Ann Lewin-Benham Photo
Old black and white engraving of a printer's workshop

Workshop Topics

Revised April 2010

Workshops differ from presentations in two ways. They are longer and involve much more dialogue

among participants to encourage them to think about how the ideas apply to their own practices. 

The workshops described here are examples of 2-hour or 4-hour programs to engage teachers in analyzing topics that range from systemic change in classroom practices to specific aspects of curriculum. Ann will develop workshops to suit a school's particular needs.

Theory into Practice - 1: Why It Is So Tough To “Do Reggio” in America
A 2-hour workshop.   Using classroom images to illustrate points, I describe aspects of Reggio practices – leadership, funding, cullture – that differ markedly from American practices.  This highly interactive workshop involves teachers in dialogue about their own attempts to use the Reggio Approach. Ann's guidance helps teachers come to grips with their concerns about how to begin drawing on the inspiration of the Reggio schools to change their own practices.

Theory into Practice - 2:  First Steps in Using the Reggio Approach
A 2-hour workshop.  Using before and after images from the Model Early Learning Center, the words of teachers, and children’s work, I describe beginning attempts to use the Reggio Approach.  Attempts vary from changing the environment to learning how to listen to children.    In interactive dialogue, I engage teachers in analyzing what first steps they want to make, how they believe they can begin (which is different for every teacher), and what will be required to do so.         

Changing the Culture and Climate of a School
A 2-hour or 4-hour workshop.  How what we do in early childhood and elementary school impacts what happens to students in junior and senior high school, and how to restructure a school in order to change the paradigm in either ECE or the upper grades.  The emphasis is on inner city schools.  Plan for 2 or 4 hours depending on the time and depth of the dialogue you want to have.

What Does It Mean to Learn?

Academics in Preschool and the Early Grades
A 2-hour presentation and discussion.  Images show examples of school practices that enhance learning such as modalities of expression, the phases of a mental act, low level and high level thinking, and mental operations.  The presentation focuses on the teacher’s role in mediating learning and draws on participants’ own classroom experiences.

The Conversation Tool Kit:

Focused Conversation as a Basis for Literacy
A 2-hour or 4-hour workshop.  In 2 hours we discuss numerous visuals to learn the techniques of conversation including how to help children learn how to focus in conversation, choose topics, and become self-disciplined.  Techniques help children engage in long discourse without fidgeting or annoying others.  Teachers see the research base and probe ways to use these techniques in their own classrooms.  In 4 hours we analyze teachers’ own classrooms and practice the techniques.  Together, based on their own routines, teachers brainstorm feasible ways to use conversation and develop guidelines for using conversation in their individual classrooms.

Building Literacy: The Two Aspects of Reading & Writing

Encoding/Decoding & Understanding Content

A 4-hour teacher workshop.  In the first 2 hours I explain the processes of encoding and decoding and educate teachers in the phonics techniques pioneered by Maria Montessori – sound game, sandpaper letters, and movable alphabet.  I demonstrate with children and engage teachers in actively using the techniques.  Numerous hand-outs provide teachers with what they need to employ the techniques themselves.  In the second 2 hours I present images of the kinds of classroom activities that develop children’s understanding of content – conversation, books, varied and rich experiences, verbal expression, and writing.  The workshop allows time for teachers to discuss what they are learning and consider how it applies to their own classrooms.

Reading and Writing
A 2-hour or 4-hour workshop.  In 2 hours I show ways in which a preschool’s space and program support emerging literacy.  I show precursors to writing that begin in infancy, early writing experiences in preschool, reading that begins with images and moves through from symbols (pictures) to abstract symbols (letters).  I end with a presentation of robust writing products by four- to six-year-olds.  In a second 2 hours, I help teachers analyze their own environment and practices and discuss how to increase activities that develop literacy.

Building Numeracy: Mathematics Inherent in Preschool Experiences
A 2-hour or 4-hour workshop.  In 2 hours I explore through images numerous ways a well-prepared classroom can develop children’s innate mathematical tendencies.  Based on a spate of research showing that mathematical thinking is present in infancy, the presentation explores the mathematical ideas of line, shape, order, pattern, geometry, symmetry, symbols, quantity, measurement, sets, counting, and scale, and shows applications of some of these principles in children’s projects.  In a second 2 hours, I work with teachers to analyze their own environment and practices with the aim of increasing activities that develop numeracy.


Sharpening Teaching Practices: An Extended Series of Workshops

Workshops are designed in close collaboraion wtih the leadership of a school and are based on their perceptions of their strengths and weaknesses. The number of visits and length is determined together with school leadership. Presentations can include lectures for parents, discussion groups, or public addresses open to the community.

Initial visit to observe

Follow on visits may include any combination of the following


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