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Teaching Kindergarten in the 21st Century and Beyond
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Tag Archives: innovation
Posted on June 2, 2018
Sharing Our Story:@vermontkkids123
Recently I had the opportunity as a former Ignite award winner to work with an amazing storyteller, Sue Schmidt. I, along with 3 other talented educators was able to share our stories at a recent Vita-Learn conference. For me, this was really hard at first! As I practiced my story, wrote it down and then shared with a live audience I was struck by the ease at which my words and passion came through. I learned that when we share a personal story, it has such deep meaning because it represents a journey, a beginning and a place where we end up but still evolving.
The other thought I have about this process is how reflective it was. My reflection was both backward and forward about my experience. I thought a lot about my inward reflections as well about my journey and what I thought others might be thinking about what I was sharing, my story. As reflective and challenging as this process was, I felt very inspired and confident in my story and hope that it inspired others too.
Telling our story….
Back in Kindergarten, I started to think about when and how my Kindergarten students have opportunities to share their stories and when. One of the opportunities in our class is to create an iMovie about the Global Goals for Sustainability. One of my colleagues and awesome ELL teacher, Patti Tursi offers her expertise in being a director for our movie. She shares how we are going to talk about why we want people to know about the goals and why. As we begin this work collaboratively we meet and come up with a plan of action. The plan provides us a way to organize our thoughts and ideas but is also flexible if we need to change things. We use Google Docs because we can both add and change things anytime, anywhere. If we have questions we can post and support each other in our thinking. So we begin…
- What are the goals?
- Individual photos with words
- Voice over photos
- How are we learning about the goals?
- Service-learning connection/experiences
- Think: goal(s)
- Create photo/illustration
- individual/small group
- Background of the world with our identity(color, collaborative)
- Exploration of the filming” studio”/stage we created with the children
- Explore microphones
- Rehearsal/Filming: Practice using student voice to tell their story and connection with the goal they choose
- Filming Cutaways:
- A small group of students works with Patti to edit and make decisions about what we want to keep and/or retakes
The children learned so much from Ms. Tursi. She has special expertise in creating movies and as our director, we all learned how to create a movie and what was involved. Through this process, the children were collaborative and very respectful and supportive of each other. They learned how to use technology in an authentic way with a strong purpose to inspire others. Thinking reflectively about what they thought of themselves as storytellers about what they are passionate about, helping the world. As an educator this really is amazing and how wonderful that we can all learn alongside each other to create a story/message about why others need to engage in the goals.
Through the use of a microphone, iPad, iMovie, Google Docs, Ms. Tursi’s time, energy and expertise, and flexible space we were able to collaborate with each other to create something wonderful. The process is easy to think about: a plan, design, create/produce and publish.
So because of this experience, one of my students thought it would be a great idea to tell the school about the goals and ask for others to help us collect food one more time before school ends and then walk and deliver the food before school ends. So we did! Small groups of Kindergarten students are visiting interested classes to speak about their goals and why they are important. They share our work around Global Goal #2 Zero Hunger as a way to share how collecting food connects. Then something wonderful happens. Another Kindergarten teacher reads the story; “On Market Street to her students and shares that her students decided to do something kind for others and that they also wanted to collect food for the food shelf. Awesome! So now students from both classrooms are making a morning announcement at our school to explain what we are doing and why we need everyone’s help.
When we share and invite others to help we create a positive culture of learning and a culture that encourages kindness and builds empathy. I am proud to be an ambassador for the global goals and feel privileged to work and learn alongside so many inspiring educators, students, and their families globally.
Check out one of my kindergarten students’ writing she created during a playtime.. What if we all felt this way? How can we all make this happen?
Posted on May 22, 2018
Today I had the opportunity to share my story as an ignite teacher. What a pleasure it was to share and listen to my fellow Ignite teachers stories. I shared my story about how my learning evolved with the support of technology and how opportunities for developing meaningful and deep relationships were created. I believe that because of the connectivity and my willingness to be transparent in my own learning, I am able to learn alongside my students daily as we share our voices globally.
Here is my story………
I am learning how to connect and learn about the world alongside my students. Together we are exploring how digital tools and platforms offer opportunities to have conversations with others, who like us want to make the world a better place.
In the beginning, I had computers in my room that I did not want. I asked to have them removed because I wanted the space for other things. The computers stayed, collecting dust. I did not understand how technology could be used and why did we need computers anyway? I kept thinking about why do I need these machines, what purpose do they have, and how will they help with my learning and that of my students?
In 2008 I participated in a blogging workshop. I was immediately intrigued by how I could use blogging as a way to share what we are doing in Kindergarten, why it is important and how learning evolves. So I started a class blog and immediately my students and their families connected and our conversations and relationships deepened and learning became the focus. Blogging helped me experience the value of the audience and how by sharing a variety of perspectives, relationships develop and we open up opportunities to have conversations about our learning. Now parents, students and others globally can read and listen to what we are learning about and how. I thought about how wonderful this will be for parents especially. Families had access to our day of learning, our stories…Families were in a way being invited, daily to see what is happening inside and out of Kindergarten anytime they wanted to, no more losing and misplacing endless pieces of paper about our days. Our learning was always available. Parents and their children would have a way to begin a conversation about their day.
One of my students was from Africa. He traveled by himself to the United States where he met his new family and school. With the help of his mom, we were able to use Skype as a way to say hello and learn a bit about Africa. My student introduced his Mother to us as his African mother, Rita. The children were mesmerized by this conversation, and as my student introduced his classmates, I watched the expression on Rita’s face, one of happiness. Then his mother asked her son, “How are you? Do you like your school?” Right then, at that moment it struck me about how important conversations are and the value of developing relationships that share who we are and where we come from. So at this moment, we all learned about how technology can be used to create a bridge to connect. Later my students asked why this child had more than one mom. He shared; “I am lucky because I have an American mom and an African mom.” We learned about the value of acceptance… and our perspective of family widened, we learned that families look different.
Later another child’s parents were traveling in Japan. They shared videos and photos of what life was like there. The children were really intrigued by the speeding trains. When the child’s parents connected with us using GoogleHangout, their child was able to say hello. As he softly cried, when he saw his parents on the screen. he told his parents how much he missed them. In those moments he was reassured that he would see his parents tomorrow. The other children immediately spoke kind words and told him that it would be okay. At that moment we experienced empathy and the webcam that was once put in mouths and licked was now a portal to connect and speak with people who care about us and our learning. Through our interactions with each other, we learn about the importance of friendship and empathy.
As we explored Global Goal #13 this past year, and previous years, Climate Action, the children were able to learn about waste. As we explored what waste, how it is created and what might be some possible solutions we connected with Recycle Rhonda from the Chittenden Solid Waste District. We learned about ways that we could be less wasteful through hands-on workshops. We created a padlet to ask others globally what they were doing to be less wasteful. Then during one of Recycle Rhonda’s visits,s one of the children asked if she was on Twitter. She replied, “No.” So the children explained to her what Twitter was and if she joined Twitter we could talk to her. So she joined! The children now share their positive actions around waste with her via Twitter. The children, at the ages of 5 and 6 are modeling and teaching an adult about how to use this social platform in a safe, kind, and responsible way. The children begin to experience and understand how this platform can help us make connections, share our learning and have conversations with others who are interested in our learning. Now we, together with experience understand how we can deepen our learning through the use of technology. Twitter becomes a platform to have conversations.
I’ve decided not to try to keep up with it all, but to focus on the things I’m using while being open to new ideas. Another challenge is being explicit and intentional about what digital platform to use and how. I have been inspired by the authentic, personal experiences that I, my students, my colleagues, and their families have shared in regard to how technology has enriched and enhanced their understanding and connection with each other and the world. For me, learning is for everyone. I have hope that technology will offer endless opportunities for everyone to share their voice and connect with others who have a passion for what is important to them. Learning is always the focus… technology is a tool that offers a bridge to the world. Through our ability to be transparent, we model how we can all learn from and alongside each other in positive ways to make the world a better place.
Posted on November 29, 2017
As a kindergarten teacher, I have the privilege of working each day with young children who are eager to learn and connect with their learning environment. I look forward to being inspired by our busy days together.
In the beginning days of school, I began to build a learning culture with my students through a big idea. This year our big idea was sustainability. We began by asking what we could do to help sustain and keep the world healthy. As we began to explore this idea I introduced the Global Goals for Sustainability because these goals were at the center of our learning. We put a poster of the Global Goals in our classroom and it became an easy way to weave the goals into our daily learning explorations. I explained to my students that these goals are promises we can make to make a difference in the world. I shared that if we make a promise to help, we are pledging our help to save the world. My students immediately become excited about this idea and wanted to know what they could do to help. I began by asking a simple question, “What do you do if you are cold?” The children responded with: I get a jacket, snuggle with a blanket and put a coat on. I used their examples as an opportunity to connect the goals. I asked my students to imagine that the goals were a large blanket that wraps itself around the world. The blanket represents the goals. The goals are around so we can all help sustain the world for everyone to enjoy.
Why does this matter?
The world needs everybody’s help. Global Goals provide endless opportunities to build awareness and create a plan of action. The goals also translate to my local community as I began thinking of possible needs and opportunities we have and ways my students could engage in a positive manner to build awareness for change. Children want to be a part of solution-based problem solving, and this can begin in kindergarten. A good place to start is with teaching how our actions of kindness can help create people who care and have empathy for others.
There are seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, and I chose to begin with Goal #16 because it is about being kind, advocating for others who may need help and promoting fairness. A good place to learn more about the goals on the #TeachSDGs site, there is also a Twitter conversation around this hashtag.
This goal sets a positive tone for risk-taking, support, and encouragement. Young children need experiences and opportunities to feel what it is like to support others and be kind. Through establishing these ideas at the beginning of Kindergarten we all begin to understand that it is about what we can do together, not as individuals that offer invitations for everyone to participate.
Creating a Culture of Learning
We created a culture of learning, by noticing and sharing our actions of kindness towards each other. Through our actions of kindness, patience, and collaboration my students felt connected to Kindergarten and each other. As we built trust, took risks and learned from each other we created a culture where all students feel safe, valued and inspired. Once my students felt connected to a classroom, we painted a map of the world as a way to show that other people live outside of Vermont and this Kindergarten class. I also began connecting with other educators and people around the world using Padlet, Skype, Google Hangout, and Twitter. As we connected with people I took photos so my students were able to see where people are from globally, but also how we were having conversations with them.
Connections with Content:
As I began exploring how to teach about the SDGs, I looked towards the content I was teaching to determine where the goals and the content meshed. I first looked at the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards), these standards are a wonderful way to begin to think about where you want to start and what goals you will explore. As we explored Goal #13 Climate Action and Goal #15 Life On Land, my students were able to connect that through our ability not to be wasteful, we can have a positive impact on land and climate. Since the goals are displayed on my wall, the students make connections about being responsible for waste every time we recycle, compost, and reuse. This helps my students make a connection with authentic action. I found a good place to start is by simply putting up a Global Goal in your classroom where your students can make a connection. Just by adding Goal #6 to our sink area my students are being more responsible for not wasting water. These visual reminders are helping to build their awareness.
Another idea is to ask your students to make a pledge or promise to the world. I have found this to be very impactful in my Kindergarten class, as students highlight the goal and what their action will be. I then ask my students to read their promises aloud, as if to the world, and they all feel proud. We created a board outside our classroom as a way to highlight our promises.
In my class, we are currently exploring forest life, and this offers opportunities to explore and expand on two Global Goals: #13 Climate Action and #15 Life On Land.
Through our weekly nature walks and explorations outside, my students are beginning to develop an awareness of the outdoors and why we need to take care of it. Through Padlet we were able to share what a tree/forest looks like in Vermont as well as what trees look like and need in other countries. To get started with this activity, we first shared our Padlet on Twitter, and I also asked families to share with family members and on their Facebook pages. I also shared on my Facebook pages with other teachers. We received responses from Hong Kong, Egypt, Portugal, Germany, Ireland, London, and Australia. My students were so excited to see that people from 5 continents added to our Padlet! I printed the photos off from each country and we made observations about the trees and forests, then we put the images on our map of the world. This allowed my students to see where the trees grew globally.
Through our forest exploration, my students were able to reflect on what things trees need to grow and survive no matter where they are in the world.
This is what they came up with:
- All trees need a seed.
- All trees need water.
- All trees need soil.
- All trees need sunlight.
- Trees need people to care
My favorite response was #5 because when we take care of things we are modeling and demonstrating how we care. This idea comes back to no matter what the content. These ideas turned into a belief statement for my Kindergarten students. We now connect all of our learning explorations to the global goals.
As an extension to this project, we made a connection with a Kindergarten class in Hong Kong because my sister is a teacher there and she put me in touch with other teachers who are interested in connecting globally with another class. Now we connect monthly using Padlet and/or Twitter to share what we are exploring. Twitter and Facebook teacher groups are also great places to post projects and ask if others are interested in joining my class to explore a specific learning idea.
The goals can be woven in and out of all content, standards, and learning. Regardless of the age you teach, the world needs everyone to care, now! What are some themes of study you are exploring? Ask your students how they can make a difference. What is important to them? Think about a global goal that would connect with their learning. Then take it a step further and think about a community need or school need you to have. How can you build an awareness alongside your students and their families?
Posted on May 30, 2017
Collaborative efforts bring awareness, engagement, and advocacy from even young children in helping develop an appreciation for the natural world. It starts through an exploration of what the goals are, why we have them and why it might be important for others to know about them. Then we create a plan of action.
This is our journey…
We created awareness and listed our goals, talking about why we thought they were important and what they meant to us. What was interesting is that while we explored them and hung a poster in our classroom, they became part of our classroom culture. By doing this it was easy for me to connect conversations that we were having with a specific goal. Through our authentic and genuine curiosity about the global goals, we have all become more aware of not only what they are but why they are important. “The why” is most important because it helped drive deeper thinking and the children then had an opportunity to be reflective.
We have been exploring all year ways that we make a difference for ourselves, our school, our family and community. We started with an essential question… Where does waste go? So we created an awareness of what we thought and then created a padlet that we could share globally to find out what others in the world are doing. This was easy to tie into the global goals because as we created our own awareness, we also were able to think about how our actions could impact the climate and life on land. Yup! There just happens to be two global goals, Climate Action #13 and Life on Land #15.
Another way we helped make a difference for others was to build awareness of hunger. We were curious if people were hungry, Did children have enough food? What happens if people need food? Who helps them? Again, this is another opportunity to refer to the global goals, goal #2 zero hunger. My students collect food twice a year. Then we walk to our local food shelf and make a delivery. This is always exciting for children. They have direct experience with what it means to help others and have empathy. This is easy to do. Think of a need that your community has, build awareness and then create a plan of action that includes your students, families, and communities. Together, everyone begins to connect and weave a thread of caring because it directly impacts a need.
Now the Global Goals are a part of my classroom culture. They remind us all of what the world needs. My students understand why they are important and are creative in their ideas to find ways to make the world a better place. Even in Kindergarten, these ideas have an impact. My students are really genuinely invested in making the world a better place. I think about the impact this could have if more and more young children were familiar with making goals. Just by building awareness, through the content I explore, we are finding ways to connect to the goals. It raises awareness of the world and really, my students love learning about the world! Kindergarten seems like the perfect place to begin thinking about how we can collaborate globally to make the world a better place. We all need each other. The world needs all of us to care and make wishes come true for everyone. Why not start collaborating with your students today!
My ELL teacher, Patti Tursi collaborated with me around the goals. As an ELL teacher, she has special expertise and perspective about students who are from places other than the US. She becomes a director of our 1st documentary on the Global Goals. She sets up a filming studio in my classroom with the children and then the children begin to explore the filming equipment and play so they experience what it can be used for. Later when we film, Patti teaches us about being quiet on the set and other languages used for creating a film. This experience is real life and offers my students an opportunity to learn a new language with a new expert.
Here is our 1st documentary!
I paint a map of the world each year with my students. We add places we visit and people we connect with. We share how we are having conversations with others and what we are learning about. Now that I am aware of the Global Goals I can add the goals to our map, as well as when we explore them. This is another way we can build awareness, inspire others and think deeply about what we are doing and how. The why of our ideas is through our own reflection and how we share our voices.
As our year comes to an end I ask my students to think about why we connect globally? Why is it important? Do you think others need to connect globally too?
Here are some of their reasons…
- When we connect we show we care.
- We learn from others.
- We solve problems and learn new things.
- We like global goals because the whole world cares about everyone.
- I love the world.
- We help the world. We love the world. We connect globally because we care.
- I love to learn about the world.
- It is fun.
I believe in people and have a passion for learning. I have hope that through our collaborative efforts we will be able to make a difference globally. This means we all can begin taking 1 step at a time, building an awareness of what we can do. I am inspired by my Kindergarten students. They give me hope that we can all learn from each other and work together to keep the world healthy.
Posted on June 16, 2013
As my students and I continue to experiment with Air Server we are discovering how collaborative it can be. During our number corner time other mathematicians are able to share their mathematical ideas along with the leader. Air Server allows us up to 4 students to share their ideas. When this happens my students are then able to compare and contrast their ideas. For example we were writing numbers that come before and after a certain number. Students share their ideas and then others have an opportunity to share how they know their idea to be true.
Later during our number corner time we also explore the date of the day. For example; the 18th. Using Doodle Buddy and the stamper feature on the iPad my students are able to create different ways of representing this numeral. When they appear, students then have an opportunity to share how they know they have 18. Some may have a group of 10 and 8, so 10 and 8 makes 18. Another response might be a group of 4 and 14, so 4 and 14 is 18. The collaboration is powerful because all my students are participating and not only making mathematical connections, but are justifying their mathematical ideas.
What a wonderful way for young mathematicians to compare, contrast and collaborate about their ideas. Learning is fun, but when you have cool technological tools, it is even more fun and learning becomes alive!
Posted on March 17, 2013
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.
Young 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. The 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.
So why be innovative and creative? I look forward to hearing from others about what you are doing with your students too!