Constructor Lab
Leadership Summit
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Early Childhood Learning: Ready, Steady, STEM!

Participate and share

Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Tuesday, June 25, 4:15–5:15 pm
Location: 108AB

Steve Burt   Theresa Maves  
Curious about the best ways to integrate technology into your ECE classroom? Wondering about how to respect equity and ensure accessibility? Attend this session to learn from expert educators and curriculum developers how they spent the past year developing a technology-focused curriculum that engages students and encourages exploration.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: iOS
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Bloxels Builder App -
ScratchJr -
Toontastic -
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Early childhood/elementary
Grade level: PK-2
Subject area: STEM/STEAM, Computer science
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Computational Thinker
  • Students formulate problem definitions suited for technology-assisted methods such as data analysis, abstract models and algorithmic thinking in exploring and finding solutions.
Digital Citizen
  • Students engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using networked devices.
Empowered Learner
  • Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Purpose of the Presentation
The purpose, or goal, of this presentation is to share the process behind developing a technology-infused early elementary curriculum for use in KinderCare Education's after school program. This is not a sales-pitch or a promotion for any product or service, rather it is a way of helping educators, administrators, and district curriculum specialists "look behind the curtain" to see for themselves how program curriculum is developed.

We began working on the development of this school-year long curriculum during the early Spring of 2018. Our intent was to have an initial set of materials developed for pilot testing before the end of the school year, make revisions and develop the full curriculum over the summer in time for full-scale launch during the Fall of 2018. In total we expect the curriculum to be deployed to hundreds of sites (e.g., school-based locations) where thousands of students from ages 5-8 will be using this curriculum on a daily basis.

As a result of attending this session, participants will:
1. Understand how technology-based curriculum is developed for deployment at scale by a large education institution;
2. Explore the curriculum through hands-on lessons using iOS devices;
3. Learn how pedagogical models such as design thinking can best be integrated into early childhood education; and,
4. Discuss concerns around topics such as screen-time with young children along with digital citizenship and online safety.

-For KinderCare, the development of this curriculum was their first technology-focused effort. As a result, one of the key challenges was researching and exploring everything from the right sort of technology to use with young children, how to manage devices, and how to develop a curriculum that would appeal to parents in an engaging and project-oriented manner.
-Unlike many traditional curricula, scoped-and-sequenced to a specific age group, this material is implemented in a before and after-school setting with students ranging from ages 5 to 10. As a result we had to be mindful of creating lessons that would introduce materials to all age levels and abilities yet be engaging and challenging enough to be appealing.
-Choosing the right technology was key to success as connectivity is sometimes and issue, ruggedness, lack of tech support, and all the typical issues schools across the country deal with.

Models employed
Although we'd originally hoped to create a much more student-centered, project-based learning approach, constraints based on time and the fluidity of student attendance meant we had to pull back a bit form that approach. As a result we modified the typical design thinking approach to projects to create a scaffolded set of curricular activities where students can explore, play, create, share what they've done and then iterate based on peer feedback.

Lesson plans
Each lesson is designed to be a self-directed student experience where they work in groups of 2 or 3. We've set up roles for each student ("Driver", "Copilot", and "Advisor") where each small group will use 1 iPad (or 1 KIBO robot). Each day, students have the opportunity to spend about 30 minutes with the technology curriculum. The lessons were developed so that students will be able to choose their own pathway based on their interest (e.g., topics including engineering, coding, art and design, etc.). During the presentation, we will spend time looking at some of the technologies and lessons including the Bloxels Builder App, Toontastic, ScratchJr, and the KIBO robot.

Evidence of success
As of September 2019, the initial curriculum was piloted in the Spring of 2018. It was received very favorably by students, staff, and parents and the full curriculum is being deployed for the 2018-19 school year. By ISTE 2019 we'll have copious anecdotes, videos, and survey data as to how effective this curriculum has been in engaging students and supporting their success. In terms of the presentation itself, we will deem it a success of participants are inspired to look at ways they develop curriculum (or even single lessons) using the same sort of approach we did.


I. Welcome and introductions (5 mins)
 a. Steve Burt, Clarity Innovations & Theresa Maves, KinderCare Education
 b. KinderCare's interest in STEM and Early Childhood Education
II. Goals of the presentation (5 mins)
 a. Explain how KinderCare designed and developed their first technology-focused curriculum for their afterschool program; and,
 b. Explore how you can learn from their best practices to infuse your own instruction and curriculum with their "best-of-breed" solutions
III. Technology (5 mins)
 a. iPads, iOS apps, the KIBO robot, and ScratchJr
IV. Essential Questions: Setting the stage (10 mins)
 a. What is the school-age after school program?
 b. Why focus on technology with young children? What about screen-time, equity, and accessiblity concerns?
 c. How can curriculum foster good digital citizenship?
V. Hands-on: Developing and testing the curriculum (20 mins)
 a. Exploring three activities in the curriculum using iOS apps (Bloxels, ScratchJr., and Toontastic)
VI. Publishing and reception (10 mins)
 a. Videos of kids using the technology and curriculum
 b. What's next?
VII. Questions (5 mins)

Supporting research

Bers, Marina Umaschi. Coding as a Playground: Programming and Computational Thinking in the Early Childhood Classroom.
Bers, Marina Umaschi. The Official ScratchJr Book: Help Your Kids Learn to Code.
Chaille, Cristine. Constructivism across the Curriculum in Early Childhood Classrooms: Big Ideas as Inspiration.
Heroman, Cate. Making and Tinkering with STEM.
KIBO Robotics (
Kinderlab Robotics (
Resnick, Mitch. Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play.

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Steve Burt, Clarity Innovations Inc

Steve is a former K-12 educator, technology coordinator and building principal. For the past 15 years he has been working as an education-technology consultant for Clarity Innovations, Inc. In his current role as Director of Strategy, he helps clients (organizations, schools, and nonprofits) design and develop solutions such as curriculum, educator professional development, and digital technologies that help drive student engagement and result in improved achievement. Previously, he has been named one of ISTE's "Best of the Best" presenters and, in 2000, was named one of America's top 100 educators.

Theresa Maves, KinderCare Education

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