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Teaching Kindergarten in the 21st Century and Beyond
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Tag Archives: conversations
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 May 31, 2015
Last week I was reminded about the importance of self reflection and choice through play. When students have both the time and opportunity to pursue a personal interest they are able to connect, collaborate and engage in meaningful ways that would, well, really surprised me. One of my students is very interested in tornadoes. He has been exploring books, creating tornadoes and even brought in a “tornado tube” and shared how a tornado is created. Through his interest and passion for this topic he was able to share his ideas and engage through play and exploration of text about his topic. He choose a friend to go to the library and get some books on the subject and then read them. Afterwards he created an amazing picture of what he thought a tornado might look like from outer space. I was so intrigued by his perspective. After having a conversation about what he created it was clear to me that by giving choice and more opportunities to our students we are giving them invitations to be inspired and share about what they wish to explore. This is where our students experience critical and deep thinking because they work tirelessly to pursue their own understanding. Through their curiosity they are not only sharing what they are passionate about, but also inspire others to learn alongside them. Here is where authentic learning naturally leads to meaningful conversations and opportunities to collaborate. Later this student asked if we would tweet his picture. When I asked him why; “I want to share my idea with the world.” I recently heard from a parent as well about their Kindergarten experience. Through feedback I am able to reflect, rethink and begin to think about things that worked well and what opportunities do I have to make changes moving on. She shared; “I just want to say a heartfelt “thank you” for teaching our children in a way that inspires them to apply what they learn to real life problems! You don’t just teach them to memorize – you teach them to understand! Two examples in this past week show how much __ has grown in your class with regard to understanding math. First, two days ago we were discussing his birthday party. He was trying to determine how to divide all his friends up into the six stations we are going to have. He asked “If we have 5 friends in each group how many is that?” I asked him what he thought and within 30 seconds he replied “30!” He explained that he combined stations so he could count by 10’s:) This is on example of what can happen for our students when we create opportunities and invitations to learn in ways that connect, engage and inspire us. For me I am thinking of ways that I can continue to offer choice through the content I am required to pursue. I am thinking about ways I might be able to offer choice more often and in ways that might inspire my students to become more curious about the what, why and how we explore together when pursuing questions. Here are a couple of reflections from my students in Kindergarten this year. We are creating books about what we learned how to do in Kindergarten. Here is another way to think about what your students learned, but also what they were most interested in. This is also another opportunity for me to reach out and ask more about why these ideas were mentioned, what they offered? As an educator I want to offer the best learning experience for my students. I want them to feel important, cared for and also know that I have hope for each of them. Learning is for everyone. Through my own ability to ask for feedback and engage in meaningful dialogue about my own learning I am able to make changes and improve learning for myself, my students and their families. Through my own change, I am growing and modeling how transparency can be revealing, but offers ways to create more learning opportunities that promote meaningful reflection and growth.
Posted on April 21, 2015
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.