Childhood Education Innovations

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Childhood Education: Innovations provides unique, stimulating information about educational programs around the world. Articles explore solutions to specific challenges affecting schools, teachers, and learners and showcase the most recent ideas and innovations being developed and implemented to address those challenges. Readers will find inspiration and guidance for transforming education to better serve children and society. Published 6 times a year, CE Innovations provides a window into the work being done to bring quality, equitable education to all children.

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July/August 2021

“A Sustainable Start for the Youngest Congolese Refugees in Uganda”
Home to over 125,000 Congolese refugees, Kyaka II settlement has quadrupled in size over the past three years and is now populated well beyond its intended capacity. Close to the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this settlement received approximately 3,500 new Congolese arrivals each month in the pre-pandemic era; numbers are sure to rise again when the borders reopen. Typically, over 65% of the arrivals are children, many of whom have suffered extreme trauma after witnessing the brutality of war and displacement. They face serious child protection risks and have few safe places to go during the day. With years of experience providing education in some of the most volatile refugee situations, Children on the Edge are well placed to working alongside the Congolese communities in Kyaka II.

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“Playing to Learn: Playscapes as sites of pedagogical transformation in Tanzania”
In recognition of the multi-faceted benefits of play, countries around the world have incorporated ideas about play and play-based learning into their educational policy frameworks. In Tanzania, the pre-primary curriculum, for example, guides teachers to use play as the primary method of teaching and learning. Despite this policy mandate for play, however, abundant evidence indicates that Tanzanian children have only limited access to rich play opportunities in their pre-primary and early primary classrooms. The Playing to Learn project seeks to address this gap between policy and practice in Tanzania through an innovative multi-level approach that fosters teachers’ ability to enact play-based learning in pre-primary and the early grades.

“Talking With Children in Multilingual Preschools in Central Vietnam”
Mitigating Preschool Children’s Barriers to Learning in Disadvantaged and Ethnically Diverse Districts in Central Vietnam (2017-2021), a collaboration of VVOB, a Belgian non-profit organization, and its partners, the Department of Education and Training (DOET) of three central provinces in Vietnam (Kon Tum, Quang Nam, and Quang Ngai), works on mitigating preschool children’s barriers to learning in disadvantaged and ethnically diverse districts. The program introduced process-oriented child monitoring that prompts teachers to focus on children’s individual well-being and involvement, which are conditions for learning and participation. Teachers identify and address social barriers to learning and take actions to enhance children’s well-being and involvement.

“MyMachine: Collaboration to build creative confidence”
MyMachine starts in primary schools, where children are asked to invent their “dream machines.” That could be anything; for example, a chair is “a machine that helps you sit down.” So anything goes, as long as they really, really want it. In Step 2, university students help the children design a concept; in step 3, technical or vocational secondary school students help build an actual working prototype. Students at all levels collaborate, and MyMachine makes sure to cluster participating schools based upon each other’s proximity. While students work for months to bring ideas to life, they are using creativity, collaboration, design thinking, communication skills, mathematics, physics, and other knowledge and skills.

“ANEER, Community-Based Preschool in Remote Morocco”
ANEER, the National Initiative for Early Childhood Education in Rural Areas, is an innovative and impactful project bringing preschools to remote Moroccan villages. Launched by Zakoura Foundation in 2015, in partnership with the Moroccan Ministry of Education and UNICEF, the free ANEER program is based on an innovative model of community preschool that seeks to influence children’s entire environment. The model aims to create the most favorable conditions for a successful education through the implementation of projects for parents, youth, local associations/NGOs/champions, and teachers.

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“Making Restorative Justice Friendly for 1st Grade”
As the author researched alternative Restorative Justice practices to incorporate into her 1st-grade classroom, most of the resources she found were targeted for middle and high schoolers who already had a foundational emotional awareness and vocabulary. She realized her students needed to learn how to identify and express their feelings before anything else. This discovery jumpstarted her year-long research inquiry into how to make Restorative Justice practices friendly for 1st-grade and young students.

“The Wild Side of STEAM”
In a webinar series called the Wild Side of STEAM, educators at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute introduce young viewers to lesser-known or “un-ZOO-sual” careers. The free webinar series, launched in October 2020, informs viewers about the variety of careers available in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM)—all within the unique setting of a zoo. While targeted to middle school students, the series is available to anyone interested in learning about and engaging with STEAM careers.

“How Gamification Mechanics Can Improve Student Engagement”
While the use of gamification can be problematic with some content and contexts, these same strategies do have potential for engaging students of all levels by creating a more interactive and inclusive learning environment. There are five essential components of gamification: goals, rules, feedback, rewards, and motivation. A focus on these elements turn ordinary tasks into games, lessons into quests, and credits into treasure. This article looks at five ways gamification can be used in the classroom to improve student engagement.

“Online Storytelling for Young Children During the Pandemic”
From March to May 2020, student teachers delivered a series of storytelling online sessions that were open to the public in Hong Kong. They adopted the e-storyteller strategies described in this article. Using the popular story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” the authors discuss the strategies and their importance for online storytelling.

“Bringing Education to Life With a Drive-In Cinema”
The author describes how he employed project-based learning to harness his students’ varied interests. The goal was to help them develop diverse skills, from using computer science to calculate the projector’s pitch onto the screen to developing business plans and creating a computer app. Together, they are creating the Ewa Beach Drive-In Cinema in Ewa Beach, Hawaii.

“Inspire Students by Understanding Past Social Movement Success”
Even before the global pandemic and record-breaking protests against racial injustice, Generation Alpha were on track to be the most civically engaged group of students ever. They will be the most educated, the most digitally savvy, and the most diverse of any generation in history. They are learning from their savvy Generation Z older siblings or their increasingly aware Millennial parents that the world is in substantial flux, affected by the realities of climate change, plastic pollution, rising income inequality, and shifting global demographics.


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