Tag Archives: reflection

My Advice: Caitlin, Megan, Jessica, Katherine and Patrick

Last week my students and I said our final good-byes to the last of our college interns in Kindergarten.  During this year I have had the pleasure of connecting and working alongside 5 amazing, collaborative, engaging and inspiring people who have challenged my thinking, supported my students and have been open to being transparent in their practice which has led to some deep, reflective conversations which have benefited all students.

One of my interns had a set of interview questions for me in regards to teaching culture, etc. One of the questions was about what advice would I give to someone pursuing a career in education and what would I recommend that they do.  I have continued to think about this idea for awhile now because it is really important for new people thinking about a career as a teacher.

So this is my advice……

1. Care, care a lot. You will be able to make a difference for many if you have empathy and perseverance.  Take the extra time to be patient and listen.  Notice how your students react and interact with each other and the culture you create and design.  Be responsive and flexible to making changes that support your students need.  Collaborate to make a difference for others in the communities you teach.  Through your modeling of caring, your students and their families will become engaged.patrick

2. Be passionate.  Celebrate the learning that is happening inside and outside of your classrooms.  Express your excitement through your face to face, online and other opportunities that you create.  Through your passion, your students will get inspired and become passionate about their learning explorations.  Remember to dance, laugh and sing.gre

3. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and challenge your thinking. Remember as a teacher you have lots of opportunities to learn and interact.  Think about how you and your students might learn alongside each other.  Look for others who are doing creative and innovative things.  Through others ideas, you develop your own inspiration and find your voice.  You have the ability to be brilliant and make a difference.photo+1-30

4. Connect, connect, connect.  Develop your PLN!  This is vital and very important.  This is where your thinking is challenged and you will connect in many ways that will turn into future collaborations.  Through your connections you will develop a group of people, who like you, care, want to make a difference and are willing to make changes that improve their teaching practice.  Your PLN is always there.  Count on them and lean on them when you need support, want to celebrate, collaborate and need inspiration. Join online communities that promote and engage what is important to you.

5. Be transparent. mm2   It is okay to share what you are thinking and why.  Through your transparency you will invite others in and share your perspective.  Think about asynchronous and synchronous tools that can share the learning you and your students are exploring together.  Information is important for all of us.  Make it meaningful and interactive. Through your explicit modeling of sharing globally, your audience will be broad and you will connect and others will benefit from your ideas as you will be inspired by theirs.

6. Be well.catherine  Remember that what you do for your own personal wellness is important.  Your wellness of mind and body gives you stability, strength, endurance and patience. Exercise and healthy eating keeps your mind and body healthy and active. Be sure to pursue your passions that recharge you and make you feel energized.  Positive energy is contagious and helps everyone be successful.

I want you all to know that it has been my privilege and honor to have you in Kindergarten.  I have learned from all of you and I thank you for your daily energy that you shared with all of us. I wish you all the best in your future experiences in education.  I hope you will discover the magic in working with children.  We need people like you, who care, ask questions, connect and smile.

 

Reflections About How Kindergarten Kids Use ISTE’s

1. Creativity and Innovation, 2. Communication and Collaboration 4. Critical
Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making, 5. Digital Citizenship, and 6.
Technology Operations and Concepts

Within the ISTE standards listed above for children, I discovered lots of
opportunities where young children can be creative and design learning situations
using a variety of technologies. Through the use of a variety of technologies young
children learn how to collaborate as well as the positive effects of this idea.
Children begin to communicate in ways that promote a climate and culture for
sharing and interacting with ideas. Young children also have endless opportunities
to begin to develop an attitude that reflects a feeling of safety and responsibility
when it comes to using technology. This is so important and vital for young
children. For me, I develop meaningful and interactive ways not only for the
children within my classroom, but their families as well. Through this kind of
thinking I am also helping parents learn about the technologies that are available
and how they can impact their child’s learning in meaningful, safe and respectful
ways. Great ideas for developing digital citizens.

Everyday children arrive in class ready to create, observe, make connections and
explore new ideas. As a Kindergarten teacher my challenge is to help promote
opportunities and provide an environment that not only promotes the love of
learning, but one that is safe, engaging and supports best practices.

When I think of young children applying what they know to a learning situation
to gain a deeper understanding of an idea, it is evidence that children are using
their existing knowledge to process information and use critical thinking skills
to make sense of their idea. Some examples of when you might see this in
Kindergarten are;

 Dramatic Play Area
After a field trip you might see children reliving, reacting the experience they
just had. Through this type of play/exploration children have an opportunity to
talk out and act out what they experienced through their observations,
interactions and connections made. As a teacher of young children this is a great
opportunity to use video to capture some of the oral language that is happening as
well as how the children are creating their play with their newly gained experience
built upon what they already know.
By using video you then have an opportunity to capture some of the critical
thinking that is happening through this experience. Later take the time to show
the video and talk about what children see and hear. You will be amazed at what

the children have to say. They are keen observers. Through the use of this
technology you have spotlighted/validated the experience the children created and
had. Children feel supported and recognized for their thinking, etc. Now the
children will be expecting and looking for ways to share all their experiences.
The use of a digital camera is a great tool too. The photographs can be shared in
numerous ways; post on a class blog, a wiki, develop a slideshow, or even have kids
create their own post on their own kidblog. Another idea is to have kids create a
podcast about what they did. Post the photo with the voice recording you get. The
rigor is developed through the use of the technology because children have to
rethink, process their experience with what they want to say. These are a few
examples of how children can generate new ideas that promote the development of
critical thinking skills.

Math Workshop
During our math workshop time we have lots of opportunities where children can
create and design learning experiences that help offer opportunities for the
children to develop and use critical thinking skills that help promote learning.

Number Corner- This is a time when children have opportunities to make
mathematical connections through observation, making justifications through
rethinking about why they know something to be true, demonstrating how they
came to their idea and creating lots of different conclusions through manipulating
their mathematical ideas.

As a teacher it is really difficult to always capture the wonderful learning that is
happening. I ask lots of different people to help me out. Once people understand
what you are looking for you can ask a para, volunteer parent, math coordinator,
your principal, etc. to come and video you working with kids, etc. Sometimes it is
really helpful to even pinpoint exactly what it is that you want folks to notice, this
way you have an extra set of eyes looking for evidence of when kids are making
mathematical connections, etc. Then you are able to share the video with the
children and ask them to talk out what they notice and to justify how they know
their idea works, etc. This is true of using photographs too! Children love to see
themselves and talk about what they see, what they are doing, etc.

Voicethread is a great tool to use with young children. You can create and design
slides reflecting mathematical concepts which then children can make observations
about and interact with. By using this web tool the children will again have an
opportunity to think critically about what they have experienced. They are excited
to share their ideas and facilitate questions and comments from others.

Podcasting is a wonderful way to capture, authentic thinking and understanding of
what a child is thinking. I sometimes ask children to explain what they learned and
how they learned it. Very often during our math workshop time children are asked
to manipulate their mathematical ideas using a variety of things. By asking the
child to speak into a voice recorder to document and explain their reasoning gives
the child another opportunity to rethink about their idea and often times I find
that children change their thinking because they have been given another way in
which to prove how they know their idea to be true. Later I either photograph
what the child has created or if there is a drawing, I photograph that. Then the
child has an artifact along w/their voice to share/post.

iPads are a genius tool for sure! I had a great introduction to this tool by my
parent, 78 & 80 years old! Now our school is fortunate to have this technology for
all children in EEE-2 to use! Stay tuned in a later post to see, listen and read about
how iPads have supported young children’s creativity.

 Writer’s Workshop
Animatinish is an awesome web tool created by Peter Reynolds. Last year my
kindergarten children created self portraits using Animationish. I was amazed at how
quickly they adapted to the tools on this site and started to design and create
their self-portrait. The tools were so kid friendly and “available” for the children
to access fairly easily. I observed the children working collaboratively together in
a seamless way. Every time a child discovered the “magic” of one of the tools, they
were immediately inspired to share and help a friend discover what they did. This
year I plan on using this tool much more as the potential for young children to
create, design and collaborate with their learning using this amazing tool seem
endless.
Using Animationish seems like a great example of a model that young children can
use to explore lots of learning opportunities with their understanding of language.
Young children all begin to read and write in different ways and using lots of
different tools. Watching young children navigate their way through this program
has been a great example of what children do when they are trying to convey
meaning in a written form. They talk out what they want to write, say and then
begin to create symbols, pictures, letters and even words to convey their idea.
These are the similar steps that young children display when beginning to write. I
am not suggesting that you should replace authentic writing opportunities that
arise during a writing workshop time, but rather use this tool as another way to
offer children a chance to create writing opportunities based on what they know. I

will be exploring this idea in the fall within my own classroom and will share my
findings, experiences in a later post.

Video is another way to capture children sharing their writing as well. I use my
FLIP video camera throughout the day. During writer’s workshop time I use to
capture a share session, a child conferring with another child, a child reading a
piece of their work or even myself teaching a lesson, sharing a new craft of writing
during a mini lesson. All of these are great examples of how both you and your
students can demonstrate how they/you are thinking about their/your learning.
Reflection, I have seen over and over again is very powerful. It is especially
meaningful when you can link it to something tangible like a child’s work. Children
then have an opportunity to view themselves and make observations about what
they see and hear. The motivation for children to video themselves and their idea
is very powerful. By using video you give the child another opportunity to reflect
and deepen their understanding of what they have created. This is also great way
to give children an opportunity to change their thinking too.
Then after you video you can upload to a wiki or blog where it becomes available to
share and receive more feedback from a larger audience. Parents love this! Last
year I uploaded a video of a non fiction piece of writing of a few children to my
literacy wiki. Afterwards each child had a chance to highlight what they wanted to
share in their writing. Then I was able to email videos to each of their families.
Wow! Parents loved this. One parent commented on how younger siblings wanted
to watch the “……..” movie. This parent saw how much her son’s confidence grow
and how much more willing he was when it came to writing. He was asking for
opportunities to write!!! As a teacher I learned a lot through this example. This
child became more confident with his abilities, wanted to share his writing ideas
and promoted his ideas to others. This was a turning point for this child. He
became more interested in his writing ideas and started to seek additional ways
outside of the classroom to write more! This example is also a great way to begin
to address standard 2, communication and collaboration.

Block Area

Young children love to manipulate a variety of objects when it comes to learning
and playing. I see playing and learning as one in the same. Through authentic play
opportunities and explicit instruction based on best practices, children develop
their own creativity, and begin to develop and further their knowledge and
understanding of what they know.

The block area is a wonderful place to see a variety of examples of children
creating and designing their own learning. I will be sharing a couple of examples of
how technologies can help enrich and enhance these experiences for young
children.

In the block area within my classroom I have many different types of blocks, all
different sizes, colors and shapes. On the walls in and near this area I have large
sheets of paper that I tack up for the children to use. I also have a container
filled with different types of writing utensils as well.

In the beginning of Kindergarten it is always so interesting and fun for me to share
each of the areas within our classroom through Guided Discovery(This idea is from
Responsive Classroom). Through Guided Discovery the children begin to make
observations about the tools they see and explore with them. I now find myself
always offering my digital camera and FLIP camera(which I carry on myself). I let
the children know that these are both tools that can be used at any of the areas.
We talk about how we might use these technological tools at each area we explore.
I am always fascinated by the responses the children have. Last year some
children wanted photos of a completed structure along with their “blueprint” that
was created of their structure. Wow! Another great way to incorporate writing in
an authentic way!

Reader’s Workshop

One of the technologies that I love using during our reader’s workshop is my voice
recorder and FLIP camera. Both of these tools offer opportunities for young
children to reflect, collaborate, design and share their learning.

Many times I am asked by parents what strategies to use when reading with their
child, what to say, etc. The FLIP camera is a great tool to use to help educate
parents on what it looks and sounds like when you are working with their child.
This way parents get a glimpse of how it all works. The other great thing about a
FLIP camera is that you can also email the video to the child’s family. Many of my
parents last year commented on how wonderful it was to watch their child during
their lunch time. Some parents loved the opportunity to get a picture of what I am
doing to help their child become a better reader. I then up load video to my
literacy wiki as use with all the children. This way I am able to highlight different
children demonstrating different things with their reading. Motivation to read! It
is amazing at how many children then want to not only be captured on video, but
also want to talk out the strategies they see themselves using in the video.

Taking voice recordings are wonderful too! I love creating podcasts! They offer
opportunities for reflection, celebration and collaboration. This way children can
have a recording of themselves reading. I upload these recordings onto my
literacy wiki where parents can access and listen to their child read. As a teacher
I also use this as an opportunity to assess where each child is with their oral
reading and what I need to do next in terms of planning.

I created this post to share some of my thoughts in regards to how I am thinking
about the ISTE standards for children. In Kindergarten it is very clear that young
children are very invested and engaged with Kindergarten life and love to share
their discoveries along with what they learn. As a teacher I marvel at how excited
and enthusiastic young children can be about learning. I want all children to LOVE
school, but more importantly LOVE to learn.

Kid Blogging In Kindergarten!

More Blogging!  Kid Blogging!

Welcome To The Kidblogs Page!

Our technology integration specialist shared with me last spring about kidblog.  I was thinking, oh no!!  Really?  5 and 6-year-old children?  Well, I decided to apply for a grant through the state of Vermont in hopes of receiving $ to fund my kid blogging idea.  Unfortunately my idea was not selected.  This did not stop me from kid blogging or even finding other ways to fund my idea!

My journey began.  I created an email distribution list of all my new families entering Kindergarten in the fall(last fall) and explained the idea of kidblog, why use it, etc.  All 18 of my families were excited and agreed to give it a try.  The connections started happening!  Families were encouraging their child to say hi and introduce themselves to their new classmates.  This was so inspiring and motivating for me as a teacher.  The opportunities seemed endless!  This is another way that young children and their families began connecting with each other and learning about this new tool to keep informed and to interact with in regards to their child’s learning.

Soon after Kindergarten started, grandparents, extended family members started making posts and comments also on the children’s blogs.  Prior to Kindergarten starting I decided to offer a few days for families to come into school with their child to talk about their hopes and dreams for the year.  I took this opportunity to take a photo and create a post with each child prior to kindergarten.  Wow!  Every single child’s face lite up with a smile and excitement. The relationships started to form and parents were so appreciative and thankful for yet another opportunity to be connected to their child during their school experience.

I created a page on my class wiki for kid blogging.

This idea is so exciting and new!  The Kidblogs will provide another opportunity for parents and relatives  to stay connected and share in the learning that will be happening.  Kidblogs also provide lots of opportunities for the children to use their early literacy skills involving reading, writing, spelling and of course the many strategies that he/she will develop.   The children are able to practice their keyboarding skills, knowledge about sounds/symbols and their relationship to one another when typing.  Begin to make connections with the literacy skills they are focusing on in our curriculum too!  Children create their own ideas about what they want to share about their own learning.  They will also be connecting with others and making relationships as they work on their blogs.  The children will also be communicating with their peers, family and others about experiences within and out of school.  The learning opportunities are endless.

I even made the teacher spotlight page on ePals!  This was another opportunity for me to connect with others. Love it!