Category Archives: Mathematics

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.

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.

 

Bee Bots @vermontkkids123

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A Passion

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……..

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.

Ways We Celebrate Our Learning: @kkidsinvt

I have been thinking a lot about the importance of having celebrations inside and outside of Kindergarten.  Celebration is easy, fun, seamless and looks and sounds differently from day to day.  As an educator of young children a large role I play with my students is to model “how to” capture what we are exploring, but also the importance of dancing and singing out what we discover.  Through our “shouting out” we are celebrating what we are discovering.  When we share, we make connections and have an opportunity to share our story.  Stories are so important and everyone has many.  In Kindergarten we use a variety of technological tools to tell our stories.

What an amazing week we had in Kindergarten.  My students are really amazing thinkers!  We explored a new App on the iPad, used AirServer to share our understandings, posted on our kidblogs, tweeted connections and collaborated together around finding ways to enhance our understanding of how we know a triangle is a triangle.  We also explored Tellagami!

Exploring Tellagami was really fun.  I am always looking for ways that my students can create and design what they are learning in ways that allows them to share and tell their story.  A Personal Tellagmai I was so amazed and excited to watch and listen to what my students created.  I was surprised at how easily they navigated their way around the iPad and how easy it was for all of my students to come up with an idea about what they wanted to create.  Their ideas were related to ideas we are exploring in Kindergarten as well as personal experiences they have had outside of Kindergarten.

Tellagami In Kindergarten

Celebration is vital and very important when it comes to learning and developing relationships with your students.  Technology really helps capture and enrich the learning experiences that my students are having.  Through their excitement we celebrate and give compliments about what we are creating.

Our leader of the day uses AirServer to connect and remotely access their ideas so that everyone else can see and give their ideas about what they notice.air server  My students use AirServer daily to share what they are learning!

During the month of November we are exploring 2 and 3 dimensional attributes.  Geoboard is a great App because it gives students the opportunity to explore the different attributes as well as opportunities to justify their thinking. Through their own understanding of specific features, my students begin to create and make connections with what they are exploring.  Some of the conversation went like this:”Look, it is a triangle because it has 3 pointy things and straight sides”, I shaded in all my triangles, triangles can be different sizes, I am going to see how many I can make, I made triangles inside other shapes, I made a tower!” The conversation is exciting, positive and reflective.  My students are all sharing their voice, making connections and justifications about their discoveries as well as sharing how they know their idea to be true.  This is an authentic example of how celebration can look and sound.  I think sometimes that my best celebrations with my students are those that I have not planned!

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After we created triangles my students took screen shots of their designs.  Many asked “Mrs. D. Can we put this on our kidblog?”  Yes, of course!  We will work on this next week.  I am amazed at how my students understand that what they create and discover has a special place where it can be shared.  My students really like kidblog because other people leave compliments about their posts.  This is a one of the reasons why I use kidblog.

Looking forward to next week.  I am thinking of ways that we can enhance our learning and share what we are learning about the forest and about what opportunities I can create for my students to share. Technology gives me and my students endless opportunities to share our stories. Through our own stories we become connected and we begin to take risks in regards to learning.

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.

Comparing and Contrasting Using Air Server

DSCF2122As my students and I continue to experiment with Air Server we are discovering how collaborative it can be.  During our number corner time other mathematicians are able to share their mathematical ideas along with the leader.  Air Server allows us up to 4 students to share their ideas.  When this happens my students are then able to compare and contrast their ideas.  For example we were writing numbers that come before and after a certain number.  Students share their ideas and then others have an opportunity to share how they know their idea to be true.

Later during our number corner time we also explore the date of the day.  For example; the 18th.  Using Doodle Buddy and the stamper feature on the iPad my students are able to create different ways of representing this numeral.  When they appear, students then have an opportunity to share how they know they have 18.  Some may have a group of 10 and 8, so 10 and 8 makes 18.  Another response might be a group of 4 and 14, so 4 and 14 is 18.  The collaboration is powerful because all my students are participating and not only making mathematical connections, but are justifying their mathematical ideas.DSCF2639

What a wonderful way for young mathematicians to compare, contrast and collaborate about their ideas.  Learning is fun, but when you have cool technological tools, it is even more fun and learning becomes alive!