1. Jillian Orr
  2. http://first8studios.org
  3. Digital Executive Producer
  4. Next Generation Preschool Science: An Innovative Program to Facilitate Young Children's Learning of Science Practices and Concepts
  5. http://first8studios.org/
  6. WGBH
  1. Ximena Dominguez
  2. Director Early STEM
  3. Next Generation Preschool Science: An Innovative Program to Facilitate Young Children's Learning of Science Practices and Concepts
  4. http://first8studios.org/
  5. SRI International, SRI International
  1. Marion Goldstein
  2. Next Generation Preschool Science: An Innovative Program to Facilitate Young Children's Learning of Science Practices and Concepts
  3. http://first8studios.org/
  4. Education Development Center
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Patricia Ruiz

    Patricia Ruiz

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2017 | 04:29 p.m.

    Hi! This sounds like a great way to integrate technology with physical manipulatives to support the work of educators. Each activity or experiment seems to allow learners to change a variety of elements (whether digitally or physically) as they learn about the effect that those manipulations have on the objects they are studying. I really like that you allow the children and teachers to document their learning and that there is a professional development element for the teachers as well. It seems like you also integrated the requests of teachers into the project - how did you do this? Can you tell me more about how you developed the teacher's guide as well and what recommendations you have for getting teacher feedback and developing resources like these for that audience?

     
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  • Icon for: Jillian Orr

    Jillian Orr

    Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 07:10 p.m.

    Hi Patricia!

    Thank you for your message and question!

    Yes, our early science program (Nico & Nor) includes a suite of curricular activities that involve experimenting with physical manipulatives, digital apps that were designed to be integrated with and support the learning that occurs in these experiments, and a digital guide to support early educators. Part of this work involved thinking about how to integrate technology in developmentally appropriate ways (for instance by promoting collaboration) and to strengthen (rather than replace) the hands on learning that occurs in preschool. What was especially exciting was studying and building ways that technology could promote young children's science exploration. Our digital journals allowed children to document their observations via photographs and videos they could later revisit to analyze their findings and draw conclusions. Our games and simulations allowed them to practice some of the skills they had learned in the classroom but provided opportunities that would be hard to access in their classrooms (for instance, they were able to see what happens when plants don't get enough water or sun -- without harming any plants!).

    As you mention, a big component of our approach was engaging in co-design with educators. We did this by partnering with teachers in Head Start and public preschool programs. We worked with teachers informally throughout the formative development process by frequently visiting classrooms to allow teachers to test out digital app prototypes as well as the hands-on activities. Teachers would share their thoughts on how the prototypes were helpful, which ones were not helpful, and how to make better those apps and activities that showed promise. We also worked with teachers as part of the formal research process through piloting portions of the curriculum (including the guide, the hands-on activities, and the apps) and then taking what we learned into the next iteration. This occurred throughout the project and teachers also provided feedback regarding what information and support they needed in order to implement these activities. After many iterations, we then tested the entire curricular suite and completed one final round of iterations before publishing to the world. So, in short, we integrated requests of teachers into the project by working directly with them, observing classroom use of the materials, having discussions with teachers, and then incorporating their feedback!

    The teacher's guide was based directly on our teams' work under the Next Generation Preschool Math project. The process for developing the teacher's guide incorporated feedback from more than 50 teachers! We held one-on-one, small group, and focus discussions about preschool teachers' needs and desires as well as received feedback on sketches, wireframes, and prototypes of the guide. We also used the guide in our pilot and larger field studies to ensure that we were moving in the right direction.

    Recommendations for getting teacher feedback and developing resources for preschool teachers include: 1) truly partnering and collaborating, 2) celebrating teachers as the experts and really listening to what they have to say, 3) testing early and often, 4) designing for flexibility, and 5) having a strong, creative, and complementary team that is committed to the mission of supporting teachers and children.

    We love sharing our project, and at the same time we love learning and hearing your feedback -- we're always iterating! Thanks again, and we encourage you or others to ask questions or chime in with your own thoughts and experiences!

    Cheers,

    Jillian

     
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  • Icon for: Beverly DeVore-Wedding

    Beverly DeVore-Wedding

    Graduate Student
    May 18, 2017 | 09:22 a.m.

    I appreciate how your technology allows students who may not write well or at all to document their observations/learning. The enthusiasm and curiosity of these students is heartwarming to see from a previous HS science teachers. Now if only we could sustain that through their P-16 school years!

    I can see building on this for subsequent grade levels, with more sophisticated interactions with technology. Starting this young, these students should demand more science, connecting with their world and the use of technology!

    Thank you for giving me some ideas to share with PK teachers. 

     
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    Jillian Orr
  • Icon for: Marion Goldstein

    Marion Goldstein

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2017 | 12:35 p.m.

    Thanks so much for your feedback, Beverly, and of course we fully agree! Regardless of whether they are digital or hands-on, classroom activities and discussions are best when they invite learners to share their knowledge and thinking in the ways that work best for them. This is all the more critical for young children, who have emerging verbal skills and vary so greatly in their communication strategies. In line with our goal to ensure the developmentally appropriate use of technology in early learning environments, Nico & Nor activities invite gestural and other nonverbal ways for children to engage with science concepts, practices, peers, and teachers. Our digital Teacher Guide also offers suggestions and highlights opportunities for teachers to encourage multiple forms of participation.


    We agree that the program holds great promise for supporting science teaching and learning for older children, and we’re eager to explore this potential!


    Best,
    Marion

     
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  • Icon for: Rowena Douglas

    Rowena Douglas

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 07:08 p.m.

    You have a very long and rich history of excellent instructional materials development and this is another example! I am curious about the teacher professional development challenges you might have in implementation (with fidelity) of the program when the training/certification of preschool teachers may differ from that of the K-3 staff.  

     
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  • Icon for: Jillian Orr

    Jillian Orr

    Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 07:09 p.m.


    Hi Rowena! And thank you! We're really very fortunate to have such wonderful, dedicated, and diverse team members to make it all happen!

    The point you raise is absolutely spot-on and has been a large part of our larger team discussions over several years, namely professionalizing the early childhood field. Although I don't think any of us would claim to have the answer for that, we've taken a few approaches to professional development for implementation, which include creating videos that demonstrate implementation of the program as well as hosting in-person workshops with preschool educators. It's very grass-roots, but it's how we've been able to be effective.


    It is also worth noting that our program is designed to be flexible; while guidance and scaffolding are embedded throughout, teachers are invited (indeed, encouraged!) to adapt activities and select components in ways that work best for their children, time and space constraints, and other factors that teachers are constantly juggling. This was definitely designed to be a curriculum supplement, which can be incorporated into existing curricular structures as well.


    We would LOVE to hear your and others' thoughts on this; as with everything in early childhood, it will take the village!


     
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    Beverly DeVore-Wedding
  • Icon for: Rowena Douglas

    Rowena Douglas

    Facilitator
    May 19, 2017 | 03:56 p.m.

    I have no idea how to professionalize the early childhood field!  Like you guys, I have thought about it for years. How did Montessori spread? I think a place to start might be lobbying the state Departments of Education, but you have probably tried that approach. The school district I am working for now had early childhood ed programs.  I'm going to find out more about them...

     
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    Jillian Orr
  • Icon for: Lisa Samford

    Lisa Samford

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2017 | 11:34 a.m.

    Brilliant! Just. Brilliant. How are you distributing it to the preschool sector--I'm particularly interested in rural populations where many of the preschools are small and unlicensed facilities, with caring but largely untrained staff.

     
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    Beverly DeVore-Wedding
  • Icon for: Jillian Orr

    Jillian Orr

    Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 07:08 p.m.

    That's a GREAT question, Lisa!

    One of the great things we have observed, really anecdotally (but we would love to study more!), about using tablet apps that have been intentionally designed for preschool classrooms, is that these apps can actually help to scaffold teacher's comfort with the content. At the same time, teachers have reported that by observing children's app use and by playing with them, teachers can see how their children learn and how they apply their learning. Additionally, the apps complement the hands-on activities and manipulatives. So by using both the digital and non-digital -- which is absolutely essential from the learning standpoint -- vocabulary, science practices, and science content understanding naturally become a part of classroom technology use as well as everyday classroom routines. We have seen how educators learned from playing with children, making training fun!

    As to our distribution efforts, the team at WGBH is fortunate to be one of our country's public media stations, and because of that we are able to share our work with our preschool-focused colleagues and our public media audience across the nation. At the same time, EDC's Center for Children and Technology and SRI Education share out not only the research but also the materials. Our team has participated in/hosted conferences, workshops, festivals, and local events, with a big focus on where we will personally meet teachers. We also share updates, occasional teacher tips, and some materials through social media. We're just really starting to ramp up (preschool science pun intended!) on our dissemination efforts and will continue to do so over the summer. So, if you have any thoughts or suggestions, we'd love to hear them!

     

    Despite this, there is definitely much more work to be done, especially in rural areas where we visit less frequently. However, your question is perfectly timed! Directly related to your inquiry about rural populations, just this spring we began working, alongside fabulous partners at Kentucky Educational Television, on another NSF-funded project. This new project specifically explores how to design digital learning tools for both rural and urban preschool classrooms. I think we'll learn more in the upcoming year, so stay tuned!

    Please feel free to share your thoughts -- this is definitely an area that we care deeply about!

     
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  • Icon for: Lisa Samford

    Lisa Samford

    Facilitator
    May 19, 2017 | 09:08 a.m.

    Thanks, Jillian--it is great to know that the reach of this project is steadily extending and amplifying outward. I'll be interested to hear how you/KET reach those less-organized and often less-trained private child care providers. I suspect that the television portal will be the entry point! FANTASTIC project!

     
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    Jillian Orr
  • Icon for: Rachel Connolly

    Rachel Connolly

    Director, STEM Education, WGBH & PBS LearningMedia
    May 17, 2017 | 06:42 p.m.

    I love how the app serves as a digital tool provides a real "value-add" to the instructional experience and content, reinforcing the hand-on and experiential learning. How has your production process balanced the iteration between designing the activities and the app, does one come before the other?

     
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  • Icon for: Jillian Orr

    Jillian Orr

    Presenter
    May 18, 2017 | 12:54 p.m.

    Really great question, Rachel!!

     

    The thing to note here is that both are equally important -- the hands-on and the digital. Though the digital brings a value-add to the hands-on, it's also the case the hands-on brings a value-add to the digital. They each offer unique things and can complement and leverage each other. Fortunately, our team members work together very closely and activities and app ideas are often brainstormed together. Thus, sometimes an app idea springs from a hands-on activity and sometimes a hands-on activity idea springs from an app. Because we're iterating both the hands-on and digital throughout production, there are also times that we might intentionally align the two more closely, and times where we want them distinctly separate. We tend to keep the same milestones for both hands-on and digital, where we have our initial prototype ideas to share and discuss, and use that to spring us forward into further conversations and production decisions. Thus, the hands-on and digital each become a factor in the other's development.

     

    One interesting thing that we've found with integrating technology with hands-on activities into the classroom is that when there are some hands-on activities that mirror the digital, and some hands-on activities that focus on the same content but in different contexts, we have seen children be able to apply their learning not only across platforms, but across these different contexts, which has been really exciting. Throughout it all, we keep in mind that we are developing a suite -- and that suite needs all the components to work together in order to be effective.


    Thank you for this question! It's such an important point, and I'm glad we can share that here!

     
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    Adi

    Graduate Student
    May 18, 2017 | 07:59 a.m.

    Thats Amazing!!!!!

     
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  • Icon for: Jillian Orr

    Jillian Orr

    Presenter
    May 18, 2017 | 12:30 p.m.

    Thank you, Adi!! We have definitely been learning a lot!! :)

     
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    Peggy Ashbrook

    May 18, 2017 | 10:20 a.m.

     

    The apps’ journal documentation of the hands-on explorations are a wonderful use of the tablet technology! 

    I’m wondering if there is research about children understanding of the difference between an educational apps and entertainment apps in how they portray the motion of objects, shape of shadows, and growth of plant—reflecting reality, or altering it and exaggerating it for the fun story line. 

    Of course doing the hands-on explorations first, assuming programs have the materials and time to implement them, will ground the children’s understanding of what they see in the apps.

    When will the teachers’ guides become available?

     
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  • Icon for: Jillian Orr

    Jillian Orr

    Presenter
    May 22, 2017 | 05:29 p.m.

    Hi Peggy!

     

    The teachers' guides will become available this July!! We're really looking forward to sharing them out! (Special thanks to all the teachers who helped us!)

    That's a great question about research on children's understanding of these topics through educational apps vs entertainment apps. Before we begin our development, we do 3rd party app testing -- where we take existing often commercial apps that touch upon parts of our work, and play them with children. We have seen some confusion and difficulty at times, and we know that children do have misconceptions around these topics. It's an interesting area to continue exploring!

     
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