ISTE 2014 was a great experience. Atlanta was a great and welcoming city and the educators took over the town. With 18,000+ educators in the city all buzzing with the excitement of education technology, you know you are going to learn some great things.
One of the best parts of the conference was the exhibit hall. Every company that has something to do with education, technology or both was in that hall. It is a great way to get a feel for the beat of future technology in education.
One of my passions in elementary education is Pre K-2, early childhood initiatives. Naturally I was running that exhibit hall with that focus in mind. At first I was a bit disappointed because so many companies forget the need for foundational academics. It may not be glamorous and it may not be challenging or academically complex… but it is CRITICAL!
I was quite excited when I finally found a company that has dedicated itself to the PreK-2 children. The group is called Miss Humblebee’s Academy. I had an opportunity to sit and talk with the CEO of this group, Mrs. Crystal Labbe. I decided that if this was going to be my technology find of the conference then I wanted to make sure it held up to my level of standard. I decided to send some hard questions her way and see how this company and this program held up.
First Miss Humblebee’s Academy is an online curriculum for Pre K students (and earlier really) through 2nd grade. It was obvious to me some of the quick benefits from using such a program. First, it would standardize the content that the Pre K kids would be getting before reaching school age. Also, my thoughts ran towards Pre K to K transitions and screeners. This would take the work and stress out of both of those difficult issues. The consistency and familiarity of having the Miss Humblebee’s Academy as the curriculum would really minimize transition issues. Let’s face it; the common core has pushed down curriculum so far now that the current kindergarten looks like first grade of the past. That means we need Pre K to look like an academic kindergarten.
That was easy to figure out on my own. I wanted to ask the hard question. I hit her with this, “so how are you dealing with the idea of social skills not being adequate in children that merely sit at a computer and work one on one on curriculum all day?” I will give it to Mrs. Labbe, she didn't flinch. She started to tell me about the new lesson designs that have group directed activities based into the academy. She told me how students will be able to work on tasks with other students from around the virtual academy. She went on to explain how the Pre K programs that use her Academy in the classroom have classroom based activities that address the much needed social skills.
She had the answer and I was impressed. I went online to get a tour of Miss Humblebee’s Academy and the whole experience really does feel like a happy classroom where everything is bright and fun and student centered. I would love to go to school at Miss Humblebee’s Academy. Congratulations to Mrs. Labbe for her creation of a Pre K-2nd grade program that finally addresses the needs of those students as early as possible. Miss Humblebee became one of my best take home solutions from ISTE 2014.