Keynote 1: 9:15 – 10:15am
An Introduction to the Project Approach (Prof Sallee Beneke)

Young children are curious and are naturally motivated to learn more about the world around them through playful, first-hand investigation. The Project Approach channels these qualities to provide effective, child-initiated, inquiry-based learning experiences that nurture children’s academic, intellectual, and social skills.

In this interactive session, Sallee will provide an introduction to the Project Approach and will share many authentic classroom examples of early educators using effective strategies for implementing the Project Approach with young children. Participants will identify the phases and key features of a project and distinguish between a project and a thematic approach to teaching. They will review resources that support the implementation of the Project Approach and will apply the session content to support the learning of children in their practice.

Workshop 1: 10:45am – 12:15pm
Finding Out Together: Implementing the Project Approach (Prof Chip Donohue & Prof Sallee Beneke)

How can early educators learn to implement the Project Approach? The best way is to try it! Sallee will engage participants in an active, hands-on, mini-project simulation that will take participants through the three phases of a project investigation. Participants will experience first-hand the kind of impact project work can have on children’s knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Participants will explore an Implementation Checklist that can be used to support vibrant project work.

Chip Donohue will then help educators think about potential opportunities to use technology to support more successful project investigations.

Workshop 2: 1:30 – 3pm
Putting the T in STEM and Introducing the Project Approach
(Prof Chip Donohue & Prof Sallee Beneke)

In this interactive, hands-on workshop, Chip Donohue will explore how educators’ digital media literacy – a positive disposition, knowledge, experience and competencies – and STEM confidence and competence – contribute to developmentally-informed technology integration that supports STEM learning. You will consider how young children need to learn with technology and about technology, and can use tools for inquiry, discovery, communication and collaboration in the other STEM disciplines. Explore current trends and emerging practices in STEM learning and technology integration through hands on play with tangible technology tools and screen-based devices that put the “T” in STEM and provide catalysts for early learning, relationships and whole child development for young children.

Sallee Beneke will integrate the Project Approach into the T in STEM topics and introduce ideas for project topics that engage children’s natural curiosity in the world around them and encourage inquiry learning in science, engineering, technology and math.

Keynote 2: 3:30 – 4:30pm
Developmentally
-Informed Technology Integration: Guidance for Early Childhood Educators in the Digital Age (Prof Chip Donohue)

Over the past 6 years a number of national and international organizations have published position statements and guidelines that have moved the field closer to consensus about what matters most for appropriate and intentional selection and use of technology in the early years. Early childhood educators have also turned to the child development theory and progressive approaches of Loris Malaguzzi, Maria Montessori, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky and Seymour Papert for old perspectives on new technology and young children. Learn about the essential “active ingredients” necessary for developmentally-informed technology integration: relationships, joint-engagement; social emotional learning; media creation; teacher preparation and professional learning, family engagement; adult media habits; and media mentors. Focus on best practices for technology integration. Consider how developmentally-informed technology integration supports healthy child development, promotes early learning and early literacy, and encourages social-emotional development in the early years. Explore opportunities and obstacles for technology-mediated approaches to teaching and learning for children, parents, families and educators in the digital age.

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