I have taught iPad class in K for three years and I found that it is tough to make a meaningful learning experience for this level’s students but the competency to select and organize recourses to construct knowledge is important to their Elementary BYOD learning one year later. My iPad class is paving the path. I want to do the research on this topic in order to improve my class to develop students’ skills for 21st-century learning.
10 years ago, our school district recognized technology played an important role in the education revolution which can prepare and equip students with competency for the 21st century. We piloted the BYOD initiative in Elementary school. In order to gain more benefits for students from it, educators need to seek different ways to weave technology into curriculums seamlessly to step into the augment and modification stages (SAMR), and students are required more digital skills. In this case, we have started iPad class in K for 5 years, which is an understudy for future learning based on technology and device. I have 3 years experiences of teaching this class, in which I found out students in this period of age are full of curious and interests in the connections of technology and real-world. It is the right age to direct them how to use iPad to curate resources from the digital world to construct knowledge and foster their critical and logical thinking to produce creative artifacts to demonstrate meaningful connections. How can I pave the path for my students? It is the question to myself and any other kindergarten educators.
From my relevant research, I realized that technology-driven teaching and learning in early childhood education (ECE) like a blind area in the past 10 years which is recently recognized as necessary as other levels of school. Since the concept of developmentally appropriate practices brought up, it transformed early childhood education to a mix learner-centered model which provokes younger learners to drive their learning from appropriate activities positively with teacher’s moderate directions. Thinking about my iPad class, I am seeking a way to pass more agency back to students to build their confidence to adapt student-centered learning environment and seeking different strategies and tools to develop students ability to curate digital recourses, evaluate valuable ones to build knowledge with the connections of the real-world and also can produce meaningful artifacts with iPad. Considering the specific characters of this age, appropriate strategies should focus on motivating curiosity and interests from observation and collaboration; appropriate tools should focus on voice capture and picture-based rather than requiring so much typing. From my research on this topic, I will adopt three strategies under two frameworks, and variety of tools to cultivate younger students competency of curating recourses to construct knowledge and producing creative artifacts with iPad.
Play-based Learning-How to use this App?
Playing is one of the most effective strategies for kindergarten students’ learning. In my class, my students always ask me when they can play the iPad. I think exploring how to use a certain App can motivate their passions. As the teacher, instead of pushing them all boring knowledge about an iPad App, I want to weave my directions into the student-centered learning process. Students will be asked to separate into several groups to dig the features of the App intentionally by collaborating with peers and teacher’s proper help. In the learning process, students will employ effective research strategies under the teacher’s guide to make sure the learning is on the way to the end goal and also the resources credibly or not. Students will use App Store to get more information on the App. They also will use Siri to capture voices to help them Google the recourses online (Teacher can change Siri’s settings to make the searching efficiently). They will be asked to share their findings and give a conclusion together to demonstrate their understandings of the App. For the final artifacts, they can choose digital or non-digital forms. Stop-motion, Little Bird Tales (with screenshots) and video recorder can be the options for digital artifacts. In this learning activity, they can construct knowledge by exploring an issue (how to use this App), collecting digital information from two research strategies (App Store and Siri) and create an artifact to demonstrate the meaningful learning. In the play-based learning, I will be a person to scaffold the developmentally appropriate practice to direct students to construct knowledge from curating digital resources with effective research methods. Students will have a meaningful learning experience in collaboration, communication, and sharing. With this strategy, students will learn more and more Apps critically and logically and they will have more and more ways to produce digital conclusions.
Project-based Learning-I-LEARN framework
I-LEARN is a framework supported project-based learning with six steps: Identify, Locate, Evaluate, Apply, Reflect and kNow. The appropriate project for kindergarten students needs to focus on their interests closed to daily life and surroundings. This age of students are the best observers and explorer. So the project’s driving question (Identify step) can be about class pets, garden, favourite animals. These questions can foster students ability to construct knowledge from observation in the real world and curate digital resources using iPad in the digital world to make meaningful learning. In the Locate step, I like them to think about what keywords or questions they want to search online to support this project first and record these in audio or video in the iPad which will be reviewed and modified by the teacher to enhance wisely searching. They will use the improved keywords or questions to do research through iPad’s Siri. In this step, students can learn more and more research strategies including locating effective keywords and finding what format of sentences can let Siri understand them better. The teacher’s intervention will be ideally less and less, students’ competency on research will be stronger and stronger. In the Evaluate step, even the searching for this age is simple, the students still need to hold critical and skeptical attitude on any information’s accuracy and relevance. I want to adopt “my little consultant” relationship in which upper graders will provide their suggestions to my students’ resources and my students will learn from their consultants. This is a reciprocal relationship can improve digital citizenship and digital skills. In the Apply step, they will need to organize their resources to prepare the final creative artifacts. The “Little Bird Tales” will be a good tool to gather all information into audios and pictures as a little e-notebook for documentation which will be significantly different from the beginning to the end. In the Reflect and kNow steps, students need to create a creative product using iPad Apps from which they will experience various tools for their reflections. KidBlog, Story Creator, Stop Motion, Balloon+ will be the options for students’ artifacts and it is also the best time to practice the Apps they have learned. They can choose the appropriate tools with teacher’s scaffolding to present their meaningful learning experience for them and others.
Problem-Solving Learning-STEM framework E&T
As we know, STEM framework is a direction for high-level schools learning which focuses on interdisciplinary integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Since K level’s students are at the appropriate age for hands-on learning of engineering and also at the crucial stage of developing logical thinking, I want to integrate iPad with Sphero in my class. Sphero is a robot with programmable sensors, LED lights, accelerometer, and gyroscope which can inspire students creativity and invention through connected coding from the App named Sphero Edu which provides a kind of closed-packed code fits younger learners. In my class, I want to give my students a problem to motivate their enthusiasm likes how to program Sphero to trace this line to move; how to program Sphero to move out the labyrinth. This problem will be harder and harder from which students can build knowledge by actively exploring difficulties and pursuing solutions. They will be suggested to use mind map to organize ideas while dealing with the complex problems which can develop logical thinking. The teacher will produce a mind map depending on students’ narrative. They will use this mind map to guide their solutions. Finally they can use iPad to record videos for the problem-solving learning process and share with others as demonstrating the learning outcomes.
As weaving these three strategies and different tools in my iPad class, I think it will help to cultivate students abilities to curate resources using iPad to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences. Kindergarten is the special period with limited but potential capabilities can be developed by appropriate practices. As the tech teacher in the ECE, I need to inspire students curiosity and creativity with digital technology to pave their path for future’s learning even lifelong learning.
Lu, Y.-H., Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T., Ding, A.-C., & Glazewski, K. (2017). Experienced iPad-Using Early Childhood Teachers: Practices in the One-to-One iPad Classroom. Computers in the Schools, 34(1/2), 9–23. https://doi-org.ezproxy.spu.edu/10.1080/07380569.2017.1287543
Tecce DeCarlo, M. J., Grant, A., Lee, V. J., & Neuman, D. (2018). Information and Digital Literacies in a Kindergarten Classroom: An I-LEARN Case Study. Early Childhood Education Journal, 46(3), 265–275. https://doi-org.ezproxy.spu.edu/10.1007/s10643-017-0857-7
Tippett, C. D., & Milford, T. M. (2017). Findings from a Pre-Kindergarten Classroom: Making the Case for STEM in Early Childhood Education. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 15, 1. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ1138636&site=ehost-live
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Edutopia. (2016, November 1). Solving real-world problems through problem-based learning. Edutopia. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/practice/solving-real-world-issues-through-problem-based-learning