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Teaching Kindergarten in the 21st Century and Beyond
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Tag Archives: connecting
Posted on April 21, 2015
Posted on October 11, 2014
Skype has been a fun, easy way for my students to say hello, have conversations about what we are learning, ask questions, listen to a story, connect and learn new things. Earlier this year a friend, Cathy, I met in an online course thanks to the #plpnetwork that we were both participating in last spring offered to be a guest speaker for my students. I discovered that she was very interested in and had a lot of knowledge about the Monarch Butterfly. So this Fall when I was exploring this unique animal I was able to use Skype as a way to connect my students with an expert and ask her questions about the life of a Monarch. My students had great questions and were very comfortable using this synchronous tool because we have had many opportunities earlier with different parents who were willing to call us and say hello and ask us about our learning. Through this type of modeling and explicit exploration of this tool my students were able to experience what it might be like as well as explore what online etiquette is and how this tool can help support our learning, learning as digital citizens.
Last week another friend and colleague, Brianna Laue, I met at Vermont Fest 2 years ago used Skype to have a few of her students read a couple of wonderful stories aloud to us! This type of experience gave my students a chance to enjoy a read aloud, but also make connections and other noticings about the story and some of the strategies that the readers were using. Some of the strategies that my students noticed were: *read nicely, good readers, read with expression and they showed us pictures.* This is the beginning of reader’s workshop for my students. They had an opportunity to be a part of a read aloud where other students were teaching us and through their modeling I can now build on this experience to further my students understanding.
6 weeks into Kindergarten and all is grand! I am very grateful for the connections I have made over the years. My connections are an important part of my PLN. I continue to be inspired and supported through my connections. They challenge my thinking and broaden my perspective.
Posted on September 22, 2014
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….
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
I blog because……..
1.Opportunities for conversations=Builds Positive Communication
- Family engagement, Connection
- Authentic Learning
- Positive Self-Esteem=High Engagement
- Collaboration can lead to mentoring opportunities
- 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?”
Posted on May 25, 2014
As my year comes to an end I am thinking about some moments where I was able to celebrate, engage and experience authentic learning opportunities through learning alongside my parents and students. I have learned so much from my interactions and conversations through day to day life inside my classroom as well as conversations that have been shared globally in regards to how technology has enriched learning for not just my students, but their parents as well.
My students were outside last week exploring nature and making observations about where birds might build a nest. Some of my students heard some birds chirping and tried to use an iPad to capture the birds on video. As I watched them and listened to their conversation I was so impressed with how they were collaborating and trying to figure out a way to video the bird that was so carefully tucked away in the tree. I am so proud of my students and their ability to understand how technology can be used in a meaningful way to enhance and capture something they found interesting and worth sharing.
During a writers and readers workshop time one of my students decided to write about penguins. I asked her why and she pointed to her shirt! She created a book complete with labels, writing about special features that a penguin has and then she had a question. I did not know the answer so she decided to use Google to search for photographs of penguins to help her. Through explicit modeling and directions about “how to” search Google safely, with visual steps, my student was able to get the answer to her question.
Visual models along with modeling and using authentic examples my students are becoming safe, kind and responsible digital citizens. They are beginning to experience and make decisions about not only the tools they use, but what features as well and how specific features can capture what they are seeking.
Another student during a writers workshop time had an idea of a topic to write about, Twitter! She wrote a story about how Twitter helps people communicate and share. When students are given choices about topics to write about it is really wonderful to see what topics they choose. As I look at the writing I am reminded about how well this student is able to communicate her idea through her writing. This is where as an educator I am able to reflect and notice what she has learned in regards to writing. This is where I look to see what my students understand and if they are able to use skills they have been exploring independently.
I recently had the honor of being able to present at the Dynamic Landscapes conference at Champlain College. My presentation was on The Social Experience. I was able to bring a couple of my kindergarten students who were able to assist me and also speak to other educators about how social media and other synchronous tools have made learning meaningful and fun. At the end I had a few parent volunteers use Google Hangout as well to share their perspectives. As an educator it really struck me at not only how technology has made a difference for my students learning, but my parents as well. Click here to hear about what some of my parents had to say.
Kindergarten has been amazing and wonderful. It is a place that continues to inspire, challenge my thinking and engage me deeply. My students have had some amazing learning opportunities that have engaged them, inspired them and helped them begin to explore and experience what it means to be a digital citizen. Digital citizenship is vital and important for everyone to experience. Through our experiences we begin to become transparent and transform the ways we think and interact with each other face to face and virtually.
I look forward to celebrating the end of the year with my students. I also look forward to the future where I know I will be inspired and learn new ways to make a difference in regards to learning for myself and others.
Posted on March 26, 2014
Just a quick post in regards to what can happen when we take time to notice a smile and say hello! Connecting through a conversation can be enriched and an opportunity can arise!
This morning I noticed a child getting his shoes on. I said hello and waited to see if he needed help. Falling out of his backpack was a bag filled with treasures and one caught my eye. It was a flag of South Korea. I made a connection with this right away and asked him if he would show me what else he had in his bag and where the flag was from. I discovered this child goes to a Korean school and his family is from South Korea.
So….. I shared with him that my class has connected with a Kindergarten class in South Korea! He smiled and I invited him to come to my classroom to share his treasures. He did! It was wonderful to see how willing and excited this child was to share his story and experience with us. My students were so excited and very eager to share our Padlet of what we are learning about our Kindergarten friends in South Korea. He shared a couple of books with us and we made connections and shared what we noticed about the the text. Then 1 of my students noticed that we also have a book like his! We made a text to text connection! Again, another opportunity to mention in an authentic way a comprehension strategy that we are learning about through a child’s willingness to share.
I believe and value making connections because through our connections we have opportunities to share our story, enrich someone’s experience and enhance our understanding through another perspective. So today I am grateful and so glad that I took time to say hello and connect. We all have opportunities to connect and share our story. All you have to do is say hello!
Posted on February 1, 2014
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.
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.
Posted on December 19, 2013
I participated in an awesome #vted chat last night and our conversation was about digital citizenship. I have been thinking a lot about the chat and how much I learned from others who shared. I was inspired to share about what has happened in @vermontkkids123 this month.
What a wonderful month it has been in Kindergarten. I have been reflecting and thinking about how I am modeling and engaging my students, their families and myself in regards to becoming digital citizens. It has been an amazing month of connecting and integrating technology into our busy days together.
Twitter has enriched my professional learning and also the learning of my students. The connections and learning opportunities we have experienced have been rich, interactive and have given us opportunities to connect with others. My students have also been models for others in regards to “how” we tweet and why. We had a great opportunity this month. @vtfirsties contacted us via twitter. They are a first grade class in New Hampshire. They connected with us on twitter and Skype! We had a conversation via Skype and it was awesome! One of our new friends asked us why we tweet. One of my students shared that we tweet because that is how we connect with other people and we then we can share. So proud of my students.
Now we have a new connection. We have exchanged comments on each others kidblogs too! The students have used 2 different platforms to have conversations, connect and share! Later one of my students was noticing the blue line on twitter between tweets. I asked;” What do you think it means?” Two of my students shared that it means we are connected! Wow! Yes, it does and now I have another opportunity to go deeper in terms of what else they may notice. One of my students shared that we can have lots of conversations at the sametime. Yes, because we have more than 1 blue line between tweets. This is how easy it can be and so meaningful when using social media to help develop digital citizens.We also connected with a Kindergarten class in Wisconsin. Through twitter we have learned a new mathematical game that is helping us develop the concept of subtraction.
Our conversation focuses on what we learned and discovered through a connection we made in regards to what we were learning. Our friends in Wisconsin, @naulta132 also get to experience how they have made a difference for us. This is how we, as educators of young children can model and help our students experience what it means to be a safe, kind and responsible digital citizen.
Students enjoy getting a paper twitter bird as an explicit artifact that they can bring home and share with their family. Kidblog is another way to share how we are learning and with who. Skype is a way to have face to face conversations with others outside of our classroom.
I feel that as an educator I am modeling how we make a difference and make contributions to the world through learning, this is part of being a global citizen. The digital part is how we share our story. Through our stories we connect, have conversations and inspire others.
Posted on November 17, 2013
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.
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.
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.
Posted on July 28, 2013
I had the opportunity to be a part of a live podcast yesterday at EduReach with Michelle Russell, Cheryl Lykowski, Carlos Fernandez and James Gubbins. Wow! It was an incredible experience. If you teach, be sure to go to: http://www.whatisyoureduwin.com/ This is where you have an opportunity to share the awesome things that you are discovering with your students and colleagues.
How did I find out about #Eduwin? I was on twitter one afternoon reading about the wonderful things that my PLN was involved in when I read a tweet shared by @flourishingkids. She shared the link to #eduwin and that it was a great place to share what you are doing. So because of this tweet, I went to the link, read about #Eduwin and decided to share! I shared my learning about blogging and the impact it has had on me professionally as well as my students, their families and colleagues. Shortly after I submitted my idea, #Eduwin contacted me and an interactive, live podcast was organized.
This was my 1st podcast. It was amazing. I was able to have conversations with 4 talented people whom I have never met. They are now a part of my PLN! What was so great about this podcast was that we were all in different parts of the US; Vermont, Chicago, Michigan and Florida. This was possible thanks to Google Hangout! I am new at using Google Hangouts, but it worked so well. I felt as though we were all in the same place together.
The conversation was very inspiring for me. As an educator I feel it is so important to have opportunities to share about what we are doing with our students. I learn so much from the successes and challenges from my colleagues. The dialogue is important and vital for my growth as an educator. Through this type of experience I am now willing to do this again and encourage others to share as well!
I am struck continually by the energy, courage, creativity, perseverance and knowledge that I come across when I am connecting with my PLN. For me twitter and linkedin play an important role in my transformation and growth. If you are not using social media as part of your profession, I hope that you will consider it! The world is a huge place with so many opportunities to connect, collaborate and grow. I value all of the connections I have made because they have helped me become a strong and transparent teacher, who continues to find ways to make a difference for my students.
Posted on July 14, 2013
I value connecting and communicating with my parents and my students before I meet them as well as throughout our year together. These are vital and very important in regards to not only the strong relationships I want to develop, but how it supports and strengthens learning.
How it starts….
Prior to Kindergarten I send a post card to each of my new students via snail mail. I then create an email distribution list and contact my new families. I welcome them, give them LOTS of information in regards to how we connect and where to go to get information in regards to Kindergarten.
I send out a Google Form asking permission for using Social Media, YouTube, Skype, kidblog, posting their work and photos, video on the websites I have created. (Click here to see the form) This way my parents and students have opportunities to connect, share, have conversations virtually about what kindergarten life will be like. This is so important. Parents need lots of opportunities to ask questions, share and connect. As an educator I welcome the opportunity to get connected with my students and their parents. Through our connections and conversations that we have before, during and after Kindergarten are extremely important and valuable.
I also offer an informational meeting prior to school staring for all my new families. The focus is getting connected digitally. I invite former Kindergarten students to help me show how and why we use the tools we do in regards to our learning. This is an easy, fun and interactive way to have a large group conversation about how my new students and their families will be connecting throughout our year together.
I feel strongly about making opportunities for both my students and families to connect prior to Kindergarten starting. What an awesome opportunity I have to get everyone connected in the beginning. Digital culture is really different for many people. I look at this as a way for me to really highlight and promote the use of a variety of technologies in a safe, kind, responsible way. As I model and use technology in meaningful ways I am demonstrating and encouraging my students and their families to interact in a variety of ways digitally. The interaction is always focused on their learning and is meaningful in regards to what we feel is important to what we discover.
In the beginning my focus and goals are about connecting and developing relationships. As an educator the relationship is huge for me and very important. I want to be as transparent as I can in regards to what I am doing and why. This way my students and their families gain perspective about what kindergarten life looks and sounds like. Also, most importantly, how they can interact and be involved with their child’s school experience. Time is very valuable and opportunities arise out of nowhere sometimes, even unexpectedly. I try to capture and embrace those moments to share and connect. Through my modeling, parents feel connected and that their voice is heard and needed.
The information I share…….
1. Class Wiki This is where parents can connect, read and ask questions about Kindergarten life. This wiki has the “nuts and bolts” of what their child needs, daily schedules, etc.
2. Literacy Wiki This is where parents go to read, see and listen to what literacy is and how it works in Kindergarten. Each page focuses on a different aspect of our literacy program.
3. Math Wiki This is where parents go to learn about what mathematical thinking and exploration looks like and sounds like in Kindergarten. Each page focuses on a different strand, concept of what their child will be experiencing.
4. Class Blog This is where parents go with their child/children to see what is happening in Kindergarten. I blog in the beginning of school with my students so they begin to develop a sense of audience and the importance of how we connect, share, and what we explore.
5. Life Studies Blog This is where I highlight and emphasize science exploration. I originally created this blog to showcase our 4 Winds program. This is a parent run and organized science program in our school.
6. Summer Reading Blog This was created for former and new students to connect with in regards to literacy. This idea was shared with me by our Technology Education Integrationist, Bonnie Birdsall(@bonniebird).
7. Kidblog This is an amazing platform to use with my students and their families. Through blogging everyone experiences how you can share your voice and connect with others in a safe, kind and responsible way. A wonderful way to experience and model how to be a digital citizen.
7. Kindergartenlife This blog was created as a place where I can reflect about what I am doing and why. I share my discoveries, challenges and celebrations in regards to teaching Kindergarten.
I use a lot of technology because it gives everyone a voice. Technology is not separate from what I do and explore with my students. It is a part of our daily life and culture because I model a variety of tools in authentic ways, ways that capture and enhance our learning experiences. Learning is for everyone.