For Educators

A Design-Based Approach to Early Learning

Our intent with this research has been to tie the intangible cultural heritage of drum language communication (as a sociocultural activity), in support of the work of early childhood education, in particular tied to the practices that foster literacy and socio-emotional development. In other words, what if the educational community (parents, teachers, researchers) can integrate the verbo-rhythmic and kinesthetic aspects of drum culture and connect these with the goals of early literacy learning (i.e. symbol systems, alphabet, encoding/decoding meaning, vocabulary).

Our design-based approach presents several opportunities for the educational community. First, early childhood practitioners benefit from new pedagogical strategies that create avenues for the integration of culturally-grounded technology and practices that can facilitate the inclusion of children’s tacit knowledge and existing abilities with voice, rhythm and movement. Second, children apprentice in literacy practices that provide new contexts for interactive play, active learning and meaning-making, as well as benefit from tools and practices that elicit and enable their embodied expression.

Integrate Cultural Knowledge & Systems

In the field of early literacy, alphabet knowledge is defined as the ability to name, distinguish shapes, write, and identify the sounds of the alphabet, and is considered the best predictor of children’s later reading and spelling abilities (Hammill, 2004; Scarborough, 1998; Schatschneider, Fletcher, Francis, Carlson, & Foorman, 2004). Preschool and kindergarten students with poor knowledge of letter names and sounds are more likely to struggle with formal literacy instruction, fall behind and be classified as having reading disabilities (Gallagher, Frith, & Snowling, 2000; O’Connor & Jenkins, 1999; Torppa, Poikkeus, Laakso, Eklund, & Lyytinen, 2006). For these reasons, alphabet knowledge constitutes a critical learning milestone for young children, and facilitating its development has become a primary objective of pre-school instruction and intervention.

Key Learning Outcomes include:

  • explore literacy behaviors (like the awareness of print or manipulating letters of the alphabet)
  • practice using a visual symbol system deployed through multimodal means
  • develop key social participation dispositions
  • gain exposure to foundational cognitive, social and emotional habits of mind
  • stimulate emotional intelligence and understanding through embodied interaction

Conjecture Map