As my year comes to an end I am thinking about some moments where I was able to celebrate, engage and experience authentic learning opportunities through learning alongside my parents and students. I have learned so much from my interactions and conversations through day to day life inside my classroom as well as conversations that have been shared globally in regards to how technology has enriched learning for not just my students, but their parents as well.
My students were outside last week exploring nature and making observations about where birds might build a nest. Some of my students heard some birds chirping and tried to use an iPad to capture the birds on video. As I watched them and listened to their conversation I was so impressed with how they were collaborating and trying to figure out a way to video the bird that was so carefully tucked away in the tree. I am so proud of my students and their ability to understand how technology can be used in a meaningful way to enhance and capture something they found interesting and worth sharing.
During a writers and readers workshop time one of my students decided to write about penguins. I asked her why and she pointed to her shirt! She created a book complete with labels, writing about special features that a penguin has and then she had a question. I did not know the answer so she decided to use Google to search for photographs of penguins to help her. Through explicit modeling and directions about “how to” search Google safely, with visual steps, my student was able to get the answer to her question.
Visual models along with modeling and using authentic examples my students are becoming safe, kind and responsible digital citizens. They are beginning to experience and make decisions about not only the tools they use, but what features as well and how specific features can capture what they are seeking.
Another student during a writers workshop time had an idea of a topic to write about, Twitter! She wrote a story about how Twitter helps people communicate and share. When students are given choices about topics to write about it is really wonderful to see what topics they choose. As I look at the writing I am reminded about how well this student is able to communicate her idea through her writing. This is where as an educator I am able to reflect and notice what she has learned in regards to writing. This is where I look to see what my students understand and if they are able to use skills they have been exploring independently.
I recently had the honor of being able to present at the Dynamic Landscapes conference at Champlain College. My presentation was on The Social Experience. I was able to bring a couple of my kindergarten students who were able to assist me and also speak to other educators about how social media and other synchronous tools have made learning meaningful and fun. At the end I had a few parent volunteers use Google Hangout as well to share their perspectives. As an educator it really struck me at not only how technology has made a difference for my students learning, but my parents as well. Click here to hear about what some of my parents had to say.
Kindergarten has been amazing and wonderful. It is a place that continues to inspire, challenge my thinking and engage me deeply. My students have had some amazing learning opportunities that have engaged them, inspired them and helped them begin to explore and experience what it means to be a digital citizen. Digital citizenship is vital and important for everyone to experience. Through our experiences we begin to become transparent and transform the ways we think and interact with each other face to face and virtually.
I look forward to celebrating the end of the year with my students. I also look forward to the future where I know I will be inspired and learn new ways to make a difference in regards to learning for myself and others.