Change display time — Currently: Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (Event time)

Little Learners, BIG Ideas! A Forum Focusing on Learners Ages 3-8

Pennsylvania Convention Center, 201AB

Participate and share: Forum
Preregistration Required
Save to My Favorites


Boston College
SJ Brooks-Young Consulting
Susan is an experienced teacher, site administrator, and technology specialist. She is an accomplished author who currently works with educators internationally, focusing on practical technology-based strategies for personal productivity and effective technology implementation in classrooms. Artificial Intelligence, media literacy skills, and social emotional learning are areas of particular interest for her.
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.
K-5 STEM Integration Specialist
Russell Street School
ISTE Certified Educator
Heidi MacGregor is the K-5 STEM Integration Specialist for Littleton Public Schools. Prior to this position, she taught 4th grade for 10 years at Russell Street Elementary School. Heidi is a proud ISTE Certified Educator and is a MakerSpace and Global Education enthusiast. She is always looking for new and exciting ways to amplify student voices. Heidi serves on the MassCUE Board of Directors, the MassCUE Professional Development Committee, MassCUE Influence and Advocacy Committee and is the leader of the MassCUE MakerSpace & STEM Special Interest Group (SIG). In addition, she is one of the co-founders of Middlesex Scratch Meetups.

Session description

When used with child development in mind, computers, tablets, robots and other technologies and tools can powerfully support learning and development. This forum will focus on ages 3-8 years and will provide research, discussion, hands-on, minds-on exploration of developmentally appropriate and educationally powerful tools, techniques and possibilities.

Purpose & objective

Educators who are responsible for, or interested in, the meaningful use of technologies with young learners (ages 3-8 years) often find themselves feeling isolated and in the role of constant “translation” of content, approaches and materials to “fit” their setting, situation and learners’ needs. The purpose of this forum is to provide sustained, deeper exploration and discussion of the issues, challenges, opportunities and successes related to young learners and technologies while building professional relationships and informal support systems.
The detailed outline of this forum is listed elsewhere in this proposal, some important things of note:
The forum will be highly interactive, providing formats and opportunities for participants to share and learn from each other as well as from invited experts.
The forum will include online tools for communicating among the participants following the forum. These will include sharing lessons learned, additional resources, evidence of “what works” and more.
The forum will include a wide range of tools, resources, and activities which will provide active learning opportunities for participants around important topics, strategies and tools.
In addition to an analysis of evaluations of the Forum by participants, the forum will be deemed successful if the participants begin new collegial discussions/relationships, share successes and challenges and feel more integrated into the entire conference through other early learning events such as the playground, poster sessions, and dedicated early learning sessions. Follow up with participants following the forum will be coordinated by the forum leadership with participants willing to participate in those discussions/polls/webinars etc.

Some baseline outcomes will be:
The participants are able to describe more than one approach to using technologies with young learners to others and explain some strengths and weaknesses.
The participants will have more than one implementable idea they can describe to others as a result of the forum.
The participants will be able to better articulate some recent research about technology use and young children.
The participants will have added to their "contacts" more early learning educators they may want to have contact with after the forum.

More [+]


Welcome (30 minutes):

 Online Sharing of information of those in attendance (ie where they are from on an interactive map) (as entering)

 Welcome to all
Introductions of Key Facilitators (in person/online/presentation)
Introductions of participants (via online tool)

 Forum Expectations and Goals (presentation/discussion)
 Professional Expectations and Goals (via online tool)
Early Learners and Technology - research and insight - Interactive Presentation (20 minutes)
 Interactive Presentation including hands-on activity/discussion
 (online resources shared)

Integrating Technologies and Typical Learning Tools - Hands-on experience (15 minutes)
 Guided example technology experience with debriefing discussion (table talk or group discussion) and sharing out (via online tool)

Interactive Presentation: What does the research tell us about technology use by young children? (Polls or other interactive features included)(15 min)

Interactive Presentation: How do we get to deeper thinking and Computational Thinking? (20 min)
Presentation explores the 4 pillars of CT through early learning appropriate examples and activities.

Exploring Robots and Young Learners: Research and Higher level thinking experiences with concrete examples (20 min)
Robots and video/images /stories will be used to demonstrate and/or experience the kinds of thinking learners can use given a activity formats and questioning.

Participants share their first ideas about their next steps (anonymously on provided online tool, or with name) Share and discussion about these first ideas. 15 min

Reflection and Call to Action (15 min)

Overview of other Early Learning Events, Sessions at the Conference (5 min)

Evaluation (5min)

More [+]

Supporting research

Bers, M. (2017) Coding as a Playground: Programming and Computational Thinking in the Early Childhood Classroom. Routledge.

Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. New York: Basicbooks.

Resnick, M., & Robinson, K. (2018). Lifelong kindergarten: Cultivating creativity through projects, passion, peers, and play. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

“Coding as Literacy Teaching Programming as a Literacy of the 21st Century.” Coding as Literacy, DevTech Research Group, Tufts University,

Three-year-olds as Photographers

Observing and assessing young children’s digital play in the early years: Using the Digital Play Framework

More [+]

Session specifications

Innovation in early childhood/elementary
Grade level:
Skill level:
Principals/head teachers, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Attendee devices:
Devices useful
Attendee device specification:
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials:
Bring your fully-charged device(s) of choice with current browsers and operating systems.

Headphones may be useful.

The ability to use wifi is imperative, but the facilitator will have alternative plans in case of wifi failure.

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.
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
  • Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.