Being A Teacher…

On my way to work this morning I was thinking a lot about my day with my students and the activities we would be involved in and why they were important.  So as our day evolved I started thinking about the opportunities I had to highlight the kindness, empathy and care that my students displayed and explored.  This also reminded me of why I am a teacher and yes, it is a privilege and an honor….

We have been exploring worms.  These fascinating creatures helped us think about individuality and how important it is to value all worms because they are like people one of my students reminded me today.  “We are all different too and have different ideas.” “We can all learn from each other even if we don’t like what we hear.”  “Mrs. D. we need to be kind to all the worms.”

We were also able to use Twitter to connect and ask a worm specialist a question about worms.  It is okay not to have all the answers and ask for help and ideas from others.

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We are all living things and regardless of who we are, what we look like, what we believe or where we come from, we need to be kind.

During partner reading time one of my students noticed sight words in a story, but then shared that peanut butter and jelly are now friends even though they are different.  I asked;” What do you think about that?”

As my student shared; “Mrs. D. you are silly you have to be nice to everyone even if they are different.”

A few of my students were using Kiddle to search for forest photos to help them get a sense of what is in a forest in Vermont.  They were so excited to share their text to world connection.  They told me… “Mrs. D. we collaborated and we made a connection.”  I asked what it was. They shared;” We all looked really hard and noticed that a photo in a book was also on Kiddle.” I asked; “Why is this important?” One of my students said; “Because it is helping us with our learning.”

Today as we explored coding one of my students wondered about “how to” get a Bee Bot to create a circle.  So we explored his idea….  This is what teachers do that matters so deeply. We question  and support the ideas that our students have and what they are curious about..
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So today I choose to share globally why I teach because it matters and teachers matter.  We are some of the most important people in a child’s life.  We care, listen, encourage and offer hope continually, no matter the circumstances.  These are some of the reasons why I teach.

As a teacher I have the ability to inspire and support all my students and their families.

As a teacher I am able to connect and engage families with what we are exploring and how.  This is a wonderful way to invite parents to participate and learn alongside their child.

As a teacher I am able to offer hope and encouragement that never ends.  This matters for all my students.  I want them to know they matter and I will be cheering for all of them as they grow.

As a teacher I am able to learn new things alongside my students.  This offers me an opportunity to model new learning and the challenges and excitement that will appear.

As a teacher I make mistakes, but this helps me think deeply and learn more about what I was trying to understand.

I am able to model “how to” connect globally and why this matters.

Today I want to say thank you to all the teachers because you all matter.  We have one of the hardest jobs in the world, but one of the best because we get to make a difference everyday.    Our enthusiasm and excitement for our work is contagious and makes a difference.  Cheers to you all!

 

 

Building an Awareness Globally

I have the privilege of being a teacher.  I look forward to each year with my Kindergarten students because together, we get to learn about the world and build our understanding of what we can do to help others and ourselves.  I appreciate the support I get from my families each year as we all begin to develop an awareness of others through our ideas and personal experiences.

As I begin to explore ways to build an awareness of the world I always think about what are the tools available to use to help capture and enhance the amazing discoveries we are making inside Kindergarten.  So this year I am using Twitter, Kidblog, Padlet, AirServer,Blogger, Skype and GoogleHangout.  These platforms, applications and tools all offer opportunities to share what my students are curious about and also capture their ideas that we share globally.  I think the sharing no matter what platform you use is a wonderful way to demonstrate explicitly what you are exploring and then your students have opportunities to see who in the world is interested in their learning.  This is so powerful for children because they are inspired and excited to see where in the world they are having an impact and who is also interested in what they are learning.

Recently we used Skype as a way to learn about the life of bees with an expert.  My student intern created a unit of study about bees.  She use Skype as 1 way  for the children to ask questions and share their learning.

Twitter is on all day because you never know when you might want to share an idea. This way my students get to connect with others who are sharing what they are learning.  When we “tweet” we are demonstrating and modeling “how to” have a conversation on line. Look here and here to read posts I have had published in regards to using Twitter.

Padlet is a fun and easy way to ask others globally for ideas and to share.  This tool is like a sticky note so when I explain and share with my students I have something explicit to connect this with.  My students were able to see what a pumpkin looked like in Germany and Australia recently via this tool.  A great opportunity to make connections and see what is different, the same and wonder about what all of these plants need to grow no matter where in the world they are. Look here at ours.

Kidblog is a wonderful way to explore ‘how to” write with an audience in mind.  This way my students begin to experience that a larger audience will be reading and looking at there posts, so they become excited and focused on doing their best.  Kidblog also has a map of the world like we have on our classroom wall and our class blog so we have many opportunities to connect and see who in the world is interested in our ideas. Look here, here and here to read posts Kidblog has published.

Blogger is another way to enhance and share your learning and that of your students.  Through our own ability to be transparent and share our voice, we offer invitations to share our students’ voices too. The families of my students love the class blog because it offers  them an opportunity to have face to face conversations with their child about there day inside Kindergarten.  This is important because I want the learning that takes place inside my classroom to be outside as well.  This is whereby students begin to develop an awareness of the world and how many wonderful things we have to share.  Look here to see a post that was published on blogging and here to read about the positive effects of blogging.  Why I blog…..

GoogleHangout is an easy and fun way for parents to read a story to the class as well as share with other children globally about a topic of interest.  Read Across America is a great opportunity for teachers to connect with others globally via a great book!

This year many parents have been emailing me photos of their child making connections with ideas we are exploring inside Kindergarten.  This has been a wonderful way for my students to share their connection with the class and facilitate a discussion.  This type of opportunity also gives all my students inspiration and raises their self confidence.  They matter and what is important to them matters too.

In the photos you might notice a child seeing a rhombus created with light in her home.  This is one of the attributes we are exploring in Kindergarten.  Another child sharing a climb he made also noticing a circular shape on top of a mountain. He shared what he saw as well while on top of a mountain.  This is another opportunity for me to weave in the idea of perspective. Another child creating pizza.  We had an opportunity to talk about straight lines and curvy lines because of what this child created.  We were also able to justify our thinking because we made connections with other things that are triangular.

Interacting with the world has opened my eyes to what is possible to explore even with 5 and 6 year old children.  We are able to enrich our understanding of the world through our ideas and sharing our perspectives with others.  Then we make connections with what we see others doing and we begin to question which is where we think critically and deeply about what we are exploring.

Creating a culture……….

A very exciting time of year for me is the beginning of Kindergarten.  Summer ends and I find myself interacting and learning new ways to connect, engage and enhance learning.  Creating a culture for learning is always a challenge because I get new students each year and we explore our new classroom inside and out alongside each other.  I am watching and listening to see what interests my students have as well as how they might be learning and sharing their ideas that they are curious about.

An idea I tried this year…. and it was so successful, was to read The Dot by, Peter Reynolds as out 1st story together.  I choose this story because it illustrates so easily the value of sharing your idea and even more importantly how a teacher needs to be ready and engaged with what is “there”.  The imagination of a child is wonderful and this story captures how I can, as a teacher, take time to notice what each of my students is capable of, the gifts they have and to always celebrate what they know and are willing to show me.  Through what we celebrate, more will come and I hope my students will grow confident through their ideas and by taking risks with what they want to share.

As I read the story I kept referring to what do you want to make? create? and design? I was specific with this vocabulary because I want my students to begin to explore how their ideas matter and how together we can collaborate and inspire each other.  I also created cards and laminated them so that these words become part of our culture, words we will use to support and inspire each other.

When I asked my students questions while I was reading the story I began with phrases like; What do you notice…  I wonder…..  Again the vocabulary is important because it offers everyone an opportunity to share an idea, rather than an answer to a specific question.

 

After reading the story we sang the Dot Song together.  It was really magical. I played it on the Smartboard and afterwards I had a quick opportunity to let parents know about this great author, but also that I see safeshare.tv as a way to play videos safely.  Again, I am trying to weave and thread through a variety of ideas in a meaningful way.

Then as we were getting ready to take our first bus ride I had an opportunity to share our class blog.  Again I am trying to highlight things that we, the parents and students will be using to highlight our learning.  When sharing the blog I am able to connect the story we just read.  Letting the children know that the book has text and pictures just like our class blog.  So as we begin to create, build and design our learning like the child in the story, we will be “making our mark” on our class blog where we can share our ideas with the world.

A great opportunity to participate in an international celebration of creativity.  Join others globally to celebrate International Dot Day. Go here to join.  When I shared this with my students they were very excited.  This offers us all an opportunity to share and celebrate our creative spirt.  Through our willingness to share, we can all become inspired…..

So after 2 days in Kindergarten we have created book bins with author names and names of themes.

unnamed  This way the children become familiar with book names and authors.  I am now beginning to let them them know they will also be authors this year just like…….

Children begin to get excited about books and reading.  We begin by reading to self.  In Kindergarten we have a variety of spaces, places and books to read.  We need different things….. Creating a culture needs to be flexible, but also make room for children to shine as individuals…  Not an easy task……

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I invited parents in to create science journals for our outdoor classroom and hand painted aprons too.  It is important to include parents whenever you can so they can also be a part of their child’s learning.  Even in the beginning days parents feel connected and a part of their child’s journey.

Connectivity……

We “tweeted” and painted a map of the world to reflect where we will be able to post who we are connecting with and how.  This is important because I want to model how we can have conversations globally in a safe, kind and responsible way.

Creating a culture of learning is the most important thing I do as a teacher.  The culture reflects what we are doing, why it is important and how we will be sharing what we are exploring globally.  Teaching is a privilege and an opportunity to offer hope and inspiration.  This year I am thinking about the value of opening my classroom globally and  ways I can learn alongside my students and families.  I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has ideas to share about how you begin to develop a learning culture…..

Thanks for reading and sharing.

 

GlobalEd Connectivity in the Kindergarten Classroom Via GettingSmart

GlobalEd Connectivity in the Kindergarten Classroom

A DonorsChoose Project

Thank you all so much for reading and sharing with others who maybe interested in supporting Kindergarten! #grateful 

DonorsChoose is a wonderful place to post hopes and dreams that you have for your students. Thanks for reading my latest hope.🌏

Subject: My classroom project expires soon and you can help!
Hi Friends,
I want to make sure my students at Allen Brook Elementary School have the materials they need to succeed, so I created a request for my classroom at DonorsChoose.org:
Creating a Learning Culture Inside and Outside of Kindergarten
My project only has 30 days to go and we need your support. If you chip in to help my students, you’ll get awesome photos and our heartfelt thanks.
Thanks so much,
Sharon
P.S. If you know anyone who may want to help my classroom, please pass this along!

Some Reflections About Kindergarten

Kindergarten is a magical place where dreams come true, celebrations are everywhere and children learn “how to” learn through their ideas and what they are curious about. Young children have a natural ability to help, support, care and ask questions.  They innately want to be a part of things and offer encouragement through their exploration of ideas they are engaged in.

As an educator I have a responsibility to make every effort to support my students and their families. Being a teacher is a privilege and an honor. My presence online and face to face needs to be professional, supportive and kind.  The heart of my work is with my students.

Thinking about the fall I am exploring more opportunities that I can offer my students and their families to not only engage in what we are exploring, but ways I can continue to offer hope and invitations to learn alongside each other.  These ideas are vital for our success and the success of my students.

So how does this happen?….

  1. I open my classroom globally.  I use social media, Kidblog, blogging, Seesaw and Skype as platforms to connect my students with familiar and new faces globally who are interested in our learning.  Modeling “how to” have conversations is important because we all learn about perspective and how we can all benefit from others ideas.
  2. Reading stories that highlight kindness and empathy are important.  Through stories children make connections and want to share their ideas and have conversations with each other about what matters.  Again, this is another opportunity to widen perspective and experience how we can all benefit from others ideas. Click here for a great book list that promote kindness.
  3. Offer invitations for your families and their children to celebrate together about what their child is learning.  I try to have 4-5 celebrations of learning a year.  I do this because it is an easy way for parents to visit the classroom and also meet other families and have conversations with each other and their child about what they are exploring in Kindergarten.
  4. Take time to meet and have conversations with your students families.  They are important stakeholders and want to be involved.  It is important to offer hope and to be positive and share solutions for needs that arise.  Seek to get resources that your families need to support their child’s success in school.
  5. When exploring the Next Generation Science Standards find ways to invite families to be involved in solution based needs that impact the communities you teach in.  Click here to read about what I explored last year. When you offer opportunities for parents to engage in new learning, you are modeling “how to” collaborate and learn alongside each other.  Rich, engaging and meaningful conversations develop strong relationships.  We all matter.
  6. Take time to notice what is around you and highlight your students in ways that empower them.  Saying: “You did a nice job” is one way, but if you elaborate why they did a nice job you empower and recognize their thinking.
  7. Mindfulness is a wonderful way to help children take time to breathe and get clarity when they need it.  This way we all learn strategies that help us recognize what we need to relax, rethink and redo when we are confronted with problems. Click here to see a video I share with my students throughout the year.
  8. Find ways to collaborate with each other. Through collaboration you and your students experience “how to” connect and engage in conversations that inspire and challenge thinking. We all have much to learn from each other.
  9. Explore identity and learn where your students are from, the languages they speak and where they have traveled.  This offers opportunities to learn about different cultures and perspectives.  Celebrate each of your students identities through a project about their unique culture.
  10. Explore the natural world often and look for patterns.  Using inquiry as a way to learn about what you notice inspires deep thinking and promotes questioning.

Why?

These are just some ideas I have been reflecting on.  I think about the importance of modeling alongside my students and how to solve conflicts in meaningful ways.  I think this  offers us opportunities to learn from others perspective as well as the value of sharing our ideas to solutions with a global audience so we can all benefit from each others thoughts.

Making a difference is a theme I weave in/out of my interactions with my students.  I try to find moments when we can all shine and share our voice because we all matter, our students matter and their families.  Through positive, solution based problem solving and a smile we can all make contributions that benefit each other and the world.

Looking forward to another wonderful year in Kindergarten.  This is where I get another opportunity to open my classroom globally, to meet and learn alongside others who are also interested in making a difference. I am a teacher, an educator, a learner, an innovator, a learner, a creator and a friend. I believe in offering hope because it lets my students know that I care, I care about them. I want all of my students to be successful…  I believe in them…

Student Voice: @vermontkkids123

Earlier this week I had the pleasure and privilege of bringing 7 of my Kindergarten students to Dynamic Landscapes to present why coding is important and how we use Bee Bots to teach us about code.  It was an amazing experience. I have been thinking about the value also of student voice and how my students were able to share theirs in a very authentic way.

My students collaborated, answered questions, reflected on their thinking as they shared, demonstrated “how to” operate a Bee Bot as well as show how they support our exploration of coding.  Some things really struck me…..

  1. All of my students were confident when they shared throughout the audience.  All of my students displayed confidence and were great supporting each other.
  2. My students spoke up clearly and confidently.
  3. They added their own ideas and thoughts throughout my presentation about coding without my prompting them.
  4. They really understood what coding is and why it is important.
  5. They all worked in small collaborative groups with adults demonstrating “how to” use Bee Bots as well as answered the questions that came up.
  6. They introduced themselves with confidence and were genuinely excited and so proud to be alongside me sharing the love of coding.
  7. This was a great example of student voice.  I am so proud of my students.  They did a wonderful job using their voice to inspire others as well as opportunities for people to think about coding.
  8. My students remembered and understood the importance of covering their name when photographed because this is how we are safe when we share ourselves and our ideas online.

These are just some of the things I noticed.  I am also thinking about how seamless this was for them.  They were not nervous, but confident in their knowledge and thinking about what we were sharing and why.  This has me thinking deeply about how important it is to have our students voices heard.  Our students have so much to say and I am thinking about the opportunities that I have as an educator on a daily basis for student voice.  Creating opportunities for our students to use there voice to share, reflect and design what they are exploring and learning creates a very rich culture for learning.

Thinking about next year and how I will begin to have student voice present in all of our learning offers me opportunities to be reflective and also begin to think about what I will be designing, why it is important and how will it look and sound?  Lots of platforms and digital tools “out there” to think about incorporating…

My students are at the heart of my work.  Their families are important stakeholders and need to be a part of our busy days together.  I am thinking also about when my students are invited to share their voice, it becomes confident, inspiring and helps us all think deeply about the what of our work.