It has helped me become a better teacher.

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.

That’s true partnership. That’s public media at its heart. That’s what makes First 8 Studios at WGBH.

Modeling Collaborative Apps

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.

Happy New Year!

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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!

Next Gen Math in The New York Times!

Picked up the paper lately? Or – more likely – have you taken a look at the online edition of The New York Times on your smartphone or tablet lately? If so, you may have seen the Education Issue of the Science section that ran on September 2, 2013, featuring groundbreaking work and research in science and math education, including – you guessed it! – Next Gen Math! Journalist Lisa Guernsey, who joined us in on one of our visits to our preschool partner sites during our prototype development phase, writes that “scientific research on the educational value of apps is nearly nonexistent. The NextGen project is trying to change that.”

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!

What is Next Gen Math?

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.