I always remember as a student in college how important the classroom culture was in developing a culture of learning that is safe and engaging. I have found this to be true and very rewarding. As a Kindergarten teacher this has proven to be one of the most important things that I can do each day for the children that are a part of Kindergarten life.
What has become most vital for me and my teaching practice is how aware I have become of the constant need to establish an interactive and positive classroom culture for young children to be able to be creative and design their ideas around what they understand. This happens in an almost seamless way in Kindergarten. I would like to share the technology tools that have helped make this an on going reality which happens daily because of how the technology gives children a strong self esteem, sense of belonging, a way to connect and reflect on their ideas around learning.
Recently I observed a child taking a photograph of a friend who had created a building for her dolls and then later another child is observed getting the camera ready to capture a structure she had built with some friends to share.
What is so wonderful about these photographs is that these Kindergarten children understand that what they have created can be shared. They know that they have an opportunity to talk about what they created and of course what their observations were and what they noticed. This is a very simple example of how a technological tool can enhance an opportunity for a child to share/show what they created and get feedback about it. This also offers an opportunity for children to be reflective about what they designed and why. As a Kindergarten teacher this is vital to help foster and create a culture that is safe, fun and a place where all children can take risks with their ideas. When a child takes a risk, they are becoming more confident in their ability to show and share their understanding of an idea.
Another daily opportunity I have to help develop a positive and collaborative culture is through our morning meeting. Each day we have a leader of the day. The leader is responsible for reading the morning message on our SMARTboard and calling on others to come and interact with the message to find words, patterns, make and share observations as well as make connections with peers.
The technologies give the children an opportunity to share what they know and take risks with ideas that they are presented with and sometimes may not yet completely understand. I feel that the technologies encourage and enhance these learning opportunities for all children. Technology gives every child a voice and does not discriminate, but rather offers opportunities for children to shine and take risks with their peers that promote a culture of positive learning and interaction of ideas on a high cognitive level. Children have an opportunity to practice being a responsible digital citizen and build self confidence all at the same time. I find Kindergarten children to be amazing thinkers and they seem to continually want to share their ideas of what they observe and understand. Technology helps this become a reality for all children.
Last week on Digital Learning Day I was able to watch many children reach out and make connections with their friends and families by sending an email, creating posts on their kid blog about how technology helps them with their learning, take photographs of things created in the classroom and interact with iPads and the SMARTboard during small and whole group discussions. It was a bit over whelming, but so wonderful to be able to see and listen to. The culture in Kindergarten was positive, interactive, engaging, reflective and engaging. My challenge as a teacher is to continue to think about the transformation of classroom culture and what I can do to provide equal opportunities for all children to be creative and collaborate with others about what they are learning and discovering.
I find myself constantly learning and being open to tools that will help me reach all children. The technology helps build understandings of what we know, what we want to know and have yet to learn.