Good Teaching Professional Development

Learning by Doing: Innovative Ideas from the Tots and Technology Pre-Conference

elementary
Scenes from 2017 Tots and Technology
Written by Susan Meyer

Discover what some elementary educators learned in their pre-conference workshops at the Tots and Technology Conference in Galveston.

It’s a beautiful day for learning here in Galveston, Texas at the Tots and Technology summer conference. We’re excited to empower elementary educators to transform learning with two days of innovative professional development. The conference officially starts tomorrow, but today many educators showed up excited to supercharge their Tots experience with our interactive pre-conference workshops.

These workshops are very hands-on and last three hours, allowing the participants to dive deep into the learning and content. Teachers get to experience the engagement that can come from the thoughtful integration of technology in the PreK-5 classroom. We wanted to share with you a few photos and ideas from two of these sessions for our readers who couldn’t be here in person. We hope you’ll be inspired to create some of these experiences in your own schools.

Making Elementary Collaboration Easy

Fostering collaboration and encouraging students to work together is something most PreK-5 teachers strive for. Of course, the best way to get a class or small group working collaboratively is to give them a project they can really sink their teeth into. It needs to be challenging and engaging enough that they must pool their resources to find a solution. Teachers in the “Collaborative Projects for Elementary Students” session discovered some powerful project ideas to get students happily working toward a common goal.

pre-conference

Teachers collaborating in a Tots pre-conference session.

And teachers didn’t just learn about the projects. They had a chance to try them out. They worked together in small groups and quickly got to know their fellow educators and team mates. They then moved through six stations and created projects together using different technology tools. Later, they posted their creations publicly on a shared blog, further collaborating with the larger group. You can be part of their collaboration and check out some of their creations too! Groups created animations, recordings with green screens, and more. They were given instructions to complete their project, but had to work together as a team to brainstorm how they would accomplish it with the technology available at each station.

Making Is for All Ages

At the “Making in the Elementary Classroom” workshop, educators got to try out 11 different maker places. They were introduced to some of the simplest tools for starting a makerspace, like the remarkable versatility of  reusing cardboard and k-cups. They also saw some of the more complex tools like beebots and Osmos in action.

pre-conference workshop

An aspiring maker discovering the power of cardboard.

More importantly than just seeing the technology or being inspired by new ideas for creating makerspaces of their own, they also got a crash course in what making is really about. They spent their time in the session working at different stations to create whatever they wanted. At first, they experienced some trial and error and the careful following of instructions. A teacher learning to use the 3D doodler carefully followed a suggested template to make a 3D signature. However, after working with the tool a little longer, she started to go off book. This is the true spirit of making. Educators learned not just a set of tools they can use with their students, but a way of thinking. Making is about trying and failing and exercising one’s creative energy.

Ready to Join In?

Want to experience these very workshops in person to get even more tips and ideas for the elementary classroom? Our PD team will be bringing these sessions back at Tots and Technology Arlington in July. You too can experience hands-on learning by doing, collaborate with peers, and make some incredible creations. Learn more and register here.

 

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About the author

Susan Meyer

Susan Meyer is the Communications Specialist at TCEA. She is the editor of TCEA’s quarterly print and digital magazine TechEdge and is a contributing writer for the TechNotes blog. Her background is in educational publishing, and, prior to working with tcea, she spent the last eight years editing and producing content for digital, educational products. Meyer is the author of over 20 books targeted for grades 5-12 on topics ranging from developing an online brand identity to creating collaborative learning experiences with digital tools.

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