Digital Lessons for Little Ones
One segment of the K-12 population that I think is sometimes forgotten about by ed-tech folks (and I admit: I'm guilty of it as well) is the "little folks" as Tammy Worcester, author of several books about computer activities for K-3 students, would say. The last session I attended at NCCE was her talk on "Computer Activities for Little Folks," which went through many suggestions of activities that could be used for K-3 students.
I'm not going to go through everything she talked about—like the greeting cards or mini-books she showed us how to make through PowerPoint—but she did have some good suggestions, I thought, on how to introduce younger students to technology and get them familiar with basic computer skills. For example, one tip she gave was to create links to Web sites and put them directly on the computer's desktop, so that kids can just double-click on them to get to where they need to be. Typing out a Web site is difficult for younger students, especially if there's only one teacher and 20-something students. Creating desktop links makes it much simpler and faster.
She also recommended a Web site that collects flash tools that can be used in classrooms. The example, the "random name picker," allows teachers to type out a list of students and then spin a computer-generated wheel that picks a student's name. The teacher could use this tool to choose students to answer questions or complete activities or whatever the lesson calls for. Another Web site she recommended was Imagination Cubed where students can draw pictures using an interactive crayon and whiteboard.
There are a number of activities out there for early elementary school students—ones that don't require advanced typing or reading skills—but it's definitely not the focus of the ed-tech movement at this point. But considering the amount of people crammed into this session on the last day of the conference, I would say it's definitely a place where teachers are hungry for more information.