Can video-based PD work?

We’ve put together four short videos for teachers see and hear what math talk looks like in a preschool classroom. It’s the beginning of our exploration of the role of video in professional development for preschool educators.

Do resources such as these help teachers improve their instruction? That’s just one of the many questions we’re hoping to explore this fall.



Why the World Needs NGPM

(And other research-based apps!)

It’s a brave new world.  The iPad is only three years old (the same age as some of our users), and already in a quarter of American households.  We have decades of research on television’s effects on children, but virtually none on the effects of tablets and other mobile devices.  This comes as no surprise.  Research is time-consuming. Research is expensive.  Let’s face it, research is often tedious.  But we need research.  Those decades of television research advanced our understanding of how to harness the medium for good, and resulted in shows like Sesame Street, Arthur, and Blue’s Clues.

Next Generation Preschool Math isn’t just about contributing to the learning of individual children, it’s about contributing to a burgeoning field of knowledge. Our research partners at EDC and SRI recently completed a pilot study in 3 classrooms across the country, and are currently preparing for a large-scale study with sixteen classrooms throughout the US.  We’re already sharing lessons learned with educators and technologists at conferences across the country (see “NGPM @ SXSW”), and we can’t wait to share the results of the latest study with children’s media professionals everywhere.

Families and educators are worried about what this brave new world will bring for the children they care about. Rightfully so. The only way to assuage their fears and help them navigate it is through research. It’s why we need NGPM.

Early Math Ability Predicts Later Success

There’s other evidence that math matters early in life.”

New studies show that math ability in secondary school and beyond can be predicted in first grade or earlier. An article in USA Today summarizing recent research in the effects of early math instruction on later math success describes a study done out of the University of Missouri which found that seventh graders who performed poorly on a test of core math skills were those who had lagged behind in number sense and math fluency as first graders.

The profound effect that early math education can have on a child’s educational trajectory should therefore not be underestimated. Parents and caretakers are encouraged to build children’s number sense from “as soon as they’re born,” says Mann Koepke, of NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. How? Check out the article for tips on how to get your child on the path to developing math fluency!

Technology in classroom: games have positive impact

Concordia University professor Richard Schmid co-authored a study (published in the Review of Educational Research journal) to answer the question: “Does computer technology have a positive overall effect on learning in the classroom?”

The study showed, in short, that often there were positive impacts but that sometimes there were negative impacts. The study’s authors are now performing a follow-up study, looking into under what circumstances the technology’s effects are positive.

Schmid states, “Where technology does have a positive impact is when it actively engages students, when it’s used as a communication tool, when it’s used for things like simulations or games that enable students to actively manipulate the environment.”

Looks like NGPM is off to a good start. Looking forward to more research and to the research results on the games and manipulatives from NGPM.

Pre-K STEM Technology Curriculum (Featuring Denise)

Our own NGPM teacher partner, Denise Nelson, is taking the reigns on STEM learning in her classroom! Great work, Denise!

In the article, “Looking ahead, preschools add tech to the curriculum,” preschools are focusing more on STEM learning as curriculum for Pre-K students is becoming more formalized.The government is taking action to place greater emphasis on STEM education and millions of dollars are being invested in priming children for careers–or at least knowledge in STEM fields.

The appropriate and most effective ratio of formal STEM curriculum and technology to traditional preschool play is still under debate and research, which makes the NGPM project perfectly timed to be a voice in the debate!