Reflections

Photo by Dominik Lange on Unsplash

Before the technology course began, I had a narrow-minded view of technology usage in early childhood education (ECE) settings and didn’t think that it was necessary. I felt this way because of all of the negative associations I had made between young children and technology usage. For example, observing: children spending too many hours engaged with technology at home, children not playing outside as much as they did before, and children coming to kindergarten with less social skills. I had observed some of these examples in my own teaching experiences as well as those of my colleagues. As a result, I viewed my kindergarten classroom as a place for my young learners to unplug and to escape from screen time.

However, through this course, my peers and my research I have learned that there is a place for technology in ECE and that when used effectively it can significantly improve the learning outcomes of our young students. Yet, it cannot be mistaken that educators need to research and explore how they will incorporate technology into their ECE classrooms. There are an overwhelming number of learning apps and educational programs and as a result teachers need to be selective and/or open to experimenting with different programs. Also, it’s important to note that touch screen technology should not replace current successful teaching practices but rather it should be used to help enhance/supplement it. I believe that educators need to also develop a positive experience with technology first before truly embracing it into their classrooms. As with any new experiences, there will be obstacles and challenges that educators face as they integrate technology into their classroom (as discussed in my previous posts).

I am still at the beginning of my journey with technology usage in my classroom. This course has helped me to gain more knowledge and confidence in regards to using more technology in my classroom such as iPads. This is the first year that I have had access to iPads in my classroom. At this current time, I am able to access 4 iPads for about an hour each day during my class’s center time (free choice play). To get familiar with the apps that are already on our school iPads, I have been choosing a new app each center time for students to explore. It has been interesting to see how engaged my students are with the iPads and how effective apps can enhance my students’ learning experiences. I am hoping to get to a point, soon, when we can start using more open content apps such as Puppet Pals (which I have discussed in my previous blog posts).

My experience during this course would also not be complete without my learning pod: EricaMegan and Sarah. We read each other’s blog posts weekly and had video discussions, often. Not only did I learn from my journey but also from theirs! Erica researched a topic that I was very interested in: has the role of technology affected a decline in young learners’ fine motor skills? I enjoyed reading Erica’s research and her analysis of it each week. She found research that showed some of the positives and negatives aspects of technology in regards to fine motor skills. The outcome of her research was that there are benefits and limitations to touch screen technology and that it is important for educators to be mindful of this while also carefully evaluating its usage in the classroom. Also, it sounds like more research needs to be done in this area as mentioned in Erica’s paper.

Megan’s inquiry researched the effectiveness of technology-based learning services such as the teletherapy programs used by speech pathologist and clients (school children) in remote areas. I remember at first that Megan had difficulty finding research in this area and indicated that more research still needs to be done, however; I believe she found some great sources for her inquiry! Megan also discovered that there are limitations to using teletherapy as well as some negative perspectives on it, however, she concluded her paper with research to support the effectiveness of it overall. I also enjoyed hearing about Megan’s personal connections to teletherapy as she teaches on a remote island and uses a teletherapy program called Tiny Eye with a speech pathologist.

Finally, Sarah’s inquiry topic, similar to mine, focused on using technology to help enrich literacy however; her research was through the lens of a French Immersion teacher. This topic was also interesting to me as I may consider putting my future children into a French immersion school. Although, my greatest concern is, how would I support my children at home if I am not a fluent French speaker? Sarah posted weekly about apps and suggestions for how French literacy learning can be supported at school and at home. Through research, Sarah’s final inquiry paper highlighted the numerous benefits of using digital multimodality approaches to French immersion literacy.

In conclusion to this final blog post and the course, I have noticed a common theme throughout my research and that of my peers: there are limits to technology, barriers and challenges to overcome with technology, numerous benefits and that more research is needed on certain topics in regards to technology usage. I have also learned that educators should use technology to enhance education while in balance to and with the other prescribed learning outcomes. I can truly say that my narrow-minded view on technology in ECE contexts has completely shifted into a view that is open-minded and embracing. I now have the knowledge, confidence and enthusiasm to integrate various technological platforms into my kindergarten classroom. Also, a big thank you to my entire Masters Cohort for sharing their learning with me throughout the course and also to my professor for offering support, guidance and for exposing me to more technological tools such as Zotero, Tello, Unsplash and Blogs.

 

 

Blog Post #8: Do you know about Skill Based, Evergreen and Sandbox Apps?

In the article It’s an app, app world from the E-book Crayons and ipads, Cesare (2017) discusses how tablet apps can be used to support inquiry-based learning practices in ECE contexts.  Cesare reviews the following app categories: skill-based, evergreen and sandbox with the intention to shift the students’ role from a passive participant to an interactive user.

As cited by Cesare (2017), an inquiry-based pedagogical model requires educators to listen and observe children’s attentions, interests and questions, discerning what will spark and inspire opportunities for investigation and exploration (Chiarot- to, 2011; Harwood, Bajovic, Woloshyn, Di Cesare, Lane & Scott, 2015).  Immediately this statement made me think of the digital world that our students are being born into.  With that in mind, our students seem to be naturally interested in, drawn to and engaged by technology as it is all around them.

From this article, I learned that as of June 2016, there were more than two million apps in Apple’s App Store (Statista, 2016a), and that educational apps represented the third largest app category, following games and business-related apps (Statista, 2016b).  Thus, highlighting the overwhelming feeling educators may face (including me) when trying to select good quality apps.  According to Cesar, (2017) engagement with quality apps allows children the opportunity to develop skills to construct knowledge in an attempt to solve real-world problems while making meaning of the physical world that surrounds them. However, guidelines on assessing the educational value of an app are still emerging (Harwood, 2014; Zosh et al., 2016).  There are some online resources available to help guide educators’ choices such as: Children’s Technology Review, Common Sense Education (I have linked to this website before in previous posts) and Teachers with Apps.

http://childrenstech.com/about

www.commonsense.org/education/

https://www.teacherswithapps.com/

Skill based apps focus on a specific skill or concept such as simple math facts, patterns or identifying letter sounds.  The quality of these apps plays a large role in enhancing learning experiences and should be reflective of situated practices, engaging, provide immediate feed- back and allow for learner growth (Cesare 2017). As cited by Cesare (2017), Walker (2011) promotes the use of a rubric to evaluate skill-based apps effectiveness based on six categories: curriculum connection, authenticity, feedback, differentiation, user-friendliness and student motivation.

Cesare (2017) argues that the utilization of skill-based apps in a classroom to target specific skills has merit, however, also believes that the full capabilities of tablets are better achieved by the use of evergreen apps. I had never heard of the term ‘evergreen app’ before reading this article (even though I have explored many apps that fall under this category including Puppet Pals) and also learned that the term has been used by educational technology specialists such as: Tom Daccord, Tanya Avrith and Frasier Spiers (whom I am curious to learn more about) . Evergreen apps are extremely versatile, be used to consume, curate, collaborate and create, while often fostering higher-order thinking skills in the process (Cesare, 2017). Evergreen apps are also flexible, allow for customization and can be used for cross-curricular activities.

The next app category that Cesare (2017) discusses is sandbox which refers to apps that are open-ended without specific directions and goals; children’s’ interaction and experiences with the app can change over time.  These apps also typically mimic authentic experiences and engage children in diverse digital worlds, some examples of these apps from the article include: the Toca Boca collection (i.e., Toca Kitchen 2, Toca Life: City, Toca Band, Toca Train) and Tinybop series (i.e., The Human Body, Plants, Homes, The Robot Factory).  In Toca Kitchen 2, the app centers on the authentic experience of cooking and preparing food for others.

As I have been exploring different apps throughout my inquiry, I am now aware that there is a classifying system for their use.  I can see how each category has its benefits for students and can be more mindful when assessing/selecting apps for my learners. Once again, I would like to conclude my post with a powerful quote from the article that resonates with me:

“when tablets are introduced as a reward or a simple distraction device, children tend to avoid the richer knowledge construction potential of many apps. Moreover, when used as a reward and a loss of access occurs, the child misses out on valuable learning experiences” (Kaczorowski & Di Cesare, 2014).

References

Cesare, D. (2017). It’s an app, app world. In D. Harwood Crayons and ipads (pp. 103-111). 55 City Road, London: SAGE Publications Ltd doi: 10.4135/9781473916012.n10

 

 

Blog Post #7: E-Books vs Paper Books, A Case Study in a Preschool School Setting

In the E-book chapter, The effects of interactive multimedia iPad E-books on preschoolers’ literacy, Strasser & Estevez-Menendez’s study (2015) demonstrates how the use of iPad e-books positively effect students story comprehension, engagement and understanding of vocabulary. Their study examined 2 preschool groups over a 6-week period, one using iPads and one completing the same tasks with paper-based books. Twice a week, students in the control group listened to their teacher read out loud the print book while the iPad group was introduced to corresponding multimedia versions of the book through the iPad. The story was narrated by the app instead of by the teacher. The teacher also demonstrated how app features worked, for example, how touching an object produced the written and spoken name of the object. For data collection and analysis, three types of instruments were designed and the following data were collected: 1) weekly vocabulary assessment tool, 2) weekly story comprehension assessment tools, 3) check list to assess the frequency of observations as well as further, unstructured observations were made throughout the study (Strasser & Estevez-Menendez’s, 2015).

Figure 1. Weekly mean scores of vocabulary assessments by group

 Figure 2. Weekly mean scores for the story comprehension assessments by group

Figure 5. Weekly mean scores of frequency of engagement by group

Through the data it is clear to see that students’ vocabulary, comprehension and engagement was higher in the iPad group when compared to the control group (paper based books). However, I believe that most teachers (myself included) would never just do a ‘dry read through’ of a book and then asses children’s understandings of it. I would provide various activities to help reinforce the concept of the book including using manipulatives, for example, using story workshop for students to practice/play with new vocabulary and their retelling of the story. I think that this may be a limitation of the study because I don’t think it is very realistic to expect students to have a high understanding of a story after 1 read through. I wonder if there were discussions in the control book group and/or if they did any other activities before the assessments. It is clear that the iPad group got to interact with the story more and play with the different features to help them understand the story better.

Strasser & Estevez-Menendez, (2015) also cited research that outlines the potential limitations of touch screen technology:

“Moody and McKenna (2009) asserted that the enhanced interactivity and “edutainment” features provided by e-books became a distraction for young learners in their study, which actually hindered the learning process. In Shamir, Korat and Fellah’s study (2010), the researchers deter- mined that exposure to e-books was beneficial for students’ improvement in vocabulary acquisition and phonological awareness, but only for at risk children with learning disabilities. Moody (2010) also concluded that the use of e-books for sup- porting young children was beneficial, but that the quality of e-books determined this effect. In other words, the use of high quality interactive e- books may support emergent literacy development through scaffolding, while lower quality e-books may be more likely to include distracting anima- tions and sounds unrelated to the story”

Strasser & Estevez-Menendez (2015) consider some of this in their discussion recommendations as they outline the importance of selecting high quality e-books as well as a recommendation for educators to become familiar with the capabilities of the iPad and utilize the Guided Access controls. This allows students to remain focused without accidentally entering other areas of the app intended for adults. In connection to my practice-oriented post this week, here is some more information on Guided Access:

https://www.google.com/search?q=guided+access+on+ipad&rlz=1C5CHFA_enCA838CA838&oq=guided+acse&aqs=chrome.2.69i57j0l5.3122j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#kpvalbx=_AHK0XdvJAcO-0PEP5K-puAk20

In conclusion it was interesting to read more information about how iPads can help support literacy in the classroom, as I will be receiving 4 iPads in the near future to be utilized in the afternoons. I will now finish this post with a final quote from the article that resonates with me:

As cited by Strasser & Estevez-Menendez (2015, p. 140) “Although most early childhood experts acknowledge that nothing can replace hands-on activities embedded in real experiences, the use of these devices is offering young children “valuable, authentic learning experiences that supplement traditional developmentally appropriate practice (Geist, 2014, p. 59)”.

References

An, H., Strasser, J., & Estevez-Menendez, M. (2015). The effects of interactive multimedia iPad E-books on preschoolers’ literacy

Blog Post #6: Early Literacy in a Digital Age

In the article, New directions for early literacy in a digital age: The Ipad, Flewitt et al. (2015) discuss how iPads offer new opportunities for early literacy learning but also present challenges for teachers and children. In the study, iPads were lent to a Children’s Centre nursery (3- to 4-year-olds), a primary school reception class (4- to 5-year-olds) and a Special School (7- to 13-year-olds). Before the study began, the researches suggested uses for the iPads with staff in pre- and post-interviews. Staff were also observed on how they were using the iPads in their teaching practice over a two-month period. There was variety in how the iPads were used but common findings were that well-planned iPad literacy activities stimulated children’s motivation/concentration as well as chances for communication, collaborative interaction, independent learning, and for children to achieve high levels of accomplishment (Flewitt et al., 2015). It was also found that practitioners valued how the iPads tackled the curriculum in new ways and how they allowed students to become more familiar with touch-screen technologies.

Flewitt et al. (2015) comment on how research evidence has consistently shown that there is uncertainty towards the incorporation of new technologies into early literacy education. As cited by Flewitt et al. (2015), some people enthusiastically embrace new media (e.g. Galloway, 2009), while others argue that it has no place for it in early learning (House, 2012), and/or that certain technologies are developmentally inappropriate and risk exposing children to unsuitable content and uncritical engagement with information (Miller, 2005).

Before this course began, I really questioned the use of technology in Kindergarten, however, my beliefs have been transforming each week as I continue to see the benefits out weighing the negatives and have how using technology can enhance/support student learning. As discussed in the article, these are some factors that practitioners felt hindered them from using technology, including: using a curriculum that focuses on literacy as primarily paper-based, lack of time to explore available digital resources, absence of guidance about the potential of new technologies to promote early literacy and low confidence in using digital devices effectively (Flewitt et al. 2015). I would also add through my experience, a lack of funds and access to technology. This course however, is allowing me to explore supporting research in regards to using technology as well as building my confidence in order to implement it effectively.  Extending from this, my new found knowledge might also help me advocate for technology use at my school as well.

At the start of the case study, “all practitioners recognized the potential of new technologies for learning, yet many also voiced concerns about their potential harm. Some were wary of the addictive and ‘over-stimulating’ nature of digital gaming and felt children were spending ‘not enough time outside… too much time sitting down’” (Flewitt et al. 2015, p. 295). Once again, these perceptions were very similar to mine before beginning this course. A preschool teacher, in the article, also believes that ‘keeping a balance’ between learning activities with traditional and new media, and making the most of technology ‘to enhance teaching’ is important (Flewitt et al., 2015). After teachers had been using iPads in the classrooms for a few weeks, the researchers noticed that most of the teacher’s fears in regards to technology began to subside.

Throughout the study, many of the adults dedicated hours of personal time searching for suitable apps to include in their literacy planning (Flewitt et al., 2015). This is something that my learning pod and I have discussed frequently; finding appropriate apps and sharing them. Perhaps, in the future there could be a resource for learning apps in the BC curriculum to save teachers the time of finding appropriate learning apps. I am grateful for this course, as I have the time to research and explore apps more frequently.

During the study researches also observed how ‘closed content games’ (content could not be changed or extended by the user) were sometimes used effectively to develop learners’ vocabulary or phonics, however, they positioned children as receiving narrowly defined literacy knowledge, rather than as creative producers of original materials. As a result, some children soon grew tired of their repetitive format (Flewitt et al., 2015). In contrast ‘open content’ apps, where users could personalize activities, engaged children more deeply and creatively in learning tasks (Flewitt et al., 2015). In the article, Our Story App, was used as an example of an effective open content app. Here is some information that I found about this app:

 

Through their research, Flewitt et al. also observed a student that had limited fine motor control becoming more engaged in fine motor tasks by using My Colouring Book Free app to colour in animal-related scenes. Even though the app had ‘closed’ content, it promoted fine motor control, while allowing the boy a degree of creative expression (Flewitt et al., 2015).

Here is a link to more  info on the My Coloring Book Free app:

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/my-coloring-book-free/id378761846

In regards to children’s motivation and independence, staff in all settings commented on how iPads heightened children’s concentration levels, as well as, how children with usually short attention spans persisted for extended periods of time with the iPad (Flewitt et al., 2015). The researchers also noted some of the challenges practitioners faced while using the iPad: spending too many out-of-school hours searching for appropriate apps and planning their use, encountering technical difficulties during lessons, students becoming frustrated if they did not know how to complete activities, as well as unsupervised children seeking possession of the iPad with too many fingers on the screen leading to apps not functioning.

In conclusion, I learned a lot from this article about the benefits of using the iPad to support literacy in my classroom. It has further fuelled my excitement to continue my research!

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

References

Flewitt, R., Messer, D., & Kucirkova, N. (2015). New directions for early literacy in a digital age: The iPad. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 15(3), 289-310. doi:10.1177/1468798414533560

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Post #5: Using iPads to Help Support Literacy in Kindergarten

This week I narrowed down my inquiry question to: How can iPads be used to support literacy in kindergarten?

In their research, Ya-Huei Lu et al. (2017) discussed how four experienced iPad-using early childhood teachers integrated one-to-one iPads in their literacy instruction. It was discovered that the four teachers used the iPads for both teacher-directed practices (TDP) and developmentally appropriate practices, also known as child-center methods (DAP). TDP focused on using the iPads to practice basic literacy skills in learning stations (for example: drill and practice apps for sight words) while the DAP engaged students in digital productions (for example, creating interactive stories). As cited by Ya-Huei Lu et al. (2017), the findings in their study aligned with Wien (1995) who found that the two approaches are often intertwined in early childhood teachers’ daily instruction.

According to the teachers in the study, TDP with iPads were useful in literacy stations to help keep young students on task, allowed for teachers to differentiate instruction and assess their students (Ya-Huei Lu et al. 2017) while also allowing for small-group instruction (Bates, 2014). The study also found that through DAP with iPads, teachers could incorporate interdisciplinary projects across subject areas. Teachers also invited Big Buddies (grade 5 students) to help their K students with the projects. Ya-Huei Lu et al. (2017) connected the benefits of buddies to previous studies that have found that when older students and younger students work together on literacy tasks, such as reading and writing activities, both groups improve their comprehension process, academic achievement, and attitudes toward school (Lowery et al., 2008).

I enjoyed reading this article because it gave me a glimpse into how kindergarten teachers (in the States) are using iPads to help enhance literacy in their classrooms. It also mentioned some apps that I want to explore: puppet pals, story wheel and balloon sticks. I also liked how the authors connected to how the teachers were using pads to past research on teaching practices and also to the idea that technology can help enhance student learning overall. As I progress in this course, my interest in incorporating technology into my practice has grown significantly!

I want to finish this blog post with an interesting quote I found in the conclusion of the article that gave me a glimpse into ECE settings in the United States:

“Early childhood teachers are expected to spend more time on academic instruction and less time on student-selected activities (Bassok et al., 2016). Using tablet technology and a variety of educational apps within different learning stations or digital production projects allows teachers to balance academic instruction time to meet local or state standards and child-centered activities to support children’s development”.   (Ya-Huei Lu et al. 2017, p.20)

As a teacher in BC, Canada, I feel very lucky that our curriculum has been redesigned to focus less on TDP and more on DAP. I think that there needs to be both however, through reading this article I realized how much the iPad is being used for drill and practice skills in the US as teachers face the demands of standardized testing each year. Perhaps, this is reason to why we find so many drilling types of apps out there?

Practice-oriented connection: Puppet Pals App (mentioned in the article as an app that the teachers used for DAP).

Here is a YouTube video that shows how to use Puppet Pals:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPYbgquL6wk

Here is more information on Puppet Pals, as well as, reviews by teachers:

https://www.commonsense.org/education/app/puppet-pals-hd/teacher-reviews

DSC01130 by

References

Ya-Huei Lu, Anne T. Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Ai-Chu Ding & Krista Glazewski (2017) Experienced iPad-Using Early Childhood Teachers: Practices in the One-to-One iPad Classroom, Computers in the Schools, 34:1-2, 9-23, DOI: 10.1080/07380569.2017.1287543

Blog Post #4:Questioning SAMR and More…

This week I was introduced to the Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition (SAMR) Model through my online technology course and through an assigned reading by Hamilton, Rosenburg and Ackeaoglu (2016), The Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition (SAMR) Model: A critical Review and Suggestions for its Use. The article describes how the SAMR model is a four-level taxonomy-based approach for selecting, using and evaluating technology in K-12 settings (as cited by Puentedura, 2006). However, through critical analysis and review, Hamilton et al. (2016) outline that there are three major challenges with the model that I will discuss below.

Challenge 1: Absence of Context

  • As cited by others in the article, the following contexts are not recognized in the SAMR Model: technology infrastructure and resources, community buy in and support, individual and collective student needs, and teacher knowledge/support for using technology.
  • Hamilton et al. 2016 suggest that the SAMR model be revised to include context as a formal aspect of the framework that address learning outcomes, students’ needs and school/community expectations.
  • I think this is critical, as context is everything in my teaching practice. Every class that I teach is so different because every child that makes up my class is unique and has varying learning needs. The SAMR model cannot be viewed as a one size fits all approach. As mentioned in the article, the SAMR model has been interpreted in different ways by different people, which I find as an educator, confusing (if I want to use the model as a concrete resource). The authors also outline that there are no theoretical explanations of the SAMR model through peer-reviewed literature.

Challenge 2: Rigid Structure

  • The authors outline that within a taxonomy framework, the SAMR model dismisses the complexity of teaching with technology by defining and organizing teachers’ uses of technology in predefined ways. The SAMR model also suggests that teachers more effectively use technology when they enact modification or redefinitions rather than substitution or augmentation. My learning pod and I had an interesting discussion today about this. In Kindergarten and Grade 1, our technology usage reflects more on the substitution and augmentation levels. We think that in order to achieve the higher levels on the SAMR model, we need to teach skills and use technology at the lower levels first with our students. The importance of this type of learning does not seem to be reflected in the SAMR Model, as it seems to value and prioritize getting to the higher levels as soon as you can.
  • The article suggests that the taxonomic format be revised to account for the dynamic nature of teaching and learning.

Challenge 3: Product over Process

  • The goal of the SAMR model centers on changing a product rather than the learning process. This goal goes against my own teaching pedagogies as I believe that the learning process is more important than the final product, connecting to Salomon and Perkins, 2005 (as cited in the article).
  • I also agree with this statement by Hamilton et al. (2016): “…technology plays a role in reaching learning outcomes but as long as objectives are reached, one instructional method or tool is not promoted over others.” As an educator, I try to teach a new concept to my students in many ways. I know that a hands-on activity might connect with some students, however, for other students, seeing a video might connect with them more on a particular concept. Technology can help enhance student learning but should not be promoted as the only/ultimate way to learn for every student.

The article inspired me to think more deeply about the SAMR model and question how it is being used and interpreted. I agree with Hamilton et al. (2016) analysis of the SAMR challenges and limitations. I believe that with more revision, research and supported theories, the SAMR model has the potential to be a more accessible resource for teachers. With my newly gained perspective, I wanted to see how the SAMR model is being used and interpreted out there in the Internet world. One of the first things that came up when I started to Google SAMR was: SAMR and Bloom’s Taxonomy. Here is a video explaining the SAMR model through one perspective and also an article on how the SAMR model connects to Bloom’s Taxonomy:

https://www.commonsense.org/education/articles/samr-and-blooms-taxonomy-assembling-the-puzzle

With my critical analysis lens on, immediately, my next question was: How relevant is Bloom’s Taxonomy in education, today? I then came across this article:

https://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning_deeply/2018/03/heres_whats_wrong_with_blooms_taxonomy_a_deeper_learning_perspective.html

Here is an interesting quote by the author of the article post, Ron Berger (2018):

“Almost every educator knows the Bloom’s Taxonomy cognitive framework. The related pyramid graphic has influenced curriculum and instruction since its introduction in 1956 and its revision in 2001. The problem is that both versions present a false vision of learning. Learning is not a hierarchy or a linear process. This graphic gives the mistaken impression that these cognitive processes are discrete, that it’s possible to perform one of these skills separately from others. It also gives the mistaken impression that some of these skills are more difficult and more important than others. It can blind us to the integrated process that actually takes place in students’ minds as they learn”.

This quote draws on some similar connections to Hamilton et al. (2016) critique of the SAMR model as it views the Bloom Taxonomy as rigid (seeing education more as a linear process). This is something I would perhaps be interested in exploring more on another day. It would be important to find relevant, academic sources that critique Blooms Taxonomy use in education, today. As the world changes, so does education!

 

 

Blog Post #3: MEd Review- Supporting Emergent Writers Through Digital Storytelling

This week I had the pleasure of reviewing a MEd project written by my colleague and friend, Suzanne Agnew, Supporting Emergent Writers Through Digital Storytelling (2015, University of Victoria). When I first got my first teaching contract in the Sooke District, 6 years ago, Sue was very much a mentor to me and still is today. Over the years, Sue has saved class funds from year to year to purchase iPads for her classroom. This shows how much she values and embraces technology in her classroom. In Sue’s MEd project, she examined the research on Digital Storytelling (DS), discussed theoretical framework connected to DS, focused on implementing the Pictello App in her classroom and finally, created a professional development workshop for colleagues on DS. I very much enjoyed reading Sue’s paper and thought it was well organized. It has given me a glimpse of how my final project could look in the end. I also like the idea of creating a professional development workshop as part of my MEd project to share my learning with others in a practical way.

Here are some quotes from Sue’s MEd project that have stuck with me:

  • “My emergent writing students flourished after learning how to use this app! Free of the limits of paper, their stories emerged. My students were so motivated to write, they spent their free time creating and sharing their unfinished and finished creations. The joy of writing had developed in many students who once saw writing as a daunting and onerous task. This excitement for digital storytelling was so explosive, it broke the walls of the classrooms as students eagerly shared their stories with adults and students outside of the classroom and of the school.” (after Sue began implementing the Pictello App)
  • “Their digital stories were as expressive, engaging and creative as their oral stories. Calkin’s (1994) reminds us that it is “adults who have separated writing from art, song, and play; it is adults who have turned writing into an exercise on lined paper, into a matter of rules, lessons, and cautious behaviour” (p. 59).”
  • “Students are constantly engaged and exposed to multimedia including texting or emailing friends, looking up information on the Internet, or creating virtual worlds, and yet many classrooms are not reflecting the value of bringing this into the classroom.”
  • “I want them to see the benefits of expanding their views on writing to include technology. I share the view with Lucy Calkins that every child is a writer we just need to provide them with multiple ways to access their writing potential.”

Sue’s research reminds us that our teaching needs to reflect the ever-evolving world around us. She also highlights how we need to utilize technology to engage children and to help access their full story telling capabilities that simple pencil/paper can’t do.  Making connections from this MEd project to assignment 1, I wanted to learn more about the Pictello App. Here is a YouTube link that gave me some basic information on how to use Pictello:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pM6fcBoP4I8

Through some more investigation, I discovered that Pictello is also a great app to use with students, with special needs. Here is a website that gave me more insight on how this app can be utilized further.

https://www.assistiveware.com/products/pictello

Moving forward, I sent an email to my admin team this week suggesting various schedules for how our 12 school iPads can be used this year in the primary classrooms. I am hoping that our iPads will be up and running soon so that I can start trying out Apps such as Pictello!

 

“iPad_children_hands” by lottech is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

 

 

 

The Start of My Tech Inquiry Project

It’s hard to know where to begin with such an open-ended assignment. Much like how we teach our students through the process of inquiry, as grad students, we are starting an inquiry process but are taking on the role of the student, instead of the more familiar role, the teacher. Feeling anxious about where to begin today, I simply started by googling ‘Technology in the Kindergarten classroom’.

This was one of the first links I clicked on today: https://www.weareteachers.com/6-hands-on-center-ideas-for-using-technology-in-pre-k-and-kindergarten/. The article immediately grabbed my attention through the introduction as it comments on how technology is a ‘fine line to walk’.  I can connect to this statement as I am unsure of where the balance is. How much tech do we need to have in the Kindergarten classroom? What is too much or too little? Is there a ‘right’ amount?

The article by Karen Nelson focuses on 6 hands-on center ideas for using tech in pre-K and in K. A new idea to me that was discussed in the article was about having technology in play centers to help teach children technology manners. For example, during play, putting the phone down to have a face-to-face conversation with someone, or during another play scenario, say that you need to get off your phone to go for some exercise. Modelling technology manners and tech etiquette through play is something I never thought about doing before and can start incorporating now. I notice so many adults talking to each other and/or to children while looking at their phones and believe it’s important for children to develop their social skills with technology early. Many adults could benefit from this as well!

I have never had access to an iPad or iPads to use in my classrooms. I am hoping this year that our school will come up with a rotation so that each primary class will have access to 4 iPads weekly. There has been some talk, but no action yet. Nelson touches open the importance of using apps that help children build and create and mentions these apps that hopefully I can try out in the future: MOMA Art Labs and Imagi Box (kids can draw and write stories), and Kodable (a problem-solving app that teachers students the basics of computer programming).

The last idea I will mention from this article is about bringing the iPad outside to document learning. This is something that my Learning Pod and I have discussed this week so they may also be interested in clicking on the article link. Nelson comments on how iPads can make it easy for pre-literate children to document their observations and to create a field journal full of images. I think that this is a great idea, however, I believe that children can also still use markers, clipboards and papers to document learning in the forest.

As another component of my inquiry, I need to research academically written articles as well. Next, I went to the UVIC library database to further my search of ‘Technology in the Kindergarten Classroom’. I scanned a few articles and read some of the abstracts, feeling the familiar feeling of getting lost down the rabbit hole of finding the ‘right’ article. I decided I wanted to read something relatively recent and since I am focusing much of my teaching practice on play this year, I thought this would be the article that I would fully read today:

Observing and assessing young children’s digital play in the early years: Using the Digital Play Framework:

https://journals-sagepub-com.ezproxy.library.uvic.ca/doi/pdf/10.1177/1476718X15579746

The article by Edwards and Bird (2017) focused on a Digital Play Framework that is based on Vygotsky’s ideas about tool mediation to position technologies as tools that children learn to master according to Hutt’s conceptualization of epistemic and ludic play. I enjoyed the brief review of different types of play and the importance of observing play to help guide children on their learning journeys. However, the article didn’t really come up with any answers to my big question. What I will take from this article is remembering to let children explore/play with different types of technology before perhaps showing them how to use it.

I am hoping that the work I did today has put me one step in the right direction for this inquiry project. As with any research, we don’t always find our answers right away, but I think it’s a good idea to try to take away something from what we do find (through the investment of our time on a topic).

Personal Learning Goals and Questions

Greetings Everyone,

 

Here it goes, my first blog post! I am excited to embark on my first online course, EDCI 567, Interactive and Multimedia Learning Theories. However, I am also feeling a bit overwhelmed and intimidated by it all. As a learner, I have found that I learn best when working in person with peers and teachers. I am hoping with all the video chats that I can still feel engaged, motivated and develop new skills as a learner/educator.

I also have some questions about what this course is all about. Is it about how I can use technology as a teacher or is it also a combination of how my students will use technology in the classroom? As a kindergarten teacher, my students have limited access to technology. My school no longer has a computer lab and is currently deciding on how our primary students will access technology. There have been some discussions about possibly having 4 ipads in each classroom. With this proposal, we could use the ipads for literacy and/or numeracy stations, for example.

My classroom also has a projector, laptop and an elmo. I use this tech daily in my teaching practice to demonstrate things such as printing, art activities, movement breaks, short educational video clips on relevant topics and for class music. I also started using the FreshGrade app for the first time last year. I used it to share pictures and videos with families. It was a great way to give parents a sneak peak into the classroom. I did not use it for reporting. This is something I might want to explore more during the course. I have been a bit apprehensive to tackle FreshGrade as a reporting tool as I haven’t been sure if it will be worth all the effort. Or perhaps, it may change how I report learning outcomes all together and make my report card process easier? I am curious to explore current research and studies on different reporting apps such as FreshGrade.

Some of my personal learning goals for this course are to feel more confident (and open to) using new technology in a kindergarten setting, as well as, researching what current studies are being done in regards to 4 to 6 year olds using technology.  In my teaching experience, I notice that a lot of children are exposed to technology at home and may be over using it, hence, the whole moment of children having to re-learn how to play outside. I believe that kindergarten is such a foundational year for developing socially and emotionally. With that, what role should technology play in the kindergarten classroom? I hope to be able to answer this question through my course work.  I also believe it’s important for children to learn how to appropriately and safely use technology and as teachers we should be providing lessons on these topics. I look forward to my online learning journey!

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