Welcome to my video transcript from your co-host Dr Faith Rogow who did a fantastic presentation on inquiry based learning in early childhood education. Read the transcript or click the button below to watch the free webinar for preschool teachers now.
Inquiry Based Learning with Technology Integration in Early Childhood Education
Michael - Well, good morning, good afternoon, or good evening to everybody, whoever you are. You might come from far and wide, as our co-host has today, but it's my great pleasure and privilege to co-host with Dr. Faith Rogow.
She is renowned for so many things. Just to give you a background on who, where she is these days. She, for 30 years, she has been as a media literacy education leader and curriculum developer. She has developed a reputation for combining passion, practicality and innovation. She was the founding president of the National Association of Media Literacy Education and a founding editorial board member of the Journal of, for Media Literacy Education, author of several books and articles, and has taught thousands of educators, childcare professionals, media professionals, and parents to understand and harness the power of media. And now she's got a new book, which is "Media Literacy for Young Children: Teaching Beyond the Screen Time Debates" from the National Association of the Education of Young Children. It's my pleasure to introduce you to Dr. Faith Rogow.
And before I get started, just a few things. She has a couple of planned intervals throughout her presentation for people to, who are attending, to take part in a few activities, a few other things like that. Also, in the chat, you'll find three of her handouts that go with this presentation. I advise you to download them when you can and to go through so you can follow along. Also in the chat, you'll find links to my Facebook and LinkedIn social media groups, Technology in Early Childhood Education, and also to my free online course, "How to Successfully Integrate Technology in Preschool Activities Today." So go through those links. Download those handouts and Dr. Faith Rogow, the floor is all yours.
Faith - Thank you, Michael. It's a pleasure to be with you, and I'm always excited to talk about this topic. It's one that has intrigued me for a very long time, and so my game plan is to start, we'll talk for about an hour and the first part, I'll kind of do, lay some foundations, the things that help us to be able to act on what we do, and then the second half, we'll, I'll talk about some specific strategies, how we put that foundation into action.
So I'm gonna start, I'm gonna share screen, so, gimme a second here. There we go. You'll see, this is how to get in touch with me if you need to get in touch with me directly for one reason or another, but I want you to start by thinking about, so if I handed you a hammer and a wrench and said, okay, go, you would probably look at me kind of strangely, because like, what are you supposed to do with them?
And that's because we never start with the tools, we start with the task. And then we pick the tools that help us accomplish the task. And sometimes when we start with the tools, we think, okay, my job is to just use this tool, and then I run around, if I have a screwdriver in my hand, I run around looking for screws to screw in and think every problem, everything that needs to be solved in the world is a screw that needs to be screwed in, and sometimes when we think about technology in education, not just in early childhood, but in education in general, that's the way we approach tech.
Inquiry Based Learning in Early Childhood
We start with the tool instead of starting with the task. So my first recommendation in exploring how we do inquiry-based technology integration in early childhood education is, and it's not gonna let me switch here. OK.
There we go. Is that we start with intention, it's the task before the tool. So in early childhood, especially, we still get a lot of this, oh my, technology, isn't that horrible for children? And I think we're way past that in terms of where the world is now. People still talk about 21st century skills as if we're not two decades into the 21st century already. So we're way behind, for me, the time to debate screens or not screens.
That's not the issue anymore, so it's not "if" anymore. We're starting to look at what, when, how and why, how do we use technology tools to help whatever our educational goals are, what's our task, so that's kind of where we start.
What is inquiry based learning in early childhood education?
So I wanted to be upfront at the beginning of this saying, so what's my task, how am I defining the task of inquiry, and for me, it's through a lens of media literacy. And this is my purpose statement, for where I hope people will get to by the end, if media literacy education were perfect, at the end of somebody's education, that they would be able to have habits of inquiry and skills of expression that they need to be lifelong learners, critical and creative thinkers, active communicators, and engaged, ethical community members and citizens.
So that's the big-picture task, right, is to make that happen. And let me just make sure so that everybody's clear about what I mean by that, so when we talk about habits of inquiry, especially in early childhood, for the young years, we're talking about talking, mostly.
So you can think of it, habit of inquiry is thinking, really, but it's, we do it through talking, so we have conversations, which means not only we speak, we also listen, which means children get a chance to speak. This is a conversation. That's the first part of it. And the second part of it is being able to find credible sources and knowing what's a credible source and what's not for the particular information we're looking for because a source can be credible on one topic and not so credible on another topic, so, we'll get more into that, but that's kind of the thing, it's being able to ask and answer questions and find credible sources to get our answers to those questions.
The second piece of it is the skills of expression, and that's making media, being able to effectively communicate using a range of available tools. That doesn't mean ignoring print. This is not juxtaposing, oh, we're introducing digital tech, so we don't need traditional print literacy anymore.
It's not a competition, right. To be literate in the world, to be functional in the world, you still need to be able to read and write print. But if you can only read and write print, you are not fully literate anymore. So we want to make this about effectively communicating using a range of available tools and knowing things like how and when to share. So being able to make judgements about that.
Making can also be about playing and making art in the same way that when we teach writing, it's not just about, well, can you form your letters, it's ultimately about being able to write, and some of us will use that writing to write poetry. That is art. Or novels. That are art, right. It's not just about formal communication or communication for information.
So those are the essential tasks. I have summarized that in an article that you see listed here. That media literacy education, this educational process I'm gonna describe is helping children develop the life skills they need to become thinkers and makers in the multimedia environment that is their reality. And I think this is one of those important things, because I still get lots of questions about, well, but isn't technology bad for kids, aren't screens bad for kids kind of thing?
And what we're talking about here is so much more than just using technology, but if you're not using technology, at least sometimes to do this, then you're not fully preparing them for the world that they live in. And that ultimately is our job. Our job isn't just to help kids learn to think in some abstract world, it's to prepare them for the world they're actually going to live in.
And I often refer to this slide, it's a slide I've had for many, many years, it's when the iPad first came out and this was actually text from the ad copy that apple put out with the first iPad, and I think it really kind of summarizes just some of the differences that we're beginning to see with the technology that kids now have total access to, and in, when we're talking about for young children, don't forget that touchscreen technology was a game-changer because young children often are not good readers or not readers at all.
And they don't have actually the actual dexterity yet in, they don't have the muscle control in their hands to do a lot of typing and that kind of stuff, but touch screen technology, they can tap and they can swipe, right, they can even learn to pinch, and so it was a game-changer in terms of giving young children access to technology.
And if you just look at the picture on screen there, you see it's a combination of texts, so we still have to teach print, right. But then there's all kinds of other stuff on screen. And that last line there, we can hold a library in our hands. We now are giving people literally access to almost the entire world in the palm of our hands.
Through our phones, we can reach literally millions, if not billions, of people, depending on where we are and how much our governments let us have access and things, so it's a nearly unfathomable amount of information now and access to connection that we have. That's the world we're preparing children for. We can't do it with technology, but we can't do it only with technology. And it's one of the reasons why I have suggested that we need to add to the three Rs and begin to add reasoning and reflection. So how do we begin to do that? Well, one of the things that we know is, anyone who's ever made media knows that framing matters. That the way you frame a subject can change the way you think about a subject, and in education, we have another name for framing, it's called pedagogy, right. Your pedagogy is your frame for how you look at something.
And something interesting has happened in early childhood. Because people's conversations around media and kids started in the world of television, mostly, we started this conversation where the pedagogy came almost completely out of medical models. It came out of kind of the field of public health informed by media affects researchers, nearly all of whom come from the world of psychology.
So we get this medical framing for how to deal with media technologies and young children. And when you do that, what you do is you say, here pay attention to what's most problematic with media, right. So you begin to look at all the troubles with media, and that does a lot of things.
One of the things that it does is that it makes, if you follow it to its logical conclusion, the major educational strategy that came out of that was, well, we need to limit exposure. We have to figure out how to find ways to help kids learn how to limit their contact with these problematic technologies, right.
So what I'm gonna suggest is that, although there are reasons to be, to have real concerns about kids and technology and how technology, actually, for all of us, the role that media technologies play in our lives, the truth is for, oops!
Let me go back. There we go. For education, a public health strategy isn't very helpful, because a public health strategy doesn't give kids skills, right. It's not a useful pedagogy for, if what we really wanna do is teach kids to be critical thinkers and apply that to media or apply it to screens or apply it to the technology that they're using.
So I'm gonna argue that we need to use a different frame than the one that a lot of us kind of got trained to use, which was this public health frame that is kind of based in our anxieties, right. It's, when, it, the self that we bring to the task when we come from a public health frame is, I am either a compliance officer, which is not much fun, right. I'm monitoring how much time kids spend in front of the screen and my job is to say, you should spend less or telling kids, you shouldn't really like what you like. How successful do you think that's gonna be, right? That's a no win.
So it's not really, and I'm telling them kind of what I think about media and making my judgements and I'm not listening to really what they're taking away from their use of technology. So I'm gonna suggest that there's a different frame that we can use, and it's an education frame to say, well, all right, how do we make kids literate in the digital world that they live in?
That's the task, not how do we keep them safe from the dangers of technology. It's a different starting point and it's important. The other change kind of in frame is, so we need to frame the challenge that's ahead of us as one of illiteracy, not it's about media. We need to change media, or we need to make sure kids are warned about how dangerous media can be, right. It's about illiteracy, and what do we do when faced with a challenge of illiteracy?
We give people skills, right. We figure out how best to teach them and meet them where they're at and give them skills, so that's what this is gonna be about. And the third piece of it is, we want it to be child-centred, not media-centred. If all my focus is on media and the effects of media and I see my job as telling other people what I think the effects of media are, that's not child-centred. I want this practice to be what I think is good educational practice, especially with young children, and that is for it to be child-centred. I don't wanna measure how well adults keep kids away from screens, I wanna measure how well kids build skills. That's a child-centred practice.
So we wanna have a pedagogy and approach that gets away from the media as problem paradigm and says, so what's our educational challenge here? And then how do we engage kids in ways that will be successful? And one of the things that I've done, sorry, one of the things is, in the new book, is try to really map about, well, what are the skillsets? When I say skill building, what do I mean? Well, here's what I mean. It's this set of skills. And let me just spend a little bit of time talking about, I won't go through all of the categories in depth, but let me talk a little bit about some of these categories. And as I talk about them, think about, well, alright, where in my work do I already do this? And where am I not doing that at all, but I might be able to fit it in? So the one that's probably most familiar to people is this one, access. So access is the, teaching kids to use this stuff, right. Can they use the computer or the tablet or whatever it is, that technology, do they know how to use this particular software, this piece of equipment?
And it's all those debates about, well, do I want a one-to-one computer ratio in my school, and, you know, those kinds of things. Those are all I access questions. And they're an important piece of the puzzle, right. If you have kids who have access to tablets and they don't know how to use them, or they don't know how to use them for anything but playing games or watching their favorite videos, well, then they're losing out on a lot.
They're not getting a lot that they could, so access is important. But as you see from this graphic, access is one small piece of really what kids need in order to grapple with this world. And so we can't just say, oh, we've introduced technology. We're doing our jobs here. We introduce technology and we do all of this other stuff too, and so the gears are interrelated, right. You can't just have one. If you stop one or one is absent, the rest stop turning.
So what do we do? So the big gears in the middle that kind of keep this practice together are inquire and reflect. And inquire is what you might guess, it is that asking questions about media, thinking about media. I'll give some strategies in a bit about how to do that. And reflection is about thinking about the effects of media, and on me and on other people, so that includes things like helping children become aware of their bodies when they're using media, so that they get a sense of, you know what, I need to take a break now. I need to move.
And we can begin to model that anytime they're sedentary, it doesn't just have to be around technology, but that's one piece of it, and another piece when they're making media is thinking about how will this affect other people, right. I think this is funny. Will everyone think it's funny, right? You know, those kinds of questions are the ones that we can begin to help kids learn to ask on a routine basis. Remember at the beginning, the touchstones of habits of inquiry and skills of expression? In early childhood, that habits part is really important.
That's really what we're after, especially the younger kids that you're working with. The younger the child, the more it's about habits and the less it's about specific answers, that we just wanna get them in this routine of, oh, I ask these questions when I do this kind of work. So that's the two kind of core centre pieces, is that inquire and reflect. Now, of course, we have other things in here too, so create is obviously in there too.
We want kids not only to be able to read, we want them to write essentially with the various technologies. Comprehension is in there. It's often missing when you talk about this with older children, but with younger kids, we really need to make sure that they understand the overt messages or the overt, what are they actually looking at or listening to, so that's a piece of it. Evaluating is a piece of it. Is what I'm choosing to use for this the right tool for the task, for instance?
That would be evaluating. Connecting and collaborating, that's a big part of the online world and being able to do that effectively. And attending, paying attention in a mindful way to the technology and media that are in our world. So it's not just, oh, I notice that's media, it's, oh, I notice that that's media, and that means I'm supposed to activate in my brain all of these inquiry skills and reflection skills that I've learned around it.
So it's really more closer to what a scientist might say is observation, so that's what attend is about. And then engage and explore. You know, we forget sometimes when we're working with older kids how important play is. For younger children, play is absolutely essential to learning, and so we engage and explore. We use these technologies and think about, well, how is this contributing to kids play?
So I wanna talk about all of those. And before I get there, just a tiny bit more background. One of the things that I have found helpful in helping other people understand the difference when you're talking about inquiry, which mostly I will refer to as media literacy, is differentiating between media management and media literacy. So media management are all the rules that grownups put around use of media technologies and content, right. What do you have access to?
And what are the rules that might be time limits on how you can use stuff, or when you can use stuff that you're allowed to use during this part of the day and not that part of the day, all of those kinds of things, that's media management, and that's a piece of it, but media management in general doesn't give kids a lot of skills, right. It's, it may be telling them, okay, you can't watch that, but it doesn't really help them learn how to find what would be appropriate for them to watch or play, right. Media literacy is all about giving kids skills around this. So that's the distinction.
And, of course, I'm gonna talk more about media literacy. And before I get there, I just wanted to do one last piece of background, which is, so when we're talking about integrating technology, nearly always, although not always, but nearly always, we are talking about integrating media. So it's not necessarily true, for instance, if the technology that you're integrating is robotics, or maybe using an online microscope, but almost all the rest of it is media, in one form or another.
So it's important to be clear about what we want children to know about media. That's part of it. So part of it is gonna be, there's a knowledge piece to this, and there are a lot of things that we should know as educators about media, but for young students, we can really kind of summarize with three things. We want them to know that all media are constructed, that people use their individual skills, beliefs, and experiences to construct their own meanings from media messages, and that media shape and are shaped by us.
Now that last one is about media influence. I'm not gonna take a lot of time to talk about that today, but I do wanna take some time to talk about those first two and ways that we begin to teach them. So, the all-media-are-constructed, how, what does that mean? Well, for young kids, one of my favorite stories was from Len Masterman, who was one of the fathers of media literacy education, and he told a story about an art teacher who was working with a group of eight year olds and showed them this, not this exact picture, but a picture of where he, and said, so what is this?
And, of course, the students all said, well, it's a horse. And he said, no, no, it's not. And they were like, well, what do you mean? It's a horse, right. And ultimately, he kind of prompted them a little bit, and eventually, what they realized was, oh, it's not a horse, it's a picture of a horse. And that distinction is critical to understanding how we help kids understand what media is and why it might be important to begin to pay attention to it maybe a little bit more closely. They were attuned to it a little bit differently than they have, so all media are literally representations.
So representation is gonna be an important thing. And the way we can explain this to very young children is, look, we know, when we say media are constructed, what we mean is, people make media and they make choices about the media that they make, and those choices influence what audiences think, right. They're, they influence audience reactions. And that's why media are never neutral or objective, but that isn't even so important for very young children to understand. If they understand those first three, they'll kind of intuitively get the rest, and we know this, we know that decisions that people make about the media that they make are consequential.
So, for example, the way that people chose to lay out the graphics on this particular sign can lead to a lot of people misreading. I think what I hope was their original intention. I don't think they meant to say people are eating children. I think what they meant to say was, people are eating. Children in this area, please leash your dog. That is, the first two are a list, but the layout of it is really easy to read the other way, right. So we know, these things are consequential and oftentimes they're more serious than just this.
So that's what we're talking about when we say media are constructed. We want all children to understand that when they are looking at media, they are always looking at events, stories, whatever it is, through somebody else's eyes. Somebody else or a set of somebody else's has made choices about what you're seeing. The other thing is, we want people to understand, but it's not a one-way street. It's not that the people who make the media have all the decision making power, and people who are receiving the messages have none. It's an interactive thing. So people always interpret through the lens of their own experience.
So look at this for a minute and just think, okay, what do I notice about this and this filter? And if you look carefully, you'll see that the filter clarifies, right, it makes the grass unfuzzy, it focuses it, and the same thing with the sidewalk, but it also flips them, and so what we have is, we've got an image that both clarifies and distorts, and it does so at the same time. And all of us look at media through that kind of a lens. We all have a shared lens. This is our shared culture. It's what allows for communication, right. That if I go like this, people in most places in the world will understand that I mean, yes, right. That's a shared lens.
And then we all have our individual filters on that lens that have us interpret in ways that other people may or may not, so they may not share our filter. And the more that we have in common with somebody, the more likely we are to share that filter or more aspects of that filter, and the more different we are are from somebody, the more we are likely to not have that shared filter.
And when we start talking about difference, oftentimes we talk about differences like geography, urban/rural, or we talk about race or religion or those kind, gender, right, those kinds of differences, but one of the biggest differences of all is age. And you are not the same age as the students that you teach or the children that you work with, right.
So the chances are that a child, especially a young child, is going to share your interpretation of something is actually kind of low, right, that we often don't share the same thing, and so it's really important for teachers to understand, I can show something, and I think I know the meaning and it's obvious to me, and it may not be obvious to children, which is why we're gonna teach them to ask questions about it, which I'll get to in a second. But, so look at this for a second, and if I tell you that this is part of an app that's an alphabet app that lets people practice, for instance, what alphabet letter is this?
Well, children might interpret this as lots of different things. This particular one is I is for insect, but what if you were a child and you said, no, L is for ladybug, or B is for bug, right? There's nothing obvious necessarily that this is absolutely I is for insect, especially if they haven't learned what an insect is or what defines an insect yet.
So we have to be careful when we're teaching when we teach with visual media, especially, that kids share our meaning, or that they share the same kind of connotation when we say stuff, when we use stuff, or when a program, say, a learning program introduces something that the connotation that we think is so obvious is them, and I can show you illustrated by, so if I said, all right, what word comes to mind right now, what image comes to mind right now if I say the word queen? What's the first thing that you think of?
So how many of you saw one of these images, kind of, or a version of one of these in your heads? Look at all the different possibilities here that somebody could think of as queen, and none of them would be wrong. And that's really important to understand when you're talking about introducing inquiry and media technologies, because very often, we wanna get people to a one-right-answer kind of version of interpretation, and it doesn't work that way, right.
Any of these would, in fact, be a correct interpretation of the word queen. And it depends obviously on context and what we're after and all of those kinds of things. But very often, two people can have very different ideas about the meaning of something they've just seen and neither of them is wrong. So what do we do with that? Well, what we do is we teach people to focus on evidence instead of conclusion necessarily. I mean, conclusion is important, but really, as long as you can give good evidence for what you're saying, that's gotta be good enough when it comes to media interpretation, right. So any questions so far, and also, Michael, I'm gonna say, be sure you give me like 15 minutes before we're, heads up before we're finished here too. I wanna make sure I get certain things in groups.
Michael - If you have any questions, you can post them in chat if you want, or you can ask now.
Faith - All right. So I'm gonna keep going. And if questions come up, Michael, and you see somebody post something in the chat, just stop me.
Michael - Sure.
Faith - So think about where the media literacy education opportunities are in your day that would let you work with technologies. That's the key to integrating inquiry. It's not going to work nearly as well to do it as a separate set of lessons as it is to integrate it into what you're already doing, and especially to integrate it, for those of you in schools, to integrate it into core curriculum. And there are lots of ways to do that.
So, for young children, the first primary way is going to be to make media in one way or another, and that's because it's the most developmentally appropriate way to use technologies and combine inquiry. And the reason it is because it's hands-on and it's concrete. Now, there are lots and lots of and lots of different ways to make media.
So it might look like, oh, this is just about making videos, or a podcast, or some, people think of something big. It doesn't have to be something big. It could be creating a tweet that gets sent home. It could be taking a single photo. It could be creating a drawing in drawing program. It could be, there was a group, a team of early childhood educators in New Zealand, who, the teacher took pictures for a child's portfolio on a tablet, and then before they would actually put them in the portfolio, they would go into the tablet with a drawing program and those pictures with the child and the child could do things like circle things, these were like three year olds, they could circle things that were important to them. They could annotate. They could add, if you use a program like VoiceThread or something where, any program where you can add narration, right, that kids can add to their own portfolios, that's making media, so there are lots and lots and lots of opportunities to make media, but all of those opportunities have certain things in common if what you're going to do is make more than just good technicians at media.
Now, what do I mean by good technicians?
Well, people who know how to use the technology really well, but who aren't really thinking very deeply about what they're doing. One of my colleagues who works with older kids was teaching about propaganda and taught kids all the best techniques that propagandists use to get their message across, and if you don't help kids learn how to think about that deeply and reflect on that, what you end up doing is teaching a bunch of really good propagandists, and that may not be your goal, right.
So we wanna do more than just make the media with them. We wanna help them think about themselves as media makers and begin to learn how to do that thoughtful and ethically. So how do we do that? Well, we require this list of things when we do these activities with kids. We require some planning, right, especially on bigger projects, but also, right, what will be an effective message? Give a prompt if you can to practice so that they have to make some selections, and the most important thing of all is that kids are doing the decision-making.
So in working with young kids, although it's great to put the technology in their hands, very often, they can only do small pieces of it before they'll start getting really frustrated. They don't need to do all all the pieces of making media. So you might wanna make a classroom newsletter or a website or something. They're not gonna do, if they're five, or six, or seven, even, they're probably not going to do all the components of that by themselves. What they will do, or what they can do, is to help make the decisions of what goes in.
So if you are making a newsletter post or a blog post about what the classroom did that day, then it starts with a discussion with the kids of, so what did we do and what would be important to show and what would be a good picture to select to show what we did, right. That's walking kids through this decision-making process.
And it can be as deep or as not deep as you need to, depending on the level of the kids. I know, for example, working with a group of seven year olds who are making a documentary on the watershed that was behind their school building, and they noticed a lot of pollution in the creek that ran behind the school and thought that was important, and they went out, they were making, they decided to make a documentary, and they went out to shoot it, and on that particular day, there was no pollution in the creek, so then they had an ethical dilemma.
All right, today's the day we have the cameras and we have the support to shoot this, and we know that most days, in fact, we see stuff floating in the creek, but there's nothing floating right now, what do we do? And what they decided to do is take a plastic, an empty plastic bottle and they, one of them ran an upstream and put it in the water and they shot it coming downstream, and later off-camera grabbed it up, right. But they created it, and the question is, so were they making it up, or was that actually a good reflection of reality? What a great discussion to have from seven year olds, right.
So it can get that deep and that interesting, or it can be really basic of, oh, we took a walk today, what should we show about what we saw? You know, that kind of thing. Cooperation, if they have to make decisions together, right. Or if they have to cooperate to get a particular kind of shot like the documentary makers did to make the plastic bottle float down the creek, right.
So we encourage situations where they have to cooperate with each other, so that this becomes a social task, not necessarily an isolating use of technology. Target audience. We want them to think about, well, who is this for? And would my selection change depending on who it's for? Would that shot of me making the funny face for my friends, is that same thing that I wanna have for a flyer we're making for the elders in our community?
Maybe it is and maybe it isn't, and that's where we have conversations with them about the reasons for doing it, but we can introduce very early on the concept of target audience and who is this for, and then thinking about that reflection question of, and what will they think about this? Will they think this is funny? Will they think this is sad? Well, you know, and is that my intention? Am I being clear, then it's about, am I being a clear communicator, right? If I think it won't make them laugh and my intention is to make them laugh, well, then I need to rethink 'cause I'm not being a good communicator. We want them to think about who and how they'll share this with. Is this just for one person, just for their family, or is it big for everyone to see it? And who gets to see what?
So some people, that's where we can begin to introduce kids to this notion of, they all, here at least, get excited about putting stuff on YouTube. They think it's just great. Oh, my God, if you've got something on YouTube, you have arrived, if you are seven, let me tell you, right. But YouTube can be open to everyone in the entire world, and is that what want? Or are they really just making it for their classmates, right?
And we want to reflect authentic voice. It is, this is not about kids following our instructions. You know, we want them to make a PSA, for, public service announcement for some good that we see in the community. Lately here, wear a mask, right. We want them to make a PSA for "Wear a mask." And that may not be an issue that they're thinking about front and centre at all.
We want them to see these, this is a tool to get my voice across. So lots of opportunities for making media, and there are ways that we can refine this for working with young children. So for instance, in that documentary project that I was describing, when we first started out, the kids were lost, it was too big for them to do, until one of my colleagues figured out how to break it down.
And so now, when I recommend doing documentaries with young children, I think, okay, they're at least four groups that we do this in, four parts. So "hello" is the kids introducing who they are, the "Oh no!" is the problem that they've encountered, right, what are they looking at, "Way to go" is what they did, and then "info" is about what they want the community to know, right.
What, it is important, maybe what the community or the viewers, whoever it's gonna be, are gonna do. When we break it down, we help it be, various projects be developmentally appropriate, and that's also a really important piece of doing inquiry-based technology integration. Let them handle the pieces that they can handle with a special focus on them making the decisions about what gets shown, how it gets shown, who gets to talk, what gets said, right, those kinds of things.
The tech side, you can introduce as they are able, and as you have the technology to do it. Another project, gave kids cameras instead of giving them specific instruction on how to use cameras. What they did was a series of activities where they just sat with kids and had them compare and contrast images of the same thing and to think about, well, what's the same and what's different, so what, in this case, what will be the same and the difference in these pictures of dogs?
And then think of about, so where was the camera when they took this picture, and to make it concrete, if you give kids then the camera, they can begin to fool around until they get a similar camera angle, and it doesn't take them long to figure out, oh, this one, the camera had to really kind of be on the floor, on the same level as the dog, but this one was from up above, right.
So they begin to understand those angles, and guess what, then when they're viewing media, they start noticing the same thing. And what does that do? Not only are they noticing that, oh look, the media, but they're getting at a very intuitive level, all media are constructed. And when you know that, you don't just believe it, right. You're already beginning to analyse it.
So learning to make media at this kind of level, and this was through kind of play. This wasn't anybody giving any instructions about the camera, they just let them play with the cameras and figure it out themselves. And then this particular group of kids went on to do all kinds of things with those cameras. They took them home. They did oral interviews with their families, just, the possibilities are really kind of endless when you're talking about creative activities using technologies and part of the great thing about technologies now that certainly wasn't true when I started my career is that technologies are now cheap and immediate.
You know, to say, give a kid a camera 30 years ago, yeah, and let them take pictures and wait three weeks for the film to be developed and to come back and see if they remember what they actually did three weeks ago with that camera and linking, it wasn't practical, and it was expensive, right. Now, we have very good cameras, very high-quality cameras, very reasonable.
We can do lots and lots of things with cameras. No doubt, a lot of you use tablets and all, have all kinds of programs on the tablets, and one of my favorites is things, various programs that let us make books. And I tend not to advocate for particular programs because that's not really, I don't wanna be seen as, oh, you're just trying to sell a piece of software or sell an app or sell a particular brand of computer or whatever it is. I am not. So you can find there are all kinds of good book creation apps out there to use with all kinds of age students, and various ones have different features and things.
I would be sure that if you're gonna choose one and you're not familiar now, make sure that you choose one that lets you save their work easily or lets them learn to save their work easily. But one of the things we can do when they learn to make their own books is they wanna make book covers, and we can talk to them about, well, what's the purpose of a book cover? Book covers our ads, right. They're made to make you want to read what's inside or, and/or know what's inside, know kind of what to expect.
And we can ask those questions about existing books. We can have them look at the books they already have access to and say, well, what covers do you like, and why, what draws you to those book covers, so that they become better at crafting their book covers, but we can talk to them about the choices that they make for their own book covers, right. Why did you think this would make somebody want to read your book?
What did you include that shows a reader what's in your book, right? So just having those conversations, and same thing with illustrations, if they're gonna make illustrations for their book. Well, why did you illustrate that scene and not something else? Why would this be important to show in an illustration? What were you trying to communicate with that illustration, and you did it, so another piece that we can do that is often in conjunction with an app that we're using is drawing.
There are lots and lots of great drawing apps out there. And one of the things that we can do is to begin to talk with kids about their drawings 'cause very often what happens is, well, we teach them or they figure out how to use these apps and we just kind of go, ooh, ah, look at what you did! And that's great for the very first time maybe they use something, but then they never get better at it, right. They never become better communicators in an inquiry-based use of technology.
We want them to get better at it. So if they're drawing something that isn't an abstract, we might ask, so what sounds would, if I were inside your picture, what sounds would I hear, right? And some apps will actually let you add sounds so they could actually do that. Or if they're drawing a room, how will people know what room this is? And then we can introduce vocabulary like props, right, or a set. And then they begin to notice those in other kinds of media, too. And they can get better at saying, oh, well, they'll know that this is my room because my bedspread is blue, and look, I've put blue on that, or my, I, this little blurb over here, this is, this blob is my doll. They'll know it's my bed 'cause my doll is on bed, right.
Or what would you see if you looked up or down or to the sides? Pictures are automatic frames, so anytime there's something inside a frame, it means you're excluding things on the outside of the frame and helping them begin to understand that concept of constructiveness can also be helpful.
And you can also teach the concept or the competency of evaluation by introducing more than one drawing program. So usually what happens is we find one that we like. same thing with book creation and software, really. We find an app that we like and that's what we use and the kids master it, and that's great. But once the kids have mastered it, if you then also put a second drawing program that's a little bit different, that allows them to do something a little different that the first one didn't allow them to do on there and they learn how to use that, well, now when they have a drawing goal that they want to accomplish, they have to use which to use, and that leads to evaluation, right.
They have to decide, oh, well this one lets me do that and that one lets me do this. I need to do this, so I'm gonna pick that one. That's the essence of evaluation. So there's lots we can do there with drawings. And with all of this, what we're going to do is to have rich conversations with children around the media and technology that we're using. We start those conversations with questions because we wanna model the inquiry process. So this isn't, the ultimate goal isn't for us to ask questions, it's not about us becoming quiz masters, it's about modeling for children the questions we want them to ask.
Now, this handout here that's on the slide is in one of your handouts, so you should be able to get that. Michael, you may need to post the things in the chat again for everybody to get access, but we ask categories of questions and we do them in developmentally appropriate ways. So we start, because it's not a quiz, we start with, I wonder, right. We want this to be fun. We wanna bring a sense of curiosity to this task.
So it's, I wonder who made this, who's telling the story, how could we find out, and, in fact, "How could we find out" is probably one of your very best friends in terms of integrating inquiry into using media technologies with kids. Or tell me more. How do you know that, right? Looking, prompting for evidence. Even if you just read aloud with kids, so very often we look, ask, well, what about, should I use e-books with kids, and my question is, well, it depends on what you wanna do.
E-books aren't the same as hard copy books, any more than going to a movie is the same as going to a play. They're different experiences, right. And both have value. So you need to decide which you're going to do and what you're gonna get.
So beginning to get used to the kinds of questions that we can ask that help us understand and think about and reflect on the media that we use more deeply. So we can ask things like, if we want that, to help them understand target audience, like, who are they talking to, and how do you know, right, in addition to, what is this saying? Or, what does this tell me about a particular topic?
We can even begin to introduce things like, should I believe this? Why should I believe this, right? Why is this credible on this particular source? Because there are sources that are credible on one source that aren't on the others, and in fact, with young children, very often, this is the big challenge with favorite media characters, be they game characters or cartoon characters or movie characters, that then become product endorsements. So your favorite game character, Sonic the Hedgehog may know a whole lot about running fast, right. They may not know at all about,
I don't know, what's good for you to eat, or what you are allergic to, right. And so they're not credible on everything, even though they might be credible on some things. Their favorite character might be a great model for how to be a good friend. And that doesn't mean that they're a good model for what you should wear, right. So we wanna help kids begin to discern this kind of sourcing. You know, we are trustworthy for most stuff, but the truth is, if a seven year old were to ask me, well, okay, so what's the best video game for me, I probably wouldn't know. Unless I knew that child really, really well, I wouldn't necessarily know. So look carefully at these questions and begin to integrate them where you can. Having conversations is going to be a really central way to integrate inquiry. And one of the ways that we can have conversations or opportunities are around issues of representation and repetition.
So we often ask kids to represent themselves in educational settings. Anytime you're asking a child to put a name tag on, or you're asking a group to adopt the name, you are asking a representation question.
So if they get to customize their device or their home screen, or their wallpaper, or anything like that, make it a challenge of representation. How would somebody else looking at this know it's yours, short of your writing, your name on it, which is a way of representing yourself, right?
So we can take those tasks and make them into inquiry tasks and inquiry conversations, and kids can get better at it. So, in this device here, this person apparently like Batman, and so they put a Batman sticker on their tablet. Well, what if all the kids like Batman and every body puts a Batman sticker on? Then it doesn't help you tell who's this is, right.
You have to figure out, oh, what makes me unique, what would represent me well, and then we can begin to get into conversations about, so when you look at media, how does media represent the group that is you, or your school, or your family, or the town that you live in, or whatever it is, right, that we can begin to have those conversations with kids.
The other thing we can do is to pay attention to repetition. What's repeated in the media technologies that we're using. Going back to the book cover example, for instance, so here we have Little Red Riding Hood. If you look carefully at book covers, often for fairy tales, like Little Red Riding Hood, forests are scary places. So how many of the programs that we use indicate forests as scary places.
And then are we surprised when kids aren't so excited about going outside, and ooh, let's go to the forest and play, right. We wanna be conscious of the ideas that are being repeated that we are responsible for and that we can alter. So it's not just that you wanna find that app that teaches whatever it is that you wanna teach well, so that, even,
I think the best uses of technology are often the creative, the most creative uses and the open-ended, but if the tech you're using is, to help kids learn basic reading skills, for instance, what kinds of images are they seeing in their graphics? If it's vocabulary development, what are the illustrations that are used, and what we teach kids to look for are the patterns. Do you notice any patterns? In other words, what are you seeing that's repeated. And then what interpretation are you making, what meaning are you making from that?
Those are conversations we can have with kids. And they can inform our own, what pieces of software, what are we picking for kids to use or for schools to use. And then the last thing I wanna talk about in a major way is digital play.
Michael, how much time do we have left?
Michael - Oh! Go, if you wanna go through this, it's fine Take your time.
Faith - Okay. So, digital play has a few aspects to it. Digital play can describe an open-ended activity, so we let kids do free play the way we all always would, but we make technologies available to them as part of that play. And there's a growing body of research suggesting that when we do that on a routine basis, that, what people fear is that, oh, well, then kids won't run around outside, or they won't interact with each other, they'll just go play their video games, and in fact, that's usually not what happens. That what usually happens is that kids integrate the video, or the technology tool into their play.
So if it's a tablet that's available to them and the tablet has a camera and they know how to use it, they may incorporate that into the story line that they're playing, or if they're in a sport and they wanna show, oh, look, I just learned how to do this cool dribbling thing with the soccer ball, and I wanna document that, right. So one piece of digital play is just make the technologies available to kids to do what they want to do with it. And, of course, in order to do that, you have to have taught them how to care for a device.
So, yes, we're gonna put the tablets out there, but we make certain rules around it. The tablet or the camera never goes into of the bathroom, for instance, or we don't use it in wet areas, or whatever rules it is that you need to make around your equipment, and we teach kids to take care of what becomes their equipment. And we teach them how to do things like save what it is they're taking a picture of so that we all can find it again. You know, if you have 20 Chromebooks in a classroom or 10 Chromebooks in a classroom, and a kid has grabbed one and used it for something, and you don't know which one they grabbed and they don't know which one they grabbed and they don't know if they saved it or they didn't save it or whatever, you could spend at hours, literally, looking for something. So we wanna teach them some basic skills, but once they have that down, then we wanna just let them do what they will do with it.
The other thing we can do is to have specific conversations with them, those questioning/inquiry conversations, around the games that they play. So if the game uses an avatar, have them think about those avatars. What can I customize about my avatar and what don't they let me customize.
So if I wanted to show myself using a wheelchair, for instance, could I do that with my avatar or not? Now, those of us who know something about how you make these games or how you make an app know that one of the reasons that you might not have wheelchair as an option instead of legs, is that, to make a character move is a challenge in a game, and so you'd have to write the program to be able to do that, and you might have to write it differently to have wheels instead of legs, right. And that's hard to do so. They just don't give you that option in a lot of games, right.
So what other things, can I be a boy and have long hair? You know, those kinds of things, we can ask them to notice those things. We don't lecture them about the messages, we ask them what their interpretation is, but we notice that, yes, they have some choice, but that doesn't mean they have free choice, and so that influences who they are representing themselves as when they're playing the game. Or we can teach them how to determine the values of the game. The easiest way to determine the values is, what do you score points for, right.
That's what the game values. If you score points for it, that's what the game is trying to emphasize, so we can ask them, so, what do you score points for? What do you think that means? Why do you think they make that particular thing hard and this other particular thing easy, right? Why don't they just make it easy where if you choose to cooperate, then you win, versus, you always have to be competing against somebody. You know, those are the conversations we can begin to have, and we can prompt them a little bit. But we, the, that, I wanna go back to that, it's, the specific answer that you would get in any of those is much less important than the habit of doing that questioning.
And then we can have them think about things like stereotyping and what do they see. Are the villains, do they, or the heroes, do they look like me? Am I seeing myself reflected in this game or not, and is the reflection a reflection I like, or that I value, or that makes me feel good about myself, or isn't it, right? Those are also conversations that we can have.
So wrapping it up, media literacy education, or doing inquiry-based technology integration, you wanna be realistic. So this whole early ed stage is really about laying a foundation, and the younger the child, the less important answers are, much less important than just developing this habit of, oh, I expect that people will ask me for evidence when I give an opinion, I expect, and I will learn how to ask questions.
We wanna break tasks down into smaller doable tasks, and we wanna find developmentally appropriate language to describe things. So those are gonna be kind of the standard foundations. And I'll kind of begin to wrap it up with this thought, that the things that I've been talking about, where, that I label kind of media literacy, I envision as being like a kaleidoscope. There is this fixed set of skills of asking questions and asking for evidence, but it's a set of skills that you can turn and jiggle into an infinite variety of intriguing combinations.
So this isn't about, oh, you must do this this way. It's, you'll learn a certain skillset, and then you'll be able to apply that to whatever your situation or whatever your children's needs are. That's kind of what we're talking about here in integrating inquiry into what you're doing. It's finding those moments and just making it a habit of, oh, we talk about this stuff, we notice this stuff, we ask questions about this stuff, we know how to find answers, right. That's what we're looking for.
And then, because reflection is a part of media literacy practice, I always end with reflection, so I'll offer this just to you all as a way to reflect on this presentation, just think about one new insight that maybe you got from the last hour. One "hmm" moment. A "hmm" moment is, I'm not so sure about that. I need to think a little bit more about that. And then one thing you're eager to try, and I would encourage you to actually set a time to try it, so, I will try that next week on Wednesday, right. Or I will try that next month when we do this particular curriculum area. So you can take a moment. I don't know if there's anyone online in the chat who wants to share any answers to those questions. You'd be welcome to do that.
Michael - Yes, feel free to leave any questions in the chat.
Faith - And I'm going to put up my contact info one last time, if you need it.
Michael - Also, I thought, Faith,
Faith - Yeah.
Michael - If you could provide a link to your new book. I can provide that link into the, with the, provide that link, in addition to webinar we play link for anyone who wants to watch it and to learn more about what your work is all about.
Faith - All right, I'm going to type the organization that published the book. So if you type my name in a search at naeyc.org, which is the National Association for the Education of Young Children, then it'll take you to the book and you can get it there, or for those of you who are in Australia, I know it's available in the States and in the UK right now, and I'm told that it will be available in Australia in June. So, I'm not sure if they'll send it directly to you from NAEYC right now or not, they might, but if it all else fails, you can pre-order on Amazon now.
- Thank you so much,
Michael - Thank you.
- For this presentation. It has, once again, been my pleasure and privilege to have this opportunity to learn from someone of your expertise and knowledge and experience. And I do thank you with all my heart and hope we could meet again sometime soon in the future.
- Thank you so much.