National Geographic: Open Explorer

by Kelly Pfannenstein

National Geographic has just relaunched Open Explorer, a site that allows anyone to follow expeditions from around the world. Open Explorer is a free account and once an account is registered, the user may scroll through hundreds of expeditions and choose which they would like to follow. Each expedition includes a multimedia timeline for tracking the expedition’s locations and findings. The timeline can include pictures, videos and blogs. Open Explorer is a wonderful site for early childhood education because children get involved in the world community as well as the local community. Open Explorer is a community platform designed to empower the next generation of global explorers.
Open Explorer is a tool that can be use at home just as easily as it is used in the school. Families can follow expeditions together and receive notifications when there is activity on your expedition. Families are also welcome to participate and start their own backyard expedition.
National Geographic’s Open Explorer is available to educators as well. Creating a teacher profile will prompt the teacher to include their school’s information and subject they wish to teach or explore. This resource is very flexible. An educator can integrate Open Explorer into any STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) lesson based on the expedition they choose. Many of the digital journals available also offer excellent opportunities for vocabulary expansion. A few examples of vocabulary seen in various expeditions include invertebrate, accelerate, inscriptions, and database. The children see that science and exploration are some things in which anyone can be involved. Students are encouraged to participate and create their own experiments and expeditions.
Today’s guest blogger is Kelly Pfannenstein
Kelly is a student at Towson University majoring in Early Childhood Education

Amazon Inspire

by Kaylynne Messick

This article explains the ins and outs, the do’s and don’ts of Amazon Inspire. Amazon Inspire is a free source educators can use to search, upload, download, edit lesson plans and activities. Amazon Inspire is free and very user  friendly. It allows users to search through standards, subjects and/or grade levels. After Amazon first launched Amazon Inspire many users complained that the users had the ability to share the educational resource with their name on it but without the original authors name. Amazon took a little over a year off to dismiss this ability. After Amazon reopened Inspire users were not able to “report an issue” if they noticed anything that seems to break the copyright laws.

Amazon Inspire will affect the young child and their families by allowing teachers to spend more time with their students, learning about their background and families. Amazon Inspire is meant to decrease the amount of time a teacher must  spend on preparing lesson plans and activities within the classroom. Therefore, Amazon Inspire allows teachers to spend less time preparing and more time getting to know their students and families.

Amazon Inspire influences Early Childhood Education for many reasons. It allows teachers to collaborate with colleagues about their professional lesson plans and activities. Amazon Inspire allows teachers the opportunity to upload, download and edit lesson plan and activities. Teachers who use Amazon Inspire have said they spend a ridiculously less amount of time preparing for their school days then teachers who do not use Amazon Inspire.
Today’s guest blogger is Kaylynn Messick

Hey, Alexa. What are You Teaching Our Kids?

by Karina Robinson

This article discussed the effect that smart speakers have and can have in the future on children, their families, and education. A statistic was provided that “One in six Americans now owns a smart speaker like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, and 75 percent of homes are likely to have one by 2020” (KQED). junk
With these  speakers making their ways into more and more homes,  information and learning  opportunities are  more accessible to children than ever before. Because of this, it raises questions for educators and parents in regards to how this will affect their learning and relationships with people surrounding them . Like adults, children are trying to keep up with  involving technology that surrounds us every single day. It was mentioned that children are drawn to these devices because they provide instant  gratification, which is something that kids strive for. It was stated that parents could use this device as a way to encourage their child to practice speaking and language skills, or to enrich and build upon questions. Because serve – and – return is extremely important for children’s development, the lack of conversation this device provides could cause problems with socialization and communication skills. Although these speakers raise question s, they can provide great learning opportunities like any other piece of technology if used correctly.
Having a smart speaker inside of a household can  affect a family and young children more than one would think. Parents could become lazy, if not lazier, and rely on the speaker for their child to talk to because they are tired or too busy . For example, if the child has a question, a parent might tell the child to go ask the speaker instead of  talking to them because they don’t have time. They could also reinforce bad behavior from children because the speakers respond every time . If a child makes a rude comment to the speaker, it will reply with a much different response than an adult would, so without any correction, this would encourage the bad behavior from the child because they might find the comments the device says back funny. Children are also losing the relationship building aspect if this  device is used incorrectly. Parents can use this device to their advantage to enrich or build upon questions (ex. If a child asks “What’s the weather?” The parents can turn it into a learning opportunity and follow up by saying “Alexa, you told us it’s raining, so what do you think we should wear?”) This shows children that expanding on questions and being specific is important. Parents should also monitor the child while they are interacting with the device because it is possible the child will get upset if the device does not understand them. If this happens, parents can use this as a time to motivate their child to practice their articulation, words, etc. Conversation is important for a child’s learning. When conversation does not take place, students are losing this crucial piece of development. If they are talking to this device all the time, they will lack social interaction and will never learn how to react to certain situations or understand body language. Other than children lacking communication skills and or socialization skills, I don’t believe that this speaker will impact early childhood education too much. The biggest thing is that because it takes much more than just asking questions to a smart speaker to learn, so children relying on this device to teach them is making it harder on the teachers and will most likely cause them to have to re-teach lessons. If these devices are used in the classroom, the may cause a major distraction for certain students who might find it funny to say “Hey Alexa” in the middle of instruction, causing there to be an interruption.
One way to incorporate this device into the classroom would be to use it as an audiobook source. The use of the device this way could help students with comprehension and vocabulary. One way this device could be used with EL’s or special education students is to have them practice talking back and fort
h to the speaker saying simple words and phrases to work on their speaking and understanding of the content. Another way to incorporate this speaker
into the classroom for Early Childhood is to use it to add a fun song into any lesson plan that one may find beneficial for enhancing the students understanding.
Our guest blogger:
My name is Karina Robinson and I am currently a Junior at Towson University pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. I spent my first two and a half years in college pursuing my Associates in Early Childhood and Special Education at Carroll
Community College. I have been employed at Celebree Learning Centers for 4 years now, which has given me a lot of knowledge and practice in the field of education. During my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, friends, and being outside.

Benefits of Connecting Globally with Other Students

by Kelly Frey

This article focused on the benefits of connecting a classroom globally through things such  as Skype. This article was written by a teacher and she shared some of her experiences with having her class globally connected. What really stood out to me about this article was when she wrote about how her students would be able to understand and learn about places that they will probably never get the chance to visit. Her classroom would Skype with another class in New Zealand. Giving children the opportunity to talk with and learn from students around the world gives them a better understanding on what they are learning in school, like why it’s winter in America but summer in New Zealand. The article also talks about how kids learn best from other kids and it’s true whether it is learning from kids in your own classroom or kids from around the world. Times are changing and technology is becoming more and more prevalent in children’s lives today so being able to use it to benefit the children in the classroom is important. Using Skype is free and easy to use and would allow children to connect with students around the world and feed off what they are learning.
Many children today know how and use Skype and Face Time regularly to talk to family members and friends that don’t live in the same area, so using it in the classroom
wouldn’t be new thing for them. They would probably enjoy using it in the classroom
because it is a fun way to learn.
Before reading this article I was aware of Skype and Face Time but I never really thought about the benefits it would have in a classroom. I think that this article will influence
teachers to think about using Skype in their classrooms to help teach. I know after  reading this when I become a teacher I would love to use Skype and connect with a classroom globally.


Today’s guest blogger:
My name is Kelly Frey. I am currently a junior at Towson University
studying Early Childhood education.

Teaching Students Good Digital Citizenship

by Abby Cronin

Good citizenship has always been a priority for teachers to instill onto their students by focusing on proper social etiquette and how to be respectful of people and the environment. Since technology is a part of our daily lives and is only going to be more prominent in the future, teachers must implement the importance of good digital citizenship in their classrooms. So many people around the world, old and
young, participate in online communities including social media networks, blogs, and forums. Partaking in safe online practices, respecting the presence of other users, and adhering to the rules of online communities makes a good online citizen. In the case that a teacher neglects to teach proper digital citizenship to their students at a young age, students may develop unsafe online practices, which may include sharing too much personal information and cyberbullying. It is also important for students to have good digital literacy skills by distinguishing legitimate information and websites. Introducing good digital citizenship to students at a young age will help prepare them for future online assignments further in their education , future job prospects, and many more aspects in their lives as technology is continuously becoming more prominent in our lives. junk
This article explains how it is important to teach good digital citizenship at a young age. Families should be encouraged to instill the concepts from the article on to their children at home. While using the internet at home, children are more prone to using it inappropriately rather than at school.
Parents should limit and supervise their children’s use of the internet to avoid exposure to violent and sexually explicit material and to avoid extended periods of screen time. It is crucial that parents show their children how to navigate the internet safely and how to be respectful in online communities.
This article should encourage teachers to emphasize good digital citizenship in their lessons. Many children may not have a role model at home to show them how to use the internet properly. In this case, children must learn online safety and digital literacy from their teachers. This article includes seven tips for teachers to incorporate in their classrooms and suggests for teachers to participate in Digital Citizenship Week. Digital Citizenship week is one week out of the school year that recognizes responsible, respectful, and safe online practices. Each day of the week is dedicated to an issue pertaining to digital citizenship; for example, on
Monday, the teacher explains safe online practices and teaches children to protect their personal information, on Tuesday, the teacher describes cyberbullying and what to do when a student encounters a cyberbully.
Today’s guest blogger is Abby Cronin

What’s new in EdTech: Voice Recording Tools

by Simran Kharod

This article talks about using voice recording tools in the classroom. It explains how instead of just jumping straight to writing you can record your voice and create a stronger impact with your students. This news could have a positive impact on children and their families because it brings a new way to explain and teach to your students. It can also help bring new ways to have students share books or projects they have junkbeen working on in the classroom.

I think this news will affect Early Childhood Education because it can help teachers explain things to students who might not understand when they see it in writing. It can help teachers reach out to students in a different way when they are not in the classroom.

Today’s guest blogger: “My name is Simran Kharod and I am a student at TowsonUniversity studying Early Childhood Education.”

Coding Through Interactive Stories

by Farran Travers

This news article talked about an app that teachers or parents can use to enhance their children’s reading skills and teach coding at the same time. The app is called Dystopia 2153 and is a 3 episode series. Children can start at the beginner level when learning to code and work their way up to eventually code from scratch. The goal of this app is to have the children solve puzzles using coding to help Chiclet the character in the story escape from an evil villain.junk

This news article will affect young children and their families by giving them a variety of ways to learn coding.The amount of jobs in technology is increasing and teaching children to code is vital for their future career success.

This news article could influence Early Childhood Education by introducing new ways to teach children howto code by incorporating other content areas into coding.

Today’s guest blogger is Farran Travers


“I am an Early Childhood Education major at Towson University”