Little Learners & Power Tools — How, When and Why (No Safety Goggles Needed)

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Location: Room 255-7
Experience live: All-Access Package
Watch recording: All-Access Package Year-Round PD Package

Explore and create : Creation lab

Gail Lovely  
This practical session will add to your tech toolbox for learners ages 3-7 years old. Experience online or app-based tools as little learners and also as learning experience "construction workers." No sitting around — you will build something with your new power tools for your little learners.

Audience: Library media specialists, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Please bring a digital tool, (laptop or tablet), you are familiar with. It is best if this device is one you can use without too many limitations on website use, installation of a free app or similar.

A gmail account may be helpful for access to some resources/tools.

A specific list of apps/tools will be added closer to the conference.

Topic: Innovation in early childhood/elementary
Grade level: PK-2
Subject area: Language arts, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Working with diverse young learners, defined as 3 to 7 or 8 year olds, has long been a rewarding challenge. When the presenter began teaching with technology tools in the 1980s there were very few tools which could be used by little learners, particularly those who were not yet reading. WOW how things have changed! There are now a myriad of technology-rich, technology-enabled and technology-delivered tools and resources now available, often touted as being for young children... and SOME of these are really great. As the Covid-19 Pandemic struck the world, many families and educators turned to technology as a way to help young learners, sometimes with great success, sometimes with limited educational outcomes, sometimes with laughter and sometimes with tears. There was little time for planning, training, study, and reflection, there was no time to lose. Educators worldwide did their best to use tools they had and new tools as they became available to provide good learning opportunities for their young students. There is a lot to be celebrated, and there is always more to learn. In this session we will explore together a few tools, online and/or app-based, and examine how we can use them to provide powerful learning experiences for young learners with active, creative uses in mind.

This session will be layered. Participants will experience tools as learners and also as teachers and/or families and will explore methodologies which can provide active learning and sharing opportunities for their learners.

Interactive tools which will be the focus of this session. These tools may include Padlet, Book Creator, Jamboard, Google Slides, digital cameras, and more. The specific tools will be decided closer to the conference as new tools are always being developed.

The session will be successful if participants leave with new confidence in their skills and new ideas about using tools (new or familiar) in active learning settings with young learners. The success of the session will also be evident in the sharing of work during the session.


This session will seek a balance of discussion, exploration, development, and reflection all in a format to encourage working together in parallel actions, paired or group activities and individual reflection. (depending on platform and environment (online or face-to-face).)

1. Introduction (via online tool and discussion) - individuals and then large group discussion (as entering, 5 min)
- This will be using a tool which will be revisited as a learning tool for young learners later in the session.

2. Discussion, Exploring the Issue/Challenge:
Discussion lead by the presenter related to the need for powerful uses of technologies with and for young learners. This will include an examination of the developmental needs and the technological possibilities non-examples and better examples will be included. - presenter lead, small group discussion, examples, first-hand experience (20 min)

3. Exploration of tools:
Typical format for each tool will be:
--- Presenter overview
--- Participants exploration
--- Discussion about tool, educational goals
--- Creation/exploration by participants with guidance/support by the presenter

4. Development of Own Project(s):
Time allowed for participants to create (or begin to create) an activity or tool they might use with their own students. Presenter will support, circulate and encourage.

5. Sharing:
Participants will use a presenter-provided tool to share their "works-in-progress" or "ideas to refine" so all can learn from each other.

6. Reflection:
As John Dewey reminds us, we learn not by doing, but by reflecting on doing (paraphrased). There will be time for participants to reflect on the session and how they might use things they learned, or NOT use things they learned, going forward.

Supporting research

Here are just a few links related to the content and format of this session:

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Gail Lovely, Suddenly It Clicks!

Gail began her career as an inner-city teacher of young learners. She is an early adopter of technology, earning her Master’s Degree in Educational Computing from Pepperdine University in the early 1980s. Gail has been an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University, University of Houston, and the University of Northern Iowa. She had long-time columns for Scholastic, Classroom Connect, ISTE and others. Gail is proud of her book “Using an iPad with Your Preschooler” (with Gayle Berthiaume.) Gail founded the ISTE Early Learning Network and was one of the first at NECC/ISTE Conferences to focus on using technology with young learners.

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