Ontario Tech University
In this chapter, we explore the pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning at the kindergarten level. A strong understanding of the approaches will support understanding the meaningful curriculum laid out by the Ontario Ministry of Education (OME). This chapter focuses on examples from the OME and how it is connected to technology. The examples provided can support teachers in Ontario in integrating technology into their full-day programs. Although there is research to support technology in the classroom, it is important to remember that researchers are still evaluating the best methods and practices to offer students the optimal amount of learning. Prensky (2010) noted that technology will advance at a rate we cannot yet comprehend. With this in mind, we need to understand technology’s importance and connection to our Ontario Curriculum. Hargrave (2022) expresses that digital play can be used alongside play activities. This can promote exploration and when used in a meaningful way, technology can have a vast impact on learning.
coding, digital play, early childhood education, kindergarten, kindergarten curriculum, play-based learning, robots, technology
When students hear the word technology, they get excited! They enjoy computer games and apps on their Ipad. What they may not understand is that technology is used for much more than fun. Technology can be an asset and tool for teaching the Ontario Ministry of Education (OME) curriculum. Specifically, teachers and early childhood educators (ECEs) can use technology to provide meaningful lessons and inquiry in kindergarten. We will explore the full-day Kindergarten pedagogy to understand how children learn. Then, we will analyze the four frames of kindergarten and how specific technologies can be implemented to support the curriculum expectations.
To understand the full-day kindergarten document, teachers and educators must understand why the document was made. Many approaches to learning are not new; they have just adapted to meet the student’s needs in modern society. A solid pedagogical understanding will support the growth and development of the teacher and, in return, their students.
Ontario Ministry of Education (2016) defines pedagogy as “understanding of how learning happens and the philosophy and practice that support that understanding of learning” (p. 10). Therefore, to provide children with the best learning experiences, teachers and educators must know updated information on how a high-quality program runs. With research evidence, the approaches below support and nurture children’s learning.
Positive interactions between students and teachers are the most important to improving learning (Mattie, 2008). Children need to be respected and valued, giving them a sense of belonging and enabling them to be more engaged in learning (OME, 2016).
They are learning through exploration, play, and inquiry. As children learn through play, they develop skills they will use in the future, such as working collaboratively and engaging in innovative and complex problem-solving (OME, 2016).
Educators as Co-Learners
Instead of the teachers leading with knowledge, they lead learning by learning about, with, and from students (OME, 2016). Teachers and early childhood educators play essential roles in co-learning with children.
Environment as Third Learner
The environment consists of the physical and social environment (OME, 2016). Time, space, and materials create a safe and engaging learning environment.
“The process of gathering and analyzing evidence of learning” (OME, 2016) shows that learning has happened. Technology can play a significant role in this by providing resources to support teachers in documenting their findings of their students’ learning.
Reflective Practice and Collaborative Inquiry
Teachers and educators use reflective practice to reflect on their own with colleagues, families, and children (OME, 2016). They reflect on how children have grown and developed and look at their next steps.
The Ministry of Education (2016) created the kindergarten program for teachers and early childhood educators to follow. The document follows four frames that structure thinking about learning and assessment (OME, 2016). The overall idea of the frames is to align with children’s natural way of learning and how it occurs during play and inquiry. It provides teachers and educators with specific examples of how children might demonstrate their knowledge, intentional interactions and conceptual understandings. The assessment aspect of the kindergarten is continuously documenting what learning is happening in the classroom. Documenting this learning can be demonstrated with anecdotal notes, photos, and checklists.
Belonging and Contributing
In the frame of belonging and contributing, teachers and educators foster students’ love for school and engage them in learning (OME, 2016). The goal is to offer a learning environment that will make children feel a sense of belonging while giving them a safe space to contribute their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Students will begin forming positive relationships with their peers and teachers.
The curriculum expectation states students will progress through kindergarten by listening and responding to others (OME, 2016). Children can demonstrate their learning by saying, “we asked Sean how to use these, and he showed us how because he plays with them all the time” (OME, 2016, p. 126). Code and Go Robot Mouse is used to code a path to get the mouse to the cheese (Zulily, 2022). While reading the cards, coding, and problem-solving to complete the task, children also communicate with their peers, making suggestions, and listening. Teachers use technology to support this curriculum expectation while offering an engaging activity, keeping students interested.
ABCya (2022) “Build a House” is a tremendous virtual resource supporting the kindergarten curriculum. OME (2016) states children explore different elements of design, such as colour, line, and shape, in visual arts (p. 152). By building their own house, they are looking at textures, forms of doors, different colours, and the option to design their own home creatively.
Problem Solving and Innovating
Coding has increasingly become very popular in schools to support problem-solving and innovation. As students progress through kindergarten, they gain process skills of an inquiry state, such as questioning and predicting (OME, 2016). In this frame, children can develop a sense of appreciation for human creativity and innovation (OME, 2016). Coding and inquiry projects are important for children to gain these essential skills.
LEGO (LEGO, 2022) and building blocks are also great ways for students to show their innovations and creativity. Teachers and educators observe the play and listen to what the students say. Examples of trial and error include “we can put these two pieces together” and “my tower keeps falling, I wonder why?”.
Wonder Workshop (2019) created Dash, the robot that guides children through levels of coding to inspire tomorrow’s inventors. The robot has different in-app features with picture guidance on how to complete tasks. Dash also has additional accessories to challenge children as they grow.
Demonstrating Literacy and Mathematics Behaviours
“Play is how children learn” (OME, 2016). There are some misconceptions about children learning through play. Parents have questioned this for pedagogy for the past few years, but the research proves play’s importance. Play encourages a child’s imagination, fires their curiosity, fascinates, and drives them to learn (OME, 2016). Literacy and mathematics can be learned through the process of playing. Language is also developed strongly through socializing, a lot of what kindergarten is!
For students in French immersion, Boom Cards (2022) is a great website that can be used to support teaching new french words. Teachers can track their progress, and gamification engages them in learning the language.
For English learners, Teach Your Monster How to Read (n.d.) is a very engaging app that supports language development. It scaffolds learning by supporting students to be successful in each task. It starts by teaching letter sounds and then short words. Children can also earn prizes such as sunglasses and hats to dress up their monster as they progress through the game.
Self-Regulation and Well-Being
Self-regulation and well-being is an essential frame for children to learn how to self-regulate their emotions and needs. They know how to interpret gestures, express needs, such as when they are hungry or need to use the washroom, and demonstrate independence and willingness to take responsibility (OME, 2016). Jacobs (2017) describes how teachers can support their students through self-regulation. Providing them with symbols of lips and ears can help children remember when it is their turn to speak or listen (Jacobs, 2017). Teachers can model and scaffold these skills to all the students.
In Marble Run (n.d.), students work on expectation 1.8 by asking questions for various purposes (OME, 2016). The game aims to code the longest marble track to the finish line. Students can use different blocks to create their path and will have the opportunity to ask their teacher and educator ways to do so. Some questions might include, “how do I rotate the blocks?”, “When is it my turn?”, “How can I reset the game?”. When children ask these questions during this game, they are helping themselves innovate on an idea or obtain information (OME, 2016). The game can be used on any IPad or computer.
Assessment in kindergarten can take many forms. The vital aspect is that children show their understanding through what they say, do, or represent (OME, 2016). Educators can develop a sense that the child is learning by observing, listening, and asking probing questions to document and interpret their understanding. Technology can play an essential role in assessing and supporting teachers’ documentation. Having Ipads in the classroom promotes documentation of anecdotal notes and photos. They can also be used for accessing apps that classrooms might have to communicate with families, such as Class Dojo (Classdojo, n.d.), Remind (Remind, n.d.), and See Saw (Seesaw, n.d.).
Additionally, Ontario Teachers’ Federation (2022) discovered that OneNote, through Office 365, can be used on an Ipad for assessment. Teachers can create tabs for different students, including anecdotal notes and pictures of what they are saying and doing. It can also be used to record students’ answers.
Conclusions and Future
Many teachers recognize and follow the saying “lifelong learners.” This saying proves that as the world changes, individuals need to adapt to that change. To adapt, continuing to learn will offer teachers updated approaches and research in their profession. Additional qualifications are available, technological professional developments in school, and everyone can learn together as a team. Recognizing the research that has concluded technology’s benefits is essential, and exploring and waiting for more. Educators need to prepare their students for the technological future ahead. In doing so, they need to understand their curriculum, plan meaningful lessons, and integrate technology. Integrating technology will support curriculum requirements and promote other skills children need to succeed in the future, such as problem-solving and innovation. Ensuring they are ready for the technological future ahead.
One strategy to encourage teachers to use technology alongside their teaching is having a small team of digital learners (Rossi-Mumpower, 2020). These digital leaders can teach and support new technology within their schools. These teachers and educators can share ideas, connect and build on student engagement (Rossi-Mumpower, 2020). Although this scenario could work flawlessly in many schools, barriers that come to mind are time and cost. Ensuring teachers have the time to connect and learn how to utilize the technology. Lastly, having the cost to purchase the technology and supply teachers with coverage.
Boom Learning (2022). Boom Cards. https://wow.boomlearning.com/
Class Dojo. (n.d.). Class Dojo. https://www.classdojo.com/
Hargreaves, V. (2022). What is Digital Play? The Education Hub. https://theeducationhub.org.nz/what-is-digital-play/#_edn47
Hattie, J. (2008). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement (1st ed.). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203887332
Jacobs, B. L. (2017). Self-regulation and Emergent Curriculum Inquires in the Kindergarten Classroom (Doctoral dissertation, York University). http://hdl.handle.net/10315/34516
LEGO. (2022). LEGO. https://www.lego.com/
Marble Run (n.d.) Marble Run. https://www.marblerun.at/
Ontario Ministry of Education. (2010). Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting in Ontario’s Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12. [Web Page]. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/success.html
Ontario Ministry of Education. (2016). The Kindergarten Program. Ontario Ministry of Education. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/kinderprogram.html
Ontario’s Teacher Federation. (2022). Technology Integration into the Kindergarten Program. Ontario Teachers’ Federation. https://www.otffeo.on.ca/en/learning/tlc/report/technology-integration-into-the-kindergarten-program/
Prensky, M. (2010). Partnering. Teaching digital natives. Partnering for real learning (pp. 9-23). Corwin Press.
Remind. (n.d.). Remind. http://www.remind.com
Rossi-Mumpower, N. (2020, December 12). How to help teachers learn new technology. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/how-help-teachers-learn-new-technology
See Saw. (n.d.). See Saw. https://app.seesaw.me
Wonder Workshop. (2019). Howdy Doo! I’m Dash! https://www.makewonder.com/robots/dash/
Zulily. (2022). Code & Go Robot Mouse. Learning Resources. https://www.zulily.com/p/code-go-robot-mouse-557503-37795530.html