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.
Our eyes are constantly peeled for innovative ways teachers are using iPads in their classroom, and this time, we set our sights across the pond to a school in Switzerland. In a blog post for future tense, a collaboration between Arizona State University, the New America Foundation and Slate, edtech thought leader Lisa Guernsey writes about the Zurich International School, where each of the approximately six hundred first- through eight-graders have been given an iPad.
Here’s the kicker: rather than treating the devices as portable screens or gaming devices, the teachers view the iPads as tools that allow their students to record, capture, and document their learning. Students spend more time producing content – drawing pictures, filming videos, recording themselves talking – than consuming content. As Lisa writes, the focus was not on what’s coming out of the iPad, but on “what was going into it.”
Allowing students to create content (a process made easier by technology like mobile devices) is a powerful way to engage and motivate them in their learning. As we explore the varied ways teachers are making use of the affordances of iPads, we’re becoming more and more convinced that there is no one-size-fits-all use of mobile devices in classrooms, and that a diversified approach – a recipe including game play, content creation, and content consumption – can work best when teachers personalize for their own classroom and students. The possibilities are endless!
In a recent blog post, we shared a USA Today article about the importance of exposing children to math ideas early. In her latest piece for the Huffington Post, PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger describes how her grandfather taught her to see the math in her own world when she was a young child.
Kerger is hoping to give all parents and caretakers the tools to provide for their children what her grandfather provided for her. Following a survey of parents and their attitudes towards teaching math to their children, PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are launching a new “It All Adds Up” initiative with the goal of pulling together math videos, games, activities, and tips.
Check out the PBS KIDS Lab website to see one (or one hundred!) of these great resources. Be sure to scroll all the way down to see the “Math Activity of the Day” and “Ideas To Go” sections, which include quick and easy suggestions for parents. We’re planning to have a similar section in our Teacher’s Guide where teachers can get quick ideas on how to get kids engaged in math, math talk, collaboration, and more!
Stay tuned for more updates on our Teacher’s Guide and our games and activities as we begin the summer work of moving from alpha builds to beta builds!
We’ve spent the past year scouring the market for the best educational apps for preschoolers. We even took these apps into our preschool partner sites to test with kids. Our conclusion? Working hand-in-hand with preschool children and preschool teachers (in addition to child development and early learning experts) makes all the difference in the effectiveness of the app — both in terms of learning and fun.
That’s what the Next Generation Preschool Math project is all about. But don’t just take it from us – we asked Little Sprouts what they thought, and their responses warmed our app-building, educational-technology-loving hearts.
Here’s a great article by Audrey Waters on how iPads were able to help increase kindergartener’s literacy scores in classrooms in Auburn, Maine. Wired also did an article on the success of iPads in these Maine classrooms and how the shift towards iPads is affecting teachers.