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Teaching Kindergarten in the 21st Century and Beyond
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Category Archives: Transformation
Posted on March 24, 2016
Posted on January 24, 2016
I think of a leader as someone who encourages me to try and take risks. Leaders make mistakes often and offer invitations for others to learn alongside them. They smile and laugh with you……
I have had many leaders embrace and support me and my work because they believe in me and what I am doing. This has been important because with this support I have been pushed and challenged. When I am in a state of disequilibrium I am overwhelmed, but find my breathe and then I begin to think deeply and lots of growth occurs. I think part of what has happened to me is the idea that what I create, offer and explore during the day alongside my students, that this is where I can be creative in how I explore content and also give students opportunities to be excited and engaged with learning.
Appreciation is huge. I am always willing to do more when I am appreciated because it “fills my soul”. We all like to feel like we are contributing. This is where I learn “how to” promote collaboration and reflection. I think of leadership as a gift and I have had the pleasure of knowing and connecting with many inspiring ones. Leaders are everywhere. Being a leader is not just about the awards you have won, but it is about your impact, who have you inspired to lead and try something new? I am not saying that awards are not okay, because they are wonderful and everyone likes to be recognized for their efforts and work that they do. I am grateful for my recognitions because they offer me opportunities to share my voice as well as offer ideas that may inspire others to try new things, a different way of thinking. This is what matters because other teacher leaders inspire others and then more students will be impacted in positive ways, ways that enrich and enhance learning opportunities.
Sometimes it is not about doing everything, but choosing 1 path and “digging deep” into the experience. I am working on this idea because it is not an easy one for me.
When you share and connect with people you have so many opportunities to lead, be inspired and have your thinking challenged. So I am learning and making choices about what I want to be a part of because we can not do it all, but I would really like too! I have been thinking about these ideas before I say yes… because I always want to!
- So think of other people that you can recommend to share and elevate their voice and creativity. When you offer a leadership opportunity to a colleague you are giving them an invitation to pursue and develop their leadership skills.
- It is okay to share and post your accomplishments. Do it! This is where others will be inspired and encouraged to share their ideas. I do not think it is bragging, but rather another opportunity to connect globally and also the perspective of audience is huge. This is important for growth. All of your ideas and work matter. Share it!
- Making mistakes is okay. I apologize, learn from what happened and move on. This is where you gain the ability to learn and value others ideas and interpretations of what and how you are sharing. Learning is messy and I find that their is no right or wrong way, but rather a variety of ways you can solve problems because they are fluid and change with the time, community and your audience.
- Offer hope and encouragement. These ideas have to be present and woven into the daily work you do and who you interact with. I think about this a lot when planning lessons. What is the essential question and how will my students be able to connect and inspired to collaborate to make a change.
- When I am offered to present I get nervous, but do it. I have learned so much about my own leadership style and my #edvoice. When you have opportunities to present think about your audience and what it is that you want to leave them with. How will they be able to make an impact with your ideas? This has helped me a lot over the years because it keeps me focused.
- Pushing back and having your thinking challenged is okay. When my thinking is challenged this is an opportunity for me to rethink about what I’m saying and why. I try to value and thank people often for their questions because they are important when you think about perspective, audience and all of the different communities in the world.
The bigger idea for me is culture. I’m thinking about how I’m creating a learning culture that is meaningful and collaborative. How will I be exploring the content? Who is my audience and why is this important? I am in charge of my own path. I choose to be reflective and transparent because I want to learn and be a part of solutions that make a difference.
Who are you inspired by and why? How are you growing and making a difference?
Posted on January 2, 2016
I am grateful for being a teacher because….
Being a teacher is a privilege and a honor. Teaching is about offering hope all day long and being available to encourage, create and design learning opportunities that have an impact. I also feel it is about creating a learning culture that is open to the world where all learners can connect, take risks, share their voice and have friends.
Today I am thinking about my own path and reflecting on an amazing year of growth. I have much to be grateful for. As a teacher I have the ability to help promote empathy, patience, risk taking, acceptance and collaboration. These are ideas that I think are important to think about as I weave a multitude of learning opportunities throughout the day.
So for today…..
to inspire ideas through inquiry and passion.
to learn more about “how to” create opportunities globally for my students. Culture is rich everywhere and I want to find ways to connect and celebrate what the world has to offer.
to be a part of solution based problem solving opportunities where I am able to share my #edvoice in hopes of making education better.
to collaborate with others around making a difference.
to learn alongside my amazing PLN which hopefully will just keep on growing.
to have my thinking challenged through opportunities that present themselves.
to explore nature often with my students. Nature is full of patterns, fresh air and authentic opportunities to learn about the natural world.
to be able to continue to mentor others who are interested in becoming a teacher. Teaching is an art and through our ideas we have opportunities to “paint” and “weave” all day.
create and design meaningful learning opportunities alongside my students because this is the heart of my work, where I have and can make an impact.
model and practice daily “how to” have conversations using a variety of tools that will help my students connect, reflect and ask questions.
listen with an open mind and value perspective. This is vital for all of us to be able to collaborate globally to make a difference to solve world problems.
bring a smile and gratitude daily to build confidence and trust inside/outside of Kindergarten. Through our ability to accept each other, we develop patience and experience the value of kindness.
show gratitude for former and present families that I have the privilege of knowing who give their time, energy, enthusiasm and support in endless ways.
be transparent in my thinking and use a variety of digital tools to create bridges globally to help solve world problems to make a difference.
pursue new ideas and revisit previous ideas through a different perspective.
make mistakes and experience them as learning opportunities, opportunities for me to grow and have my perspective enhanced.
offer invitations to learn alongside others who are learning how to learn for themselves. This is where I can encourage, question and reflect.
celebrate and recognize others for their ideas and work. Together we all have the ability to be brilliant and make a difference.
Looking forward to another year of connecting, collaboration, inspiration and growth. Thanks to all of you who are a part of my journey. I hope you all are able to dance, sing and laugh often….
I am grateful…..
Posted on December 13, 2015
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.
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:
- It helps you think mathematically.
- It is so fun.
- It helps you learn.
- Coding helps your brain solve problems.
- It helps my thinking.
- It helps us learn to use technology.
- Coding helps us think and justify our thinking.
- Coding is learning Mrs. D.
- Coding helps you learn about math.
- Coding is important because you can do it by yourself or you can collaborate.
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.
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.
Posted on July 31, 2015
The iPad is really an amazing digital tool with so much flexibility. I have noticed how easy it is to navigate and also how this tool enhances my students learning. This digital tool has become part of my classroom culture as a way to enrich, connect and collaborate relationships and learning.
I have been asked lately how I got started using the iPad. So today I share my story because it is an example of what can happen when we watch, listen and share. iPads, tablets, any device has the potential to bring people together to communicate, share and explore the world. I am #grateful for Lucia, a former student, who taught me about the value of having a voice and being able to share it.
I have the pleasure of working in a wonderful school district that supports innovation and creativity. My school district provides teachers and students with many types of digital tools and professional opportunities that stretch our thinking. Our school also has amazing technology educators as well as IT people who work tirelessly to ensure that our tools are working and ready, as well as provide updates about new things happening and opportunities for students and teachers to collaborate inside/outside of our buildings.
Every spring near the end of Kindergarten our preschool teachers offer their students opportunities to visit their kindergarten classroom for the fall. This is a wonderful way for me and the students to begin to say hello and explore the classroom with each other as well as the present students.
So Lucia arrived. She is an amazing young lady. She came with a smile, confidence and sat right down on the floor near a group of her students with her iPad. Right away I was struck at how many of the children started talking to her. They asked her for the code so they could unlock her iPad. Lucia was not able to speak, but used sounds and gestures with her hands. The students immediately began looking at her with amazing eye contact, speaking to her and waiting for her to answer and show them what was next.
The iPad was new to me. I did not have one, hadn’t used one before and already Lucia, was demonstrating alongside her new friends how this digital tool was going to open up opportunities in regards to learning. Remember this was brand new for me and I was also going to get some professional support because our school was also going to purchase iPads as well. My learning started, my eyes were opened, my mind was racing with ideas about the possibilities that might be possible because of this digital tool.
Thinking back on my first introduction to an iPad I think about how naturally the other children were drawn to Lucia and how she immediately felt comfortable showing and using her iPad with them. Right away the children started taking turns speaking to Lucia, listening and watching her as she responded using sounds, her iPad and gestures to answer.
What a wonderful surprise! iPads really make a difference in student learning and engagement. This has been so exciting and a great learning opportunity for me and my students. This is a digital tool that is making a difference and yes, Kindergarten children are finding lots of ways to use these tools as well as discovering lots of a ha’s about how this tool can help them to reflect and create learning experiences.
On the 1st day of Kindergarten I begin by introducing this interactive tool to my class. We talk about being safe, kind and responsible as well as how it might help us with our learning. The children immediately start exploring with the iPads and instantly began figuring out how they work. We explore the basic features of the iPad. Then I explore how to use the video, camera and take a screenshot. I begin with these 3 features because this is where I want to model and show how this digital tool can be used to capture the what and why we are exploring. I continue to be really impressed with how quickly the children adapt to this tool and of course the excitement is wonderful. The touch screen really makes it easy for the children to type and access. The children begin touching the screen and the exploration begins of how this digital tool will enrich our learning.
As an educator I often think about all of the things I want and need to do during the course of a school day. It can be a bit overwhelming… So when presented with a tool that might make learning more accessible and engaging, I find myself beginning to see how many opportunities I have to make connections within my lessons as well as help children to become more engaged and invested in their own learning.
As a class we spent time from the beginning of school talking about blogging, what it is, why do it and how it helps us with our learning. The children understand that when they blog, they need a title and thoughts that we call sentences. In the beginning I use lots of books to help demonstrate this point. I find that the more explicit you can be with children and the more tangible, concrete connections and comparisons you can make, the easier it is for children to grasp and begin to use technological tools. The beauty of this example is that this child knows 1 way to use the iPad in a meaningful, safe way. She is motivated to blog and share her ideas with others.
As an educator I find myself trying to create and design meaningful learning opportunities for and alongside the children and families I work with. Digital tools are amazing and their impact on student learning and engagement are endless. For me the iPads have enhanced everything that I do. I can’t help but love them!
I am #grateful for Lucia and how she introduced me to what was possible with the iPad. She has courage, perseverance and amazing ideas. She taught me to always have hope, to be brave and that technology gives us all a voice.
Posted on May 21, 2015
While I was on Twitter recently I noticed a photograph which caught my eye. After reading the photo I started thinking a lot about what the words really meant and how can we all simply just “open the door” to enrich learning for everyone. The internet has the ability to share, connect and engage everyone. Once we “walk” through that door we begin our own learning path, a path that we control. This is what is so amazing about being connected. Connectivity offers us all opportunities to learn alongside each other as well as model how to collaborate and connect to solve real world problems.
As an educator one of the greatest gifts I can offer my students is learning “how to” learn through their own learning experiences. When someone learns how to learn themselves they begin to develop strategies and ways to seek and answer their own questions about what they are curious about. When we share our learning and ideas with the world we offer others invitations to engage, ask questions and connect with our ideas. Here is where we begin to model how to have conversations in regards to learning in safe, kind and responsible ways. Twitter has been a great platform for me to use with my students and also professionally. One of our friends on Twitter is sharing how they are exploring and going to respond to a question we posted about something they shared. This is a great example of how we can begin to think together as Alec Couros shared in his photograph above. Once we become transparent, we are thinking alongside many people who like you, want to change the world, one idea at a time.
I am inspired by the thousands of people I connect, think and share with. Through our ability to reach out, take risks, say hello we offer endless opportunities to learn alongside each other. This is important. It is happening now. How are you connecting globally? How are you offering invitations to your students? their families?
Stuck? Just give it a try….