The Role of Technology in Early Childhood Development Programs

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If you’re studying early childhood development at a school like Kendall College, and are planning to go into teaching, you may already be thinking about how you can implement technology in your classroom. These days, with many high schools purchasing iPads for their students—not to mention video series like Baby Einstein targeting our youngest learners—it’s almost impossible to find an educational program without some kind of technology element. But when you’re working with pre-kindergarten kids, is technology always appropriate? How much does a 3-year-old actually get out of sitting in front of an educational video?

Forest Lake Elementary takes advantage of technology to personalize the classroom. Photo credit:

There are times when technology can be used effectively to help teach young children, but the key is to make sure it’s age-appropriate and that it’s enhancing other activities, rather than being the sole focus. Read on for some tips to keep in mind when you’re preparing to teach at the preschool level.

Tips for Incorporating Technology into Preschool Classrooms

  •  Keep your students active. Young children are most engaged when they’re able to directly interact with the world around them, picking up objects and exploring new spaces. They’re also notoriously bad at sitting still for an extended period of time. Therefore, lessons are much more likely to stick with young children when they involve hands-on activities. If you do want to use technology in your classroom, try computer games or apps that teach kids about things like colors and shapes rather than just putting on a video.
  • Enhance understanding of symbolic representation. Children under the age of 3 are typically within Piaget’s preoperational stage, meaning that they’re beginning to understand how various signs and symbols—such as speech, drawings, and writing—can be used to communicate. Find computer games that allow students to draw pictures, repeat back words that they hear, or match the names of objects to pictures. Touch screen activities may be particularly effective with this age group—as long as you make sure you monitor them closely so that you don’t end up with a lot of broken tablets on your hands!
  • Incorporate eBooks into story time. These days, you don’t need to have shelves of books to have a wide range of stories available to you; an eReader like the Kindle or iPad allows you to easily share stories with your students. Just make sure there are plenty of pictures you can share, and give students the opportunity to “turn the page” on the eReader so that they get the same interactive experience they would have with a physical book.
  • Use technology to enhance play. Letting your students take a break to get some of their energy out? Try using a laptop or iPad to play kid-appropriate songs from Spotify or your iTunes library so that your students can dance.
  • Mix in activities that aren’t tech-based. As big a role as technology plays in our adult lives, early childhood educators need to understand that young learners need a wide variety of activity types to fully engage with the world around them. Make sure that you set a timer when you’re using any kind of technology with your students, and follow computer games up with an activity that gets them moving, like playing a game outside.

How Early Childhood Teachers Can Use Technology

Technology doesn’t just have to be for the students—tech-savvy early childhood teachers have the opportunity to use plenty of tools to help them get better organized and keep their lessons on track.

  • Use online calendars. Online programs like Google calendars can be a great way to track things like parent-teacher conferences or staff meetings. You can color code different types of activities, set recurring events each month, and schedule reminders.
  • Get inspired by Pinterest. Pinterest, the popular online pin board that allows users to share images, can be a great resource for pre-K teachers. You can use this social media platform to come up with ideas for your classroom layout, decorations, and even crafts for young children. You don’t even have to look particularly far—just search “preschool” and you’ll find all sorts of boards specifically dedicated to the topic.
  • Download and print eBooks and coloring pages. Search for free preschool teacher resources online, like beginning reader eBooks or coloring pages—it’s a smart way to save a bit of money on class supplies.
  • Save your teaching files in the cloud. Sign up to use a free cloud provider like Dropbox, which allows you to access your files from any computer, provided you have an Internet connection. This will save you from having to remember to bring a flash drive if you’re working on a lesson plan or activity at home and need to have it on your computer at school.

Juliana Weiss-Roessler writes about early childhood education with her husband Josh. Follow her on TwitterGoogle+, and Facebook.


Why is #sschat valuable to you? Join Today!

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How you can join #sschat?

1. Join the Live #sschat Discussions on Twitter Every Monday Night from 7-8 PM EST (see calendar on the main screen)
2. Join our Facebook Group
3. Join in 24/7 Discussions on Social Studies related topics on twitter follow the hashtag #sschat
4. Visit this #sschat ning website, which has discussion boards, groups, and archived chats of previous twitter discussions.

Why is #sschat valuable to you?
  • #sschat has helped to make me into a more dedicated, engaged, and connected teacher. It has helped me to create a positive learning environment for my students but also a professional learning community that I actually want to be apart of. Melissa Seideman @mseideman
  • #sschat allows me to instantly link with fellow social studies teachers around the globe, in real-time, from the comfort of my sofa.  It’s crowdsourcing professional development (how cool is that?), and it’s the most inspiring and resource-rich professional development I’ve ever participated in.  Joe Sangillo @joesangillo
  • I began watching the collaboration in #sschat as a lurker and thought “I want to belong to this!” The sharing and the organic co -developing of lessons has helped me develop as a newer teacher. -Michael Milton
  • #sschat has given me a countless number of lesson ideas and resources.  Just hearing what other teachers around the world are doing with their classes gets the creative ideas flowing.  It is also inspiring to collaborate with others.  It makes me a better teacher. Mike Nash @mackiefloyd
  • As an education professor, #sschat helps keep me connected with classroom teachers – their interests, successes, and challenges – on a daily basis. – Dan Krutka @dankrutka
  • I am the only Social Studies teacher in my middle school so #sschat IS my Professional Development!  Passionate educators keep me excited and eager to collaborate – John Padula @PadulaJohn
  • #sschat keeps me connected, invigorated and enthusiastic.  Learning from so many innovative educators is an experience that frees me from my office and classroom walls! @antfitz
  • #sschat is a great place to bounce ideas about lessons off others.  You don’t need to always reinvent the wheel. @sbdavidso
  • As a new SS coordinator, #sschat helped me expand my professional network nationwide and worldwide!  In some ways it is like having a SS Fairy Godmother – when I have a question or need a resource,  I tweet it out to #sschat and within minutes I have many great ideas or answers! @MapM8ker
  • #sschat is a great place to know what other people in the world are doing and a place to share good ideas and resources that we may not all have time to keep up with @praisesifa
  • #sschat is a community of passionate and knowledgeable educators dedicated to helping each other grow professionally.  Everyday I learn something new and always come away inspired.  The real winner in all of this… our students.  @RoanHoward
  • #sschat allows for continuous PD and it provides an outlet to share ideas and get feedback by teachers in the your discipline. In addition, it allows us to stay up to date with teaching trends, ideas, technology, and websites.  @philpuzz
  • Without #sschat,  EDSITEment would not be connecting to the most tech savvy teachers in America. We’d be in our “ivory tower” and they would probably not be aware of how much NEH has to offer them.
  • #ssschat has enriched the teaching in our department.   I often share the resources that I have found with teachers in social studies.  They have had great success with students using these resources.  I especially appreciate the support that I have seen provided for teachers new to the profession or teaching a course for the first time.
  • I don’t usually make the live #sschat and when I do it goes too fast for me, but I do enjoy the benefits of using the hashtag to ask questions or to search the archives later. I often share resources that I find here with the teachers in my department.  My participation has made ALL of us better. @jenslish
  • I have not taken part in many #sschat conversations, but I do look through the posts that are tagged #sschat. I have received many great ideas from other social studies teachers. Thank you to all. Monte DeArmoun @nksocialstudies
  • I am inspired by the creativity and dedication of the teachers on #sschat.   In the current test-driven climate, I am so impressed by the ways in which social studies teachers incorporate technology, current events, and interactive methods in their teaching, and refuse to “teach to the tests.” @dutchermann
  • The great people that use #sschat are ALWAYS willing to help with a link or advice to possible teaching topics.  It is instant professional development and probably the best PD tool in use today.  @jeifling
  • #sschat provides me with colleagues who are a resource, support, and inspiration. I just have to ask and there are so many in my PLN who respond immediately. It definitely makes me a better educator. I also connect with educators who are as passionate about student learning as I am and are willing to connect their classrooms worldwide. @kconners09
  • #sschat brings me in contact with new colleagues with new ideas. Collaboration is important to me as I do not have the opportunity at school to do so. There’s always lots of support, too. @geojo22
  • #sschat brings together passionate history teachers to connect, learn and share with one another.  It is a forum for getting help, support and great ideas to improve the teaching of Social Studies. @cybraryman1


How do you use #sschat?
  • 24/7 or during synchronous, moderated chat on Mondays at 7pm EST
  • I tune in most Monday’s to see what’s up.  I always find something useful.  I will also post resources to #sschat throughout the week and look there when I am trying to find something.  I also occasionally post questions.
  • I ALWAYS come away from #sschat with a new site, article, or connection for my PLN – EVERY TIME.  That’s the kind of people who keep me coming back!
  • I used to come across resources that I wanted to share out and thought no one cares, why bother sharing.  Then I discovered #sschat and now I just tweet a resource with #sschat and I instantly have a whole slew of like minded social studies teacher excited about the resource too.
  • I use #sschat to connect live and collaborate or I can go back and check the archives and find great ideas that are perfect for my lessons.  Every little bit helps in keeping education fresh!
  • Having a network of people who always willing to help/share is refreshing!  Also makes me feel great when I can offer help or a resource – validates what we all believe in as educators, despite high stakes testing and local politics
  • When I come across something useful that helped shaped the way I plan what I’m teaching or some interesting ideas, I like to share it out to others on #sschat
  • EDSITEment staff views #sschat as our window on the world of K-12 social studies and history teachers. We find out so much every day about where they are and what they need.
  • I use #sschat throughout the week rather than come to the chat. I use the archives and follow the hashtag.
  • I generally have classes on Monday evenings so I refer to the archives and follow the hashtag. The archives have provided an abundance of resource and ideas for use in the classroom.  @MaribethWestlun
  • Looking for new ideas and classroom resources.
  • I introduce my preservice teachers to it so that they can have a digital learning community.  I gain energy and enthusiasm from the teachers, even though I can’t regularly join the synchronous chat.  I love to share ideas with other teachers, and to get their suggestions of classroom projects, especially to see their student work.
  • When historical current events take place (death of bin Laden, Japan earthquake, etc) #sschat is the best place to gather information.  It is collaboration at the best.

Attention #Sociology Teachers at #NCSS13

If you are attending #ncss13, the American Sociological Association is sponsoring a 4 part symposium of sessions.  Feel free to attend 1, 2, 3, or all 4 of them.  They are also participating in a panel discussion on Saturday.  For more information, see the following:

Law School Past and Present: How Resourceful Technologies Have Evolved For Law School Students

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Technology has changed the way we do pretty much everything now. We use applications on our phones to hail cabs instead of just our hands in the air. We look at websites to find potential mates instead of heading to the bar. And we use computers and search engines from the comfort of our own homes to do research, instead of sifting through stacks of books and relying on the Dewey Decimal system in the library.


The practice of law, however, has largely stayed the same over the past law schoolcentury; even if the tools have changed. Cases are still argued in courts, by attorneys who have passed the bar, in front of esteemed judges or juries.  Criminal defendants are still considered innocent before being proven guilty.  Laws may have changed the substance of American law, but the basic principles behind them mostly have not changed substantially.


Legal research, however, has changed a lot in the past ten to fifteen years. Law schools still have physical libraries, of course, but most of the research that students do is online, using search platforms like LexisNexis, Westlaw and Bloomberg. In the past several years, another search engine has started to be widely used: Google Scholar allows users to search through past legal articles and court decisions – for free.


All of these tools make it increasingly easy for law students to find what they are looking for; it also makes it more likely that they may stumble upon helpful information that they were not seeking. By searching by keyword, by jurisdiction, or by legal principle, students can locate cases that are over a hundred years ago without even cracking a book. Whether a student is searching for a commonly read case or an obscure one, online search engines make them easy to find.


Finding old cases is one of the best features of using online search tools for legal research. A keyword search is infinitely easier to run than searching through piles of books in a library, especially when the topic is not a common one. For example, while it would be easy to find cases on criminal sentencing laws in a particular state, it would be significantly harder to find cases involving exposure to asbestos leading to mesothelioma.


Indeed, the more specific the information a law student is looking for, the more helpful these online search tools will be in locating them.  Using tools like LexisNexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg, or Google Scholar, however, requires learning how to maximize their offerings by understanding all the different ways the platforms can be used. While browsing through hornbooks can be the best way to acquaint oneself with a new topic, running specific keyword searches is better for locating particular cases.


Further, legal search engines often include non-legal resources as well. Students can search through periodicals as well, which can often be helpful for placing cases in historical context. A student researching mesothelioma cases, for example, may want to look through old newspapers and see when cases were first reported.


Some firms and interest groups offer online resources and educational information including Cooney and Conway in Chicago, who have specifically developed a Veterans Guide to Asbestos Exposure, Mesothelioma, and Lung Cancer. These types of guides are available for free online and offer a great resource to learn more about the type of case you’re studying.


No matter what the topic of research, however, one key to success is to be extremely thorough. Using online research tools makes it easier to be sure that your research does not have holes in it, that you have “scorched the earth” when necessary, and that your opponent will not surprise you by finding a case that disproves your legal theories and arguments. It’s important for students and practicing attorneys both to learn how to use online legal research tools to do complete research that has not missed older cases simply because they are not from the recent past.


Being able to do comprehensive research is an absolutely necessary skill for any law student hoping to become an effective, successful attorney. Even though legal search engines will turn up cases that turn out to be irrelevant, they can be much better equipped for helping students than their paper, bound antecedents. Students who prefer books, though, do not need to worry. They are still important tools, especially for students looking to get specific information on a topic or case. However, when it comes to finding a large number of information on a legal topic, nothing competes with online searches.


About the author: Jessica McNeil is a Legal Assistant to James R. Hopkinson, one of the skilled attorneys at the leading Chicago law firm of Cooney & Conway.  You can find 

Learn about the Brain with this Interactive Brain Map


Educational neuroscience bridges the gap between science and schools in a way that no other field can. Before the rise of this relatively new discipline, psychology and neuroscience occupied one realm of research and modern formal education occupied another. But the influence each can have on the other has becomeScreenshot 2013-11-15 21.37.26 increasingly clear in recent decades. Educational research creates new challenges for cognitive neuroscience to adapt to the real world practical requirements of educational learning, and findings in neuroscience create new challenges for education, providing important insights into the current state of the learner–including brain state, genetic state, and hormonal state–that could be relevant to learning and teaching.

Neuroscience has advanced to the point where it is time to think critically about the form in which research information is made available to educators. It must be interpreted appropriately for practice–identifying which research findings are ready for implementation and which are not–and employed with the best interests of the brain in mind. By providing new measures of the effects of learning and teaching, including brain structure and activity, researchers can now identify patterns between different types of learning methods and levels of attainment. The next education revolution is upon us–make sure you are a part of it.

Here is the link to the interactive website that can help your students learn about the brain.


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