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Teaching Kindergarten in the 21st Century and Beyond
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Category Archives: Twitter/Social Media
Posted on November 29, 2017
As a kindergarten teacher, I have the privilege of working each day with young children who are eager to learn and connect with their learning environment. I look forward to being inspired by our busy days together.
In the beginning days of school, I began to build a learning culture with my students through a big idea. This year our big idea was sustainability. We began by asking what we could do to help sustain and keep the world healthy. As we began to explore this idea I introduced the Global Goals for Sustainability because these goals were at the center of our learning. We put a poster of the Global Goals in our classroom and it became an easy way to weave the goals into our daily learning explorations. I explained to my students that these goals are promises we can make to make a difference in the world. I shared that if we make a promise to help, we are pledging our help to save the world. My students immediately become excited about this idea and wanted to know what they could do to help. I began by asking a simple question, “What do you do if you are cold?” The children responded with: I get a jacket, snuggle with a blanket and put a coat on. I used their examples as an opportunity to connect the goals. I asked my students to imagine that the goals were a large blanket that wraps itself around the world. The blanket represents the goals. The goals are around so we can all help sustain the world for everyone to enjoy.
Why does this matter?
The world needs everybody’s help. Global Goals provide endless opportunities to build awareness and create a plan of action. The goals also translate to my local community as I began thinking of possible needs and opportunities we have and ways my students could engage in a positive manner to build awareness for change. Children want to be a part of solution-based problem solving, and this can begin in kindergarten. A good place to start is with teaching how our actions of kindness can help create people who care and have empathy for others.
There are seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, and I chose to begin with Goal #16 because it is about being kind, advocating for others who may need help and promoting fairness. A good place to learn more about the goals on the #TeachSDGs site, there is also a Twitter conversation around this hashtag.
This goal sets a positive tone for risk-taking, support, and encouragement. Young children need experiences and opportunities to feel what it is like to support others and be kind. Through establishing these ideas at the beginning of Kindergarten we all begin to understand that it is about what we can do together, not as individuals that offer invitations for everyone to participate.
Creating a Culture of Learning
We created a culture of learning, by noticing and sharing our actions of kindness towards each other. Through our actions of kindness, patience, and collaboration my students felt connected to Kindergarten and each other. As we built trust, took risks and learned from each other we created a culture where all students feel safe, valued and inspired. Once my students felt connected to a classroom, we painted a map of the world as a way to show that other people live outside of Vermont and this Kindergarten class. I also began connecting with other educators and people around the world using Padlet, Skype, Google Hangout, and Twitter. As we connected with people I took photos so my students were able to see where people are from globally, but also how we were having conversations with them.
Connections with Content:
As I began exploring how to teach about the SDGs, I looked towards the content I was teaching to determine where the goals and the content meshed. I first looked at the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards), these standards are a wonderful way to begin to think about where you want to start and what goals you will explore. As we explored Goal #13 Climate Action and Goal #15 Life On Land, my students were able to connect that through our ability not to be wasteful, we can have a positive impact on land and climate. Since the goals are displayed on my wall, the students make connections about being responsible for waste every time we recycle, compost, and reuse. This helps my students make a connection with authentic action. I found a good place to start is by simply putting up a Global Goal in your classroom where your students can make a connection. Just by adding Goal #6 to our sink area my students are being more responsible for not wasting water. These visual reminders are helping to build their awareness.
Another idea is to ask your students to make a pledge or promise to the world. I have found this to be very impactful in my Kindergarten class, as students highlight the goal and what their action will be. I then ask my students to read their promises aloud, as if to the world, and they all feel proud. We created a board outside our classroom as a way to highlight our promises.
In my class, we are currently exploring forest life, and this offers opportunities to explore and expand on two Global Goals: #13 Climate Action and #15 Life On Land.
Through our weekly nature walks and explorations outside, my students are beginning to develop an awareness of the outdoors and why we need to take care of it. Through Padlet we were able to share what a tree/forest looks like in Vermont as well as what trees look like and need in other countries. To get started with this activity, we first shared our Padlet on Twitter, and I also asked families to share with family members and on their Facebook pages. I also shared on my Facebook pages with other teachers. We received responses from Hong Kong, Egypt, Portugal, Germany, Ireland, London, and Australia. My students were so excited to see that people from 5 continents added to our Padlet! I printed the photos off from each country and we made observations about the trees and forests, then we put the images on our map of the world. This allowed my students to see where the trees grew globally.
Through our forest exploration, my students were able to reflect on what things trees need to grow and survive no matter where they are in the world.
This is what they came up with:
- All trees need a seed.
- All trees need water.
- All trees need soil.
- All trees need sunlight.
- Trees need people to care
My favorite response was #5 because when we take care of things we are modeling and demonstrating how we care. This idea comes back to no matter what the content. These ideas turned into a belief statement for my Kindergarten students. We now connect all of our learning explorations to the global goals.
As an extension to this project, we made a connection with a Kindergarten class in Hong Kong because my sister is a teacher there and she put me in touch with other teachers who are interested in connecting globally with another class. Now we connect monthly using Padlet and/or Twitter to share what we are exploring. Twitter and Facebook teacher groups are also great places to post projects and ask if others are interested in joining my class to explore a specific learning idea.
The goals can be woven in and out of all content, standards, and learning. Regardless of the age you teach, the world needs everyone to care, now! What are some themes of study you are exploring? Ask your students how they can make a difference. What is important to them? Think about a global goal that would connect with their learning. Then take it a step further and think about a community need or school need you to have. How can you build an awareness alongside your students and their families?
Posted on September 5, 2016
A very exciting time of year for me is the beginning of Kindergarten. Summer ends and I find myself interacting and learning new ways to connect, engage and enhance learning. Creating a culture for learning is always a challenge because I get new students each year and we explore our new classroom inside and out alongside each other. I am watching and listening to see what interests my students have as well as how they might be learning and sharing their ideas that they are curious about.
An idea I tried this year…. and it was so successful, was to read The Dot by, Peter Reynolds as out 1st story together. I choose this story because it illustrates so easily the value of sharing your idea and even more importantly how a teacher needs to be ready and engaged with what is “there”. The imagination of a child is wonderful and this story captures how I can, as a teacher, take time to notice what each of my students is capable of, the gifts they have and to always celebrate what they know and are willing to show me. Through what we celebrate, more will come and I hope my students will grow confident through their ideas and by taking risks with what they want to share.
As I read the story I kept referring to what do you want to make? create? and design? I was specific with this vocabulary because I want my students to begin to explore how their ideas matter and how together we can collaborate and inspire each other. I also created cards and laminated them so that these words become part of our culture, words we will use to support and inspire each other.
When I asked my students questions while I was reading the story I began with phrases like; What do you notice… I wonder….. Again the vocabulary is important because it offers everyone an opportunity to share an idea, rather than an answer to a specific question.
After reading the story we sang the Dot Song together. It was really magical. I played it on the Smartboard and afterwards I had a quick opportunity to let parents know about this great author, but also that I see safeshare.tv as a way to play videos safely. Again, I am trying to weave and thread through a variety of ideas in a meaningful way.
Then as we were getting ready to take our first bus ride I had an opportunity to share our class blog. Again I am trying to highlight things that we, the parents and students will be using to highlight our learning. When sharing the blog I am able to connect the story we just read. Letting the children know that the book has text and pictures just like our class blog. So as we begin to create, build and design our learning like the child in the story, we will be “making our mark” on our class blog where we can share our ideas with the world.
A great opportunity to participate in an international celebration of creativity. Join others globally to celebrate International Dot Day. Go here to join. When I shared this with my students they were very excited. This offers us all an opportunity to share and celebrate our creative spirt. Through our willingness to share, we can all become inspired…..
So after 2 days in Kindergarten we have created book bins with author names and names of themes.
This way the children become familiar with book names and authors. I am now beginning to let them them know they will also be authors this year just like…….
Children begin to get excited about books and reading. We begin by reading to self. In Kindergarten we have a variety of spaces, places and books to read. We need different things….. Creating a culture needs to be flexible, but also make room for children to shine as individuals… Not an easy task……
I invited parents in to create science journals for our outdoor classroom and hand painted aprons too. It is important to include parents whenever you can so they can also be a part of their child’s learning. Even in the beginning days parents feel connected and a part of their child’s journey.
We “tweeted” and painted a map of the world to reflect where we will be able to post who we are connecting with and how. This is important because I want to model how we can have conversations globally in a safe, kind and responsible way.
Creating a culture of learning is the most important thing I do as a teacher. The culture reflects what we are doing, why it is important and how we will be sharing what we are exploring globally. Teaching is a privilege and an opportunity to offer hope and inspiration. This year I am thinking about the value of opening my classroom globally and ways I can learn alongside my students and families. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has ideas to share about how you begin to develop a learning culture…..
Thanks for reading and sharing.
Posted on April 26, 2016
Posted on April 3, 2016
Posted on February 18, 2016
Digital Learning Day is one of those opportunities students and their teachers have to share about why this is an important day to recognize and why digital tools are important in regards to our learning. So my students created Kidblog posts and we are using Twitter this week also to share how and why we use digital tools.
This afternoon I asked my students to think about why this might be an important day to celebrate and what are the ways we use digital tools. I was really impressed and also felt validated about why digital tools are important. Here are some of the responses that were shared today.
- We can have conversations with other people in the world.
- We can share our learning with the world.
- We show how we use them in a safe, kind and responsible way.
- They make your brain think more things and they help you learn.
- They help us to have conversations with other people. We connect.
- You learn how to use digital tools.
- They help you think better. They help you think when you don’t know what to do.
- They want you to learn.
- We celebrate this day because we want other people to know what we are doing.
- Our parents know what we are learning.
- They are fun.
- We help each other and collaborate.
Learning is for everyone and technology gives us all a voice. Digital tools and platforms have enriched and engaged my own learning and that of both my students and their parents. The communication is ongoing, fluid and just by offering a variety of platforms to share, I am also modeling explicitly “how to” use tools in safe, kind and responsible ways. Parents want to be informed and engaged. They are important stakeholders in their child’s education. So today was another opportunity to model and celebrate the value and excitement me, my students and families have in regards to learning, but also how we share and reflect what we are exploring.
Happy Digital Learning Day!
Posted on April 21, 2015
Posted on January 25, 2015
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. After 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.
After 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.
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.
Posted on November 25, 2014
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.
Presently 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.
Thanks to Stephen DeCatur Elem@SD_Eagles my students get to see the impact they have had in the world! He tweeted: “@vermontkkids123 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!
Today 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.
Posted on November 13, 2014
One of the things I enjoy most about my job are the endless opportunities I have to celebrate and involve not only my students, but their families. Family engagement is very important for all students and their success in school. I continue to try to find ways for my families to not only engage, but also celebrate the wonderful learning that is transpiring daily inside and outside of Kindergarten.
Learning is really an amazing opportunity to involve and engage others around you. Through our ability to connect, share and reflect what we understand we not only develop a deeper meaning of what we are learning, but we also get excited and want to share. When we share our thinking is challenged and we are inspired by others feedback. Celebrating school, learning and each other is so much fun and inspiring. Just simply highlighting an idea on a blog, using Twitter to “tweet” an idea can bring lots of feedback.
This morning we had our first celebration of learning. It was wonderful! Watching families engage and connect with their child and their learning is such a gift. I appreciated all the support that my families offered ahead of time in helping me set up a breakfast buffet and also their commitment to attending and being present and sharing with their child and other families. One of my parents was not able to attend so the family used FaceTime on their phone to connect. One of my students was able to share her work virtually, in a face to face way using a phone! This is an example of how we , as educators must continue to think about creative ways to engage our parents. They want to be a part of their child’s learning. Technology can help make this happen!
Connecting and developing positive relationships is really important as an educator. This is always my first priority when I begin each year. The relationships I develop are important and critical for the success of each of my students. Parents need to feel engaged and also a part of their child’s daily life in school. As an educator I have found many synchronous and asynchronous tools that can help with this. Recently one of my students visited an aquarium and was able to post photographs of the different sea animals he saw. This was an opportunity for a family to connect and share a learning experience outside of Kindergarten. When the student had an opportunity to share he was able to articulate what he saw and facilitate questions that other students had. Later on another student was able to post a compliment on his Kidblog. This is so motivating for students. They want to connect and respond when others recognize their efforts and discoveries.
I continue to think of ways that I can connect with my students, their families and extended families. Through our connection we develop positive relationships that support learning for their child. I am grateful to have so many technological tools to begin to demonstrate alongside my families and their children how technology can be used in meaningful ways to engage, enhance and enrich their child’s education. Bringing families together to celebrate and connect is what is important. Learning is for everyone. How are you engaging your students, families and extended families?