Posted by Angie Kalthoff and Amanda Strawhacker on Aug 30, 2021
Can you believe that it has been a whole year since we started this series!!? 

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Thank you for following along!

Can you believe that it has been a whole year since we started this series!!? We started off the 2020-2021 school year with hopes to share a mixture of research, personal experiences, and ideas from others to help you think about how to incorporate the Positive Technological Development (PTD) framework into your classrooms as some of us were moving into distanced and hybrid settings. If you are new to our posts, the easiest way to find all of them together is through this Wakelet link
 
Now, as we move into the next school year and start Fall of 2021, we want to take a moment to recap each of the 6 C’s in the PTD framework. 

Bring PTD into your Classroom This Fall

As we enter fall 2021, you may be reflecting on all the changes that have occurred in the past year. Last fall, the world felt uncertain and education looked different in almost every school and learning setting around the world. If you followed along with our monthly blog posts, you learned how the PTD framework allows educators to check in with their students as they use technology, and learn what character skills they are building while coding, creating, and exploring technology.
 
This year may feel more familiar for some teachers, or it may be more different than ever. Whatever your setting and expectations, the PTD framework can still offer a guiding light to remind us how children can meaningfully and playfully engage with technology. Below, we’ve summarized major learnings from each of the six C’s of PTD, taken from our blog posts over the last year. Remember that these C’s came out of research on children’s psychosocial development; these are indicators that children are growing as individuals (content creation, creativity, choices of conduct) and as members of a community (communication, collaboration, community building).
 
Communication. This skill helps children express themselves and practice listening, reading, and interpreting information through technology, and is especially important when children are learning in a remote setting. Coding with programming languages can provide excellent opportunities for children to hone foundational literacy practices 
  • Try it out: For ideas about how to engage children in communication with technology, we recommend the Coding as Another Language (CAL) curriculum, which understands computer science as a new literacy for the 21st century. Through unplugged games, storytelling, movement, singing, and coding activities that tie directly with literacy standards and frameworks, CAL supports young learners in developing new ways of thinking, expressing themselves, and contributing to their own or their community’s growth. 
  • Learn more: Read more about how coding supports literacy in this recent PebbleGo Blog Post.
Collaboration. Children learn to collaborate by playing as a team and engaging with peers as partners in creative activities. Digital play and creation can provide the same kind of collaborative opportunities as non-digital activities. 
Community Building. We can use technology to help children see themselves as members of a community, to highlight connection, and celebrate the diversity of our group
  • Try it out: A great way to engage students in community building is to begin with a self-expressive technology project, and then use that to start conversations, presentations to a group, or even pen-pal style exchanges with partners. Code.org’s middle school curriculum has some great suggestions and teaching slides for community building through technology
  • Learn more: Watch a video about an international research project led by Tufts University that invited teachers from faith-based schools to consider how their community values could enhance their robotic early childhood activities.
Content Creation. We can encourage children to make, do, and play with technology on their own. We can also empower them with knowledge and hands-on experiences, so they don’t need as much help as they gain confidence with tech platforms.
  • Try it out: To build confidence with coding and engineering, start hands-on play early and often! Try a developmentally appropriate coding tool like ScratchJr, KIBO robot, Cubetto, BeeBot, or Code-a-pillar, or explore on your own to see what tools might appeal to your young learners! 
  • Learn more: You can also get started with coding and engineering by introducing to kids what these fields are all about. There are great resources to help begin a conversation about coding or building with kids, like this playful introductory coding video from Scratch Garden, or books like Boy and Bot by Amy Dyckman, Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, or If I Built a Car by Chris van Dusen, just to name a few!
Creativity. Just like in non-digital spaces, children need the freedom to create with technology the way they want to. We can help them by removing as many unnecessary rules as possible (always keeping safety in mind) and letting kids lead their own experience. An easy way to do this is to infuse traditional and familiar tools, like blocks, coloring, and crafting materials, with more novel technology tools and computer software. 
  • Try it out: Making and makerspaces are excellent ways to infuse creativity in technology-based activities. Making by its definition resists rules and categorization, and relies on resourcefulness, perseverance, and creativity to build what the child is imagining in their head. Making encourages a diversity of “right” answers, using whatever tools and materials are available. You can find dozens of maker resources at the DevTech Research Group’s Makerspace website, including inventory lists, curricular guides, videos, and worksheets about how making aligns with PTD, and more.
  • Learn more: Learn about screen-free approaches to creative STEAM play with this recent chapter on Screen-free STEAM, or check out the Youth Maker Playbook, a handbook from the Maker Education Collective with tips and tricks for engaging young children in creative, hands-on, tech-enabled making.
Choices of Conduct. Whatever else we teach children about technology, the most important lesson might be how to use technology to promote inclusion and self-regulation. We can model using digital tools to practice making choices that help ourselves and our community. One of the best ways to incorporate conduct choices in children’s technology play is to focus on topics from their real lives - sometimes even challenges or growth areas - to become the focus of a coding project. 
  • Try it out: Many children this year asked questions about racial equity and inclusion. What could a coding project celebrating diversity look like? This Sesame Street song, called Proud of Your Eyes, is a beautiful example of a child-appropriate tool to explore diversity and difference, as well as to start a discussion about the consequences of hurtful behaviors. Using this song as a starting point, can you invite children to make their own “proud of ourselves” projects? 
  • Learn more: Read a CSTA blog post about an international research project led by Tufts University, that explored a robotics curriculum designed to foster values and pro-social conduct choices in early childhood. Read about PebbleGo resources to help young learners think social-emotional learning inspired by the CASEL Framework. 

What if the kids have questions about COVID?

With changing public health recommendations and COVID-19 rates still fluctuating worldwide, you might still be thinking about how to talk about COVID with your students this fall. Kids may have questions that relate to COVID, especially if school looks different for them this year. Some families may have been personally impacted by COVID in ways that aren’t always obvious from the outside. If you’re thinking about how to begin having conversations about COVID with your students (or any conversation about a big, tough topic), we have found some evidence-based resources that may help:
Although this blog series is coming to an end, we hope to continue to share out on the CSTA blog in the future! 

Looking for More? Stay in Touch with us!

We had the privilege of sharing our thinking around the PTD framework at ISTE in June of 2021 as a poster session. If you attended ISTE, our session is available for you to watch as a recording until December of 2021. You can find the recording here, or you can access and review our slide deck. 
 
If you are thinking ahead and looking for professional development opportunities, we will be facilitating a 2 hour session at the Brite Start conference in November on the topic of PTD. You can learn more about it here.
 
If you want a way to continue having conversations and sharing resources about technology-rich early childhood education, we both strongly recommend the blended online/on-campus Early Childhood Technology (ECT) graduate certificate program, one of the first and only training programs for busy professionals looking to increase their experience with early childhood tech. 
 
If you are planning professional development and would like to invite us (Amanda and Angie) please reach out! You can find out Twitter handles below, send us a direct message!
 

About the Authors

Angie Kalthoff is the Product Manager for Curriculum and Instruction at Capstone. Over her career she has been an English Language (EL) teacher, Technology Integrationist, Program Manager, and University Instructor. She has an M. Ed in Teaching and Learning.  Connect with Angie on Twitter: @mrskalthoff and visit her website: bit.ly/angiekalthoff. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dr. Amanda Strawhacker is the Associate Director of the Early Childhood Technology (ECT) Graduate Certificate Program at Tufts University’s Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development. She holds a Master’s and Ph.D. in Child Study and Human Development, which she earned while designing and researching EdTech like ScratchJr and the KIBO Robot at the DevTech Research Group, and was a speaker with TEDxYouth@BeaconStreet. Connect with Amanda on Twitter: @ALStrawhacker and visit her website: amandastrawhacker.com