Our team was proud to present our research and development process behind Early Math with Gracie & Friends in the National Science Foundation’s 2015 Teaching and Learning Video Showcase. We are honored to have received NSF funding to create Gracie & Friends and to have received the Facilitators’ Award during the Video Showcase!
The Gracie & Friends Photo Friends iPad app is designed to foster collaboration among preschoolers. Our partner teacher, Melisa, masterfully reinforces the audio from the game, encouraging our young friends to work — as what? As a team!
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.
We’re thrilled to announce the third installment of our Gracie & Friends apps, Treasure Bubbles, has been released and is now available to download for the iPad from the Apple App Store!
We’re so happy to share the Gracie & Friends City Skate app with you all — now available for download to the iPad in the Apple App Store!
We’ve been reflecting on the experiences Christine Zanchi and Ashley Lewis-Presser had at Head Start’s 12th National Research Conference on Early Childhood!
Here are a few takeaways:
- Many early childhood professionals appreciated the NGPM approach to integrating technology into preschool curricula:
- Aim for technology activities to span 10-15 minute sessions,
- Maintain a high ratio of traditional to tech-based activities, and
- Focus on iPad uses that take advantage of the tablet’s unique capabilities.
- An important element for technology developers to share with the community is a reflection on the design process that led, through many twisting turns, to the current technology and curriculum designs. The field of educational technology is evolving significantly. We all benefit from reflecting on the lessons learned throughout the process of designing new technologies and studying their use in classrooms.
- So many interesting and connected questions come up!
- How can our curriculum be adapted to work in different preschool settings, e.g. morning-only versus all-day programs?
- What would a math curriculum look like, fully integrated with science or another topic? How would we preserve the richness of both domains?
- The technology provides a tool, one which is perhaps unfamiliar to many teachers and which is certainly changing rapidly. For early educational technologies to be effective, teachers need to be well trained in developmentally appropriate uses of technology. Technology designers and other players in the education arena must make sure that high-quality, sustained opportunities for professional development exist to support teachers.
NGPM can’t wait for next year’s conference!
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!
We recently came across some great “Tips for Choosing Digital Toys for Your Children” from the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media. How does Next Generation Preschool Math measure up? Find out below.
“Don’t insert technology when the real-world experience is better.”
The NGPM team believes in the power of play – both on-screen and off. NGPM integrates read-aloud books, board games, playground activities, and snack time mini-lessons to support children’s learning. Digital games supplement these activities and provide experiences that children can’t get so easily in their everyday world, like playing with clouds!
“The best screen media—and by extension, toy-media hybrids—don’t use every amazing technology available, but choose only those that best suit their goals.”
There are so many ways to use technology to teach math to preschoolers. We started NGPM with devices that are intuitive to preschoolers: iPads. By prototyping over 50 games, we then identified specific game mechanics that would best allow children to explore the math topics and also engage various types of learners. Each game is designed for the unique learning goals.
“Well-designed tech toys—like high-quality screen media—leave room for the child’s active contribution.”
We couldn’t agree more. NGPM offers traditional self-leveling games, with an objective, scaffolding, and advancement only upon mastering the learning goal presented; “sandbox” games, where children can freely explore; collaborative games for children to contribute to each other’s learning; and opportunities for children to contribute their own content, like creating their own characters with pictures they take of themselves.