Tag Archives: digital citizenship

Exploring Coding:@vermontkkids123

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.

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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:

  1. It helps you think mathematically.
  2.  It is so fun.
  3. It helps you learn.
  4. Coding helps your brain solve problems.
  5. It helps my thinking.
  6. It helps us learn to use technology.
  7. Coding helps us think and justify our thinking.
  8. Coding is learning Mrs. D.
  9. Coding helps you learn about math.
  10. Coding is important because you can do it by yourself or you can collaborate.
  11. Code

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.

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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.

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Being Grateful: @vermontkkids123

This is a very exciting and busy time of year for everyone.  As a kindergarten teacher I am trying to weave in opportunities for my students to share, reflect,connect and make a difference.  These ideas begin in the beginning days together as we get to know each other and develop, create and design our learning culture together.

This past week we used voicethread as a way to share what we were grateful for as well as Kidblog.  Both of these platforms are opportunities for my students to connect, reflect and inspire others to think about what they are doing to make a difference and also what are they grateful for.

One of the features I like about Kidblog is how versatile it is.  My students can take photos of their ideas and then upload to a blog post.  Sometimes we use other apps as well to create pictures.  After their picture is uploaded my students create a title and last week was the first time we added a thought/sentence expressing our idea!

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Right away I noticed the writing conventions that we have been exploring being used!  For example; Children were remembering to leave spaces between their words, capitalize the 1st letter of a sentence.  Some even remembered punctuation. I was also thinking about the comprehension in their drawings.  They were detailed and their pictures told a story and reflected their idea of what they were grateful for.  The writing of their thought/sentence matched their illustration.  So as an educator I am able to learn many things from this blog post about my students writing, their understanding of comprehension of an idea and various conventions.

Moving forward this helps me get a sense of what is familiar and known as well as where I need to focus next.  The invented writing reflects their understanding of sound/symbol relationships.  It shows me what they understand a word to be, a thought and how they express themselves.

Another feature about Kidblog is that it has a map of the world.  This is important because my students get to see where people are from throughout the world that are interested in our learning.  As we blog and Tweet our learning we are connecting with others along the way, learning alongside each other.

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As an educator I begin to create a culture alongside my students that is transparent and reflective.  Our culture is also global because we are sharing our ideas with the world and look forward to getting compliments on our Kidblog posts.

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I am most grateful to be able to use a variety of tools that enhance, enrich and engage learning for myself, my students and their families. Through our transparency we are able to connect globally and extend our ideas and learning outside of our classroom walls.

 

New Beginnings….

As summer starts to fade away I am thinking about another wonderful year inside/outside of Kindergarten.  What will it be like? How will I connect and engage alongside my students and families?  What do I need to do and how will I be inviting others to engage in the learning that is happening? How will I accomplish all of my goals? student goals? parent goals? So I have decided to just breath……

I have to admit that I do some of my best thinking when I am walking or swimming.  I always wonder about the connection with exercise and fresh air, so important!

Anyway like many of you I am about to begin a new year.  I am so excited and of course my lists seem to be never ending, but I have decided to share a bit about some of the ways I connect with my students and their families before we meet.  The relationships that we build are very important because this is where we are able to develop ways to have conversations, engage in meaningful collaborations and connect.  This is the heart of our work, our students and their families. They matter!

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Last week I offered families opportunities to stop by while I was setting up Kindergarten.  This was so successful.  Not only do I get to say hello and reconnect with former families, but I also get to meet new people as well. Right away children engage with what interests them. Also former students are great helpers too because they have a sense of some of the things that need to get done and are very welcoming in helping others.

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Right away friendships are formed and the children begin to explore materials and their new learning environment while also helping create places for learning.

I always find that parents want to be involved and connected.  I think it is so important for all of us to think about this as we begin to create our own learning environments.

I also invited families former and new to engage with our summer reading blog.  This was another way that parents could begin to connect and explore what they were reading as well as begin to have a conversation with me about the books they were reading. Again, my intentions are to begin to model “how to” use digital tools in ways that demonstrate how I will be using, my parents and students to highlight ideas and experiences we are exploring as well as how we will be connecting.

I have been thinking lately a lot about the value of learning from each other as well as learning alongside each other.  For me I think their is a distinction between these ideas.  When I am learning from someone I am watching, listening and asking questions.  When I am learning alongside someone I am exploring an idea together with them.  We have conversations and opportunities to learn from our interactions.  I am thinking this is important because I want to be able to model the value of both ideas.

Some ideas to help build your relationships with your students and families….

  1. Invite people into your classroom to help you set up the learning environment.
  2. Look for opportunities in your community that offer ways for new families to connect like an ice cream social, library night, popsicles on the playground!  These are all ideas that our community offers for new Kindergarten families, very successful.
  3. Offer frequent celebrations of learning before school where parents can stop by on their way to work.
  4. Offer digital tool sessions for your families where they can explore the digital tools you are using as well as how they will be used.
  5. Invite former parents/students to attend digital tool sessions you offer.  This is so successful and has a huge impact. A nice way for parents to hear from other parents as well.
  6. Set up a class blog!  This is a wonderful way to engage and share daily, weekly the how, what and why you are involved in.  Your students will look for this as a way to share and have face to face conversations at home about their days in school.
  7. Project based learning opportunities are a wonderful way to engage families, students and the community you work in.  I always begin by asking my students;”What can be we do to help others in our community?” You will be amazed at what your students are aware of and want to do.
  8. Twitter is a wonderful way to share important ideas and things you are exploring also.  Twitter has been a great way for me to be in touch with families and also as a way to model “how to” have a conversation globally alongside others.
  9. Kidblog is an amazing platform for students.  Some of my families have really enjoyed sharing their child’s blog with extended family members outside of Vermont.  The children really get excited to think that others are not only interested in their learning, but might leave a compliment too!

Here are just some of my ideas.  I look forward to learning what you are doing too.  Though our sharing we are able to inspire each other and have our thinking challenged.  Wishing everyone an amazing beginning inside/outside of your school!

What Lucia Taught Me….

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.

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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.

In the photograph you see a child creating a post on an iPad on her kidblog.  Lucia helps by showing her where to go to next. swlm

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.

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.