The Early Learning Lab hosted a webinar entitled Teaching and Technology to introduce and discuss tech tools for ECE professionals.
Rather than looking at child-facing apps, the webinar focused on technology that teachers can use to support assessment, family engagement, and professional development. Because teachers have busy days and minimal free time, technology can be used to manage some of these tasks, so that teachers can spend as much of their time as possible engaging with children.
Technology to Support Assessments
Many teachers who are working to complete assessments and portfolios find it challenging to completeDRDPs and other assessments within the time constraints of their busy schedules. Teachers who work in special needs or in inclusive classrooms have the added responsibility of maintaining IEPs to track children’s progress in the classroom. Tracking data, and then having the time to input the data into an organized and presentable format, can be challenging.
Learning Genie is a tool for portfolios and assessments. Teachers can use the website or app to track observations and assessments over time. Learning Genie’s goal is to help teachers increase productivity and cut the amount of time spent entering DRDP assessment information.
Cognitive Toybox is a game-based assessment tool that engages children while helping teachers track their progress. This tool is data-driven, removing some of the subjectivity that can occur in observational child assessments.
Technology to Support Family Engagement
There are many reasons teachers might use technology for family engagement. Some teachers struggle with language barriers to communicate with families that don’t speak English. Other teachers simply struggle to find time during their busy days to connect.
Class Dojo is an app to communicate and connect with parents and families. Its mission is “to bring communities together and give them the tools, ideas, and energy to improve education for all kids.” Teachers who used the app appreciated the ability to have multiple teachers in one classroom account. Teachers are even able to send messages as texts through the app, without having to give out their personal numbers.
Remind is an easy-to-use app through which parents and teachers can send quick messages and reminders. Teachers are able to see how many parents received and opened their messages.
Seesaw, an app similar to Facebook’s platform, can be used for parent-teacher communication. This app has quickly become a teacher favorite, not only because it is free-of-charge, but because it translates messages into several languages.
Technology to Support Professional Development
While we know professional development is important, it can be tricky to carve out time to pull teachers out of the classroom for team meetings. An additional challenge is the need to ensure that professional development lessons translate into easily incorporated teaching practices.
Nearpod offers workshops with coaching that can be purchased on the Nearpod website. Teachers appreciate the flexibility of coaching that does not have to take place in person. While many of their lessons are geared toward elementary teachers, Nearpod also offers workshops that would be beneficial for early learning professionals.
Seeds of Partnership provides assistance to teachers on behalf of the California Department of Education, Special Education Division. Their website shares resources, articles/publications, videos and action tools that relate to supporting educators and families of children with disabilities.