I hear and read a lot about 21st century learning and thinking. I am always so impressed and thrilled to read, watch and listen to what other educators are doing with their students. For me this is very inspiring as it helps me to reflect and think deeply about my own teaching practice and what I am doing to support my children in finding and using their voices when it comes to learning. I had an aha moment on Friday morning……….
I introduced a new app called;”Scribblepress” to my Kindergarten students. I used my document camera along with my SMART board to enhance and encourage my students to be observant as well as interactive with what I was showing them. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that I just learned about this app on Thursday at an after school technology workshop offered weekly by our Technology Integration Specialist.
Anyway as I began to show “how to” create your own book the children immediately started making connections with previous writing experiences… Some of the children shared;”That is like our paper, look their markers are like ours, but have more colors, Mrs. D. remember we need erasers for writer’s workshop, that T must be for typing text like we do when we use our Gmail, I think I will use my finger to draw just like I do when I use Doodle Buddy.” These connections and observations continued as we explored the app together. Then we looked at some colored stamps. I forgot how to use on the page and one of my students said,”Mrs. D. just drag the marker up next to the other ones”. It worked! You can just imagine how excited this child was who problem solved this for us!
As the children took an iPad they worked with a partner. I was so impressed with how collaboratively they were working together as well as how they were communicating and problem solving together to create and design a story. Within 20 minutes, I had 6/17 Kindergarten children who created their own book, varying in length, but they did this independently!
I feel so fortunate to be a part of a school community where there is weekly support for teachers in regards to technology. Our Technology Integration Specialist offers a 1 hour workshop each week where she focuses on different tools that we, as teachers can use with our students.
Some of the wonderful things I noticed were… my students were very confident and comfortable using an iPad as a learning tool to create a piece of writing. The writing contained lots of illustrations, sentences about the illustrations that were drawn, the stories had meaning and made sense and some of the children even wrote The End to make sure that people knew the story ended. The stories all had a title, a common theme, the children wrote about a topic they choose and they stuck to that topic. I also noticed how comfortable the children were using their invented spelling, leaving spaces between their words and remembering to give their page/story a title! As a teacher this was great feedback for me as their designs and creations were reflections of the many things we have focused on during both our writer’s and reader’s workshop time.
Some other observations that I made really made me think about how my students are 21st century thinkers! The children were not only able to maneuver around on the iPad, but a few of the children figured out “how to” use the camera and took their picture and then inserted it into one of their pages, another child figured out “how to” take a screen shot! I learned from one of my kids about how to do this. I asked why they would want to take a screenshot and one of my students said; “so I can email this to my mom!” All my 17 students were completely engaged and excited about this new app and of course, the technological tool, the iPad!
I think about how my writer’s and reader’s workshop mini lessons have been really important times where my students have learned so much. I observed how easily young children can apply what they know to a new learning situation and be so inspired about their work. I noticed reflections of their understandings about what I taught and exposed them too. Every child felt so successful and pleased with what they had created. Our share session was really wonderful too! The children did an awesome job of listening to understand while each child shared their observations and discoveries about this new app.
So for me, my students are 21st century thinkers and learners because they collaborate, create and design as well as interact with their learning in meaningful ways. Near the end of our writing session one of my students asked if we were going to ‘tweet” our stories on vermontkkids123. I asked her why, she shared with me so that others will know what we did. This is a really wonderful example of an awareness that young children can begin to think about when it comes to learning.