Pop City notices the extraordinary in a Pittsburgh classroom

Marty Levine visits teacher Melissa Butler's classroom and talks with researcher Junlei Li about the essential ingredients of effective adult-child interaction

Two of Kids+Creativity Network members, research scientist Junlei Li and kindergarten teacher Melissa Butler, were featured in an article this week on Pop City.

photo: Ben Filio for Remake Learning

Rec2Tech Pittsburgh at Phillips Rec Center in Carrick

The in-depth article explores discovering the extraordinary in a classroom through the eyes of two very different people both dedicated to the advancement of childhood education in Pittsburgh and we’re glad to share a bit of it here with you:

When Junlei Li entered Melissa Butler’s kindergarten class in spring 2012 with a video camera, Butler didn’t realize Li was focusing his lens mostly on her.

Butler had been teaching for 16 years by then, and in Pittsburgh Allegheny K–5 since 2008. Li’s project, Something Worth Giving, funded by the Grable Foundation, was trying to figure out what actions really help children in the many places they go, including classrooms. His job was to see what Butler gave to her class, and what worked for her students. He filmed inside her room two to three times a week over a four-week period.

“Her classroom, her school – on the surface they looked quite ordinary,” he recalls. “But once we were inside her classroom it was quite remarkable.”

“He has a very quiet presence,” Butler remembers. “He was just noticing… I noticed how good he is at noticing. His noticing is definitely instructive.”

Li has been principal research scientist at The Fred Rogers Company and past director of applied research and evaluation for the Office of Child Development at the University of Pittsburgh. This fall, he will become a visiting professorship in early learning and children’s media at Saint Vincent College.

To read the excellent article in full, visit Pop City Media, and be on the lookout for these two dedicated educators and the work they do around the city in classrooms, laboratories and on the web.

Published October 11, 2013