Elementary education comes with unique challenges. Because young learners are in such a formative time in their lives and their lifelong learning journeys, elementary teachers take pride in keeping up with the latest tools and best teaching practices to make those tools work for students. That’s what our unique Elementary Technology Conference, June 13–15, was all about.
This was TCEA’s second year hosting this event online. Despite missing the sunny beach in Galveston, it was a vibrant, fun, and useful event. And, as we’ve all learned in recent months, sometimes meeting digitally has its perks. On-demand and recorded sessions mean registered attendees can enjoy sessions all the way through July 12, and live chat, kickoff sessions, and discussion boards allowed attendees to socialize, share ideas, and even win prizes during ETC.
One thing that was clear during the event is that elementary teachers are ready to keep pushing, keep learning, and keep improving. In sessions led by both experts — including TCEA’s terrific PD team — and in-the-classroom educators, there was lots of positive energy, lots of sharing, and of course, lots of good ideas to put into practice in the 2021–22 school year.
Below are some themes that caught our eye at this year’s Elementary Technology Conference.
Learning Is Personal
We know that everyone learns differently. We also know that it’s difficult to learn when you don’t feel comfortable and supported. That’s why one trend that’s unlikely to go away is social-emotional learning. CASEL defines social-emotional learning (SEL) as “SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions” (source).
This was highlighted in sessions like Integrating Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) in the Classroom with TCEA’s own Diana Benner.
SEL Resources from TCEA
- Social Emotional Learning Activity Templates for Google Jamboard
- Social-Emotional Learning at the End of the Year | Podcast Ep. 84
- Social-Emotional Learning and Gratitude | Podcast Ep. 80
- Five Quick Ways to Integrate Social-Emotional Learning
- Helping Students with Social-Emotional Challenges
- Empowering Students Through Digital Citizenship and Social-Emotional Learning
Tech and Reading Go Hand-in-Hand
One content area where ed tech can help expand the ways elementary students learn is in English and Language Arts. Obviously, elementary grades are a vital time for language learning, so it’s only natural that this would be a highlight. And notably, a number of digital tools now exist to help students read, hear, see, and speak words as they develop literacy skills. This is also useful for the large number of students who are English language learners (ELLs), who are learning English in addition to their native language.
This theme came through in sessions like Slide into Digital Libraries with Natalie Pearson and Valeri Shaw of Fort Sam Houston ISD, Supporting All Language Learners with Book Creator with Jon Smith of Book Creator, and many more.
ELAR Resources from TCEA
- Improve Reading and Comprehension Skills Using Vine
- Learn How to Increase Reading Fluency with Repeated Reading Strategies
- Appifying Repeated Reading Assessments
- Lotta Lara: Improve Oracy and Reading Fluency
- Pre-Made Nearpod Lessons for Elementary Educators
- Comics and Graphic Novels: An Imagery Invasion
- Assistive Writing Features in Google Docs
- Supporting English Language Learners During Remote Learning
- Three Steps to Leverage Technology for English Language Learners (ELLs)
If you’re looking to build up your skills, find new ways to engage young learners, or even boost your hireability, and, of course, earn some PD credit hours, consider TCEA’s self-paced professional learning courses, starting at just $29.
These expert-developed courses are easy to engage with on your own time, and give you proven ways to accelerate learning. Elementary educators may be interested in these courses: