When approaching teaching — whether it be to adult early childhood professionals or children themselves — Mary Hynes-Berry, PhD, draws on her extensive knowledge of two concepts: storytelling and foundational mathematics.
“My whole life, I’ve looked at stories and how the meaning changes depending on the way they are told,” says Dr. Hynes-Berry, a faculty member whose background in literature has helped shape her career. “It’s a dynamic, interactive process. And at the heart of every story told in the world is a math problem: What is bigger? What is fair? Where do I fit?”
A longtime Erikson professor, Dr. Hynes-Berry is passionate about preparing adults to teach young children, regardless of where they are in their careers. In her courses, she encourages students to ask many questions and share the stories of their own personal and professional experiences. In doing so, students better relate to their work — and also understand the role their work plays in the world. “Questions and conversations are the most important tools we have in teaching and learning,” she says.
Dr. Hynes-Berry also is one of the founding members of Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative, which provides professional development to early childhood educators on teaching foundational math and also conducts research on the most effective ways to bolster mathematical thinking among young children.
In addition, she is one of the joint authors of the Collaborative’s first book, “Big Ideas of Foundational Mathematics” (2014), and project director of Math All Around Me. The latter is an innovative initiative of the Collaborative that seeks an understanding of “precursor concepts” that children age 3 and younger comprehend and lead to more complex mathematical thinking later in life. Through the program, the Collaborative is providing professional development to Chicago-area professionals who work with infants and toddlers and hosting learning labs to help educators nurture early mathematical thinking in the classroom.
- MA and PhD, English, University of Wisconsin, Madison
- BA, English, Trinity College, Washington, D.C.
Areas of Expertise
- Early childhood mathematics (birth to 8) — theory and practice
- Early childhood literacy (birth to 8) — theory and practice
- Supporting the growth of highly effective facilitators and teachers of young children
- Using literature to promote personal growth (bibliotherapy)
- Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative
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- 2017. Nurturing Mathematical Thinkers from Birth: The Why, What, and How in Zero to Three Journal Vol. 37 No 5, 23-34 (joint author with J. Chen, B. Abel, C. Sims, L. Ginet
- 2014. Stories and storytelling: good for the heart and the mind in Expressive Writing: Classroom and Community, ed. Kay Adams. Boulder: Rowman and Littlefield.
- 2014. Joint author (Erikson Math Collaborative). Big Ideas of Early Mathematics Education. Pearson.
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- Mathematical Thinking Begins at the Beginning: Supporting precursor mathematical concepts in 0-3s prepares the ground for robust number sense, with Jie-Qi Chen, Barbara Abel, Lisa Ginet; NAEYC PLI 2017
- It’s Never too Early: Supporting Mathematical Thinking in 0-3. Gateways Higher Education Forum, with J. Chen. Bloomington, IL. April 2017.
- Treat Numbers as Attributes: Give Children a Head Start on Rational Counting. National Head Start Conference and Expo, April 2017.
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Related professional experience
- Instructor, Early Mathematics Education Project, 2007-present
- Consultant, New Schools Project, 2004-2009
- Instructor, Erikson Institute Professional Development Courses, 2001-present
- Adjunct Faculty, National Louis University, 1992-1993, 1994
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