Monthly Archives: January 2015

In Between Naps On A Sick Day!

What a wonderful surprise I had in my Gmail yesterday!  I have been sick and many of my students have been out as well.  So one of my innovative parents decided to create and connect Kindergarten at home with her child who was not well.  The reason I am posting about this is BECAUSE as a teacher, I am able to model explicitly how I use digital tools, but also more importantly how they can offer an opportunity to connect and engage when you are not able to come to school.

In my classroom parents understand that the blogs I use are ways for them to connect, reflect with their child and engage in the learning.  So because this parent looked at our class blog, she was able to connect the learning happening in Kindergarten with her own child.  I love this because it reflects and displays so beautifully the seamlessness that blogging can offer.  As an educator I want my students and their families to be a part of our daily learning.  When this is encouraged, parents feel welcomed to engage.  Through our ability to model this and offer invitations to extend learning outside of our classrooms parents begin to work alongside us, the teachers who are working hard each day to make a difference for all of our students.

We have been reading a variety of texts and creating our own persuasive writing pieces.  One of the things I love about Kindergarten is how excited my students are when we read together.  Through reading a story out loud and making it interactive I am able to model and make connections.  My students pick up on this right away!  During our turn and talks everyone is excited to share,participate, reflect and engage in their own writing to share their point of view!
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I share the writing that one of my students did while home sick because I think that this was not only amazing, but also that this child, my student, was excited to do this!  The parent knew how to use Skitch because this is an App we have used many times in Kindergarten.  I love the initiative that was taken and shared.  I also received 2 voice recordings as well! Quick Voice Mail!  Wow!  This was new to me.  So I am learning from a parent who is experiencing the value of how digital tools can be used to connect and enhance learning opportunities.
Using digital tools and technology is not about increased screen time, but it is about how can we, as educators use a variety of synchronous and asynchronous tools alongside each other, our students, the families we teach, etc. to build connections and strengthen relationships so we can be engaged together with the learning that is happening.  Through opportunities like this, authentic learning appears and yes, I learn too!
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I am sharing this parents comments BECAUSE it is important to find ways to engage the families that we teach.  Parents want to be involved.  Invitations need to be present, fluid, ongoing.
“Consider me officially inspired by your use of technology in the writing process.  I can’t believe how long___ stuck with this and how proud she was when she was finished!!!  We read Click Clack, Moo…talked about the “see,” “think” “write” strategy and then I had her record her ideas on Quickvoice. (so she could remember what she wanted to say as she wrote.) Then she wrote her ideas on “fundations-esque” paper and read her writing again on Quickvoice.  Skitch to label her coverpages.  Holy moly, I don’t know how you do this stuff for all of your students.  It’s amazing but totally EXHAUSTING!!!

Thank you for everything!!”

So in between naps, look at what can happen!  Inspired and grateful!

In Kindergarten, Writers Are Making The World A Better Place For Everyone!

This past week in Kindergarten I began a new writing theme, persuasive writing. In Kindergarten this is a very fun and engaging theme because children get to write about real things that matter to them.  As I began to introduce this new idea with my students I used a phrase from Lucy Calkins Unit of Study Books;“Writers Write To Make The World Better.” This was a great way to begin to explore “how to” write persuasively.  Prior to this theme of study we explored how to writing so my students were already familiar with thinking about what features we might need to have when writing a persuasive piece. unnamed-1After we had time to think by ourselves(private reasoning time), then we turned and talked with each other.  These 2 steps are important for young writers because they need to be able to have conversations face to face to help them understand their idea and also reflect on what others have to share. Then we were ready to share our ideas in a large group.  We came up with 3 important key ideas.    One of my students shared that he thought being able to write a persuasive piece was about convincing somebody to do something and like your idea! Yes!  This was a great way for us to begin our first attempt to write our own pieces.  Many of my students choose to write about real world problems, I was so amazed at what they had to say.  Here are some of their ideas; ‘I want people to stop shooting animals”, ‘I want people to stop running away from bad people who want to hurt them”, “I want people to pick up garbage”, “I want people to start caring about the Earth.” Right away I noticed many things, the language that was being used, the sophistication of some of their concerns as well as the empathy everyone had.

unnamedAfter we began to write, many of my students noticed that a lot of our ideas started with 2 words, “I want”. So this became our story starter for our pieces. Twitter is also available for us throughout the day to share with others as well.  Just by “tweeting” our ideas we connect and make connections with others.  Many of our Kindergarten friends on Twitter are exploring similar themes.  This is another rich way we can share and have conversations in a global way in regards to learning. This week to continue our theme I am thinking of inviting my students to convince others about why they would make a great friend.  I think this will be a nice way to honor the ideas of Martin Luther King and also a great way for us to experience another way we can have hope and celebrate friendship. Many of my students were very interested in writing pieces about animals and how they need to be saved because they might get extinct!  As we shared and explored our thinking and reasoning behind these animals, many of my students wanted actual photographs to see.  So we used Google to help us!  My students have learned these tips when we use Google to search for information to help us with what we are learning.

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Google Tips:

1. Ask your teacher or an adult to help you!
2. Go to Safari on the iPad.
3. Type in photos of (name of your animal)
I am finding so many creative and wonderful ways to use digital tools to enhance and engage learning inside and outside of Kindergarten.  Just by using Google we are experiencing ‘how to” to search in a safe way in regards to our learning.  Experiences like this will only help my students and their families learn “how to” use digital tools in responsible ways.
I have many opportunities as an educator to make learning fun, interactive and meaningful.  Just by writing a persuasive piece, we came up with many ways to share our work and use digital tools to connect and inspire our thinking.

A New Year Full of Hope

Today begins a new year, a new start, new opportunities and possibilities for the future. I have been thinking a lot about the importance of being resilient and having hope.  I am looking forward to all of the new learning that awaits and is going to happen through my willingness to be transparent, share and ask questions.

I think about the importance of how we all need to have hope, hope for our students and the world.  Through our daily interactions with parents and students my message will be clear, a message of hope.  So when a student has challenges, I will be persistent and vigilant in the belief that their is hope, hope to learn and grow through a variety of authentic and meaningful learning experiences that support my students ideas and interests.  I feel that when we are successful, we develop confidence and the ability to believe in ourselves.

This can be contagious in Kindergarten!  This is where passion develops and an excitement to take risks and try new things that interest us appears. Having hope and being hopeful offers parents an opportunity to be engaged and gives them opportunities to engage in their child’s gifts.  We all need hope and someone to believe in us and our potential and ability to be brilliant at what we choose to do, our passions and interests.

Being a Kindergarten teacher is really a wonderful gift and privilege that I am grateful for. The culture of Kindergarten is full of hope and potential.  My students have many opportunities throughout the day to have conversations around what they are discovering, playing with and learning through their authentic hands on experiences.  My students engage in phrases like;”You can do it!, Nice job, Let me help you!” These are the kinds of conversations that give us, our students and the families we work with hope, hope to be successful.

A new year, a new year of discovery, inspiration and new learning awaits.  I look forward to what is discovered by students and others that I connect and engage with.  Here is to a brand new year!  I am not wasting a minute of it!  Cheers!

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