Melisa Perez is an incredible teacher. From her, we’ve learned so much. She and her classroom children (along with 52 other teachers and over 300 additional children) worked with us to create the Early Math with Gracie & Friends apps and curriculum.
In our work with teachers like Melisa, we ask them to stretch beyond what they typically teach, and we support teachers by providing rich professional development and resources like our Teacher’s Guide. We also listen closely to teachers like Melisa so we can design our materials (including our apps and teacher support materials) in a way that real teachers find useful in real classrooms.
Many of the teaching strategies and words that Melisa used in her classroom are now part of the delicate scaffolding and audio feedback in the Early Math with Gracie & Friends apps. Many of her approaches with our hands-on activities helped shape the curriculum. We have been blessed to have her as part of the team!
To our delight, Melisa shared with us a little insight into how the Gracie & Friends apps and curriculum have also helped her.
We had a bubble-bursting good time sharing the Gracie & Friends Treasure Bubbles iPad app, now available in the Apple App Store, with our young friends and teachers. What was our approach to integrating this collaborative game into the preschool classroom? Modeling how we can work together to learn math — which is “awesome” and totally clap-worthy!
This modeling — and it’s absolutely participatory modeling with the teachers and children! — is all part of our Professional Development for effective integration of research-based, developmentally appropriate games into the preschool classroom. Teachers model the apps for the children, inviting their thoughts, their voices, and their touch.
As for the children? We saw a lot of joy and exuberance while learning together! And that’s the true treasure.
What has NGPM been up to during the last few months of 2013?
After shipping out all of the iPads for the field study, work on NGPM hasn’t stopped. The team has been demoing the apps, traditional classroom activities, and Teacher’s Guide around the country — and the world! But to us, demoing is more about learning from others — the team continues to speak with and learn from brilliant and passionate people, making NGPM a continually evolving project.
Here’s where we’ve been in the last few months:
On October 15th, our Executive Producer Christine Zanchi was part of the NAF Research Roundtable on Digital Media and Early Learning panel on content, where she shared her insights on Design Based Research. Wondering what that is? Design based research brings research and practice together in an iterative process where researchers and practitioners collaborate in real world settings to design products which are contextually relevant. The other participants on the panel were: Deborah Linebarger from the University of Iowa, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek from Temple University, Sandra Calvert from Georgetown University and Jennifer Kotler Clarke from Sesame Workshop.
On October 23, our Producer Jillian Orr lead a workshop titled, “Developing games for developing minds: What research and public media are doing to set the standard” at the Boston Federal Reserve Bank for the Race to the Top Leadership Summit. She spoke about NGPM’s integrated approach that seeks to promote joint media engagement, math talk and collaboration through digital play.
November 13th was an eventful day for NGPM’s Jillian Orr and Ayelet Ronen. They attended the MA STEM Summit, an annual event that brings together leaders and practitioners from Massachusetts’ government, business and education sectors.
December 11th NGPM and RTT took Jillian Orr and Sonja Latimore to San Antonio, TX for workshops at NTI’s Zero to Three Pre-conference, hosted by AVANCE.
It’s been an exciting 2013! We love NGPM and are excited to share what 2014 brings!
Having our fifteen minutes of fame in The New York Times is, of course, a dream for us. But even more exciting is the fact that is just the beginning of the conversation about technology and curriculum in early education centers. We’re hoping that our focus on the student, the teacher, and the learning will steer the conversation in the right direction from the get-go.
Read the full article, and let us know what you think about apps in the preschool classroom!
In the midst of all the passionate discussions about technology in the classroom, this video reminds us of what’s at the core of what we are doing.
And for those of you new to us:
NGPM is an NSF-funded learning design research project that expands over the period of four years. Our team is focusing on determining the best approach to integrating technology — in our case, tablet games — into the preschool classroom to teach math. We’re providing multiple opportunities for learning, from tablet apps to non-digital games and hands-on activities, to real world applications of the learning in preschoolers’ every day lives.
Our development team is working hand-in-hand with learning scientists, preschool teachers, and children to create the materials that comprise the Next Generation Preschool Math project.
This March, Next Generation Preschool Math flew all the way down to Austin, TX to share our work at SXSWedu. We asked Executive Producer Christine Zanchi to share her thoughts on one of the fastest-growing ed tech conferences in the country.
iPads are increasingly becoming a staple in classrooms, a fact which has some parents and educators excited and others concerned. In her conversation with Shayne Evans of the University of Chicago Charter School and Daniel Willingham of the University of Virginia, Meghna Chakrabarti of NPR’s On Point discusses some of the questions that we’ve heard raised about having the tablets play a prominent role in the school day. Their conclusion is that iPads and other 1-to-1 technology platforms can and should be the way of the future, but like with any new education initiative, professional development and training should be provided to teachers — and, Evans argues, parents — long before the technology makes its way into the hands of the students.
This notion has been in the forefront of our minds as we begin to build out the teacher’s guide that will serve as the backbone for implementing NGPM. The guide will include a whole section for professional development where preschool teachers can brush up on the math and pedagogy behind our games and watch videos that will illuminate best practices for teaching math using technology in preschool. We want this to feel authentic and meaningful to teachers, so over the next year, we’re working with our incredible preschool partners to capture video of highly-skilled teachers integrating digital math materials into their classroom repertoire.
Here’s a sneak preview of our teacher’s guide:
As you can see, teachers will be able to see their students’ progress for each game! Note: This is a very early wireframe!
Stay tuned for more about the teacher’s guide as we build it out in the next few months. In the meantime, check out to the full On Point conversation about iPads in schools here!
An integral part of our development process is taking our games out to preschools to test with kids. The kids show us how they use the iPads, which inspires us to think about what’s still needed. Check out some of the highlights from the testing of our games!