The Administration on Children and Families, Office of Early Childhood Development sponsored the 2020 Showcase on Innovation in Early Childhood Development and Learning at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington DC. This is an annual meeting where classroom teachers, university professors, engineers, throughout the US and government officials from the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services convene to discuss innovation in early childhood education.
The showcase began with the welcome from Lynn Johnson from the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families and Aimee Viana, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, in the Department of Education. A panel discussion with ACF leadership followed, moderated by Melissa Brodowski, Deputy Director, Office of Early Childhood Development (ECD).
The panel shared information in three areas:
- What is innovation?
- How can we consider the role of innovation in our schools?
- How can we promote innovation?
The common vision is that innovation is a key element of education in the 21st century, especially early childhood education. Innovation means keeping abreast of new developments, understanding social change, and responding quickly with meaningful, successful strategies at the right time in a way that all students can use. Innovation is not just about technology; it is creating real answers and evidenced-based solutions to real situations. It also means sharing professional development, increasing the quality of the interaction between teachers and students and support parents in involving them in their children’s school life. Prevention is also part of the Innovation; anticipating consequences and the array of scenarios that can emerge. In other words taking the long view. Facts and their consequences must be taken into account now with a longer temporal view. The speakers' “big ideas” were discussed interactively with the showcase participants, focusing on current and future innovations that can be put into practice in early childhood.
A variety of innovative educational resources were displayed and demonstrated that can be incorporated into early childhood programs. These innovative projects and tools are mainly digital kits and technological experiences designed to improve children’s learning in different fields. For example, “MathBIRX” is a digital platform that contains learning and challenging activities for children aged 4-8. There are different games linked to curriculum standards, allowing students to consider the same concepts in multiple ways. “MathBIRX” doesn't just help children learn math, it teaches them to think mathematically because it is based on a constructivist model of “learning by doing”.
Another great example of an innovative tool for kids and educators is called “Choosy Kids”. Choosy Kids promotes health and well-being habits as an integral component of school readiness. Choosy Kids includes numerous practice-based projects and interventions that increase the number of physical activities during daily school routines, improve the quality of structured movement experiences to enhance sensory processing and provide social interaction and cooperation. Furthermore, it utilizes music and songs purposely composed to develop and strengthen brain networks.
ED GAMES EXPO is offered annually to showcase government supported educational learning games and technologies. The EXPO is open to the public.
- Click here for the "Guide to Educational Learning Games and Technologies," a document that provides details and video demonstrations on the technologies that were exhibited at the 2020 ED Games Expo
- Click here for the "Activity Guide," a resource to engage and prepare children and students who attended the 2020 ED Games Expo
Nadia Ferranti (NIAF Fulbright Scholar, 2020)