Heartland Early Childhood Paraeducator Grant

The goal of Kirkwood Community College's Heartland Early Childhood Paraeducator project is to prepare a paraeducator workforce to support the education of all children.

A major focus of the grant includes creating the infrastructure and policies to meet the goal. The College engaged in an extensive review of the content of the programs and redesigned the curriculum to highlight the best practice concepts:

  • Evidence-based practice
  • Working with culturally, linguistically, and ability diverse children
  • Problem solving, where faculty and community partners work together to educate the Kirkwood Early Childhood Graduate of the Future

Objectives of the Project

  1. Provide training to faculty to redesign program and implement new curriculum. Faculty members participate in small group activities and ongoing professional development.
  2. Redesign the paraeducator program to align with state and national professional organizations and standards. During large and small group meetings, the faculty reviewed and compared the current program curriculum to state and national organizations. The redesigned curriculum meets the state and national standards.
  3. Prepare highly qualified paraeducators to serve children with disabilities and their families. Faculty implemented the new curriculum and work with staff at practica sites. Instruments for collecting data from students and practica supervisors are utilized to assess the effectiveness of the new curriculum.
  4. Disseminate project to other community colleges and other constituent settings. The directors disseminate the project locally and across the state and at the national level. Faculty members at other community colleges are included in the project through the Iowa Community College Early Childhood Alliance. Community partners participate in ongoing professional development.

A curriculum map is a tool to document core topics, readings, media, instructional strategies, potential guest speakers, and assignments around specific course content areas.

Curriculum maps were designed to ensure:

  • Program key concepts including working with children who are culturally, linguistically, and ability diverse (CLAD), problem solving (PS), and utilizing evidence-based resources (EBP) for planning and decision making are embedded in all early childhood courses. 
  • Course content on CLAD, EBP, and PS build on prior knowledge and skills as students progress through the early childhood program. 
  • Course instructional strategies and assignments build on each other but are not repetitious. For example, students do not watch the same video in several courses.
  • Thorough review of the early childhood program content by grant evaluator as part of the US Department of Education: Office of Special Education Programs grant.


Courses and Curriculum Maps

ECE 103 Intro to Early Childhood Education

  • Assistive Technology
  • CLAD

ECE 133 Child Health Safety and Nutrition

  • Assistive Technology
  • CLAD

ECE 158 Early Childhood Curriculum I

  • Assistive Technology
  • CLAD

ECE 159 Early Childhood Curriculum II

  • Assistive Technology
  • CLAD

ECE 170 Child Growth and Development

  • Assistive Technology
  • CLAD

ECE 221 Infant/Toddler Care and Education

  • Assistive Technology
  • CLAD

Assistive Technology Interactive Handout

Assistive Technology Interactive Handout includes a list of typical assistive technology devices and resources used by young children. The list is grouped by function and organized from lowest- to highest-tech. A benefit of using the slide is the visual presentation of going from the easiest and lowest forms of technology to the most complex.

Faculty can create opportunities for college students to learn the different devices listed in the handout. As with the Assistive Technology Kits, faculty may also develop activities and assignments that utilize the objects found in the Assistive Technology Interactive Handout.

These activities and assignments may include requiring college students to:

  • Select a low tech device to meet the needs of a student and then follow up with a more high tech device if needed.
  • Adapt an existing assignment using an assistive device or devices to meet the needs of a hypothetical or actual child.
  • Solve a dilemma by utilizing an assistive device.
  • Create an activity for a specific assistive device such as a buzzer button or gripper.
  • Create an Assistive Technology slide.

Assistive Technology Kits 

Assistive Technology Kits are available for each of the Early Children Education courses. These Assistive Technology Kits provide college students the opportunity to directly explore a wide variety of low tech assistive devices. These devices can support and expand the learning of all children, including children with disabilities.

Faculty can create opportunities for college students to conduct hands-on discovery of the devices in the kits. As with Assistive Technology Interactive Handout, faculty may also develop activities and assignments that utilize the objects found in the Assistive Technology Kits. These activities and assignments may include requiring college students to:

  • Adapt an existing assignment using an assistive device or devices to meet the needs of a hypothetical or an actual child.
  • Solve a dilemma by utilizing an assistive device.
  • Create an activity for a specific assistive device such as a buzzer button or gripper.

Curriculum Resources

  • Access Participation Supports Resources for Teaching - Universal Design UD/UDL; Camille Catlett, Scientist, FPG Child Development Institute,University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
  • Assistive Technology Interactive Handout  - instructions for creating an interactive handout
  • CARA's Kit 7 adaptation lessons using the tool CARA's Kit by S.A. Milbourne 
  • Crosswalk's Toolbox Outreach to Infuse Diversity in Preservice Education FPG Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina 
  • Dilemmas Handouts Dilemmas of Daily Practice; Camille Catlett, Scientist, FPG Child Development Institute,University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
  • Evidence-Based Practice Resources at your Fingertips 
  • Glossary of Early Childhood terms
  • Instructors Resources Handbook
  • More Than Songs and Snacks Resources for Exploring Culture and Diversity; Camille Catlett, Scientist, FPG Child Development Institute,University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
  • Stages of Second Language Acquisition
  • Terrific and Free Resources to Support Evidence-Based Practices; Camille Catlett, Scientist, FPG Child Development Institute,University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Workshop for Cooperating Teachers

  • Mentoring Students: Setting the Tone
  • Dilemmas Students and Cooperating Teachers Face 

This project is supported by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the U.S. Department of Education.