The Early Learning Project (ELP) is currently in its second year of implementation. Four Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) lead classrooms (Roxborough Park, Bennetto, and Pauline Johnson) have been currently implementing digital tools (iPod Touches, Livescribe Pens, netbooks, a document camera, and a snowball microphone) and documenting and sharing student learning through their classroom blogs to enhance the learning conditions for their students. Early in the school year, an inquiry question was collectively developed to initiate our collaborative inquiry, “How do digital tools and resources impact students’ ability to capture, support, and enhance thinking and learning in differentiated and multi-modal ways?” In order to further guide and monitor our inquiry and effective implementation of the digital tools and blogging the following criteria were later developed:
- make student thinking visible in differentiated of ways
- increase sustained reflection and metacognition
- increase collaboration and co-‐learning
- provide descriptive feedback in a timely and collective manner
- allow opportunities for parent engagement in their child’s learning
Based on feedback and reflections from the FDK teams and our learning from the integration of the digital tools, there has been evidence of enhanced student learning and engagement and parent engagement through the creation of 21st century learning conditions. The project will expand into a third year with a focus on the integration of Tablet technology in FDK classrooms across the system.
The decision to move forward into year three of the project with a focus on tablet technology is based on feedback from the FDK teams regarding the substantial use and impact that the iPod Touches specifically had on their classroom compared to the other digital tools. There were a number of reasons as to why the iPod Touch was more frequently used and a more effective learning tool:
- the iPod Touch is an “all-in-one” device that allowed students to communicate their ideas in a variety ways (photos, audio, video, text)
- the mobile nature of the devices allowed the students and teachers to capture learning immediately as it occurred
- students intuitively used touch to quickly interact and learn on the device
- the WordPress app on the devices allowed teachers and students to immediately post evidence of learning on their classroom blogs as it occurred
For the reasons mentioned above, the additional benefits of a larger screen, the same interface as the iPod Touch, and the extensive selection of apps for education, the iPad will be the digital learning tool that we will focus on next year for our ELP project.
In order to build further capacity across the system, we are inviting Full Day Kindergarten Teachers and Designated Early Childhood Educators to express interest in participating in year three of the ELP project. Participation in the project will require teachers to share student learning and their reflections on a classroom blog in the Commons (Board provisioned blogging platform) as well as participate in after school and job embedded learning sessions. Due to the larger scale of ELP project in year three involving an significant increase in schools and FDK classrooms, we will also be working with E-Best to closely monitor the implementation of this project across the system through out the 2012-2013 school year.