The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 1 - Page 46

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Click on this link to learn more about the ILA Annual Conference!

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The International Literacy Association's 2016 annual conference will be in Boston, MA, from July 9-11! We are so excited to be able to celebrate everything literacy-related in such a historic place. If you've never been to an ILA conference, check out the highlights video below from the 2015 ILA Conference in St. Louis. It was fabulous!

ILA Conference

Boston, MA

July 9-11, 2016

A variety of technologies are all around us in our homes, offices, and schools. When used wisely, technology and media can support learning and relationships (NAEYC, 2012). Today, teachers are increasingly using technology to support their work and to engage young children (Shillady and Parikh, 2012). Keeping up with new technologies for the classroom presents an ongoing challenge for educators (Clements and Sarama, 2002). They recognize the ever changing and developing potential of technologies to enhance the ability of children to learn, problem solve, and convey their ideas.

Although some have argued against the use of computer technology for young children’s learning (Cordes and Miller, 2000), the effects of technology in educational settings on the development of young children have been widely documented and strongly positive. For example, children who use computers have been found to show greater gains in intelligence, structural knowledge, problem solving, and language skills compared with those who do not use technology in their learning (Clements and Sarama, 2003; Haugland, 1999; Swaminathan and Wright. 2003; Vernadakis, et al., 2005). The challenge in early childhood education then becomes discovering new ways to more fully integrate technology into the curriculum to encourage the active engagement and thinking of young children (Couse and Chen, 2010).

Many teachers meet the needs of their children with diverse abilities. When observing an early childhood classroom, one will often find developmentally appropriate practices and activities in all interest areas, except with technology (Trotter and Zehr, 1999). Educators would benefit from learning how to access developmentally appropriate apps and software in order to fully integrate technology into the classroom and the curriculum. In reference to the existing literature, the majority of teachers are unable to make appropriate use of technology in their own classrooms, while others are unwilling to try because of anxiety, lack of interest, or lack of motivation (Duhaney, 2001; Keengwe, 2007). Teachers’ attitudes and skills (Bitner and Bitner, 2002) and lack of time, funds, and the connection between technology training and the curriculum (Dvorak and Buchanan, 2002) have also been cited as barriers to technology integration into classroom instruction. Some educators view instruction and integration as two separate entities that are difficult to infuse, their instructional time and core responsibilities. Technology is not a substitute for good instruction; effective teachers should strive to integrate technology into their lessons to engage multiple learning styles of diverse learners and abilities in the classroom (Keengwe and Onchwari, 2009).

Choosing apps can be challenging and educators should consider what skills need to be reinforced or enhanced. Playing a game as an app can be useful, but educators need to be aware of the “cute and playful” apps to which children can gravitate. Lisa Guernsey (2007) writes about the three Cs-content, context, and the individual child.

● Content- How does this help children engage, express, imagine and explore?

● Context- How does it complement, and not interrupt, children’s natural play?

● The individual child- How do we choose the right tech tools and experiences for each child’s needs, abilities, and development stage?

Selecting apps can be similar to writing lesson plans. Educators consider goals and objectives for each app. This may be helpful to educators who are looking for specific apps to integrate into the curriculum. When used well, technology can enable access to information and stories, while also connecting school, educators, students, and families within neighborhoods, around the nation and around the world (Guernsey and Levine, 2015).

My Create is a virtual whiteboard app which allows children to freely express ideas, stories, and create pictures. The content can be saved and shared with parents or caregivers. Puppet Edu is an app that can be utilized by the students and shared. My Story is a virtual book that students can write, animate, and share with others. These three apps are open-ended which allows for students to create and cultivate their work.

An unpublished document titled, “DAP4APPS” was created by early childhood educators in search of a tool that would allow other early childhood educators to investigate developmentally appropriate apps. The criteria for which apps would be assessed was from the NAEYC position statement. There are seven criteria for this tool: meaningful content, problem based learning/inquiry, active engagement, user friendly, feedback, diversity/differentiation, and technological features.

The Use of Developmentally Appropriate

Technology and the Young Child

Tech Talk

Jessica Leonard