Tag Archives: creativity

Exploring the Global Goals

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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.”

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?

Digital Tools: It’s Always About The Learning!

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.

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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.

Ongoing Reflection and Thinking

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.  unnamed-4Through 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. unnamed-2unnamed-3Here 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.

The Hour of Code: @vermontkkids123

What an amazing opportunities my students and myself had this week in regards to the national celebration of “The Hour of Code”! We started our journey of coding by watching President Barack Obama’s video.  The video was well done and the message was clear, even to my 5 and 6 year old Kindergarten students.

We need opportunities to create and design ideas that we have in regards to our passions and interests. We need to be engaged and able to use a variety of digital tools to connect, inspire and challenge our thinking.  When we are exposed and transparent in our thinking, then we open up paths for others to invest, engage and collaborate with us and our thinking.  I am thinking that coding may be one way for this to happen.

unnamed-1We are in a world that is not only changing fast, but technology is really impacting our opportunities to connect and engage globally to solve common world problems as well as opportunities to use digital tools that enrich our lives.  So coding is important and yes, even in Kindergarten it is clear that we need to offer opportunities for our students to learn code and how it can support their learning now and in the future.

Creating code is one way I can create opportunities for my students to create & problem solve through collaboration.   We used an App called; “Daisy The Dinosaur” which was fun for my students because they were able to think critically and team together to solve a problem.  Then when we visited our technology lab and teamed up with our learning buddies my students were able to practice that idea again of collaboration.  Working in a team, 1 student navigates and the other is the driver.  This is not a new idea for my students, it is just another learning opportunity where they can experience this type of collaboration using different tools.

My kindergarten students were able to write code and learn how to create directions to make something move!  This was the immediate connection that my students made.  A few of my students shared;”Mrs. D. when we make code we tell the computer what to do!” Thinking about this connection moving forward past this week I am thinking about other ways I can provide my students with opportunities to code.

I am new to the idea of code.  The whole idea of coding was a little bit overwhelming to think about, but now, after this week of coding and being able to learn alongside my students it is not.  As an educator of young children I need to find ways where students can connect and collaborate together to solve a problem.  Coding supports this idea.

Reflecting about coding and why should I be coding and exploring this with my students?

Here is what I came up with….

1. use of high level vocabulary

2. collaboration, conversations in a face to face situation

3. risk taking and experience positive self confidence

4. learning “how to” give/follow a direction

5. setting goals

6. experiencing flexibility and adapting to a new situation involving critical thinking and problem solving

7. use of digital tools, their capabilities

8. experiencing digital citizenship

9. global opportunities, family engagement opportunities

10. It was really fun!

I am passionate about learning.  I support innovation and creativity because we need to be able to use our creativity to connect and collaborate face to face, in our schools, homes and communities. Learning is for everyone and the technological tools available make it possible for everyone to share their voice.

The Importance of Being Creative and Innovative: Why?

I value and believe in creativity and innovation.  Creativity opens up ways for all learners to express and share how they make discoveries.  Innovation is a way to enhance the how of what we discover. It also reflects the deep and critical thinking process of what we have experienced in regards to learning.

As an educator I have a variety of technological tools available for me and my students that can help make creativity and innovation more present and part of our classroom culture.  I feel I’m most successful when my students and their families also begin to experience how these technologies can support what they are noticing about their learning discoveries.

asYoung children are amazing thinkers!  They see patterns and make connections easily.  When they have time to share and connect with each other about their ideas, they begin to create and inspire each other. How are you inspired?  By who?  Why?

An example comes to mind here.  During a literacy time my students were creating self portraits.  We were using mirrors, but they kept sliding over.  One of my students said, “Why don’t we just use an iPad?”  So we did!  Through this idea everyone was able to be more successful with the task and others were collaborating together to help each other set up their iPad using the camera and also why this was a great idea. ImageThe portraits my students created were amazing and contained so much detail!  The camera on the iPad made their face real and so clear.  Some of my students decided to take a picture of themselves to draw.  So just by using the camera on an iPad my students discovered “how to” enhance what they were doing and the activity became much more rigorous and enhanced through a technological tool.

Throughout the year I have had and continue to have many parents, students and professional colleagues share their ideas and understandings around learning in a variety of ways.

Many of my parents of my students send videos of their child discovering a “college word”, reading orally using expression, photographs of writing they’re doing at home, etc.  This is why I need to be open minded and creative when it comes to planning and learning.  When I am successful is when I am making a difference through my example of how I am using technology in ways that are meaningful in regards to learning.  The meaningfulness of what I am doing is shared not just with me, but with my students and others colleagues.  When we model how we are changing our thinking about learning, we are modeling how to be flexible in our practice as well.

I share with my PLN(Professional Learning Network) too!  We inspire each other with our experiences in regards to learning.  Using twitter with my students and my parents has also helped educate why it is so important to use social media in school.  It opens up endless ways to share and collaborate about learning!

This week as I plan I am thinking about how I can be flexible, and model how I change my thinking in regards to learning.  I am also thinking about what tools will help me share and model this  so that my students experience the learning that comes from making mistakes and how this is necessary to get closer to what we understand.  mr

So why be innovative and creative?  I look forward to hearing from others about what you are doing with your students too!