Category Archives: literacy

Student Voice: @vermontkkids123

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…..

  1. All of my students were confident when they shared throughout the audience.  All of my students displayed confidence and were great supporting each other.
  2. My students spoke up clearly and confidently.
  3. They added their own ideas and thoughts throughout my presentation about coding without my prompting them.
  4. They really understood what coding is and why it is important.
  5. They all worked in small collaborative groups with adults demonstrating “how to” use Bee Bots as well as answered the questions that came up.
  6. They introduced themselves with confidence and were genuinely excited and so proud to be alongside me sharing the love of coding.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

 

The Value of an Audience

Value of an Audience

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.

Being Grateful: @vermontkkids123

This is a very exciting and busy time of year for everyone.  As a kindergarten teacher I am trying to weave in opportunities for my students to share, reflect,connect and make a difference.  These ideas begin in the beginning days together as we get to know each other and develop, create and design our learning culture together.

This past week we used voicethread as a way to share what we were grateful for as well as Kidblog.  Both of these platforms are opportunities for my students to connect, reflect and inspire others to think about what they are doing to make a difference and also what are they grateful for.

One of the features I like about Kidblog is how versatile it is.  My students can take photos of their ideas and then upload to a blog post.  Sometimes we use other apps as well to create pictures.  After their picture is uploaded my students create a title and last week was the first time we added a thought/sentence expressing our idea!

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Right away I noticed the writing conventions that we have been exploring being used!  For example; Children were remembering to leave spaces between their words, capitalize the 1st letter of a sentence.  Some even remembered punctuation. I was also thinking about the comprehension in their drawings.  They were detailed and their pictures told a story and reflected their idea of what they were grateful for.  The writing of their thought/sentence matched their illustration.  So as an educator I am able to learn many things from this blog post about my students writing, their understanding of comprehension of an idea and various conventions.

Moving forward this helps me get a sense of what is familiar and known as well as where I need to focus next.  The invented writing reflects their understanding of sound/symbol relationships.  It shows me what they understand a word to be, a thought and how they express themselves.

Another feature about Kidblog is that it has a map of the world.  This is important because my students get to see where people are from throughout the world that are interested in our learning.  As we blog and Tweet our learning we are connecting with others along the way, learning alongside each other.

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As an educator I begin to create a culture alongside my students that is transparent and reflective.  Our culture is also global because we are sharing our ideas with the world and look forward to getting compliments on our Kidblog posts.

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I am most grateful to be able to use a variety of tools that enhance, enrich and engage learning for myself, my students and their families. Through our transparency we are able to connect globally and extend our ideas and learning outside of our classroom walls.

 

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.

Reflections Inside and Outside of Kindergarten

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.

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 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.

gabbyDuring a writers and readers workshopt to t conn 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.

DSCF3069Visual 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.twitter

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 Dynamic Landscapesinspire, 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.

Literacy Enriched: iPads, Google Hangouts and AirServer

One of the things I really enjoy about being a Kindergarten teacher is teaching my students how to read.  Really, learning to read is a very complicated process, but with rich literature, explicit teaching, meaningful use and integration of technology, connections and opportunities for conversations between students begin to develop. Students not only develop the skills they need to read, but learn how to use what they have learned, to help them continue on their journey.

This month we are exploring the world of Dr. Seuss.  My students had an awesome opportunity to connect with other students in Wisconsin via a Google Hangout as part of Read Across America.  It was wonderful.  Our friends in Wisconsin did an awesome job doing book talks about a few books written by Theodore Seuss.  My students were able to ask questions and give feedback about what they saw and heard.  This was a great way to begin to excite my students about our new author study.  I asked my students what they noticed.  My students shared that they noticed that the students read with expression,  their voices changed when they read, they read well, they were also taking breaths.  As a teacher this was wonderful because their responses reflected many of the skills and literacy experiences we have created and explored together. lf

Later we used AirServer to share another Dr. Seuss story on our SMARTboard.  Wow!  My students all had wonderful smiles and were making connections through conversation as we watched and listened to the story. I so enjoy the expressions my students make when they are connecting and engaging with books.

Afterwards we had another opportunity to have a conversation about the story.  When I asked my students what they noticed this is what they had to say:

*the voice paused at commas

*we heard rhyming words

*it had lots of digraphs

*every word has a vowel

*we saw important words and sight words

*we use iPads to read books

*AirServer helps us read books

I am so inspired about how AirServer and iPads can capture and enhance the essence of what my students understand.  Their observations give me immediate feedback about what they understand and through the connections they make, I learn what has resonated with them in regards to their learning.  It is also wonderful at how young children can connect with a variety of text and make meaningful connections through rich, interactive, literacy experiences. The phototechnology gives voice and highlights many of the skills we explore during our reader’s workshop time.

The technological tools that I used were AirServer, SMARTboard, Google Hangout and iPads to enrich a read aloud.  Even if you had 1 of these tools, your students experience with a text will be enriched.

AirServer is really a wonderful tool because you can remotely access what is on your iPad.  This helps demonstrate what is possible.

Google Hangout is available through Google Plus.  This is an awesome way to connect your students with others to have conversations.  You will be surprised at the connections they make.  Google Hangouts through video can have up to 10 people at one time, so the possibilities are endless here when it comes to audience.

Learning to read is magical.  I really enjoy the endless expressions my students make when they begin to realize they are reading words and interpreting illustrations.  This is where I can really help enhance what my students discover.  Learning is for everyone.  Technology gives all my students a voice.

Tweets, Tweeting via Twitter @vermontkkids123

My students are amazing and brilliant!  We continue to explore twitter daily to connect, enrich and collaborate with our friends.  My students are benefiting from our daily conversations that we have with a variety of people.

How?  Together we are modeling “how to” have an online conversation in a safe, kind and responsible way.  We are also experiencing what it means to be a mentor and also how we are developing a learning community.  Our learning community is fluid and changes depending on what is tweeted and if we connect.  What I enjoy about this experience with my students is the dialogue and how we begin to “look” at twitter throughout the day.  I simply say:” Let’s see what others in the world are doing today!”  Through this simple dialogue and comment we begin to connect and share with others.

Exploring social media with my students has opened up a new perspective and given us opportunities to “see” the world globally.  While posting on our kidblogs my students made a connection with the map of the world.  They were so interested in where people were in the world and that they were sharing our learning.  kidblogThen we made a connection with another map of the world that appears inside our classroom and also on our class blog.  What do all these virtual and real face to face maps have in common?  They represent where we are connecting, how we are connecting and how we are not only sharing our learning, but modeling how to be safe, kind and responsible digital citizens.

Later during a reader’s workshop time one of my students makes a text to world connection.  She sees a map in a book and recognizes it.  I then have an opportunity to have a conversation about not only her connection, but why the map may be in the text and what it’s purpose is.text to world conn

One of our classroom connections on twitter is @vtfirsties.  Through our conversations we have been able to inspire, be mentors and learn from each other.  Our latest tweet from them. Screen shot 2014-02-14 at 10.55.02 AM

Now my students begin to experience how their ideas inspire others.  Through this experience we begin to connect and collaborate.

This past week I asked my students how we share our learning with the world.  These are some of the responses.

1. Take a picture and post it to Twitter
2. Take a screen shot, post it to Twitter and Tweet it
3. Just describing on Twitter what you wrote about
4. Post it on our Kidblogs
5. Take picture and put it on our classroom blog to share
6. Skype and share our story

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We connected with @kindertweeten, in Chicago and we discovered that we were both creating “How To” stories.  Now we have an opportunity to share our work!  Through this modeling we celebrate our writing as well as share with a larger audience.  The positive commenting inspires us to not only write more, but share!  The impact is so positive in regards to writing.  It helps us feel successful and willing to take risks.dld 1

As a teacher this gives me an authentic picture of my students understanding about not only that they share outside of our classroom, but the specific tools that we use.  We are beginning to explore the world in regards to our learning and how we connect and what we have in common as well as other perspectives.  My students really enjoy the positive feedback that we experience.  Through this positive conversation via twitter we become connected and engaged with our learning.  We are learning side by side with other students and their amazing teachers about “how to” use social media to connect, collaborate, get inspired and have conversations about our discoveries.

Connecting As An Educator: What it looks and sounds like @kkidsinvt

This past week was an amazing one in Kindergarten!  I am so excited and thrilled at how my students, their parents and others are reaching out to connect, share and use technology in meaningful ways that capture what we are learning.  This is happening in a variety of ways.

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Last week we visited the food shelf in our community and dropped off food that we had collected.  My students reminded me that we needed to blog about our trip because others would be interested in how we made a difference.  When I asked; “How will they know?” My students shared that they see the triangles blinking on our map of the world on our class blog and that is how they know.  Wonderful!  The gadget on our class blog gives us feedback about where in the world people are from who are interested in Kindergarten Life.

I had a wonderful opportunity on Friday where I was invited to be a part of a class  discussion at Clemson University in South Carolina, facilitated by Ryan D. Visser, Ph.D.  So during my lunch time I was able to give an overview of how and why I use technology with my students, families and myself.  I was also able to share about what I am seeing in terms of engagement and how my students are interacting with technology and the positive impact it is having on their learning.  This was a great way for me to connect with others and have a meaningful conversation via Skype.  Ryan and I connected on twitter.

I needed to check in with a parent and thought of this while at my computer.  I noticed she was online(thanks to Skype) So I was able to call and have a quick conversation.  This was easy and seamless because Skype is part of my classroom culture.  We started using Skype on the 1st day of Kindergarten.  My point here is that once you begin to use technological tools in authentic ways that enhance connection, reflection and transparency, you begin to transform and your learning is open to others and others will begin to connect and collaborate through your learning.

Twitter is on all day in my classroom and my students are great about sharing what they want to tweet. Social media is used and part of my classroom culture because we use it to reflect, share and connect what we are learning and experiencing.  Last week we were beginning to read the live feed from others that we follow and my students began asking how do we tell them we are doing that too.

We are also part of a Flat Classroom project and we created a padlet about what the view is like from outside our window.  My students reminded me to tweet this and email this to their parents so that others can post their window view. This is another easy way to connect and share what you are learning.  I got this idea because another teacher from Ma. contacted via Skype over the weekend and asked me to post on her padlet.  We connected through Skype play last year.  Again connections are everywhere!  They are active and inactive, but they are always connections.

One of my students parents called us during snack time via Skype to say hello and ask about our day.  This is a part of our culture, not a disruption.  My students are excited to have conversations with others about what we are doing in Kindergarten.  Through authentic opportunities to engage, we connect and get inspired because we are wondering what is next.

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Try twitter, Skype, blogging, create a padlet and connect. Showcase something you are doing with your students.  For me it is always about the learning, but most importantly about how I am going to share my story with others.  Through sharing we get inspired, make connections and gain insight about learning.

I want my students and their families to feel a part of Kindergartenlife.  Learning is fluid, ongoing and exciting.  Communication is constant and helps build strong relationships which impacts learning in endless, positive ways.

Connecting With Parents: Value of Conversations

I value connecting and communicating with my parents and my students before I meet them as well as throughout our year together. These are vital and very important in regards to not only the strong relationships I want to develop, but how it supports and strengthens learning.

How it starts….

Prior to Kindergarten I send a post card to each of my new students via snail mail. I then create an email distribution list and contact my new families. I welcome them, give them LOTS of information in regards to how we connect and where to go to get information in regards to Kindergarten.

I send out a Google Form asking permission for using Social Media, YouTube, Skype, kidblog, posting their work and photos, video on the websites I have created. (Click here to see the form) This way my parents and students have opportunities to connect, share, have conversations virtually about what kindergarten life will be like. This is so important. Parents need lots of opportunities to ask questions, share and connect. As an educator I welcome the opportunity to get connected with my students and their parents. Through our connections and conversations that we have before, during and after Kindergarten are extremely important and valuable.

I also offer an informational meeting prior to school staring for all my new families. The focus is getting connected digitally. I invite former Kindergarten students to help me show how and why we use the tools we do in regards to our learning. This is an easy, fun and interactive way to have a large group conversation about how my new students and their families will be connecting throughout our year together.

My Rationale…..

I feel strongly about making opportunities for both my students and families to connect prior to Kindergarten starting. What an awesome opportunity I have to get everyone connected in the beginning. Digital culture is really different for many people. I look at this as a way for me to really highlight and promote the use of a variety of technologies in a safe, kind, responsible way. As I model and use technology in meaningful ways I am demonstrating and encouraging my students and their families to interact in a variety of ways digitally. The interaction is always focused on their learning and is meaningful in regards to what we feel is important to what we discover.

In the beginning my focus and goals are about connecting and developing relationships. As an educator the relationship is huge for me and very important. I want to be as transparent as I can in regards to what I am doing and why. This way my students and their families gain perspective about what kindergarten life looks and sounds like. Also, most importantly, how they can interact and be involved with their child’s school experience. Time is very valuable and opportunities arise out of nowhere sometimes, even unexpectedly. I try to capture and embrace those moments to share and connect. Through my modeling, parents feel connected and that their voice is heard and needed.

The information I share…….

1. Class Wiki This is where parents can connect, read and ask questions about Kindergarten life. This wiki has the “nuts and bolts” of what their child needs, daily schedules, etc.

2. Literacy Wiki This is where parents go to read, see and listen to what literacy is and how it works in Kindergarten. Each page focuses on a different aspect of our literacy program.

3. Math Wiki This is where parents go to learn about what mathematical thinking and exploration looks like and sounds like in Kindergarten. Each page focuses on a different strand, concept of what their child will be experiencing.

4. Class Blog This is where parents go with their child/children to see what is happening in Kindergarten. I blog in the beginning of school with my students so they begin to develop a sense of audience and the importance of how we connect, share, and what we explore.

5. Life Studies Blog This is where I highlight and emphasize science exploration. I originally created this blog to showcase our 4 Winds program. This is a parent run and organized science program in our school.

6. Summer Reading Blog This was created for former and new students to connect with in regards to literacy. This idea was shared with me by our Technology Education Integrationist, Bonnie Birdsall(@bonniebird).

7. Kidblog This is an amazing platform to use with my students and their families. Through blogging everyone experiences how you can share your voice and connect with others in a safe, kind and responsible way. A wonderful way to experience and model how to be a digital citizen.

7. Kindergartenlife This blog was created as a place where I can reflect about what I am doing and why. I share my discoveries, challenges and celebrations in regards to teaching Kindergarten.IMG_5286

I use a lot of technology because it gives everyone a voice. Technology is not separate from what I do and explore with my students. It is a part of our daily life and culture because I model a variety of tools in authentic ways, ways that capture and enhance our learning experiences. Learning is for everyone.