Building The Digital Foundation in Early Learning Environments

The preschool setting of the past focused on the whole-child and teachers planning haphazardly on their beliefs as to what the child should know. In former years, kindergarten was a time for children to prepare for school.  It was the place where children learned to share  and develop social skills among their peers with adult assistance and guidance, while learning emerging academic skills in literacy and mathematics.  Today, kindergarten is the new first grade.  It is the place where academics take precedence over social/emotional development (Anonymous, 2007). It is beneficial for children to enter kindergarten with some form of school experience, where they can better adjust to the academic demands they are about to experience.  The concern surrounds children from low-income families because they enter kindergarten without prior school experience or with exposure to low-quality early care/education experience, which positions them behind their middle-class peers in terms of school readiness (Anonymous, 2007).

Literature suggest ways in which to better serve our diverse student population versus current program practices.  Picciano (2011) states six issues related to planning and implementation of technology in the educational setting.  They are new roles for administrators and teachers, obtaining hardware and software, the integration process into the curriculum, professional development for teachers, and the overall outcome of technology instruction. In analyzing these practices, Senge et al. (2012) suggest utilizing theories and practices surrounding the five learning disciplines: creating a context for organizational learning, personal mastery, shared vision, mental models, and team learning.  However, most organizations have not accomplished that level of discipline.  As stated by Fullan (2010), the ability to lead with your glass half full, trusting in your team members, through collaboration and guidance overtime, will result in an organization built on  a solid foundation.  This is defined as collective capacity, the emotional commitment from all stakeholders; the ingredients that make all systems go.  Currently, early care/education is being aligned with K-12 as it relates to the Preschool Learning Foundations and Common Core State Standards. As educational organizations move their efforts to build collective capacity among all stakeholdersthe digital divide and support with closing the gap is being addressed in the early care/education programs.  Preschool classrooms are building the digital foundation by integrating technology in the learning environment.

According to Edwards (2014), “It’s like the movie Field of Dreams, build it, and they will come.”  During collaborative planning, educators developed a lesson around a subject that would interest the students, Dinosaurs!  They began with simple yet complex technology tools that would capture the interest of the students, as well as support the competency level with technology usage by the educators involved with the lesson design. The students were able to research fossils using the Internet, look at and document their findings using a digital microscope and document camera, take pictures with a digital camera, and use a interactive whiteboard for lessons.

References

Anonymous. (2007, January). Revisiting the NAEYC position statement on   developmentally appropriate practice the conversation continues. YC Young Children, 62(1), 1-3.

Edwards, M. A. (2014). Every child, every day: A digital conversion model for student achievement. Pearson Education: NJ

Fullan, M. (2010). All systems go: The change imperative for whole system reform. Corwin: CA

Picciano, A. G. (2011). Educational leadership and planning for technology. Pearson Education: NJ

Senge, P., Cambron-McCabe, N., Lucas, T., Smith, B., Dutton, J., & Kleiner, A. (2012). Schools that learn: A fifth discipline fieldbook for educators, parents, and everyone who cares about education. Crown Business: NY

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