1. Marisa Wolsky
  2. Executive Producer
  3. Digital Media and Parent/Child Engagement Resources to Increase Preschool Computational Thinking
  4. WGBH Educational Foundation, Education Development Center
  1. Heather Lavigne
  2. http://ltd.edc.org/people/heather-lavigne
  3. Senior Research Associate
  4. Digital Media and Parent/Child Engagement Resources to Increase Preschool Computational Thinking
  5. Education Development Center
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 14, 2018 | 10:08 a.m.

    Hi,  Interesting idea, and I wish I'd seen the  monkeys in action to get a better feel for the student experience. 

    As I was listening to the narrative, I was surprised, because the first sentence says that early learning of CT is important for (various later things), but then the second sentence says that not much is known about the impact of such early learning.    As you know. there are studies of early learning of other subjects  (e.g. literacy, some math concepts) that suggest that early learning has minimal effects later on, with "head starts" fading out within a few years.  In what ways might CT be different?

     

  • Icon for: Marisa Wolsky

    Marisa Wolsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 12:54 p.m.

    HI Brian, we are still in development on the media. Next showcase you'll definitely be able to see the monkeys in action. In the meantime, thank you for your comment. We are aware of studies suggesting that early learning is not always sustained into later years. However, research has also shown that fade-out is not a given if there is alignment with what children learn early and what they do in school. Coordinated efforts to build on what children have already learned, spanning grades preK-12, are key. The field of computational thinking is not yet in a place where this is happening consistently, but this is a shared goal among many in the field.

    We like how Deborah Stipek described efforts to combat fade-out in Ed Week last year:

    "To sustain the gains of preschool, kindergarten teachers need to know the kinds of skills children bring to their class. They must then adjust their curriculum and instructional plan to move each child to the next step in his or her learning trajectory. This requires careful assessments of students’ skills at the beginning of the academic year and support for teachers to help them understand the implications of those assessments for their teaching. The former is increasingly common; the latter is just as important, but rare."

     

    https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2017/03/17/the-preschool-fade-out-effect-is-not-inevitable.html

  • Icon for: Jamie Bell

    Jamie Bell

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 05:21 p.m.

    Thank you for this video, Marisa, which clearly articulates how the different parts of the project development are designed to intertwine to achieve and measure the CT learning goals. Are the animations being prototyped and iterated with the intended audience?

  • Icon for: Marisa Wolsky

    Marisa Wolsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 11:32 a.m.

    Hi Jamie, Yes, the animations are being prototyped and iterated with the intended audiences. This is actually the first time WGBH has had an iterative development process with the media (beyond just piloting something). 

    After the creation of a CT learning blueprint, WGBH used it to inform the development of the first round of media, which focused on the concept of debugging and included one 7-minute story, in which our four monkey characters debug a too-sour batch of lemonade, and 3 shorter “music video”-style segments. These videos reinforced steps in the debugging process, illustrated how to break down a task into smaller steps, and underscored the importance of persevering at a task until it is completed. EDC then 15 parent/child dyads from low-income preschools in New York and tested the media, along with several hands-on activities. Informed by EDC’s findings and discussions with advisors, WGBH revised the media and hands-on activities focused on debugging, and developed new materials focused on the design process, sequencing, and modularity. These included stories on building a home for a stuffed elephant, sequencing the proper order of events to go on a picnic, and breaking down the problem of making a sculpture, plus music videos and live action videos (designing a costume, sequencing a dance pattern, and breaking down the task of painting a mural); and hands-on activities (including designing a bridge, sequencing the making of a fruit kebob, and breaking down the task of setting the table). EDC then recruited 16 parent-child dyads for this phase of research. We are now in the process of using EDC’s findings to produce 27 animated and live-action videos and 18 parent/child engagement activities, which will become the basis for a six-week, home-based intervention.

    Thanks for the question, Marisa

  • Icon for: Jamie Bell

    Jamie Bell

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 09:13 p.m.

    Thanks Marisa. I love reading about this thoughtful, thorough process of development. I would love to see more of this kind of work being presented at conferences like SMASH, e.g. It seems that you all have learned a lot over the years about modularity and transmedia strategies. Are there design principles like there are in exhibit development where there is a sweet spot between too few and too many pathways for engagement?

  • Icon for: Marisa Wolsky

    Marisa Wolsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 06:43 a.m.

    Hi Jamie,

    I'll contact you regarding how we can get this kind of work out to more conferences. In the meantime, regarding your question on design principles, it used to be that we took a very siloed approach to designing our projects: the TV show would come first and then what we called the ancillary components (website, hands-on activities, etc.) would follow. Now, we are creating projects that bring a transmedia approach from the get-go, one in which the storytelling drives the convergence of the platforms into one extensive user experience, with the ultimate goal that each lead to hands-on engagement with the curriculum. We haven't looked to see if there is a sweet spot between too few and too many, but we do know that what is key is that each pathway is designed to be specifically optimized for each delivery mechanism.

     

    Regarding modularity, this is actually the first time WGBH is designing a project that is taking a modular approach. We are excited to explore the opportunities that this will present and to share those with the field.

    Thanks for your question. Marisa

  • Icon for: Jamie Bell

    Jamie Bell

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2018 | 09:16 a.m.

    Thanks Marisa. I look forward to following up with you about conferences and dissemination. I think it would be fascinating to see a session somewhere one day where a media producer and an exhibit developer on the same panel present on designing for similar learning goals on the same STEM content, e.g.

  • Icon for: Preeti Gupta

    Preeti Gupta

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 07:49 p.m.

    I am curious what the CT skills are for the preschool age? Are they the same ones I might find for middle school by scaffolded for early learners or are they very different and unique for such learners? How did your project approach this idea and where did you land? I have preschoolers and I am curious how setting the table can be used for developing CT skills. Please do share!

  • Icon for: Marisa Wolsky

    Marisa Wolsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 12:33 p.m.

    Hi Preeti, 

    As part of our team’s ongoing work to develop a framework for preschool CT, WGBH and EDC have drafted a CT Learning Blueprint, which draws from the literature to identify the CT concepts and practices that are developmentally appropriate for preschool children. The current Blueprint contains six overarching learning goals, supported by a set of more specific sub-learning goals, along with potential tasks to assess children’s understanding, ways to vary their difficulty, and suggestions for additional scaffolding. The overarching CT learning goals outlined in the Blueprint are as follows: (1)Identifying complex situations and problems; (2)Recognizing, using, and creating sequences/algorithms; (3)Decomposing complex problems into simpler and component parts (modularity); (4)Understanding how one action brings about effects and how conditions can alter this relationship;(5) Applying a design problem solving process; and (6)Debugging algorithms using problem solving techniques. These are similar to what you might for middle school, but are dramatically scaffolded for early learners. 

    Regarding your question about how setting the table can be used to develop CT skills, our approach is to come up with child-centeredproblems worth solvingand then use the monkeys as a way to model that CT is always integral to the resolution of these problems—in order to solve them, the monkeys have to learn about the correct sequencing of events or how to break down a problem into a series of steps. As Jeannette Wing, VP of Microsoft Research and a former professor at Carnegie Mellon, put it, “computational thinking is a way humans solve problems… computers are dull and boring; humans are clever and imaginative.” Here is how we framed the problem of setting a table and its connection to computational thinking (specifically modularity) for parents. “To set the table, you broke it down into different parts, figured out how to do each part, and put all the parts together. You can use these steps whenever you have a big problem to solve! Breaking down a problem into smaller parts helps your child solve problems that seem big or complicated. This is an important part of computational thinking. It will help your child learn coding and computer programming when they get older.”

    Thanks for your question! Marisa

  • Icon for: Kalie Sacco

    Kalie Sacco

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 06:08 p.m.

    Hi Marisa, thanks for sharing this project! It will be fun to see how the stories develop. Can you share more about how families will access the media and resources in the future--will they be made available online, shared through community partners, or some other way?

  • Icon for: Jessica Andrews

    Jessica Andrews

    Project Director
    May 21, 2018 | 04:59 p.m.

    Thanks for your question, Kalie. I'm working on MONKEYING AROUND with Marisa and Heather and can answer this for you.

    As part of this project, WGBH is working with state-based systems of early education and care and public broadcasters in Maryland and Mississippi to bring MONKEYING AROUND resources to families. With the support of the BUILD initiative (an organization that provides state systems with planning support, training, technical assistance, and evaluation services), WGBH will work with project teams in Maryland and Mississippi to create a parent engagement toolkit. This toolkit will include materials designed to familiarize parents with CT and provide guidance in exploring MONKEYING AROUND animated videos and hands-on activities with their children. Accompanying this toolkit will be a comprehensive workshop kit that provides state systems, parent organizations, and other organization that promote CT, resources for implementing the parent engagement kit with families. The workshop kit resources will include agendas, a video explaining preschool CT and strategies for promoting it to children, and MONKEYING AROUND media and hands-on activities.

    We also plan to make the MONKEYING AROUND media and hands-on activities publicly available to kids and families, either as a PBS KIDS series, via a new YouTube channel, or a dedicated MONKEYING AROUND website. We are looking forward to sharing the materials with preschoolers and their families!

  • Icon for: Preeti Gupta

    Preeti Gupta

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 08:09 p.m.

    Thank you for your detailed response Marissa. For your study of impact, how many families are you hoping to study? Would love to hear more about your study design!

  • Icon for: Heather Lavigne

    Heather Lavigne

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 10:09 a.m.

    Hi Preeti,
     
    I’m happy to address this question! EDC has been working along WGBH throughout the project’s research and development process.  We’re about a year away from the impact study.  Currently, we’re in the midst of many important activities that play a significant role in the impact study. One such activity is the development of the CT learning tasks which will are intended to serve as a measure of children’s learning after experiencing the intervention. The original design of our impact study assumed that the learning task measures would be primarily quantitative in nature, allowing us to observe children’s behaviors during these tasks and produce some sort of score. However, as we’ve gotten deeper into this project, we realize the value of collecting both quantitative and qualitative information about children’s behaviors and verbalizations in response to the tasks we’ve designed.  
     
    Because the field is still collectively striving to understanding what CT means for young children, we have recognized the value in trying to do two things with our study: to measure children’s acquisition of new knowledge and skills and to collect vivid details about what it looks like when children activate this knowledge and skills when presented with complex problems.  With this said, once we have a clearer picture of the final set of CT learning tasks and evaluation procedures as well finish the consideration of any other measures that we hope to collect, we will re-evaluate the design and sampling plan to ensure that it reflects our goals for testing our project’s resources and for contributing valuable knowledge to the field.  Stay tuned as our work unfolds!  
     
    Heather

  • May 18, 2018 | 12:34 p.m.

    Thank you for this work!  This is a very important strategy for research.  Have you any data on early math in particular? 

  • Icon for: Marisa Wolsky

    Marisa Wolsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 12:42 p.m.

    In fact, we are also doing exploratory research on the integration of CT and math in preschool classrooms. You can see our presentation here: http://stemforall2018.videohall.com/presentatio...

     

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    Kathy

    May 19, 2018 | 01:28 p.m.

    Thank you for this. I am a teacher at Cedar Creek CDC in connection with Bastrop ISD in Texas (are ages are 6 weeks to 5 years.)

    I look forward to your next showcase

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    Nicole Baumann

    Undergraduate Student
    May 21, 2018 | 11:10 a.m.

    Hi Marisa,

    thank you for this video! I'm curious how exactly you would have this program available for parents? You talked about reaching out to urban families and I'm curious what your plan is to meet the needs of those urban families.

    I love having the media aspect of this as well as taking it outside the media for more hands-on approaches. As we know, the technology world has been taking off for sometime now and continues to, but the need to step away from the media and have more authentic hands-on learning approaches is just as vital. I can see this program working well with children because it includes both aspects!

    I'm curious what types of curriculum you would try to include in this. Would this be centered more specifically on the Science and Math sides of things or would you try to collaborate all levels of learning?

    Thanks so much!

  • Icon for: Jessica Andrews

    Jessica Andrews

    Project Director
    May 21, 2018 | 05:01 p.m.

    Hi Nicole, thanks for your questions! I just provided some information about our distribution plans in my answer to Kalie’s question, above. As far as curriculum connections, we know of several projects that are addressing CT in the context of STEM learning (and we are actually doing an exploratory research project on the integration of CT and math in preschool classrooms), but this project is looking at CT in a broader context. We are investigating CT as a systematic way of thinking that fosters creativity and problem-solving across a wide range of disciplines, including math, science, engineering, and non-STEM subjects like literacy. We look forward to sharing what we've learned when the project is complete.

      

  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Informal Educator
    May 21, 2018 | 07:06 p.m.

    This is very interesting work! I'd like to hear more about your parent engagement toolkits. We are considering creating kits for parents in our future work on My Sky Tonight.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.