The Journalist: Integrating Technology with Meaning for ALL

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A young boy approximately ages 3-5, with short dark hair, wearing a black and white shirt and jeans is standing in the circle area of his classroom holding an iPad. He is taking a picture as the class journalist. This detailed caption is an example of Universal Design for Learning. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Buenger.

Kimberly Buenger, Early Childhood Special Education Teacher at Harmony Early Childhood Center, Olathe Unified School District, in Olathe, Kansas was one of many teachers who submitted a story connecting the NAEYC/Fred Rogers Center’s joint position statement on Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Program and TEC Center’s work over the past five years to their practice. She shares a reflection on her students’inquiry supported with appropriate technology integration.

I serve students age 3-5, in an integrated special education setting, with many demonstrating developmental delays. In my classroom, I utilize technology to support learning and development. One such way is through one of my classroom jobs, the journalist.The journalist is responsible for taking pictures on the tablet during center time to document the activities of the other students in the class, and reports about the picture during closing circle. The picture is mirrored through the projector so that all the students can easily see it. I facilitate the discussion about the picture, addressing my level of questioning for each student.This activity provides a natural way to assess a variety of communication skills such as a student’s ability to recall events which have occurred and answer a variety of “wh” questions.

Giving the journalist the freedom to document the activity of their choosing makes the activity meaningful, motivating them to share in front of the larger group. 

Fenty, and Anderson, (2014), report in their study that early childhood educators recognize potential benefits of using technology with young children, but lack technological and pedagogical knowledge. The simplicity of the activity makes it easy to implement in a variety of settings, using a variety of technology tools, with the only requirement being the ability to take a picture.

How has the NAEYC/Fred Rogers Center’s Joint Position Statement on Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs influenced your work?

The statement that “when used intentionally and appropriately, technology and interactive media are effective tools to support learning and development”, has influenced how technology is used in my classroom. I am not going to use technology just for the sake of using it. I believe that there must be alignment with what is being taught, how it is to be taught, and then a choice made in the technology to be used. This statement is the basis of my dissertation with a purpose of finding ways to help support early childhood teachers with their technology development.

How has the TEC Center at Erikson Institute influenced your practice?

Technology and Digital Media in the Early Years, which is edited by TEC Cneters’ director, Chip Donohue, PhD has been a great resource for my own practice and dissertation.

Reference

Fenty, N.S., & Anderson, E.M. (2014). Examining educators’ knowledge, beliefs, and practices about using technology with young children. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 35(2), 114-134. doi: 10.1080/10901027.2014.905808

About Kimberly Buenger

Kimberly Buenger is a special education teacher who has been working in early childhood since 2006. Kimberly holds a BA in communication disorders, MAE in special education, and is currently pursuing her PhD in general psychology, with an emphasis in integrating technology, psychology, and learning. Kimberly has presented professional development to early childhood staff on appropriate use of technology in the classroom. She helped in the development of an early childhood technology statement for her district. Kimberly achieved National Board Certification in Exceptional Needs Students, birth-21, in 2005, and renewal in November 2015. She is a member of the National Association for Education of Young Children, (NAEYC), National Education Association, (NEA), Kansas Association for Education Young Children, (KAEYC), and the Association for Educational Communication and Technology, (AECT).

To learn more about the NAEYC/Fred Rogers Center’s joint position statement on Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs and for more educators’ stories check out our 5th-anniversary celebration!

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