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Teaching Kindergarten in the 21st Century and Beyond
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Tag Archives: communicating
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 October 25, 2015
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.
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.
Parents appreciate the variety of ways they can connect with their child.
So far this year…
Parents have asked..
- “My child is home sick today. Should I tweet you and check in and also look at the class blog?”
- A family is on vacation for a week and asked:”What platform should we use to connect?”
- 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.
- 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.
So what can you do?
- Create a class blog
- Find ways to share your learning experiences outside of your classroom walls.
- Twitter is an amazing platform. Think about using this as a way to have conversations globally with your students and families.
- Think about a learning exploration, map it out thinking about who you want to share with, why and how will this be accomplished.
- 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.
- 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.
Artwork inspired and created by some of my students. “Mrs. D. we want to have decorations on tables because it makes us happy.”
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 July 22, 2015
Appreciation, Gratitude, Kindness……
I am so grateful for many things that I thought I would begin to share the importance of how showing appreciation, gratitude and being kind is important and vital not only as a teacher, as an educator, but as a person. Through our own ability to display gratitude and kindness we are able to make connections, show appreciation towards others which gives a feeling of confidence and comfort.
When I think about gratitude and appreciation and how important these ideas are, I am also thinking about how can I begin to model and support these ideas. I want to encourage my students to also begin to see the value in having gratitude and being able to appreciate acts of kindness throughout our busy days together. I think it can happen so easily, yet I am reminding myself how important it is to share this idea and feeling with my students so they in turn become and display how being grateful can encourage others, offer connections and give recognition to others.
I remember one of my students learning how to use a new app to create and design patterns. The student was nervous about asking for help, yet really wanted to explore this new app. I watched as another student walked over with an iPad, sat down and began working alongside this student to show how the app worked and within a few minutes this student was off and running! The smiles exchanged were beautiful as well as the conversation. “Thank you”, I didn’t know what to do”. The student who offered to help just said; “I got stuck too.” I recognized both students in sharing how collaborative and kind they were being. Then I have an opportunity to highlight what happened and have the students share how it made them feel and introduce the word gratitude. This now becomes a special word in our classroom and everyone wants to be able to not only use the word, but explore opportunities with others as well. Think of a place in your classroom where you can display important/special words that you want to your students to use.
During a read aloud time one of my students was trying to find a place to sit and be comfortable. Another child offered his place and gave me a thumbs up! I smiled. Later the student came up to me and asked me if I noticed that he gave his seat up. I said I did and he thought that he should share that with the class because he was being kind. Right away my students are beginning to explore and experience what it means to help someone out, share something you are comfortable with, be a mentor, a friend. This is how we begin to model and explore appreciation, gratitude and kindness.
When I offer opportunities for my students to share through role playing and talking about the kind deeds they notice, we then create a special place in our classroom to post the important words we use. Appreciation, kindness, gratitude now become part of our oral language as well. This helps to begin to establish a culture of learning, connections, collaboration and also where children will take risks and try new things.
School is starting soon for many of us and I am so #grateful for how social media, blogging and other digital tools have helped connect, engage, challenged my thinking as well as offered opportunities to be inspired. I have made many friends thanks to social media who have supported me and collaborated in many different ways. I am grateful and humbled by the time and energy that others give so freely. Working alongside others enriches learning for me.
I strive to model and offer invitations to my students, their families, friends and colleagues who, like me, are also trying to make a difference, one idea, one kind gesture at a time. This is at the heart of our work.
Posted on July 1, 2015
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. #grateful 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.
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?
Posted on June 28, 2015
Lately I have been sharing lots of ways digital tools can enhance, enrich and engage learning for not only the students we teach, but their families and other educators. When I share a platform and/or tool I am asked to talk about the digital tool, which I am happy to share as well as why I choose the tools I do. These questions offer me an opportunity to reflect again on the why and what I do and how it all happens. For me what is most important is how the digital tool will support and enhance learning for my students as well as how their voice can be shared globally. My students have amazing ideas and are always excited to share and ask questions about what they are exploring. The digital tools give them endless ways to share their learning with each other and the world.
When I share ideas and reflect it is always about the learning that is happening and/or has happened. The digital tools offer ways for my students, their families and others to engage, connect and be reflective. Through our ability to reflect and rethink about what we are doing, we learn how we are exploring ideas and what is it about how we are learning that we understand the process of gaining new knowledge and acquire new information. As an educator I want to make sure that I am always offering invitations to my students and their families that invite them to learn alongside me. This is possible through the use of digital tools because it offers ways to enhance and engage in conversations. Conversations are important and vital because this is the heart of our work, as educators, where we have opportunities to listen to our students voices and get at what is most important.
I value perspective because it gives me opportunities to have my thinking challenged as well as be inspired. My students need to be able to experience different perspectives as well. Through their ability to listen and rethink about what they are exploring, opportunities for collaboration appear and the digital tools help bridge this and make it possible.
Last year my students were exploring the forest. We created a forest inside our own classroom as well as explored the different types of animals and plant life that grew in Vermont forests. As we explored this idea of forest life we were able to extend our learning to other forests in the US via @skypeclassroom where my students were able to have a conversation with a real forest ranger in YellowStone National Park. This experience was so meaningful that all of my students were excited to learn more about forest life and take risks with new texts and create their own books about forest life.
So through Skype, posting on our Kidblogs about an animal, creating podcasts of what we learned about the Vermont forest and then Tweeting about what we were learning and how we were learning we all became very invested and engaged. This is where my students pushed themselves because they were curious about what we were learning. Through their curiosity about a topic of interest, they invested their own time and hard work pushing themselves to create a multitude of projects that helped encourage them to be creative and learn more about the topic.
Digital tools are amazing. They offer so many wonderful ways to enhance learning opportunities. I always think about the learning and then think about what digital tools might be helpful as I explore this new theme with my students. I also think about what tools will give us opportunities to connect and share our learning globally too.
As an educator I will always have lots of “have to’s”. The piece I look forward to is how I am going to get at the content, make it meaningful and engaging as well as what digital tools will help me and my students. The why of this work is always at the heart. It is what appears and is discovered by your students. The real learning comes from your students own curiosity. I am trying to make it happen whenever I can.