Category Archives: connecting family

Building an Awareness Globally

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.

Some Reflections About Kindergarten

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?….

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Why?

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…

Digital Kindergarten: A Case Study

Digital Kindergarten: Case Study

Finding Success Blogging With Young Students

Finding Success Blogging With Younger Children

The Value of an Audience

Value of an Audience

Digital Learning Day 2016

Digital Learning Day is one of those opportunities students and their teachers have to share about why this is an important day to recognize and why digital tools are important in regards to our learning.  So my students created Kidblog posts and we are using Twitter this week also to share how and why we use digital tools.

This afternoon I asked my students to think about why this might be an important day to celebrate and what are the ways we use digital tools.  I was really impressed and also felt validated about why digital tools are important.  Here are some of the responses that were shared today.

  1. We can have conversations with other people in the world.
  2. We can share our learning with the world.
  3. We show how we use them in a safe, kind and responsible way.
  4. They make your brain think more things and they help you learn.
  5. They help us to have conversations with other people.  We connect.
  6. You learn how to use digital tools.
  7. They help you think better.  They help you think when you don’t know what to do.
  8. They want you to learn.
  9. We celebrate this day because we want other people to know what we are doing.
  10. Our parents know what we are learning.
  11. They are fun.
  12. We help each other and collaborate.

Learning is for everyone and technology gives us all a voice.  Digital tools and platforms have enriched and engaged my own learning and that of both my students and their parents.  The communication is ongoing, fluid and just by offering a variety of platforms to share, I am also modeling explicitly “how to” use tools in safe, kind and responsible ways.  Parents want to be informed and engaged.  They are important stakeholders in their child’s education.  So today was another opportunity to model and celebrate the value and excitement me, my students and families have in regards to learning, but also how we share and reflect what we are exploring.

Happy Digital Learning Day!

Exploring Coding:@vermontkkids123

Last week was really wonderful.  My students, some parents and myself participated in the Hour Of Code.  This is my 2nd year participating and I am already thinking more about how I can use the Hour of Code week as an opportunity to introduce coding to my students and then continue to weave in opportunities for my kindergarten students to continue to explore coding.

Last week our technology integrationist, Bonnie Birdsall visited Kindergarten.  She was awesome.  She shared a video of coding happening globally and then alongside me and my students we explored code.  We used Daisy the Dinosaur as a way to begin.  The children were very interested and intrigued about how they could make the dinosaur do things.  After this introduction I then began to explore more coding alongside my students and families.

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My students were so proud and happy when they finished a challenge.  I was so excited to hear how they were all supporting each other and asking questions to help them solve problems.  Lots of critical thinking happening!

I had 2 fathers volunteer to come in and work with small groups of children using Daisy the Dinosaur. What I noticed was lots of collaborating with students and I was amazed at how my students were supporting each other when stuck and the connections that were being made.  Remarkable really.

Here were some of the responses my students made about why everyone should know how to code:

  1. It helps you think mathematically.
  2.  It is so fun.
  3. It helps you learn.
  4. Coding helps your brain solve problems.
  5. It helps my thinking.
  6. It helps us learn to use technology.
  7. Coding helps us think and justify our thinking.
  8. Coding is learning Mrs. D.
  9. Coding helps you learn about math.
  10. Coding is important because you can do it by yourself or you can collaborate.
  11. Code

We created a poster to display in our classroom.  I really liked how a few of my students made brains.  I asked why and I was told that that is where we think!  Wonderful.

 

Later in the week my students created a Kidblog post about coding.  I am always reminded about how easily young children can make connections and build on their prior experiences when trying something new.  A couple of my students were creating their Kidblog post and wanted to know “how to” spell a word, so 1 child went to get a book to find the word he needed!   Another child went to get our ‘how to” use Kidblog book to help guide her through the steps.  Wonderful. What a great example of young learners using prior experiences and tools that we created together to create and design what is important.

As a teacher I am able to learn so much from my students through this experience.  How are they figuring things out? Sounding out words? Looking for environmental print? Print in books? Other ideas? This is also an opportunity for me to grow and to begin rethinking about what I need to do, where do I need to go next in regards to learning opportunities that my students need.

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Technology really offers so many ways for even our youngest learners to not only connect and engage, but also problem solve and build their own confidence with digital tools. I am grateful for being able to be a teacher and work alongside so many wonderful people.

Then I was inspired to write a project in regards to coding!  If interested, my project for Bee-Bots can be found here.