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 a problem that is simultaneously mathematical and human. 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.
Since 2015, she has been project director of Math All Around Me (MAAM), a project that focuses on helping caregivers understand the Precursor Mathematical Concepts that prepare the ground so that all children will enter preschool primed to take on the explicitly mathematical thinking and problem-solving that they need to be successful in school.
Her publications and presentations all reflect these same themes. Her Don’t Leave the Story in the Book (Teacher’s College Press,2011) emphasizes how questions and conversations about stories can jumpstart learning across the curriculum. She has been a joint author on the Collaborative’s two books, Big Ideas of Foundational Mathematics (Pearson, 2014) and Growing Mathematical Minds (Routledge, 2018). Most recently, she co- authored Where’s the Math: Books, Games and Routines to Spark Children’s Thinking (NAEYC,2019), which was chosen as a NAEYC membership premium book.
- 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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- 2019, Hynes-Berry & Grandau. Where’s the Math in Questions Every Child Wonders About, NAEYC press. (Distributed as NAEYC membership Premium book, August 2019)
- 2018, Hynes-Berry, McCray with Goldin Meadow. “The role of gesture in teaching and learning math” & Brownell, Hynes-Berry with Baroody, “Pathways to Basic Combination Fluency in the Primary Grades “ in Growing Mathematical Minds, ed McCray, Chen & Sorkin. Routledge
- 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)
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- Where’s the Math? – A Day with the Authors. Featured Preconference workshop: NAEYC 2019
- Is it Fair: Exploring the math in children’s books related to equity, equivalence and equalizing. June 2019 NAEYC PLI
- Teachers Teaching teachers how to fish. March 2019 NCSM presented with 4 teacher Professional Development Leaders from the Erikson-Big Shoulders Fund program.
- Using picture books to help children see and talk about math all around them (With Laura Grandau) NAEYC National, 2018
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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