Childhood Education Innovations

Volume 95, Number 4

July/August 2019

CONTENTS

“Playful Learning Landscapes: Creating skill-building experiences in community spaces”
Research suggests that over 70% of the world’s children will be living in cities by 2050. In response, cities are rallying to create family friendly environments—making parks where ribbons of asphalt once divided communities and creating community gathering places all can enjoy. Playful Learning Landscapes is part of this broader initiative. It is the very first project to marry the science of how children learn with the ambition to make cities more livable. At that intersection of science and placemaking, we are creating a new kind of architecture that sparks curiosity and learning while at the same time heightening the beauty of the cityscape.
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“Transforming the Classroom for Personalized Learning: Building blocks for engagement to learn about migration”
We know there is value in pushing students outside a protective academic bubble to participate in real-world learning and service. Yet teachers often struggle to design units that move beyond traditional academic outcomes. While teaching at the International School of Helsinki, we sought to build cognitive skills while challenging students to take action in their lives and communities. Through this process, we developed a unit template aimed at transforming the classroom into a laboratory for personalized learning that applies to a global context.
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“Developing Skills Through Creative Problem-Solving”
According to the World Economic Forum, “Sixty-five percent of children currently entering primary school will have jobs that do not yet exist and for which their education will fail to prepare them, exacerbating skills gaps and unemployment in the future.” We cannot predict the jobs that today’s kindergartners will be graduating into, or how the world might be altered by the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence, quantum computing, or technologies that have not yet been invented. However, we do know, without any shred of doubt, that automation will continue to change employment opportunities and render many traditional roles obsolete.
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” ‘You Explore, I Guide, We Learn’: Developing an inquiry-based teaching curriculum”
Teachers explored a fundamental shift in how they could approach teaching. Many teachers had been using the “I do, we do, you do” model, which asks teachers to model a skill, then work with the students to do the skill together through scaffolds and supports, and then, finally, releases students to do the skill on their own. However, as the teachers began developing their own inquiry-based lesson, they realized this teaching model needed to be revised and so they coined the phrase, “You explore, I guide, we learn!”
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“The Promise of the New Learning Economy”
Education is a mountain with many pathways to the peak. Too often, we are so focused on ensuring the conventional final step—walking across the graduation stage—that we ignore the immense wealth of experiences individuals accrue as they climb, scrabble, and claw in their own, deeply personal ascent. We fail to recognize the challenges that so many overcome on their journey, and the resulting diversity of skills. If, however, we can capture every course, teacher, pedagogy, textbook, and milestone touching a student’s education, we can empower learners along traditional and non-traditional routes to more accurately signal their capacities, understand the most valuable learning pathways, and measure the impact of every step of their education.
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“Emerging ECD Networks in Sub-Saharan Africa: More is better”
Organizations often work in silos, even when addressing a common issue. Yet, so much more can be accomplished through collaboration. A wave of emerging national networks for early childhood education/early childhood development (ECE/ECD) actors in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has potential for achieving such collaboration on a scale that can transform early childhood education for the region. Different leadership promotion initiatives have played a role in supporting some of these emerging networks.
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“Reimagining Early Childhood Educator Professional Development: An online community shares literacy learning strategies”
Early childhood educators need to know how to provide children with purposeful educative activities in contexts meaningful to those students. Teachers must be able to implement literacy practices specific to early education, such as embedding reading, writing, listening, and speaking instruction into play with teacher-scaffolded interactions, while also seizing opportunities in the classroom to advantageously use children’s interests in instruction. Professional development opportunities that address these needs are important to ensure early childhood educators are providing quality services for children.
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“Choosing the Right App for Preschoolers: Challenges and solutions”
Recognizing the increased use of technology with young children and issues associated with it, we sought to find out how preschool apps could promote play within a safe environment. Using technology in early childhood settings continues to present challenges, particularly in terms of its impact on children’s imagination and creativity skills. Because technology is everywhere in today’s society, it is not realistic to keep children away from computers and mobile devices. Therefore, early childhood educators need to be informed about the latest technology available in order to determine if it is safe and promotes play. From an educational standpoint, it is vital for educators to have the skills to bridge play-based learning with technology and make the learning meaningful.
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“Making Meditation Compulsory in Education Systems”
Into a room of pillows and lavender scent, an elementary school student walks, enraged. He’s just been made fun of by another student, an altercation that turned to pushing and name-calling. Rather than sending him to detention or the principal’s office, his teacher sent him to Robert W. Coleman Elementary School’s meditation room. “I did some deep breathing, had a little snack, and I got myself together,” the boy recalled. “Then I apologized to my class.” He’s one of many children who benefit from what this West Baltimore elementary school calls its “Mindful Moment Room,” a warm, brightly lit space strewn with purple floor pillows, yoga mats, and the scents of essential oils. Here, the children can stretch, do yoga, and practice deep breathing.
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