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Tech Tips for Tots: Using Technology for Early Childhood Education

Tech Tips for Tots: Using Technology for Early Childhood Education


Pre-kindergarten and early childhood education teachers, this one's for you.  Have you been looking for ways to infuse technology in your curriculum?  At the preschool level, it can be hard to be committed to finding a balance,  and looking for edutainment - not just entertainment.

Pre-kindergarten and early childhood education teachers, this one's for you.  Have you been looking for ways to infuse technology in your curriculum?  At the preschool level, it can be hard to be committed to finding a balance,  and looking for edutainment - not just entertainment.


First, keep in mind that picture sharing and video chatting with loved ones is a stated exception to the screen time guidelines laid out by the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organizations for preschoolers. It’s beneficial to help them get acclimated to talking to people online, and to give them the enrichment of a visit with a loved one. 


Moving forward from there, the United States Department of Educations’ four guiding principles for use of technology with early learners are as follows:

  • Technology—when used appropriately—can be a tool for learning.

    • Families and early educators should ask themselves following questions:

      • Content—How does this help children learn, engage, express, imagine, or explore?

      • Context—What kinds of social interactions (such as conversations with parents or peers) are happening before, during, and after the use of the technology? Does it complement, and not interrupt, children’s learning experiences and natural play patterns?

      • The individual child—What does this child need right now to enhance his or her growth and development? Is this technology an appropriate match with this child’s needs, abilities, interests, and development stage?

  • Technology should be used to increase access to learning opportunities for all children.

  • Technology may be used to strengthen relationships among parents, families, early educators, and young children.

  • Technology is more effective for learning when adults and peers interact or co-view with young children.


As you get started on devices with your preschoolers, always make sure that the gadgets and apps your little ones are using are safe and secure by previewing any technology or software you let them use.  Can they wander off into areas with potentially inappropriate content?  On shared devices, can they accidentally access your (or other student’s) private information?  Can they find themselves contacting people without supervision?


Another way to focus your kids on things they need to be learning is by concentrating on teaching basic computer skills.  Take a look at the kind of standards students will need to be attaining once they hit kindergarten, like simply touching and getting to know the function of different pieces of hardware.  You can also introduce preschoolers to many basic computer science concepts and skills without ever touching a device. Introducing them to the concept of passwords, understanding that certain activities have sequenced steps like computers have algorithms, and practicing working and playing with strangers respectfully can all be done without screens.


When you really get rolling, here are some tech ideas to inspire you:

  • Coding stories and games offer collaborative and playful ways for children to explore early coding on platforms such as  Scratch, Jr..

  • Take photos of block buildings or artwork that children have created. 

  • Video dramatic play to replay for children.

  • Record children’s stories about their drawings or their play, then make audio or video files to document their progress.

  • Ebooks and sites like Storyline Online let your children interact with books.

  • Starfall is a phonics-based website to strengthen reading skills. 

  • ABC Ya, Cookie and Fuel the Brain feature age-appropriate educational games and activities spanning all subject areas. 

  • Suessville, named for Dr. Suess, includes kid-friendly activities as well as information about the author’s books.


Pin this blog post to get back to later:
Pre-kindergarten and early childhood education teachers, this one's for you.  Have you been looking for ways to infuse technology in your curriculum?  At the preschool level, it can be hard to be committed to finding a balance,  and looking for edutainment - not just entertainment.

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Brittany Washburn
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Apps and Online Tools That Help Kids Master Bloom's Revised Taxonomy

Apps and Online Tools That Help Kids Master Bloom's Revised Taxonomy


In an increasingly digital world, teachers are now finding ways to incorporate apps and online resources that help support students as they work through Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.

Bloom’s Taxonomy was first devised in the 50’s, and then revised in the early 2000’s.  In one form or another it has shaped how teachers think about nourishing and engaging their students for over 60 years.  That's no wonder, since it encourages the development of skills to help students of all ages solve problems and think critically both in and out of the classroom.  Additionally, I’ve found the verbs developed for each of the stacking levels of Bloom's Revised Taxonomy help me plan learning activities that will keep students challenged in their Zone of Proximal Development.


In an increasingly digital world, teachers are now finding ways to incorporate apps and online resources that help support students as they work through Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.  



Creating: 

Put elements together to form a new coherent or functional whole; reorganize elements into a new pattern or structure (design a new set for a theater production, write a thesis, develop an alternative hypothesis based on criteria, invent a product, compose a piece of music, write a play). 


Evaluating: 

Make judgments based on criteria and standards (e.g., detect inconsistencies or fallacies within a process or product, determine whether a scientist’s conclusions follow from observed data, judge which of two methods is the way to solve a given problem, determine the quality of a product based on disciplinary criteria).


Analyzing:

Break material into its constituent parts and determine how the parts relate to one another and/or to an overall structure or purpose (e.g., analyze the relationship between different flora and fauna in an ecological setting; analyze the relationship between different characters in a play; analyze the relationship between different institutions in a society).


Applying:

Use information or a skill in a new situation (e.g., use Newton’s second law to solve a problem for which it is appropriate, carry out a multivariate statistical analysis using a data set not previously encountered).


Understanding:

Demonstrate comprehension through one or more forms of explanation (e.g., classify a mental illness, compare ritual practices in two different religions).


Remembering:

Retrieve, recall, or recognize relevant knowledge from long-term memory (e.g., recall dates of important events in U.S. history, remember the components of a bacterial cell).


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In an increasingly digital world, teachers are now finding ways to incorporate apps and online resources that help support students as they work through Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.


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Brittany Washburn
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Encouraging Kids to be Content Creators Instead of Content Consumers

Encouraging Kids to be Content Creators Instead of Content Consumers


Kids are constantly consuming digital content. They are reading blogs, watching Youtube videos, and helping social media content go viral. But what if they were the ones creating this content? Teachers can encourage their students to be the ones creating valuable content.

Kids are constantly consuming digital content. They are reading blogs, watching Youtube videos, and helping social media content go viral. But what if they were the ones creating this content? Teachers can encourage their students to be the ones creating valuable content. 


Classroom blogs are a great and versatile way to get your kids creating content. You can have students post their writing (stories, paragraphs, poetry, etc.), pictures of class projects, or even audio projects (read aloud practice, speech class ventures, etc.).  As a bonus, they are also a great way to showcase student work to parents and keep them in the loop.  Many blogging platforms are designed to be very easy to use, like Blogger and Live JournalEdublogs was even made just for classroom and school library blogs.  


Instructables is an online community of people writing how-tos that your students can contribute to.  Walk your students through signing up and creating accounts, including making sure to verify their emails so they can both make instructables and comment on others.  The website provides a video tutorial if you’d like some guidance in helping your students create their first how-to.  Not only is this a great way to have your students create content, it’s also a great opportunity to teach procedural writing with a little extra buy-in. Since their writing will be published publicly to the web, you can speak to your students about how this is a situation in which they want to do their very best.


There are also several creative platforms out there for contributing to online communities that create storybooks and illustrations, such as My Storybook and Storyboard That.   Storybird is a subscription service, but it can really get inspiration flowing and it is unique in that it lets students put words to already created (wordless) picture books from various professional illustrators.


When guiding your students towards being content creators, it is imperative to also teach them internet safety.  First, when signing up for things, impress upon your students that they are not to share personal identifying information on the internet.  Another major point you’ll want to go over is how to behave respectfully and responsibly in online communities. Go over the word respectful and what treating other people with respect looks like online.  As a general rule of thumb, I like to have students wait until after they have contributed some of their own work before allowing them to comment.  I find this helps to impress upon your students the hard work that someone put into each project they look at, to encourage them to treat others' work with respect.  Talk about what appropriate actions your child can take if they see they don’t have something good to say about, such as simply moving on to find work that they do like.  If you are specifically asking your students to provide constructive feedback to one another, practice this skill several times in person before having them try it online.


Getting your students to be content creators can help your students be responsible online citizens, as well encourage them to develop pride in their work.


Pin this blog post to get back to later:

Kids are constantly consuming digital content. They are reading blogs, watching Youtube videos, and helping social media content go viral. But what if they were the ones creating this content? Teachers can encourage their students to be the ones creating valuable content.


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Brittany Washburn
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17 Free Educational Websites for High School

17 Free Educational Websites for High School


These are some of the top free educational sites for high school.  I’ve focused here on websites you can let your students roam free on because the entire site is filled with educational tools to equip your students for academic success.

These are some of the top free educational sites for high school.  I’ve focused here on websites you can let your students roam free on because the entire site is filled with educational tools to equip your students for academic success. 


All subjects:

https://hippocampus.org/  

Free educational videos and resources for middle school through college iIn math, natural science, social science and humanities.  Your students can study independently, you can use content for your lessons or you can create playlists for your students to review.


https://khanacademy.org

Incredibly helpful, straightforward, standards-aligned videos, practice exercises and articles.  Topics for 7-12 include math, reading & language arts, science, economics, arts & humanities, computing, life skills and test prep.  Teachers can also assign work and track student progress with a teacher account.


https://www.bibme.org/ 

This website will help your students get their citations correct in APA, MLA and Chicago Style.


https://quizlet.com/

Students can equip themselves with learning tools and flashcards to help them study for almost any topic your school offers a class in.


English:

https://www.gutenberg.org/ 

This site offers tens of thousands of free ebooks.


http://www.openculture.com/freeaudiobooks 

Features free audio books.


https://www.grammarly.com/

Advanced spelling and grammar checker with browser plugins.


Math:

https://www.purplemath.com/

Struggling students can use lessons to help with algebra and beginning trigonometry courses, as well as test prep.


Social Studies:

https://www.oerproject.com/

A free introductory history course that establishes an interdisciplinary foundation of historical thinking practices, and a free standards-based world history course that builds upon those foundational skills in preparation for AP, college, and beyond.


https://www.digitalcivicstoolkit.org/

A collection of resources for educators to help high school youth explore a range of civic opportunities and dilemmas with modules focused on: Exploring Community Issues, Investigation, Dialogue, Voice, and Action.


Sciences:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

An online portal to NOVA, which claims to be the most-watched prime time science series on American television now in its fifth decade of production.


https://nclab.com/

NCLab provides data analyst and Python developer career training programs that deliver the knowledge, practical experience, competency, and confidence needed to give their students an early competitive edge in STEM skills. 


https://www.experimonkey.com/

Let students explore science experiment ideas, facts, brain games, quizzes and videos.


Arts:

https://www.si.edu/openaccess 

Students can view art, history, culture and science pieces as well as participate in themed activities and games.  They also provide educator resources and digital tools through the Smithsonian Learning Lab and  Smithsonian's History Explorer.


https://artsandculture.google.com/

Your high schoolers can explore and interact with art and architecture around the world, with new picks featured every day.


https://spark.adobe.com/ 

Let students create impactful social graphics, web pages, and short videos in minutes. Graphics can be used to make science fair posters, social studies infographics, math flashcards, etc.  They can turn field trip journals, language arts essays, lab reports, and more into dynamic web pages.  Book reports, physics explainers, poetry analyses, and more can be shown as video presentations.


Organization:

https://habitica.com 

A gamified to-do list to help students keep themselves organized and motivated.


Pin this blog post to get back to later:

These are some of the top free educational sites for high school.  I’ve focused here on websites you can let your students roam free on because the entire site is filled with educational tools to equip your students for academic success.


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Brittany Washburn
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