Category Archives: Skype

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.

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Being Grateful…….

Today I am deeply grateful for many things.  I, like others, am especially grateful for family, my friends and my health.  All of these things are important and fuel my energy and support me always. They provide comfort and joy.

I am also grateful for the ability to share my voice.  Having a voice is so important because you are able to model, collaborate, connect and reflect on what is most important to you.  Through sharing my voice I have been able to model explicitly how I can make a difference through my interactions with others and my ability to be transparent also.  My voice is my own and I try to use it with a variety of tools that help to inspire, capture and share how innovation and creativity can make a difference and offer ways for  peaceful, thoughtful and  gracious change.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.38.24 AMPresently I am involved with a project based learning opportunity with my kindergarten students.  We have been building an awareness of hunger inside and outside of our classroom.  We have invited community people into share their perspective and the ways they, community business are making a difference for others who need our help.  My students are beginning to experience alongside their parents and others about empathy and how important it is.  Through this learning experience my students have created a plan of action and have also been able to share using their Kidblogs, Twitter, Skype and other face to face opportunities where they have been able to have conversations about the importance of caring.food

Thanks to Stephen DeCatur Elem@SD_Eagles my students get to see the impact they have had in the world! He tweeted: “@ We are collecting! We kicked it off by watching your video w/over 700 staff, students, & families.” I look forward to sharing this with my students after our holiday break.  An amazing impact we have had just by sharing our voices.

When my students created an iMovie and then shared our project globally we all began to experience that others were inspired by our idea and then in turn started making a difference where they live!  Such a great way for my students to share globally and experience the value of sharing their voice in positive ways!

unnamedToday I received a photograph from one of my students parents.  Their amazing child, my student has decided to sell her books over the Thanksgiving holiday to raise money for The Children’s Literacy Initiative. I am grateful for knowing about this and that my students parents thought that I would want to know and care.  My student will post on her Kidblog, but is also inspired to make a difference for others with the support of her family.

As an educator I have endless opportunities to model explicitly “how to” make a difference for others.  When I can do this alongside my students and my families in a collaborative way I am modeling not only the importance, but the value of this idea.  Perspective is important and what we do with ours is equally important.

Thanks so very much to all of you who read my blog and post comments that challenge my thinking and inspire me.  I continue to look forward to learning from all of you as well as learning alongside you.

Peace……….

The First 6 Days @vermontkkids123

Hurray for Kindergarten!  I am so grateful and happy to be able to go to work each day where I am able to make a difference.  This year has come quickly and already I am amazed at all of the opportunities that have appeared for myself, my parents and my students.

We are connecting!

Modeling “how to” be a safe, kind and responsible citizen is vital.  As an educator of young children these ideas are easy and fun to thread throughout our busy days together in regards to everything.  I also have opportunities to model ‘how to” connect online as well.  Twitter has given me and my students lots of opportunities to share things we are experiencing.  We have had conversations with Kindergarten children in New York, Vermont, South Korea and Wisconsin.  My students and their families with my guidance are able to experience the value of a ‘tweet” and how it can enhance and connect our learning with others. Through my modeling my students and their families experience how social media can be used in meaningful ways in regards to learning.  This is important.  I want my families alongside of me as I begin to share how we connect.

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Skype is also being used already with parents who are calling us to say hello and ask what we are doing during the day.  By using familiar faces I begin to model how this synchronous tool can be used to connect and have conversations.  Through parent participation they begin to “see” how this tool can be used.  Again I invite my parents of my students because I want to be explicit about how the tool might be used and the positive impact on learning.

Blogging about our busy days together has really helped my parents and my students begin to experience and reflect on our learning.  I have already had a couple of comments!  Our class blog provides another way for my students to have conversations with each other and their families about what they are exploring inside and outside of Kindergarten.  We have a shelfari where we keep track of the books we read as well as a map of the world!  The map is especially awesome because it offers my students another opportunity to get a global perspective about where we are in the world, but also that others are interested in what we are learning.  Through our sharing others will get inspired and have their thinking challenged.  As an educator I welcome this continually.  Through this type of reflection I grow as a professional, a learner and become more transparent and open in regards to how I think about learning.

Face to face and turn and talks happen in an almost seamless fashion throughout the day.  My students are beginning to understand how listen to understand and offer their perspective through discussions around books, caterpillars we find outside and through collaboration when creating structures out of a variety of materials.

We are so lucky to have a Smartboard and document camera. My students have experienced in only 6 days how these tools can enhance our learning.  Through our ability to interact with these tools we are able to reflect on our thinking and share what we understand.jpg

We are collaborating!

Through Twitter we have made a new connection with a 6th grade class in Vermont.  We are learning about global citizenship and how to “Tweet” responses to specific questions we are asked.

We have learning buddies in our school!  We connect weekly with them presently and share books.  In the future we will be using Google Hangout as a way to share a story that we read aloud.  Our learning buddies model how to be kind and caring as well as model ways for us to engage in books. we also follow them on Twitter too!

Through AirServer and iPads we are able to create and share our understanding of new concepts we explore.

DSCF4228This is an awesome way for young children to begin to learn “how to” create letters and numbers.  We begin by exploring the different ways to make lines.

We are creating!

Through Twitter we create tweets about our busy days together.  It always begins with;”What do you want to share with the world today?”

We are creating different ways to write our names using a variety of materials.  We are creating illustrations that tell stories so we can share our ideas.

My students are learning ‘how to” collaborate and work together to build structures and negotiate ways to be inclusive with our play.  We are having conversations about what we can do as a learning community to help others.  My students have amazing ideas.  Stay tuned for what we decide to solve together to make a difference for others!

Kindergarten is the most wonderful place to be, really!  We are learning through our exploration and discovery of things we find in nature, through our conversations with others and the many stories we read.  Our classroom is a place where we make a difference everyday for each other.  We are modeling together alongside others too!

I look forward to this week because we will be exploring voicethread, Kidblog and celebrating International Dot Day!  All of these are ways that any educator can use with their students to bring learning to life. Only 6 days and look at what can happen!  All it takes is an idea and the willingness to reach out and say hello!

Impressions: ISTE 2014

I had an amazing opportunity in June to attend ISTE 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was like nothing I have ever experienced before.  Not only was this my 1st time attending, but I also had the honor of presenting a 2 hour poster session too.happy

Professional development is so very important, but interactive, engaging and inspiring development that challenges your thinking is really the best.  I found ISTE 2014 to be this and more.  From the moment I arrived until I left I found all volunteers, attendees and other educators to be nothing but supportive, energetic and passionate. I really appreciated the variety of presenters as well as the formats.  By having a variety of formats it really opened up possibilities for many educators to participate in ways that were conducive for their topic.  I appreciated this a lot and I was able to make choices not only on topics, but how the topics were being presented and/or shared.  Again, this is awesome because we all learn in different ways, at different paces, so the variety was great!

I also had the opportunity to connect with many of my PLN as well.  The people I met face to face for the 1st time were amazing educators that I met via Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, other formats. I think about how when I saw familiar faces that I already knew so much about them because of their willingness to share and be transparent not only about themselves, but their experiences in education. I felt at home and connected.saraphoto 1 (11)photo 2 (10)

 

 

These are some of the most amazing professional educators I have the pleasure of connecting and collaborating with.  ISTE 2014 provided an opportunity for us to meet and again, connect and inspire each other.  Unfortunately I was not able to meet many others whom I have the pleasure of learning side by side with, but maybe another opportunity in the future will present itself!  You never know.

ISTE 2014 Offered Me:

*inspiration: Walking through the trade center you could sense the excitement and support.  I had the pleasure of connecting with familiar faces as well as new ones.  I look forward to learning from them all in the future.

*engaged my thinking: Many of the poster sessions, share and talk sessions as well as roundtable discussions offered opportunities for rich conversations and a variety of perspectives. Perspectives are important because we gain new insights and a variety of ways to think about ideas we explore.

*made lots of connections: I had folks attend my poster session from Canada, the USA and even South Africa! Again, I am thinking about my perspective and the importance of having a global audience.

*time for conversations: It was an opportunity to engage in as many conversations as I wanted to with others in regards to their experience, tools used and other resources. It was really nice to be able to speak with many vendors of some of the tools I use inside/outside kindergarten too!

*#satchat: Being able to hangout and participate in a live #satchat was really unbelievable!  This is a very inspiring, engaging and creative group of educators who are very committed to learning and making a difference in education. ne

*keynote speakers: This was really a wonderful experience to be in an audience with thousands of others to hear from inspirational people share their stories, their journey.  I learned a lot by being there, present to absorb talented people share their personal journeys.

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*PLN: Meeting my professional learning network gave me an opportunity to say thank you and have conversations about our learning.  Collaboration is vital and very necessary for all of us, educators, in our work inside and outside of our classrooms.

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I look forward to the future where I will be connecting and collaborating with others in regards to the connections, conversations and rich experiences that ISTE 2014 provided for me.new

 

 

 

The Value of Conversations

Last spring I had the honor of participating in a panel discussion with Steve Hargadon and other amazing educators at the Dynamic Landscape Conference at Champlian College in Burlington, Vermont.  Prior to this panel discussion I first met/heard Steve speak through a prerecorded Google Hangout created by Lucie Delabruere and Charles Wilson.  It was an amazing conversation.  Steve shared with us about the importance of having conversations and being open to what they can reveal, inspire and the value of face to face conversations.  This has had me thinking deeply for awhile now about how I can not only have meaningful conversations, but how this might look and sound like for me professionally and with my Kindergarten students and their families.

View the panel discussion…..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUVRPyR4Ot0&list=PL1oMB99j4uZZYwb3EjI2YKk_CzLOx3mr_&index=1

What has happened so far….

1. Twitter:  My students have “conversations” through threaded tweets about ideas that we find interesting, curious about or that we connect with.  The blue lines help my students visualize how our ideas, words are connecting. My students parents are also tweeting us as well and asking us questions about ideas we have explored.

2. SKYPE: Skype has been an awesome tool for us to use to have face to face conversations with others outside of our classroom.  This tool has only enhanced and enriched our thinking and we have developed a very positive and kind online etiquette as well because of how we use Skype to converse.

3. SpeakPipe: This is a great gadget that I found out about thanks to Karen Lirenman. I put this on our science blog.  Some parents leave questions and comments about scientific ideas we are exploring.  I have also had a few educators leave comments and questions for me as well.  This is great because I am then able to continue our conversation via Skype or Google Hangout.

4. Blogging/Kidblog: Blogging is an amazing platform to share and reflect.  My students experience commenting and giving compliments as another way to “speak” about what they are discovering.

5. Google Hangout: This is an amazing tool that can bring people together to have a conversation regardless of where you are.  I have used this tool with students, other professionals to share their ideas, have conversations and get help and advice.

6. Oral Language: I have created an Important Word Tree in my classroom where we post new words that we begin to explore and use everyday in Kindergarten.  This has been an amazing opportunity for me to capture and enhance the words of my students as well as offer them other words that mean the same thing.  For example in kindergarten we are not talking, but having conversations.  This has really raised the level of vocabulary not only being used, but how my students are beginning to strengthen and develop their oral vocabulary and understanding.DSCF3067

So because of my experience last spring I was inspired, my views and perspectives were challenged and I made some new connections with other inspiring educators.

I learned about how conversations can be experienced in a variety of ways and some of the tools that can make this possible.

One of the things that I enjoy most when I meet new people is what their story is, their experience and what they have discovered.  This offers me an opportunity to stay connected and know that these connections are always there and available.  The technology does not replace ideas or opportunities to have face to face conversations, it captures, connects and enhances our stories.

Who are these amazing educators?

You can find these educators on twitter.  They are: @stevehargadon @alanfletcher4 @babbitjoyce @nissakauppila @mattallenedu @techsavvygirl and @chaswilson.

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.

Digital Citizenship In Kindergarten

This morning I had a conversation with my Kindergarten students about digital citizenship week.  I was so impressed by what my students had to say.  They understand that when you are a digital citizen, you are kind, helpful, work with others, responsible, Skype, give “buzzies”, tweet and are nice to people.  We created a video.  As we watched the video together my students reflected on what they saw and then added other ideas.

During our conversation I was thinking about how my students might be thinking about this idea of digital citizenship and what it means to them. It is just like being safe, kind and responsible.  So I decided to be a little more explicit.  I shared that we can be all of these things that we brainstormed, but when we share our ideas in a digital way, we are experiencing what it means to be a digital citizen because we are using digital tools.  Got it!

As a class we thought about all the ways we share our learning with each other and the world.  Tomorrow we will look at past tweets which displayed how we are connected and how our connections help us develop kind, safe and responsible relationships.  Again because we have established a culture which has “open doors” and a variety of tools that encourages conversations, my students and their families begin to interact and experience how important it is to be a digital citizen.

2 months of Kindergarten and my students have connected with people in Spain, Paris, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Virginia and Vermont.  Through daily modeling and promoting the idea of how important it is to share what we are learning, we develop connections with others who are interested and inspired to reach out and connect.Screen shot 2013-09-28 at 1.46.45 PM Screen shot 2013-09-28 at 1.47.45 PM Screen shot 2013-09-28 at 1.47.59 PM

Now as an educator I continue to model and explore this new idea using the technologies we have in place like twitter, Skype, kidblog, voicethread, etc.  I found myself being very explicit and saying this is another way we are experiencing what it means to be a digital citizen every time we use these tools to share our learning.

As an educator I want learning to be rich and interactive.  I want my students to love to learn and to be comfortable sharing as well as being reflective about how they are learning how to learn.

Digital citizenship week is an opportunity to explore, connect and enrich learning opportunities.I look forward to having another conversation with my students tomorrow about their ideas and what we will create next!