Digital Leadership
Summit at ISTELive 20
Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Apps, Bots and Little Learners ... Oh My!

Participate and share

Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Wednesday, June 26, 9:00–10:00 am
Location: 107AB

Sarah Allen   Gail Lovely  
New to tech in early childhood? Not sure where to start? Explore technologies for 3- to 8-year-olds and ways technologies can create powerful, playful learning experiences. Leave with ideas to try, things to think about and a new or renewed interest in uses of technology with young learners.

Audience: Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators, Library media specialists
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: QR Code scanner ( or

Internet access if they have a device

Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Early childhood/elementary
Grade level: PK-2
Subject area: Language arts, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Coaches:
Digital Age Learning Environments
  • Collaborate with teachers and administrators to select and evaluate digital tools and resources that enhance teaching and learning and are compatible with the school technology infrastructure.
For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Young learners are not just big learners in small bodies. They come to us with wildly different strengths and needs. The technologies and pedagogies which support learning with/for/by young learners may be different than those in with learners in other ages and stages. Our session is focused on supporting educators new to tech with early learners, those experienced educators who may be working with early learners for the first time, or those looking for a fresh outlook and to expand their expertise.

We will explore a variety of apps, bots, and other tangible tech that can be a part of early learning experiences that are powerful, playful, and purposeful. Example will include free activities which don’t require electricity as well as newer robots, all of which can captivate students and teachers alike.

We strongly believe that the best learning happens while playing, collaborating, and putting oneself in the shoes of a young learner. This session utilizes early learning structures and materials to encourage participants to develop an understanding of the developmental needs of young learners. Leveraging play and exploration with and about technologies into learning,

Language development, and other content will be the focus. We will share how technology and literacy are related and how technologies can support almost-readers.

This session will be successful if the participants are able to share a reflection or next step on our shared Padlet as an exit ticket. We think this session will be a catalyst for larger discussion and collaboration in the early learning sphere.


Circle Time: Welcome and Introductions (Global collaborator) 7 min
Read Aloud: Pedagogy and Theory (Knowledge constructor) 10 min
Center Time: Exploring Classroom Examples and Tool Demonstrations (Empowered Learner) 15 min
Recess: Hands-on activity (Empowered learner) 15 min -- the colorful world example? A paper-based coding perhaps?
Show and Tell: (Small Group Share out) 7 min
Homework: Next Steps - (Padlet Sharing) 5 min

Supporting research

Alper, M. (2013). Developmentally appropriate New Media Literacies: Supporting cultural competencies and social skills in early childhood education. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 13(2), 175-196.
Bers, M. (2008). Blocks to Robots: Learning with Technology in the Early Childhood Classroom. New York, NY: Teachers’ College Press, Columbia University.
Bers, M. (2012) Designing Digital Experiences for Postive Youth Development. USA: Oxford University Press.
Bers, M. (2017) Coding as a Playground: Programming and Computational Thinking in the Early Childhood Classroom. Routledge.
Dickinson, D. & Tabors, P. O. (2001). Beginning literacy with language. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., Inc.
Donohue, C. (Ed.) (2015). Technology and digital media in the early years: Tools for teaching and learning. New York: Routledge & Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children
Guernsey, L. & Levine, M. (2015). Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley/Jossey-Bass

More [+]


Sarah Allen, Indian Creek School
Gail Lovely, Suddenly It Clicks!

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