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Teaching Kindergarten in the 21st Century and Beyond
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Category Archives: collaborating
Posted on October 21, 2016
I have the privilege of being a teacher. I look forward to each year with my Kindergarten students because together, we get to learn about the world and build our understanding of what we can do to help others and ourselves. I appreciate the support I get from my families each year as we all begin to develop an awareness of others through our ideas and personal experiences.
As I begin to explore ways to build an awareness of the world I always think about what are the tools available to use to help capture and enhance the amazing discoveries we are making inside Kindergarten. So this year I am using Twitter, Kidblog, Padlet, AirServer,Blogger, Skype and GoogleHangout. These platforms, applications and tools all offer opportunities to share what my students are curious about and also capture their ideas that we share globally. I think the sharing no matter what platform you use is a wonderful way to demonstrate explicitly what you are exploring and then your students have opportunities to see who in the world is interested in their learning. This is so powerful for children because they are inspired and excited to see where in the world they are having an impact and who is also interested in what they are learning.
Recently we used Skype as a way to learn about the life of bees with an expert. My student intern created a unit of study about bees. She use Skype as 1 way for the children to ask questions and share their learning.
Twitter is on all day because you never know when you might want to share an idea. This way my students get to connect with others who are sharing what they are learning. When we “tweet” we are demonstrating and modeling “how to” have a conversation on line. Look here and here to read posts I have had published in regards to using Twitter.
Padlet is a fun and easy way to ask others globally for ideas and to share. This tool is like a sticky note so when I explain and share with my students I have something explicit to connect this with. My students were able to see what a pumpkin looked like in Germany and Australia recently via this tool. A great opportunity to make connections and see what is different, the same and wonder about what all of these plants need to grow no matter where in the world they are. Look here at ours.
Kidblog is a wonderful way to explore ‘how to” write with an audience in mind. This way my students begin to experience that a larger audience will be reading and looking at there posts, so they become excited and focused on doing their best. Kidblog also has a map of the world like we have on our classroom wall and our class blog so we have many opportunities to connect and see who in the world is interested in our ideas. Look here, here and here to read posts Kidblog has published.
Blogger is another way to enhance and share your learning and that of your students. Through our own ability to be transparent and share our voice, we offer invitations to share our students’ voices too. The families of my students love the class blog because it offers them an opportunity to have face to face conversations with their child about there day inside Kindergarten. This is important because I want the learning that takes place inside my classroom to be outside as well. This is whereby students begin to develop an awareness of the world and how many wonderful things we have to share. Look here to see a post that was published on blogging and here to read about the positive effects of blogging. Why I blog…..
GoogleHangout is an easy and fun way for parents to read a story to the class as well as share with other children globally about a topic of interest. Read Across America is a great opportunity for teachers to connect with others globally via a great book!
This year many parents have been emailing me photos of their child making connections with ideas we are exploring inside Kindergarten. This has been a wonderful way for my students to share their connection with the class and facilitate a discussion. This type of opportunity also gives all my students inspiration and raises their self confidence. They matter and what is important to them matters too.
In the photos you might notice a child seeing a rhombus created with light in her home. This is one of the attributes we are exploring in Kindergarten. Another child sharing a climb he made also noticing a circular shape on top of a mountain. He shared what he saw as well while on top of a mountain. This is another opportunity for me to weave in the idea of perspective. Another child creating pizza. We had an opportunity to talk about straight lines and curvy lines because of what this child created. We were also able to justify our thinking because we made connections with other things that are triangular.
Interacting with the world has opened my eyes to what is possible to explore even with 5 and 6 year old children. We are able to enrich our understanding of the world through our ideas and sharing our perspectives with others. Then we make connections with what we see others doing and we begin to question which is where we think critically and deeply about what we are exploring.
Posted on July 10, 2016
Kindergarten is a magical place where dreams come true, celebrations are everywhere and children learn “how to” learn through their ideas and what they are curious about. Young children have a natural ability to help, support, care and ask questions. They innately want to be a part of things and offer encouragement through their exploration of ideas they are engaged in.
As an educator I have a responsibility to make every effort to support my students and their families. Being a teacher is a privilege and an honor. My presence online and face to face needs to be professional, supportive and kind. The heart of my work is with my students.
Thinking about the fall I am exploring more opportunities that I can offer my students and their families to not only engage in what we are exploring, but ways I can continue to offer hope and invitations to learn alongside each other. These ideas are vital for our success and the success of my students.
So how does this happen?….
- I open my classroom globally. I use social media, Kidblog, blogging, Seesaw and Skype as platforms to connect my students with familiar and new faces globally who are interested in our learning. Modeling “how to” have conversations is important because we all learn about perspective and how we can all benefit from others ideas.
- Reading stories that highlight kindness and empathy are important. Through stories children make connections and want to share their ideas and have conversations with each other about what matters. Again, this is another opportunity to widen perspective and experience how we can all benefit from others ideas. Click here for a great book list that promote kindness.
- Offer invitations for your families and their children to celebrate together about what their child is learning. I try to have 4-5 celebrations of learning a year. I do this because it is an easy way for parents to visit the classroom and also meet other families and have conversations with each other and their child about what they are exploring in Kindergarten.
- Take time to meet and have conversations with your students families. They are important stakeholders and want to be involved. It is important to offer hope and to be positive and share solutions for needs that arise. Seek to get resources that your families need to support their child’s success in school.
- When exploring the Next Generation Science Standards find ways to invite families to be involved in solution based needs that impact the communities you teach in. Click here to read about what I explored last year. When you offer opportunities for parents to engage in new learning, you are modeling “how to” collaborate and learn alongside each other. Rich, engaging and meaningful conversations develop strong relationships. We all matter.
- Take time to notice what is around you and highlight your students in ways that empower them. Saying: “You did a nice job” is one way, but if you elaborate why they did a nice job you empower and recognize their thinking.
- Mindfulness is a wonderful way to help children take time to breathe and get clarity when they need it. This way we all learn strategies that help us recognize what we need to relax, rethink and redo when we are confronted with problems. Click here to see a video I share with my students throughout the year.
- Find ways to collaborate with each other. Through collaboration you and your students experience “how to” connect and engage in conversations that inspire and challenge thinking. We all have much to learn from each other.
- Explore identity and learn where your students are from, the languages they speak and where they have traveled. This offers opportunities to learn about different cultures and perspectives. Celebrate each of your students identities through a project about their unique culture.
- Explore the natural world often and look for patterns. Using inquiry as a way to learn about what you notice inspires deep thinking and promotes questioning.
These are just some ideas I have been reflecting on. I think about the importance of modeling alongside my students and how to solve conflicts in meaningful ways. I think this offers us opportunities to learn from others perspective as well as the value of sharing our ideas to solutions with a global audience so we can all benefit from each others thoughts.
Making a difference is a theme I weave in/out of my interactions with my students. I try to find moments when we can all shine and share our voice because we all matter, our students matter and their families. Through positive, solution based problem solving and a smile we can all make contributions that benefit each other and the world.
Looking forward to another wonderful year in Kindergarten. This is where I get another opportunity to open my classroom globally, to meet and learn alongside others who are also interested in making a difference. I am a teacher, an educator, a learner, an innovator, a learner, a creator and a friend. I believe in offering hope because it lets my students know that I care, I care about them. I want all of my students to be successful… I believe in them…
Posted on May 25, 2016
Earlier this week I had the pleasure and privilege of bringing 7 of my Kindergarten students to Dynamic Landscapes to present why coding is important and how we use Bee Bots to teach us about code. It was an amazing experience. I have been thinking about the value also of student voice and how my students were able to share theirs in a very authentic way.
My students collaborated, answered questions, reflected on their thinking as they shared, demonstrated “how to” operate a Bee Bot as well as show how they support our exploration of coding. Some things really struck me…..
- All of my students were confident when they shared throughout the audience. All of my students displayed confidence and were great supporting each other.
- My students spoke up clearly and confidently.
- They added their own ideas and thoughts throughout my presentation about coding without my prompting them.
- They really understood what coding is and why it is important.
- They all worked in small collaborative groups with adults demonstrating “how to” use Bee Bots as well as answered the questions that came up.
- They introduced themselves with confidence and were genuinely excited and so proud to be alongside me sharing the love of coding.
- This was a great example of student voice. I am so proud of my students. They did a wonderful job using their voice to inspire others as well as opportunities for people to think about coding.
- My students remembered and understood the importance of covering their name when photographed because this is how we are safe when we share ourselves and our ideas online.
These are just some of the things I noticed. I am also thinking about how seamless this was for them. They were not nervous, but confident in their knowledge and thinking about what we were sharing and why. This has me thinking deeply about how important it is to have our students voices heard. Our students have so much to say and I am thinking about the opportunities that I have as an educator on a daily basis for student voice. Creating opportunities for our students to use there voice to share, reflect and design what they are exploring and learning creates a very rich culture for learning.
Thinking about next year and how I will begin to have student voice present in all of our learning offers me opportunities to be reflective and also begin to think about what I will be designing, why it is important and how will it look and sound? Lots of platforms and digital tools “out there” to think about incorporating…
My students are at the heart of my work. Their families are important stakeholders and need to be a part of our busy days together. I am thinking also about when my students are invited to share their voice, it becomes confident, inspiring and helps us all think deeply about the what of our work.
Posted on May 22, 2016
As a Kindergarten teacher I have read and been involved with lots of professional opportunities about why play matters and why it is important. Play really gives us all an opportunity to engage in what we are curious about with others. Through our play we are able to have fun, engage in conversation with others and enrich our thinking because we are thinking deeply about what is important.
So why is this important?
Children are naturally curious and want to learn. They see patterns and make connections easily with their surroundings. I have noticed how my students draw from their own personal experiences and then add new knowledge/ experiences to help them make sense of an idea. This matters because children are engaged with what they want to know. They learn by doing and having conversations about their ideas. This is where children think critically and solve problems.
Play builds confidence and self esteem. It offers all children an opportunity to pursue their ideas. This matters because when we are curious, we work hard to find out about our idea. Through their curiosity children begin to develop their own creativity because they are invested in their ideas. This is learning.
In Kindergarten we have play throughout the day. Play can look and sound differently on any given day in Kindergarten. One of the many reasons why I enjoy being in Kindergarten.
Recently we created Machu Picchu as a collaborative experience because we are exploring South America. My students did an amazing job exploring the history behind this amazing place as well as learning about why it was created and who lived there. After we completed the construction of Machu Picchu. My students began playing around it. Some of my students created special fire engines and machines that could be used to reach a fire as well as provide water for the people who lived there. As I watched and listened one afternoon I heard so much rich language and also what my students had learned and how they were applying it to their play.
Some of the conversation was about “how to” make wheels that would work so the fire truck could get to the mountain to help the people. They were collaborating about what ways they could get water to people who were unable to get their own as well as talking about making sure to get all the plants planted and watered before the sun went away. Just with these few ideas is an amazing amount of knowledge about what we learned, but also about “how to” create opportunities to make a difference with the tools/toys we had available in Kindergarten.
We are also exploring Spanish as well. By using GoogleHangout as a platform we are connecting with middle school students who are teaching us some Spanish words. We created a wall for our new vocabulary. My students use this throughout the day as well. When exploring Machu Picchu one of my students was counting, in Spanish the steps up the stairs. Again, this was authentic and came from the children. I am thinking a lot about the value of play and how important it is that we give our students opportunities to play with a variety of materials in a variety of ways.
Thinking about next year and how will I continue to offer rich opportunities for play. Thinking also about when I am engaged in the things I enjoy most, I am happy and learning lots…..
Posted on May 8, 2016
One of my passions is knitting. Knitting is an opportunity for me to create, design and think critically about patterns and “how to” make things I have never created. Knitting is always new learning for me and it also provides a great sense of reflection and rejuvenation as well. When I knit I am often challenged by the patterns and code that I have to figure out. I have been thinking a lot about how knitting and coding connect and also why it is important to explore code with our students.
This year I have been exploring coding using Kodable and Bee Bots. Both of these explorations have revealed some amazing insights into the why behind coding. When my students use Bee Bots they are collaborating and having face to face conversations about what they are trying to get their bees to do. In a very authentic way they are beginning to create learning experiences with a bee that they design and create. The excitement around these bright yellow bees is contagious and all of my students are willing to take risks when engaged with creating their own code for their bee.
Why is this important?
Coding challenges our thinking. It provides all of us to think deeply about an idea, a code and how is it created. When I am challenged with my knitting I engage deeply with the challenge presented because I am passionate about what I want to create. Students are naturally curious and excited about learning and creating what they explore. Coding is an easy and fun way for this to happen.
Coding provides opportunities for even young children to use oral language to have conversations about what they are doing. This is an important part of development for children as they become independent and passionate readers. Through opportunities to interact and solve problems even our youngest learners find ways to create new ideas that inspire further exploration. One day while we were reading our feed on Twitter we noticed another Kindergarten class in Hawaii using a Bee Bot to draw with colors. My students were excited to try this. While we were exploring this idea some of my students decided to put paper on the floor and build a maze using a variety of blocks. They were trying to get the Bee Bots to travel through the maze. This exploration began from an idea that originated outside of our walls. We tried the idea and then it inspired my students to go further in their own thinking. Here is what I saw and what I listened to; So much rich vocabulary and conversation. “We are like programming, we programed our bees, let’s figure out how to make them turn and go right, Hey Mrs. D. we are using math language when we do this, We are thinking mathematically and so much more.”
Later I begin to think about other opportunities to offer in regards to coding. During math time Bee Bots is now a station with task cards I created for the children to use with the mats we have. I have a former student who is now in 2nd grade who comes to Kindergarten weekly to facilitate this station. Using Paint as a way to create our own Bee Bots offers my students another opportunity to create and design what they understand, why also strengthening their computer skills.
So many possibilities in regards to learning to code. Little did I know that I have been coding for a very long time……..
Posted on April 26, 2016