Wow! I am so excited to share what has been happening with my kindergarten students and their families this year in regards to how we are collaborating and connecting. I feel that an interactive and engaging culture for learning makes all the difference.
Classroom culture is one of the most important things that I create and design with my students. Our learning environment needs to be very engaging, inspirational, fun, safe and a place where my students and their families feel a part of the learning opportunities that appear daily. As my classroom culture develops my students and their families have opportunities to watch, listen and interact with the how and why we do what we do using a variety of technological tools. I model right from the start how I use an iPad or a camera to capture something that we have observed or discovered. By being so intentional and explicit about how I do this, my students and their families begin to explore how they can benefit from using technological tools that enhance their ideas.
I have listed some examples below for you to read. I hope these examples inspire you to enhance your own class culture and to reflect on the tools you are using.
Some examples of this are;
1. One of my students sent me an email saying that she learned a new college word, hypothesis. She shared this with me because in Kindergarten we use a lot of “college words” when we share our discoveries. What a wonderful way for this child to have a voice, share this email and of course she is beginning to understand how technology can be used to connect.
2. I was at Vermont Fest this week presenting a workshop on blogging and social media. While I was out of the classroom one of my parent volunteers used her iPhone to email me some photos of the work she was doing with some of my students during math workshop time. She also shared how her husband found an app for her iphone that she could refer to when working with the different attributes with the students. I also enjoyed Skyping my students to say hello and check in on how their day was going!
3. One of my students was home sick and Skyped us! My students are so use to using Skype that they know what to do when they hear the call! The leader taps on video call, everyone sits on the rug and looks at the SMARTboard. We say hello! The student that was home sick asked what we were doing and the students had an opportunity to say hi, send get well wishes. After the call, all the students went back to what they were working on!
4. I was using an iPad to take a video of one of my students sharing a piece of writing he did. Another student at the table saw this and quietly took his hand and covered the student’s name. Wow! Without saying a word, this student understands that when we use media, we do not use any identifying information. This is how we model being a safe, kind and responsible user of technology.
5. One of my students parents was in South Africa at a medical conference. He used Skype to say hello and talk to us about what the weather was like there. My student was so happy and excited to say hello! Later we are then able to put a marker on our virtual Google map of a connection we made! Now we also have a map on our wall that my students created with push pins documenting our connections as well. Through this experience we are now learning the names of the continents, oceans and even some of the time zones because of the connections we have made.
6. Another parent calls us one morning from California where he is on a business trip. We say hello, share the weather and then he tells us that it is 6 AM there. It is 9 AM in Vt. A great opportunity to think deeply about how many hours difference there is from the west to the east coast!
7. A parent shares photos of her daughter collaborating at home with her barbies! Again, by using ‘college talk”, higher level vocabulary the richness of our content in Kindergarten becomes much more.
8. When I presented last year on blogging at the Vt. Superintendent’s conference I was able to use Skype to include my students in my presentation. They were able to share and connect with us about how blogging helps them with their learning!
9. Twitter! I have 11/18 parents who are now following our class twitter account! My students and their families understand that when we tweet, we are talking about what we are learning. My students continue to tweet with other kindergarten classes about what we are exploring and discovering.
10. My students use cameras and iPads throughout the day to take photos of what they create. My students are happy and proud to share their ideas.
11. Blogging! My students understand that our class and science blog are ways that we share and reflect on what we are learning. This has been a wonderful way to not only showcase our learning, but my students families also are able to interact and use the blogs as a way to talk about their child’s day.
12. Kidblog! My students are beginning to blog independently about what they are learning. They are developing a sense of audience and understand that they share in a kind, safe and responsible way. Through their kidblog they are able to respond to each other as well.
13. Instagram! One of my students created a story at home and his father used instagram to send to us. Wow! This child was so proud of his story. When he was sharing his story on the SMARTboard other students were able to connect and share what they noticed as well. What a great way to boost self esteem and build confidence!
14. Some of my students families use their iPhones to share video and photographs of the math games they are playing at home. One of my current videos sent via an iPhone is of one of my students enjoying a popsicle while she is counting and writing her numbers 1-20! Some share special celebrations also. This is a wonderful way to connect and develop positive relationships.
These are just some of the ways that I use technology to develop a positive, interactive, collaborative and connected classroom culture. The examples I have shared are simple ways to bring students ideas to life! An easy way to celebrate and be reflective each day about the authentic learning that is happening in school. I hope this inspires others to think about how to enrich your classroom culture to help all your students and their families feel a part of what is happening.
As an educator I think about how important equity is for all learners. I think about how important it is to have a culture that encourages all learners to be a part of all learning opportunities. The technology helps reach all learners, it gives everyone a voice.