Tag Archives: blog

Creating Relationships: 38 Days @vermontkkids123

What an amazing year I am having with my students.  I am always struck by the endless energy and excitement for learning and engaging with others.  Young children are so curious and are great about asking questions to clarify things they want to know and pursue endless perseverance when trying to solve a problem.

Today I’m thinking about all of those things we are engaged in and how we are using social media and blogging as platforms to enhance and engage what we are learning and how.  Through the use of these digital platforms I am able to offer my students, families and others who are interested in what we are exploring.  As I have shared before young children are naturally curious so why not find ways for them to have conversations and reflect on what they are learning and curious about with others and experience “how to” have a conversation and reflect alongside others.

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So we do…

Twitter is left on all day because we check it periodically to share/tweet out an idea or connect with others who are exploring similar ideas.  It also offers us a way to ask questions and learn something new as well.

Our class blog provides snapshots of the big ideas we are exploring.  Through our class blog parents have an opportunity to engage in face to face conversations with their child about what they are exploring.  This is important because I want parents to be a part of our learning journey.

Many parents and others leave comments as well.  This gives us an opportunity to respond to someone through blogging, another way to leave a comment/compliment about our learning.

Our class blog also provides ways for my students to share books we are reading, a map of the world as a way to see where people are from who are looking at our blog.  This has been a nice opportunity for me to explore the world globally as well.  Just by having a map my students begin to see how huge the world is and what we can all learn from each other. My students know the continents and get to “see” globally where people are who are interested in our learning explorations.

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Parents appreciate the variety of ways they can connect with their child.

So far this year…

Parents have asked..

  1. “My child is home sick today.  Should I tweet you and check in and also look at the class blog?”
  2. A family is on vacation for a week and asked:”What platform should we use to connect?”
  3.  Another family is traveling in Japan and wants to connect to share.  We use google Hangout.  They send photos and a video of a speeding train to share some highlights from this country.  Wonderful also for their child to see them and say hello.
  4. We have “Guest Readers” each month.  Parents have the option of coming in to read a story.  One parent asked to use GoogleHangout as a way to read to us because of the time of day they are not able to get into our classroom.

These are just a few ideas I am exploring with my students in regards to connecting with parents and globally.  I think about how digital tools and platforms have opened up my classroom to the world and how we are also learning from others outside of our classroom walls.

Things inside/outside of @vermontkkids123 are really wonderful.  I am grateful for the support of my families, students and school for all of the opportunities I am able to explore because I am encouraged to create, design and be innovative.

Classroom Map

So what can you do?

  1. Create a class blog
  2.  Find ways to share your learning experiences outside of your classroom walls.
  3. Twitter is an amazing platform.  Think about using this as a way to have conversations globally with your students and families.
  4. Think about a learning exploration, map it out thinking about who you want to share with, why and how will this be accomplished.
  5. Take photographs and video of your students creating and designing.  Offer opportunities for them to see, listen to and share what they notice.  Think about how their ideas might add, enrich and enhance your learning goals.
  6. How will you invite and offer invitations for your families to connect and learn alongside you, their child others?

Learning is for everyone.  The magic and heart of my work as a teacher is to offer hope and to develop relationships that will support my efforts to learn alongside my students, their families and others globally. I believe that being transparent and having an open mind when approaching learning explorations gives me opportunities to model the value and importance of perspective and how it is important when collaborating and learning.

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Artwork inspired and created by some of my students.  “Mrs. D. we want to have decorations on tables because it makes us happy.”

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Connecting Globally: A Collaboration Is Created!

Being connected is a must for everyone!  As a connected educator I can not imagine my life without the support, inspiration, colleagueship and critical thinking that my PLN has given me over the years.  We all have stories of how we have become connected as well as the many talented people who have changed our lives because of our connection.  Today I posted on Twitter: “Twitter is giving me opportunities for rich conversations w/others. that I can be enriched here through the inspiration of many.” I feel strongly about this.  As an educator I am continually modeling not only how I use digital tools, but why.

In a yearly author study I explore with my Kindergarten students we enjoy the repetition, rhyme and creative characters and dialogue in Dr. Seuss’s stories.  This author study encourages my students to be themselves and share their story.  Through our own ability to tell a story, we connect and engage with others.  Just as I explore the gift of sharing and telling a story alongside my students, I also enjoy sharing my own.

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Helen Knauf via a conversation on Skype.  She contacted me because she came across a blog post I had written in regards to using Kidblog and social media with young children for teach.com. We connected on Skype and Twitter. She wrote an article that was published in Germany about our conversation and what she had learned from me, my story, my experience. Here is our interview.

Who is she?

Helen is a professor in the field of early childhood education at the University of Applied Sciences Fulda.  She is a researcher with an exploratory focus on social networks and digital media and parent participation. She is a mother of three, plus a teacher of early childhood education. I am so looking forward to this connection.

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Helen and I have remained in touch over the past couple of years on Twitter, Google+, email and Facebook.  This fall we will have an opportunity to meet face to face for the 1st time!  Helen is coming to the USA!  She wrote a grant and it was funded!  She will be spending time alongside me, my students and my families learning about how I begin to build, explore and discover connectivity alongside my students and their families.  This opportunity is possible because of a blog post I wrote for teach.com and that Helen, and other people are reading. This is where I am reminded about the purposefulness and power of an authentic audience.  A global collaboration develops because I choose to be transparent, share my voice and use digital tools to connect with others, who like me, want to make a difference.

Connectivity means many things.  What is most important to me about connectivity is how it can bring people, countries and learning together.  Think about your own classroom, opportunities to share a story that is important to you.  Share it and be open to engage and further your conversation globally.  This is where we begin to model how we can collaborate and work as a global team to share our own learning and enrich each others lives.

So looking forward to meeting Helen and learning from her.  I am most #grateful. Think about a way you can inspire, be inspired by someone.  What will you do? What will your impact be?

I Blog Because…………..

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Why I Blog

In 2008 I was introduced to this idea, blogging idea because I was in a workshop that my school offered by an amazing technology educational integrationist, Bonnie Birdsall. I was inspired by her presentation and all of the possibilities that blogging could offer. I remember my mind being flooded with all of the possibilities that I started to think about in regards to communication, relationship building and perspective.

So my journey began….

Here I am 6 years later.  I manage 5 blogs, in my 5th year of using Kidblog and have had many opportunities to blog on other Blogs like SmartBrief on Education, Teach.com, Kidblog, Eduwin and I have also had the honor of writing a couple of articles for the ISTE Leading and Learning with Technology magazine.  These have all been amazing opportunities for me to share my voice using an asynchronous tool to be transparent about what I am exploring and discovering in regards to learning and how technology can really enhance learning experiences for myself and my students.

If you are thinking of blogging, do it!  Take a risk at sharing your voice with others.  I have found that the rewards of blogging have been inspiring and engaging.  I have had my thinking challenged, my perspective is wide and I appreciate what others have to say and ask in regards to what I am sharing.  Through this type of online conversation I am inspired, my thinking is challenged and I begin to connect and learn from others, collaborations develop.

I began by creating a classroom blog.  My goal was to create a place where my students and I could create posts about our learning explorations that we experienced inside and outside of kindergarten.  As I began exploring blogging with my students, I found the children to be very excited about it.  They enjoyed seeing themselves, hearing their ideas and asking each other what they noticed.  This was the beginning of something wonderful for me in regards to not only becoming more transparent, but also how this asynchronous tool was about to transform my learning as well.

What I noticed….

  1. Opportunities for conversations:

As a kindergarten teacher I want to make sure that I have plenty of opportunities for my students to engage in rich, meaningful conversations in regards to what they exploring.  These conversations are extremely important because they validate the thinking and ideas that my students have.  When a child can hear and see themselves in a photograph, a video, a podcast they are immediately engaged and naturally begin to make connections and observations.  This is a wonderful way to begin to validate and highlight the conversations that are happening inside of your classroom.  Then when you post on a blog, you begin to model explicitly what can happen when you share your thinking with others. You are thinking about how you can share outside of your classroom walls. Your students will be intrigued by the blog and how it can be used to highlight what they are exploring.

Then by adding a map widget on your blog you begin to help your students develop the idea of audience and perspective. Your students begin to think about the value of what can happen when they share.  I always tell my students that this map is the world, it is a way that we can share what we are learning with others.  Others are interested in what we are exploring and learning.  This is another opportunity for me to explicitly to model how a conversation can begin through blogging.  We begin to notice, look at others blogs and make comments about what they are doing too.  Through this type of modeling I am beginning to take steps with my students about what it means to be a safe, kind and responsible digital citizen.  The map on our blog now serves as a place where we notice all of the attributes blinking.  This is motivating for my students because they get interested where people are in the world and that they are interested in what we are learning.  Engagement and interest is high.

Communication became fluid, available, enriching, variety of tools: Communication is vital.  I want my students and their parents to be informed about daily kindergarten life.  Blogging is a great platform for this to happen because it is always their.  Sending paper notes home is really inefficient for me because folks loose the paper, forget dates, etc.  Using blogging as a platform is one way that I can consistently share what is happening inside/outside of kindergarten in regards to learning.

  1. Parents want to be informed and be able to contribute and have conversations with their children about their day in school.  Blogging is a vehicle to help make this happen.  The blog is a way for parents to engage and have face to face conversations with their  children about their day in school.  The photographs, video, etc. offer an opportunity to share and reflect. Here parents can begin to see and hear how learning is enriched through using blogging as a platform. Through blogging I am able to open up opportunities for parents to ask questions, post comments and share with other family members.
  2. In Kindergarten I have many opportunities throughout the day to capture what and how my students are exploring their ideas and what they understand about them. When I am able to photograph and/or use a video I offer another way for my students to reflect and explain their ideas.  As an educator this also gives me a way to listen to what my students understand and how they came to their justification of what they share.  Through face to face conversations and turn and talks that occur authentically I am able to use my class blog as a way to share not only what my students are learning, but how they are learning. Here is where excitement and engagement can really be ignited!
  3. I have seen how all of my students become more confident and take risks with sharing their ideas because they enjoy seeing themselves and their work.  When I model and share their learning I am offering them an opportunity to share their perspective globally.  All students want to share and talk about what they are doing.  The blog offers a way for my students to get positive compliments and feedback.  The commenting that occurs has been thoughtful and positive.  This inspires my students to take risks and share more!
  4. When others connect with us we also have an opportunity to model and share our ideas. Without always being aware of it my students are mentoring their learning for others.  This is also inspiring and offers time for my students to reflect and share what matters most about what they understand. Once we begin to share our voice, we capture what is important and give others opportunities to try what we are doing and the tools we are using.  All it takes is an idea and the willingness to try.  The opportunities unfold on their own.
  5. We are modeling how to be safe, kind and responsible because we always share about what and how we are learning.  Our online etiquette is the same as it is when we are having face to face conversations.

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I blog because……..

1.Opportunities for conversations=Builds Positive Communication

  1. Family engagement, Connection
  2. Authentic Learning
  3. Positive Self-Esteem=High Engagement
  4. Collaboration can lead to mentoring opportunities
  5. Digital Citizenship: safe, kind, responsible, explicit modeling

Blogging has offered me endless ways for my families to connect and engage in their child’s learning.  As a professional I continue to grow, learn and be inspired through my own learning, my students and others who take risks and chances in sharing.  I am able to make a difference because I care, but I am also willing to be transparent and share and engage in global conversations with others who strive each day to make learning fun and meaningful.

So when others ask me why I blog, I say;”Why not?”

 

Scientific Drawings Reflect What We Understand-iPads!

    

Last week I had one of those ah ha moments in kindergarten during our writer’s workshop time.  We have been exploring life cycles.  My students have been creating books, podcasts and scientific drawings about many living things found in nature.  My students were creating a scientific drawing of some of the insects we found outside our classroom using pencils and paper.  I also had lots of informational text, along with some real examples as well as some photographs.  I was feeling great about the materials available and thought every student will be successful.  I soon discovered that for many this writing task seemed very overwhelming.  I then made iPads available and asked my students to go to Doodle Buddy and try designing their insect first before drawing on the paper.  Wow!  Immediately my students became engaged and so excited.  I heard laughing and lots of conversation like;”look what I did, I made an ant, I can help you, see, you can make the lines skinny and fat, look we can shade the background in, yeah Mrs. D. I made a connection, it’s like Gail Gibbons”.  This continued for the next 45 minutes.  Every child was able to create an insect and highlight the features they felt were important.Then my students created their insect on paper using pencils, colored pencils and crayons.

I have thought a lot about this experience and what it reveals about the importance of having attainable, successful and meaningful tasks for my students.  Many of my students were frustrated by using pencils and felt the need to erase.  The iPads provided a way for all my students to create and design over and over until their idea/scientific drawing was the way they wanted it.  The value of having an iPad made it easy to share their drawings.  I was able to email to parents and share electronically.  The benefits of recreating the insect on paper was a great fine motor activity and a way for my students to have experienced a process approach in creating a special type of drawing, a scientific drawing with labels, etc.

If I had my own iPads in my classroom everyday my students would be able to save this work and reflect, refer to throughout our study.  Emailing makes sharing easy and very powerful.

In conclusion my students were able to share that scientific drawings have labels, use lines and arrows to point out what the parts are(one of my students came up with this one!), colorful, show body parts and are real things.

I am also thinking about how important it is to scaffold learning experiences for my students too.  The purpose and reasons behind the why and what we do is very important.  As a teacher I want to make sure that the tasks I am modeling are meaningful, have explicit meaning and are attainable for all of my students.  The iPads have really been helpful in ensuring not only that all my students are successful, but that they all have equal access to the learning content we explore together.