Conference - Seize the Play: Supporting Play-Based Learning in an Era of Standardized Curriculum & Assessment

Seize the Play: Supporting Play-Based Learning

in an Era of Standardized Curriculum and Assessment

April 13, 2013

University Conference Center

Montclair State University

Montclair, NJ

While early childhood teacher education programs and professional organizations continue to emphasize the value of play, teachers, administrators and other early childhood professionals are faced with conflicting demands. Requirements for measurable outcomes, standardized assessments, and mandated curricula contradict beliefs in play-based, developmentally appropriate approaches to early childhood education. The debate over play, referred to as the highest phase of child and human development and the germinal leaves of later life (Froebel, 1898), and the infusion of early academics is recognized as one of the most controversial topics in the field of early childhood education.

This conference will bring together practitioners, professionals, teacher educators and all those who care about young children to share ideas and strategies that build bridges between these conflicting values to support the successful learning and development of all children.  Conference attendees will receive 7 Professional Development Hours for attendance.


7:45am-8:45am:      Arrivals, Registration, Continental Breakfast
8:45am-9am:           Welcome
9:00am-9:45am:      Keynote Speaker
10:00am-11:00am:  Workshop Session I
11:15am-12:15pm:  Workshop Session II
12:30pm-2:00pm:    Lunch and Speaker
2:15pm-3:15pm:      Workshop Session III
3:20pm-3:50pm:      Closing Remarks and Recognitions

Keynote Speaker: 

Beverly Falk, Director of the Graduate Programs in Early Childhood Education at the City College of New York, School of Education
Beverly Falk is Professor and Director of the Graduate Programs in Early Childhood Education at The School of Education, The City College of New York.  She has been a classroom teacher, public school founder and director, district administrator, researcher, and consultant - at the school, district, state, and national level – as well as a Fellow of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the CCNY Colin Powell Center on Public Policy.  Dr. Falk’s work focuses on supporting teachers to create educational environments that support how children learn – through active engagement, by being responsive to diverse cultures and languages, involving families, and developing not only cognitive skills but other important dispositions such as curiosity, perseverance, empathy, flexibility, resilience, and social awareness.  She is particularly interested in ensuring that our youngest, most vulnerable citizens in historically under-served diverse urban communities have equitable access to high quality learning opportunities.  Other strands of Dr. Falk’s work include teacher research and performance assessment - garnering the knowledge teachers generate in their practice to inform instruction, support students’ learning, and advance the knowledge of the field.  The founding and current editor of The New Educator, a quarterly journal about educator preparation, Dr. Falk is the author/co-author/editor of over 100 publications.  Her most recent books are Defending Childhood:  Keeping the Promise of Early Education (TC Press, 2012); Teaching Matters:  Stories from Inside City Schools, co-authored with Megan Blumenreich (The New Press, 2012); and Teaching the Way Children Learn (Teachers College Press, 2008).

Lunch Speaker:

Beverly Lynn  CEO, Programs for Parents

Beverly was named CEO of Programs for Parents (PfP), one of the top ten not-for-profits and the largest child care and resource and referral agency in the state of New Jersey, in 2008. Programs for Parents provides services to over 1200 child care providers in Essex County and financial assistance to over 20,000 families to help pay for child care services. Beverly oversees a budget that exceeds $70 million.  Prior to joining Programs for Parents, Beverly served as the Executive Director of Newark Preschool Council, Inc. (NPC) Head Start Program. As Executive Director, she implemented a comprehensive early childhood education program for approximately 2,500 children in the city of Newark with over 750 employees. Beverly also served as the State Child Care Administrator for the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS). In that role, she was responsible for the oversight of all federal and state dollars allocated to child care services under the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF).
Beverly is the recipient of the notable Aletha Wright Award, which recognizes individuals in the State of New Jersey who have made outstanding contributions in the early care and education community. She also was the recipient of the Shirley Chisholm Award for Early Childhood Education.

Workshop Session topics include:

  • Building Blocks of Knowledge
  • Play: The Foundation of Children’s Engineering
  • Story Play-Schemes
  • For You, For Me, For Later
  • Language, Culture, and Play in the Preschool Classroom
  • The Newark Museum Discoveries: Is it REAL?
  • Using Developmental Levels of Play to Understand and Address Challenging Behaviors in the Classroom
  • Inside Teaching: Learning from Teachers’ Inquiries about their Practice 
  • Dramatic Play, Please Stay!
  • Playing Around. Learning So Much
  • Building a Classroom Community Through a Responsive Classroom Lens
  • Children’s Literature in Diverse Classrooms
  • Research to Practice: Minds in the Making

To view specific workshop sessions and to register online for the conference, please visit:

Registration deadline extended to March 31st.