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Little Learners BIG Ideas: Applying ISTE Standards to Early Childhood Education STEM

Colorado Convention Center, 108/10/12

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CEO / Educational Consultant
The Block Uncarved
ISTE Certified Educator
Nancye Blair Black is an ISTE-certified educator, renowned speaker, and consultant who cultivates dignity-driven instructional practices that empower educators, leaders, and students to succeed. Nancye is the author of nationally-implemented computer science curricula and several books, including Tablets in K-12 Education and the Hands-On AI Projects for the Classroom series. She is ISTE's AI Explorations Project Lead and a TC Games Research Lab leader. She's completing her doctoral degree in Instructional Technology at Teachers College Columbia University. Talk to her about equity, AI, ISTE Cert, unique educational experiences, anything you're passionate about! @NancyeBlackEdu.
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.

Session description

Join this forum for an active exploration of model STEM-rich learning activities, hands-on exploration of technology powered tools for early learning, research related to technology and young learners, and lively discussions related to Computational Thinking. You will experience sustained, deeper exploration and discussion of the issues, challenges, opportunities, and successes related to young learners and technologies. You will even get a sneak peek of preliminary ISTE guides designed to help PreK - 3rd grade educators apply the ISTE Standards in high quality STEM learning experiences. Grow your community of fellow early learning educators at ISTELive and beyond.

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. This forum will provide model STEM-rich learning activities, hands-on exploration of tools and approaches in the context of early learning, research tidbits related to technology and young learners, and discussions related to Computational Thinking and other "hot topics" in Educational Technology and Young Learners.

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.

Key elements of the forum:
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 between participants during and 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.
Participants will have a sneak peek at a preliminary ISTE guide designed for PreK- 3rd grade educators to support the application and integration of ISTE Standards in high quality STEM-rich, relationship-centered learning experiences.
Materials, links to resources and more will be provided to participants during the Forum.

Some baseline outcomes:
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 have a growing interest and focus on ISTE Standards and young learners.

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Welcome (15 minutes)
Who’s in the room?
Session Goals and Introductions

Early Learners and Technology (15 minutes)
Interactive presentation with activity and discussion

Computational Thinking (30 minutes)
Presentation explores the 4 pillars of CT through early learning appropriate examples and activities. Interactive Presentation and Activities.

ISTE Standards for Early Childhood Education (25 minutes)
Interactive presentation and peer discussion on powerful applications of the ISTE Standards for Pre-K - 3rd grade learners.

STEM Concepts, Activities, and Technology (65 minutes)
Explore ideas and concepts for integrating technology in STEM learning PreK-3rd grade age groups. Hands-on activity samples and discussion, including a sneak peek of a preliminary draft of the ISTE Guide for Applying ISTE Standards to STEM Learning for Early Childhood Educators.

Reflection, Next Steps, and Call to Action (20 minutes)
DIscussion, Q&A, Sharing thoughts and ideas in the session and via an online site/document which can be referenced and updated after the Forum concludes.

Other Opportunities at the Conference related to Early Learning (5 minutes)

Evaluation (5 minutes)
Participants complete a short questionnaire about their experience in the forum.

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Supporting research

The ideas articulated in this forum are supported by the four research-based guiding principles for use of technology with early learners articulated in the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology’s Policy Brief on Early Learning and Use of Technology (

Guiding Principle #1: Technology—when used appropriately—can be a tool for learning.
Guiding Principle #2: Technology should be used to increase access to learning opportunities for all children.
Guiding Principle #3: Technology may be used to strengthen relationships among parents, families, early educators, and young children.
Guiding Principle #4: Technology is more effective for learning when adults and peers interact or co-view with young children.

Bers, Marina Umaschi. (2022). Beyond Coding: How Children Learn Values through Programming. MIT Press.

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Session specifications

Innovation in early childhood/elementary
Grade level:
Skill level:
Principals/head teachers, Teachers, Coaches
Attendee devices:
Devices useful
Attendee device specification:
Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Subject area:
STEM/STEAM, Computer science
ISTE Standards:
For Educators:
  • Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.
  • 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.