Digital learning games based on “Curious George” and “The Cat in the Hat” can boost preschoolers’ math knowledge and skills, making them better prepared for entry into kindergarten. That’s the finding of a new research study from WestEd that engaged low-income parents and their preschool children with online games and at-home activities from PBS KIDS. The study, along with other support for PBS KIDS, was made possible by a grant from the Office of Innovation and Improvement’s Ready to Learn Television (RTL) program.
“They’ve successfully hidden the peas in the mashed potatoes.” That’s how Andy Ackerman of the Manhattan Children’s Museum describes the creative way that UMIGO—yoU Make It GO—successfully combines entertaining media with the concepts and practices of math for elementary-aged children. Parliament Funkadelic music legend Bootsy Collins joined children and their parents on Oct. 4, at the Manhattan Children’s Museum to introduce this first-of-its-kind transmedia (using multiple media platforms to advance a fictional story with characters and events) venture and to announce its national outreach launch in 10 cities.
The Parents as Teachers National Center’s BabyFace project, an i3 Validation grantee, will be featured in a Rural Schools Innovations Webinar series hosted by the Rural School and Community Trust on June 13, 2012. The i3 project is using the home-based services of the successful Family and Child Education (FACE) program in 22 Bureau of Indian Education schools to serve high-needs American Indian families and children ages prenatal to three years. The goal is to narrow the achievement gap between American Indian and non-American Indian children at kindergarten and to improve student achievement in reading and math through third grade. For news and information on the Department of Education’s rural education outreach and resources, click here.
The five communities receiving 2011 Promise Neighborhoods (PN) implementation grants represent well America’s geographic diversity, stretching from the hills of Appalachia to the shores of the San Francisco Bay. Among the core elements they have in common is a strong commitment to early learning as a key ingredient for achieving their cradle-to-career goals.
In addition, 14 of the 15 PN planning grants announced by OII’s Assistant Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton on behalf of the Obama Administration are also embracing the focused commitment to early learning. “Education is the one true path to opportunity and the American Dream,” Shelton noted following the December 19th announcement in Minneapolis, and “the tremendous interest in early learning among Promise Neighborhoods is a testament to the recognition that the path begins in a student’s earliest years.”
Inventor and artist. A genius of “hip.” These have been some of the words used to describe Steve Jobs – a 21st-century visionary and innovator whom the world lost on the heels of National Arts and Humanities Month. His iPods, iPads, iTunes, Macs, and apps unleashed exciting new ways of communicating and learning for millions of students, who find history lessons coming to life in the palm of their hands, discover their fingertips as virtual paintbrushes, and create musical compositions at the touch of a screen.
The Arts Education Partnership (AEP), along with many others, is asking the questions: “Who will be the next Steve Jobs?” “What will be the next breakthrough to revolutionize our lives?” That’s because at the heart of AEP’s purpose is this question: “How do we harness the potential in every child and nurture a Jobs-like spirit of ‘curiosity seeker’ in each of them?” With this purpose in mind, AEP galvanizes the power of partners across many sectors to promote the essential role the arts play in helping all students succeed in school, life, and work. Unfortunately, as much as arts are a part of a complete and well-rounded education, their place in America’s P-12 education system is still threatened by narrowed curricula, conflicting policies, and budget shortfalls.
The research is clear: Children who are not able to read by third grade and who are not prepared with foundational math skills are at a significant risk to fall behind and not graduate from high school. Recognizing the importance of early learning, the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund made it a competitive priority in its first round of 49 grants in 2010. As the Department’s “Education and the Economy” Back-to-School Bus Tour stopped in Wisconsin, i3 grantee the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee reported on the first-year progress of the Milwaukee Community Literacy Project, a three-prong – school, community, and family – effort to ensure that students are reading by grade three. An “innovation roundtable” was held at the Brown Street Academy Elementary School, one of seven Milwaukee elementary schools participating in the early literacy project.
A recent evaluation report on the Ready to Learn (RTL) program reveals that young children’s learning is enhanced by educational media, particularly when it is used in combination, such as educational television supplemented by complementary media like websites, games, or even print. As a result, RTL, in its latest round of grants, is pursuing the idea of combining media even further by supporting “transmedia” strategies, a term borrowed from digital media theorist Henry Jenkins to describe narrative storytelling that uses different media platforms to advance the story and to create ever-larger fictional worlds of characters and events.
From its beginnings, the Ready to Learn (RTL) Program in the Office of Innovation and Improvement has both served America’s youngest learners and been a learner itself – of the fast-evolving world of digital communications technology that, in 1995, consisted of television and a nascent World Wide Web.