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.

 

Why Play?

As a Kindergarten teacher I have read and been involved with lots of professional opportunities about why play matters and why it is important.  Play really gives us all an opportunity to engage in what we are curious about with others.  Through our play we are able to have fun, engage in conversation with others and enrich our thinking because we are thinking deeply about what is important.

So why is this important?

Children are naturally curious and want to learn.  They see patterns and make connections easily with their surroundings. I have noticed how my students draw from their own personal experiences and then add new knowledge/ experiences to help them make sense of an idea. This matters because children are engaged with what they want to know.  They learn by doing and having conversations about their ideas.  This is where children think critically and solve problems.

Play builds confidence and self esteem.  It offers all children an opportunity to pursue their ideas.  This matters because when we are curious, we work hard to find out about our idea.  Through their curiosity children begin to develop their own creativity because they are invested in their ideas. This is learning.

In Kindergarten we have play throughout the day.  Play can look and sound differently on any given day in Kindergarten.  One of the many reasons why I enjoy being in Kindergarten.

Recently we created Machu Picchu as a collaborative experience because we are exploring South America.  My students did an amazing job exploring the history behind this amazing place as well as learning about why it was created and who lived there.  After we completed the construction of Machu Picchu. My students began playing around it.  Some of my students created special fire engines and machines that could be used to reach a fire as well as provide water for the people who lived there.  As I watched and listened one afternoon I heard so much rich language and also what my students had learned and how they were applying it to their play.

Some of the conversation was about “how to” make wheels that would work so the fire truck could get to the mountain to help the people.  They were collaborating about what ways they could get water to people who were unable to get their own as well as talking about making sure to get all the plants planted and watered before the sun went away.  Just with these few ideas is an amazing amount of knowledge about what we learned, but also about “how to” create opportunities to make a difference with the tools/toys we had available in Kindergarten.

We are also exploring Spanish as well.  By using GoogleHangout as a platform we are connecting with middle school students who are teaching us some Spanish words.  We created a wall for our new vocabulary.  My students use this throughout the day as well.  When exploring Machu Picchu one of my students was counting, in Spanish the steps up the stairs. Again, this was authentic and came from the children.  I am thinking a lot about the value of play and how important it is that we give our students opportunities to play with a variety of materials in a variety of ways.

Thinking about next year and how will I continue to offer rich opportunities for play.  Thinking also about when I am engaged in the things I enjoy most, I am happy and learning lots…..

Bee Bots @vermontkkids123

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A Passion

One of my passions is knitting.  Knitting is an opportunity for me to create, design and think critically about patterns and “how to” make things I have never created.  Knitting is always new learning for me and it also provides a great sense of reflection and rejuvenation as well. When I knit I am often challenged by the patterns and code that I have to figure out.  I have been thinking a lot about how knitting and coding connect and also why it is important to explore code with our students.

This year I have been exploring coding using Kodable and Bee Bots.  Both of these explorations have revealed some amazing insights into the why behind coding.  When my students use Bee Bots they are collaborating and having face to face conversations about what they are trying to get their bees to do.  In a very authentic way they are beginning to create learning experiences with a bee that they design and create. The excitement around these bright yellow bees is contagious and all of my students are willing to take risks when engaged with creating their own code for their bee.

Why is this important?

Coding challenges our thinking.  It provides all of us to think deeply about an idea, a code and how is it created.  When I am challenged with my knitting I engage deeply with the challenge presented because I am passionate about what I want to create.  Students are naturally curious and excited about learning and creating what they explore.  Coding is an easy and fun way for this to happen.

Coding provides opportunities for even young children to use oral language to have conversations about what they are doing.  This is an important part of development for children as they become independent and passionate readers.  Through opportunities to interact and solve problems even our youngest learners find ways to create new ideas that inspire further exploration.  One day while we were reading our feed on Twitter we noticed another Kindergarten class in Hawaii using a Bee Bot to draw with colors.  My students were excited to try this.  While we were exploring this idea some of my students decided to put paper on the floor and build a maze using a variety of blocks.  They were trying to get the Bee Bots to travel through the maze.  This exploration began from an idea that originated outside of our walls.  We tried the idea and then it inspired my students to go further in their own thinking.  Here is what I saw and what I listened to; So much rich vocabulary and conversation. “We are like programming, we programed our bees, let’s figure out how to make them turn and go right, Hey Mrs. D. we are using math language when we do this, We are thinking mathematically and so much more.”

Later I begin to think about other opportunities to offer in regards to coding.  During math time Bee Bots is now a station with task cards I created for the children to use with the mats we have.  I have a former student who is now in 2nd grade who comes to Kindergarten weekly to facilitate this station.  Using Paint as a way to create our own Bee Bots offers my students another opportunity to create and design what they understand, why also strengthening their computer skills.

So many possibilities in regards to learning to code.  Little did I know that I have been coding for a very long time……..