We introduced the Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum course in the blog post Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum Course. If you missed that one, we recommend going back to understand an overview of the course as a whole.
The Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum course is divided into 5 parts. While the process of documentation is critical to all 5 parts, each part has its own focus:
- Part 1 focuses on the preparation of materials.
- Part 2 focuses on the formation of learning groups.
- Part 3 focuses on developmentally appropriate strategies for integrating technology into the early childhood classroom.
- Part 4 focuses on how to extend the curriculum beyond the walls of the classroom, outdoors, and in the community.
- Part 5 focuses on various roles teachers can assume in learning experiences.
Intern Teachers are encouraged to innovate new classroom practices with regard to each of the foci listed above. Thus, the course promotes ongoing teacher professional development in relation to classroom experiences.
For example, for Part 3 of the course, which focuses on developmentally appropriate strategies for integrating technology, Intern Teachers conducted an initial assessment of the technology used in their classrooms. They composed a list of the many technological tools they find useful in their own lives. Next, they highlighted which of these tools they are using in the classroom, and finally they marked which of the tools they are not using that could offer potential for learning in a classroom of young children.
In class, Intern teachers discussed the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) position statement on technology and interactive media that was adopted in 2012:
They discussed and debated the following:
- Should technology be present in early childhood classrooms?
- How can we expand our thinking about technology beyond television and computer games?
- How can we develop a strong image of young children in order to trust them with technology?
- What are developmentally appropriate uses for technology in early childhood classrooms?
- Can we develop ideas for the use of technology in which students are active, not passive, learners?
- Can we innovate, implement, and document positive examples of using technology in early childhood classrooms?
The Intern Teachers shared the following thoughts:
“Technology can be active, engaging, and provoke children in different ways. It is important to change the way we think in order to create classrooms that are welcoming to the inevitable changes of the world…I feel that it is my responsibility as a teacher to use my own experiences with technology and try to relate that to my students.” – Intern Teacher, Grace Gaglione
“I want to experiment with technology more on the expressive side, like through music or digital creation.” – Intern Teacher, Conor Vidulich
“When I started to think about how to incorporate technology into the classroom, I wanted to build upon the children and teachers’ existing interests…I should consider the balance of familiar and novel materials and activities when integrating technology into an experience. Having an appropriate balance will support children’s focus and engagement.” – Intern Teacher, Katie Kunin
Now, the Intern Teachers took action!
Dan-Vi expanded our definition of “technology” by choosing to introduce a more rudimentary technological tool, an apple peeler, into her toddler classroom.
“I have a more rounded idea of what is considered technology and how it can be used to support children and their investigations. It isn’t something that teachers should fear or shy away from because it can be a helpful tool in learning and teaching.” – Intern Teacher, Dan-Vi Hoang
Paige offered a keyboard to the 2-year-old children in her classroom. She provided plenty of uninterrupted time for the children to explore and experiment with this new addition to the classroom environment. She noted that we often think of technology as something that isolates people, yet, in this case, in the classroom, the technology provided a platform for socializing in new ways.
“I noticed that the children were constantly looking at each other, laughing, and experiencing the sounds together. This social learning continued as they quickly learned that the buttons above the keys affected the sounds the keys made. They explored all of the buttons, finding that some of them created songs. This prompted the children to get up and dance around the room together.” – Intern Teacher, Paige Laeyendecker
Marcy decided to use technology to extend the investigation of flowers that was unfolding in her 3-year-old classroom. The children were painting and drawing images of flowers, as well as manipulating and arranging real flowers. Marcy wondered about the potential of a large scale experience with flowers. She wondered how the children might use their bodies to engage with flowers in new ways.
“I found a YouTube video containing time-lapse photography of flowers blooming that was choreographed to music.” – Intern Teacher, Marcy Sala
Marcy projected the video on the wall and added other materials to the space.
“When choosing what props to provide, I decided that the presence of real flowers would be important to help bridge this experience with the other experiences they have had. I also wondered whether the real flowers might serve a role in helping to bridge the potential divide between the real and virtual worlds the children would be experiencing.” – Marcy Sala
After carefully designing this experience for children, Marcy observed and documented how the children responded.
“There were some incredibly beautiful moments in which the children were really tuning in to the image on the screen, as well as to the projected images of their shadows and the reflected images in the large mirror. They interacted with both the flowers and the scarves in relation to the video and spent time both dancing to the music and interpreting the images they were seeing with their bodies. One thing that happened a lot, especially early on in the experience, was the act of using the real flowers to touch the virtual flowers. Two of the children watched the video from afar one time through before joining in physically.” – Marcy Sala
Marcy reflected on the value of integrating technology in this way in her early childhood classroom.
“I thought that the integration of technology with this particular learning interest enabled a whole new kind of wonder and awe.” – Marcy Sala