expand statewide capacity for improving quality of child care and early education programs in Minnesota.

This was a creative collaboration between the University of Minnesota; Center for Early Childhood and Development; the Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network; the Minneapolis Public Schools; the Minnesota Department of Education, the White Earth Indian Reservation, and the Greater Minneapolis Day Care Association.

Related Resources

Project Staff

Scott McConnell, Paul van den Broek, and Michael Rodridguez, Co-Principal Investigators

Angele Passe and Kate Horst, MELT 1 Project Coordinators

Vicki Hawley, MELT 2 Project Coordinator

Carrie Johnson and Lucy Arias Littlewolf, Project Training Specialists

Elaine Lee, Alisa Raemakers, and Mary Jane White, Project Graduate Assistants

Karen Anderson, Support Staff


This project was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Grant No. S349A010152.

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Last modified on February 21, 2013.