Classroom Caffeine

A Conversation with Renee Dinnerstein

November 09, 2021 Lindsay Persohn Season 2 Episode 13
Classroom Caffeine
A Conversation with Renee Dinnerstein
Show Notes Transcript

Renée Dinnerstein talks to us about choice, play, and inquiry, particularly in the early years. Renee is known for her work as an early childhood educator and as the author of Choice Time: How to Deepen Learning Through Inquiry and Play. With over 50 years experience in education, she has been affiliated with New York City’s public schools, Department of Education, and the Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project Early Childhood ‘Think Tank’.

Lindsay Persohn:

Education Research has a problem. The work of brilliant education researchers often doesn't reach the practice of brilliant teachers. But the questions and challenges from teachers practice sometimes don't become the work of education researchers. Classroom Caffeine is here to help. In a new episode every other week, I talk with an education researcher or a classroom teacher about what they have learned from their work in education, and what questions they still pursue. In this episode, Renee Dinnerstein talks to us about choice, play and inquiry, particularly in the early years. Renee is known for her work as an early childhood educator and is the author of Choice Time How to Deepen Learning through Inquiry and Play. With over 50 years experience in education. She has been affiliated with New York City's Public Schools, Department of Education, and the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Early Ehildhood Think Tank. For more information about our guest, stay tuned to the end of this episode. So pour a cup of your favorite morning drink and join me, your host, Lindsay Persohn, for Classroom Caffeine Research to Energize your Teaching Practice. Renee, thank you for joining me. Welcome to the show.

Renee Dinnerstein:

Thank you so much for inviting me.

Lindsay Persohn:

So I have just a few questions for you today, from your own experiences and education. Will you share with us one or two moments that inform your thinking now?

Renee Dinnerstein:

That is a very interesting question. And I've actually been asked that by teachers by different people and it's very difficult for me to answer that. And I'll explain why. I feel like my career in education has been an amazing journey. And like with any trip, or any journey along the way, you meet different things, you go on detours, you see all different different things impact that you didn't even expect an impact on you. So, for example, I started teaching in 1968, got my teaching degree, and I started teaching at PS 321, which is the school right in my neighbor. I had no idea of what to do. I got a quick teaching license by taking... it was a teaching shortage. I took 12 credits at night at Brooklyn College. I can't remember anything that they said and it wasn't, it was really not very helpful. The classes were not very helpful. And I started in the middle of the year. I took over a kindergarten teacher's class and it was a half day kindergarten, a morning group and an afternoon group. And basically, I just followed everything that she had in her plan book, and I didn't know quite what it was doing. And then the next year, I had second grade, and it was 34 children might second grade class. Alright. So, 1968, second grade, New York City, desks in rows, teacher in the front, great big desk in the front. I used to come into class very early, and tie up the legs of the desks so they would be straight together so that I would have the feeling that if the children were in straight lines, I had some kind of control. Okay. So that's where I was then. So I, you know, it was, when I say it was a learning journey, I would say was a really big journey. The one wonderful thing that happened was that in the first staff meeting before we began classes, I sat next to Connie Norgren. Connie Norgren also was starting teaching that she knew what she wanted to do. She took really good classes. She was really smart. She had a real feeling about it. And she just knew what it was that she she wanted to do. And I watched her, you know, I watched Connie we talked and we talked and we talked. We met... I actually found an apartment for her like right around the corner from where I was living. We got together all the time. She's become like truly a closest friend. And so I think I learned a lot from Connie just by watching her but then actually 20 years after that, in 1988 I had been teaching pre kindergarten and I was going up to teaching kindergarten. And we just talked about wouldn't it be great, Connie taught first grade, wouldn't it be great for us to work together? Alright. And so there was one double room in the school and it had a sliding door, like a folding door. And nobody ever used it in the right way. They would keep the door folded and one class would scream over the other because there was no real wall there. So we approached the principal with our thoughts. And we said, we would like to work together. I would have my kindergarten class, Connie would have been first grade class. We would keep the doors three quarters closed, one quarter open. We would do choice time together every day, at nine in the morning. We would use both rooms for the choice time. So we had a huge block area, because we had both about blocks. And if we didn't have the like the, the, we had my room, we had the blocks, we had the dramatic play, we had a very big art set area in her classroom, a cooking section, a woodworking area. So we were able to use the two rooms that way. We usually had 12 Different areas going once, 50 children, and they just move so smoothly. And we had parents who came in and volunteered and help. So we we did that. And we started at nine every morning and we had an hour of choice time. And then Connie is an incredible guitar player and singer she knows every folk song imaginable. And so we would meet in Connie's room to have a share meeting together. And then we all sing together. And so I learned about singing with my class through Connie. And I've always sang with him after that, always. And so we would sing together. And we did studies together. So for example, we did a big museum study together. We took multiple trips to both the Brooklyn Museum, which we could walk to, and the Museum of Natural History, which we took the subway to. We went to the Cooper Hewitt Museum to see this big Calder exhibit, which was very interesting. We had, the children were so impressed with the colder exhibit, and they and the art area, they decided to build a big thing like a Calder thing, you know, and in the museum educator refer to him as Sasha and I had a little boy in my class the year that we went to the see the Calder exhibit, Jimmy, there was an hurricane in Puerto Rico and his family moved from Puerto Rico to New York. So he came into my class in the middle of the school year. And we decided with his mother that maybe it'd be a good idea for him to do another year of kindergarten since he missed so much of it. And so he was in my class the second year, and that second year, he went into Connie's room to go to the art table. And we had a lot of art books, you know, regular art books that the children could look through. And he came running back to me with a picture opened up an art book and said "Renee, is this a Sasha? Is this a Sasha?" And it was a Calder, you know. But anyway, uh, we did that for five years, until Connie had a baby. And so we didn't get to do it again but it was a huge learning experience for me working together with Connie. So that was really important. My whole, my whole relationship with Connie has been really significant. When I had a baby, when my daughter was born in 1972 and I wasn't working then. And I used to walk to Prospect Park with her. And I would see this group of children like the kind of scruffy looking group with teachers with pails, and what kinds of bowls and things and they were walking to the park every day, just about the same time that I went. So I followed them. I did that all year; I followed them to the park. And I love the way the teachers were interacting with them when they had to, but giving them a lot of space for play. And so I knew that when my daughter was going to go to nursery school, that's where she was going to go. And so I registered her when she was three to go to nursery school. And that's just when New York City had big layoffs. And so I lost my job. And I didn't know if I could pay for a nursery school and they said, "Well, you know, she's coming half day. If you have someone to watch her in the afternoon, you could, if you could help us in the afternoon, that would be great." And so, again, my husband took my daughter at lunchtime, and I stay there in the afternoon and they were two Bank Street Teachers. They were fantastic. And I learned so much from them. We lived in Rome for two and a half years and I think we're paid for by parents because you couldn't get a card, a working card there but I worked in the Montessori school that my daughter attended and it was wonderful. It was just a wonderful experience. I took three trips to Reggio Emilia. Reggio Emilia is a city in northern Italy. But they have like a world famous early childhood program. And so the first time I went is in the summer, and with 300 participants, and it was, you know, it was lecturers and it was going into the school, the children weren't there. But they had videos and parents were there and teachers were there. And it was wonderful. And when I got back, I spoke to my principal, and I said, I want my children for two years. I need to do more with them, I need to give them more time to explore, because I think children need time for inquiry for exploration, and lots of time for play. So he agreed. And so I had my, from then on, I had my class for two years. And that was excellent, wonderful; I learned so much. I had so much to tell first grade teachers about, because I gave my children a lot of time for play. That's when, this is just when leveled books will come in, coming in and guided reading. And I refused. I absolutely refused. I said, this is the last time these children are not going to be put into these groups. And I think because I was there for such a long time, and the parents were happy in the class, etc. The administration let it slide, you know, but the thing is that my kids, all of my kids, when they got into first grade, the next year, they wanted to learn to read, they, they were ready, and they wanted to, and they all learn how to read. And I tell that to teachers, you know, and I tell that to principals and I tell that story to them. It's not just that they were playing, they had a really rich experience in life in the kindergarten class. And that really helped them to become inquisitive, and interested in so many things. In fact, the second grade teacher of the school said, Renee, "I can always tell which children are coming from your class, because they're the ones who are always asking questions." They're always asking such interesting questions, because we did that a lot. So, I mean, those are my big things that now that I'm not in the classroom, and I go into schools, I learn from the teachers that I'm working with, you know. And there are two principles that I particularly learned from working with one, Rhonda Levy, who was the principal of a school on the Lower East Side, where most of the children were either in homeless shelters or in Projects and very poor, very poor. And then, Anna Allenbrook, who is the principal of a very progressive public school, in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn New School, she actually just retired, but working with her and her teachers was really a learning experience for me. And then the very final person was a friend who I made, I don't know, maybe 10 years ago, I've always admired her work, but Deborah Meier. Deborah started the Small School Movement. Central Park East, which is a very progressive public school in Harlem, and Mission Hills School in Boston. And she had a MacArthur grant. She's just 90, and she's brilliant. So I'm calling her friends. So I'm sorry, I wandered a lot, like I'm on a journey. But that's how I, I, that's where Iearn most.

Lindsay Persohn:

Well Renee, I think that you actually make such a really important point, not only in the story you share with us, but also in what you share. Because, you know, we do tend to get so wrapped up in the destinations of learning, when really it is all about the journey. We don't learn without that journey. And you mentioned, you know, the observations that you did of kids, the way you encourage play, and exploration and inquiry that drives so much of what at least I believe we need in order to become lifelong learners. And in my experience in schools, quite often, it seems we've lost sight of that. It seems we've lost sight of that journey, and really forego the journey just to get to the destination. But when we arrive there, somehow, it's still not that great. You know it because we missed out on so much. And I think that that's true for life, too. If we're so focused on what comes next or what comes last, we miss everything in between. So I really appreciate those stories you share with us.

Renee Dinnerstein:

I am a storyteller.

Lindsay Persohn:

I love that. I love that we've had some really wonderful storytellers on the show. So I'm hoping that you will tell us another story in response to my next question, what would you want listeners to know about your work?

Renee Dinnerstein:

Well, first of all, I feel absolutely passionate about bringing opportunities for play and inquiry and exploration to mainly early childhood. That's what I'm working with. I think all children need it but I'm working with pre K through second or third grade. In 1968, when I started teaching in New York City, the vision of early childhood covered pre K through third grade. Not anymore, not just pre K, not even kindergarten. Amazing. I must tell you that I recently met a doctor. His name is Peter Metz, and he's a child psychiatrist. And he has a psychiatry, pediatric psychiatry clinic in Worcester, Massachusetts. And we were talking about play and children. And he said, you know, Renee, in my clinic, now, we have a new diagnosis. And the diagnosis is 'play deprived,' which is so, yes...

Lindsay Persohn:

That's so sad.

Renee Dinnerstein:

So sad. And I had a visitor this week from Dr. Gabraella Drake-Forte. She's a pediatrician in Atlanta, Georgia. And she was telling me about how many children in her practice are being told, parents are being told that their children are ADHD. Parents of course say, you know, like, how can I get them to do the work? How can I get them to sit still? And all of that, and she could, you know, she said, she tries to encourage the parents to, to find some creative outlet for the children. And I have very strong feeling that we have more children being diagnosed that way, because we have more children being educated inappropriately. And they are not given the opportunity for play and inquiry and exploration, and they're being pushed into academic work that they're not ready for yet. And particularly in the way it's being presented to them. I think that's important. One, one of the things that my work is, when I work with teachers, is helping teachers to figure out how to, how to organize their classrooms in a way that they have centers that will challenge and engage the children, but also give the children space to set up their own agendas. Okay. So like play that that's a misunderstanding lately in schools. Teachers, sometimes and administrators, think that if they have these learning centers, that that giving the children opportunity to play, but in those learning centers, they have tasks to fulfill, and play does not involve any tasks. All right. Teacher Tom, Tom Hobson, he's an early childhood educator who has a, he has a blog, and he just wrote a book and, and I watched a video clip from his classroom. And he asked this little boy who was playing with Play Doh, and he just very quietly said, "What is play?" And the little boy didn't, and we just kept working, working, working, working. And finally, Tom had to move away to go to another center to you know, to help somebody somewhere else. And then the little boy spoke up. And he said, this is a four year old, "Play is what I do when nobody tells me what to do." So I think that when children have opportunities for play, they have opportunities to fantasize. We, you know, we don't even let, in the writing workshops, you know, we're not even encouraged to let children write about fantasy. And fantasy is so important to children, you know, to all of us, you know, but to children, they have opportunity to negotiate, to make sense of their world. Alright, so this summer, and recently I've been... I have a deck the back and there's a deck next door to me, and then an eight year old lives there. And then, in the house next to hers is a family with a seven year old boy and a five year old girl. And they opened up part of their fence so the children can go back and forth and play with each other. And so I have loved listening to them play because I sit outside and I'm like snooping on them, listening. And there's so much negotiating. Right? There was so much negotiating and figuring out whose role this is. Why did they even put on they made a movie, they got an iPad and made a movie, but they had to write a script and figure out who was what and but they did it all on their own. They figured the whole thing out. Another thing is next door, you have a family with two dads, right and our block who's of many different family configurations. And my neighbor said that he was listening to his daughter with her friends the other day and before they started playing, they were playing "family" they said first we have to figure out what kinds of families we have. You know, like who has two dads who has you know, and they figured all of that out too. I mean, look at the very sophisticated kinds of work that these children were doing. I'll give you another story about in the classroom. So, some years ago, my daughter was living in London. And I went to visit her with my husband. It was over Thanksgiving and I took two extra days off from work, one before the holiday, one after the holiday. And I told the children I would bring back little things for them to see about pictures and things for them to see. So I came back, and I had postcards, and I put the postcards out for them to look through. And one of the postcards was of the Rosetta Stone. Three boys got so involved with that postcard, with the pictures of it. One of the boys, stepfather was Greek. And he said, this looks like my daddy's writing. Then they saw the hieroglyphs. And so they said to me, this was said our morning meeting, that they're all looking at these things. And so they said, "Can we do a center where we just look with magnifying glass at this?" I said, "Go for it." And I remember that years before I bought a ABC chart at the Metropolitan Museum in the ABC hieroglyph. So I never used it, it was just stuck in my closet seemed like the perfect time to pull it out. So I pulled it out. And I brought it over to them. And I said you might want to look at this. Well, that opened up more children are looking over and they were so interested in it that the class... now I never planned on this but the class got involved with a study of ancient Egypt. And we took a trip to the Brooklyn Museum, and to see their collection, and the children saw a sarcophagus. Oh my, what that opens up, you know. And so my husband cut out these great big cardboard forms and we, kids blew up balloons, and we put it inside and taped it together and they made paper mache. And they made a paper mache, very big sarcophagus. And another group said they wanted to make up a story about the person who was buried in there. And so they went and they made up this story. And I had this tape that you use for an adding machine, because I store things and I'm you know, teacher and all that. So I took the tape out and said you might, if you want to write the story on here you can. And so that, who knows what they they use the ABC chart from their... and with crayons, and they were writing the story of the person that was inside there. And when the paper mache dried, we took it out to the schoolyard and spray painted it gold. And then they taped their story around it. In the block center, they were trying to build pyramids. But you know, it wasn't like everybody in the class was doing this during choice time, different things going on, but the class was so engaged with this, we read stories, we made up stories, if I was following some kind of a plan, this would never have happened. And I am willing to bet that a lot of these children now, they're they're like, maybe 30 years old now, you know, that they have not forgotten a lot of this, you know, maybe the little details I have, but I'm sure that there's so much that they remember about it. So I think that this is so important than that's what I'm trying to bring to classrooms.

Lindsay Persohn:

Renee, that that story actually makes me want to be in your class. And to me, that is the mark of success and education. When people say I want to be a part of that. I want to learn what they're learning. I want to do what they're doing. Because it is so engaging. And and for me, I think that that's one reason why it's you know, I teach pre service teachers, so to describe to them what engagement is, you know, to me, it is these, these kind of magical moments where ideas come together, kids bring what they want to learn and then you do happen to have that poster in your closet. And, you know, that that roll of adding machine tape that becomes their their scroll story. That's what engagement is, like I said, it's really hard to describe that, particularly for young adults who have maybe never been a part of a truly engaged classroom. It is something that makes you want to be a part of what's going on.

Renee Dinnerstein:

I've just been so concerned about the rigidity of what's happening. I would like to take the word rigor and maybe throw away they R and put a V there. I would like to take away the word stamina, and exchange it for the word engagement. And these are words that I tried to talk about with teachers actually when I'm working with them. So in 2012, I had been having long, long time conversations with Matt Glover. I don't know if you know that but he's a wonderful writing teacher. He's written a whole bunch of books for Hinemann and he does a lot of staff development. He's wonderful. And I was introduced to him by Kathy Collins who also is just a wonderful teacher, wonderful person, etc. And so we have been having conversations over the years, you know, like about, by phone because he's in Cleveland. He was a principal of an early childhood school and then he became a staff developer. And he used to encourage his teachers to go to Reggio Emilia, when he was a principal. So we talked about it, and were thinking you know what? Each to try to get together a group of educators who are writing about education, who are having a big impact on education, but let them see that literacy is more than just the written word. Why don't we see if we can get a trip to Reggio Emilia going, a study group to Reggio Emilia going and we did. I can't get over that it actually worked out. We had 68 educators. We got into classrooms. We sat in classrooms. I mean, I'm not fluent fluent in Italian, but I understand the teacher and the children, you know. And so we got, we go in into the classrooms. We had meetings together in small groups and whole group, and we met with the teachers in Reggio Emilia. So it was an amazing week, and we wanted something to happen from it. And so everybody wrote their... we said, you could draw pictures, you can make the poem, anything you want but let's write about our experience and what came of it. And so everyone wrote something, and then we came up with 13, I have it right here... 13 beliefs about education. So I'm not going to read the whole description of it. Teachers as researchers, that's number one. Teachers as learners. Belief three, appreciative view of children. Four, struggle is where learning happens, not to tell them everything. Five, engagement. Six, ownership of learning; children need to have ownership of their learning. And they do that during choice time, for sure. Intellectual stimulation. Joy. Teacher professional growth and collaboration. Interdependent learning and student collaboration. Family, or acknowledgement of family. Head and heart; that's really important. And time, everyone needs time. There's not time enough. And out of all of this came this wonderful book of essays. We sent out, we sent out the statement of beliefs to a whole bunch of people and asked them if they would be interested in taking 1, 2, 3 of the beliefs and just writing off of it. So we have The Teacher You Want to Be. And these are the people who wrote Sir Ken Robinson, Vicki Vinton, Heidi Mills, Peter Johnston and Gay Ivey, Katherine Bomer, but a whole long list. It's a wonderful book of essays. So I felt, I felt really, really good about that. And I think that all of these can be relevant in a classroom, where there's play and inquiry going on.

Lindsay Persohn:

You know, the idea of choice keeps coming up. And that's definitely a word that really resonates with me, because I, at one point was a kindergarten teacher. And it was really during a time of flux when choice was disappearing, seemingly every day, choices for teachers, choices for kids. And it was, it was hard to watch that. And I think that sometimes it is hard to resist whenever the forces that be within your own school system are saying that, nope, we can't do that anymore. We can't do this anymore. We can't, you're going to be doing you know, we're going to stack these things up on you instead, without really having any understanding of why those mandates are coming down. And at that point in my career, I was a fairly new teacher. And the best I could do was to leave the classroom and to continue my own education so that hopefully at one point, I would be able to impact others in thinking about how we can push against these things that we know aren't right for kids. And particularly, you know, again, this idea of choice and how choice has really disappeared from so many of our classrooms. You make so many great connections for us around why choice is important. Because I believe what you're saying with every bone in my body, that kids need that opportunity to investigate and to play and observe and make their own choices so that they then are ready for some more formalized kind of teaching, and this idea of giving them choice when they're young, and that's not to say that kids shouldn't have choices as they get older also, but when we help them understand and navigate choices when they're young, it sets them up to be able to understand and navigate choices later. So you know, all of the, you mentioned ADHD, and the behavioral challenges that sometimes we see in schools, I'm with you, I believe, that is rooted in this missed opportunity for giving kids a choice to and how to navigate those choices earlier in life. We kind of miss that window, or maybe we skip that window altogether, and expect that they will know how to make choices later in life when we don't give them an opportunity to apprentice into that work as young people.

Renee Dinnerstein:

So well said, absolutely, yeah.

Lindsay Persohn:

Renee, given the challenges of today's educational climate, what message do you want teachers to hear?

Renee Dinnerstein:

Well, I mean, first, I think I'd like them to really return to what I first said about my journey, and to understand that how I'm thinking today, what I did in my classroom that I was describing to, that didn't happen when I first started. And so it's little steps that you're taking along the way. And so I think that that's important for teachers to understand, they can take little steps and make changes. That's number one. I also think that perhaps on their own, they need to read some wonderful books, some inspiring books about education. I've been reading this A Child's Work by Vivian Gussin Paley. And you know, every time I read one of these books, I want to go back in the classroom. I say, oh there's so much to do. But I definitely have shared this with some of the teachers that I work with. And here's another new one that I got, which is also really wonderful called Story Workshop New Possibilities for Young Writers. And it's written by Susan Harris MacKay and she came on the trip to Reggio with us. And she had been the Director of a school called the Opal School in Oregon, which is very inquiry based school. And so is a lot in this book that connects writing and play. Writing and play was such a connection, you know? So there's also The Teacher You Want to Be. Possibly my book, you know, Choice Time. But, but I think reading, reading these books, first of all, will inspire. Also, you know, sometimes I'll hear a teacher say, children learn through play. And they will tell that to their principle. But you can't just say that, right? You have to be able to explain what, what's going on, and what kind of learning they're doing and how the play is supporting this, because that gives you ammunition for going further, you know. And so it's really important to educate yourself on this. I think that's very important for teachers. You know, this this year, teachers were working so hard, they were just working so hard that they should get medals for the work that they did. I myself was feeling rather helpless, because I wasn't going into schools, and I didn't quite know what to do. And so I wrote something on Facebook. "Are there any people who would like to talk about Choice Time with me?" And I thought maybe 10 people, possibly. Over 100 people responded. And so I ended up, and from around the world, from Indonesia, from Australia, from the Netherlands, from all around the country. And so I ended up for three weeks, having two sessions each week, because because of the different time zones, and the first two weeks where, I was presenting, I was really presenting things about choice time and we talked about it, you know, because they wrote in the chat, at then I responded. And then the third week, I invited teachers to respond and to present about what's happening in their class and it gave me opportunity also to, like give little suggestions that might make changes. All right. So I find that very interesting that so many teachers are really interested in that. You know, just a quickie that I say in Reggio Emilia, there's a poem that Loris Malaguzzi wrote he wrote this poem, "No Way. The 100 is There." The child is made of one hundred. The child has a hundred languages a hundred hands a hundred thoughts a hundred ways of thinking of playing, of speaking. A hundred always a hundred ways of listening of marveling of loving a hundred joys for singing and understanding a hundred worlds to discover a hundred worlds to invent a hundred worlds to dream. The child has a hundred languages (and a hundred hundred hundred more) but they steal ninety-nine. The school and the culture separate the head from the body. They tell the child: to think without hands to do without head to listen and not to speak to understand without joy to love and to marvel only at Easter and Christmas. They tell the child: to discover the world already there and of the hundred they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:

that work and play reality and fantasy science and imagination sky and earth reason and dream are things that do not belong together. And thus they tell the child that the hundred is not there. The child says: No way. The hundred is there. I love that.

Lindsay Persohn:

I love that poem, too. And it really does capture so much of what I think happens in schools.

Renee Dinnerstein:

And I think of my own family where my husband's an artist, my daughter's a concert pianist, and my grandson is studying acting in London. So, so much like for my grandson, for example, you know, when he was in, in pre kindergarten, he only wanted to play in the dramatic play center, right? And the teachers would try to pull him out of there and go somewhere else. But he just wanted to do that. When he was in middle school, he had to pick they say a talent, you know, to be a special part of the school. And so he picked drama, right. And he had a real feeling for it. But he you know, he's very smart, but he never like to read. And we're all readers in my family that he didn't have to read. But now he went to LaGuardia High School, which is a school for the arts, and he went in drama and now he's in this program and he's reading plays all the time. He's discovering new plays that he's reading, he's reading classic plays. They're going to be do a performance this year of The Trial by Kafka, and he said, I, you know, I've never read Kofka, I better read Kafka. So he's reading Kafka now, you know. Through acting, he found his way there. That was his language. You know, I could see a child who plays with clay, you know, who will start doing things with clay and reading, eventually writing about what he's doing and reading, you know, these languages, these different languages are so important. And we have to honor them. And we have to have classrooms that, that provide access for all of these different, these different languages, for to children to explore. I don't mean you need 100 different things. You need to be open to children having different roadways to learning.

Lindsay Persohn:

Right, and letting, letting kids find their own purpose for those kinds of tasks, to find an authentic way to engage with the academics so to speak, that we're asking them to work with.

Renee Dinnerstein:

Absolutely.

Lindsay Persohn:

Renee, I have so enjoyed talking with you today. And I thank you for your time and I thank you for your contributions to education.

Renee Dinnerstein:

It's been it's been a delight to talk with you. Thank you.

Lindsay Persohn:

Renee Dinnerstein is known for her work as an early childhood educator. She has over 50 years experience, having taught in both Italy and the United States. She spent 18 years as an early childhood teacher at PS 321, one of New York City's leading elementary schools. She served as the Teacher Director of the Children's School Early Childhood Inclusion Annex and has worked as an early childhood staff developer and the New York City Department of Education Division of Instructional Support, where she wrote curriculum led study groups and summer institutes, and helped write the New York City Pre Kindergarten Standards. Renee, a past member of the Teacher's College Reading and Writing Early Childhood Reading Think Tank, taught in the projects summer Institute's and presented Calendar Days for kindergarten and first grade teachers. She received the Bank Street Early Childhood Educator of the Year award in 1999. Her book Choice Time How to Deepen Learning through Inquiry and Play was published by Hinemann in 2016 and is also available in Mandarin, published by the Beijing Normal University Press in 2019. She currently works as an Early Childhood Literacy Consultant and presents her work at conferences, focusing on developing an inquiry based choice time and on implementing whole class inquiry projects. You can connect with Renee through her blog Investigating Choice Time Inquiry, Exploration and Play at www.InvestigatingChoiceTime.com. For the good of all students, good research should inform good practice and vice versa. Listeners are invited to respond to an episode, learn more about our guests, search past episodes, or request a topic or conversation with a specific person through our website at ClassroomCaffeine.com. If you've learned something today, or just enjoyed listening, please be encouraged to talk about what you heard with your colleagues, and subscribe and review this podcast through your podcast provider. As always, I raised my mug to you teachers. Thanks for joining me.