Tag Archives: kidblog

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.

 

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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!

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?

@SKYPEClassroom: Inviting Perspective To Enrich and Engage!

Yesterday was one of those amazing experiences that I had using a synchronous tool with my Kindergarten students that really had a positive impact on what we were exploring inside and outside of our classroom.  As a Kindergarten teacher I have lots of opportunities for my students to create and design their understanding of the topics we explore. We use our imagination and interest, but also our hands!
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Yesterday morning we had an opportunity to use SKYPE to connect and learn from a forest ranger in Yellowstone National Park!  Wow!  My students were so captivated and interested in this session.  Our forest ranger was engaging, shared photographs and real artifacts of animals and other real things that are part of forest life.  Through this experience my students learned about forest life in the west.  We were able to make connections with ideas that we were familiar with in Vermont too.  My students learned about special adaptations of animals and how these adaptations impact their life.  As I watched and listened to the conversation between the forester, in Colorado and my classroom I was struck at how comfortable my students were in using Skype as a way to share and the great questions they had. My students were engaged and enriched with this experience.  They were able to experience again the value of making connections with others who have a special expertise and a different perspective about what we are exploring.
unnamed-7I look forward to using @SKYPEClassroom again to enrich my students learning.  This is a wonderful, easy and fun way to connect real learning opportunities in authentic ways.

As we began to explore the forests of Vermont my students were very interested in the trees that grew in the forests and the animal live.  So we began to create our own forest inside of our classroom.  We constructed trees using paper, paint and cardboard.  We even collected real tree growth from the natural world and found ways to display and share inside our classroom.  Later we created non fiction books, created posts on our Kidblogs about our favorite forest animal, the rabbit!  Later we were also able to create our own rabbit too!unnamed

As an educator I have opportunities to use a variety of technologies to support and enrich learning for my students.  I continue to share and try new ideas that offer inspiration and challenge my thinking.  It is vital that I think in a transparent way when teaching.  It is an opportunity for me to offer my students and their families to learn alongside me, with me and feel like they are a part of their child’s education.  This is how I am able to make a difference, engage and connect.  I would not do it differently.  Technology is definitely changing education, but it is creating an opportunity for all of us to connect and engage in meaningful ways that supports learning inside and outside of our classrooms.  How are you making this happen?

I Blog Because…………..

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Why I Blog

In 2008 I was introduced to this idea, blogging idea because I was in a workshop that my school offered by an amazing technology educational integrationist, Bonnie Birdsall. I was inspired by her presentation and all of the possibilities that blogging could offer. I remember my mind being flooded with all of the possibilities that I started to think about in regards to communication, relationship building and perspective.

So my journey began….

Here I am 6 years later.  I manage 5 blogs, in my 5th year of using Kidblog and have had many opportunities to blog on other Blogs like SmartBrief on Education, Teach.com, Kidblog, Eduwin and I have also had the honor of writing a couple of articles for the ISTE Leading and Learning with Technology magazine.  These have all been amazing opportunities for me to share my voice using an asynchronous tool to be transparent about what I am exploring and discovering in regards to learning and how technology can really enhance learning experiences for myself and my students.

If you are thinking of blogging, do it!  Take a risk at sharing your voice with others.  I have found that the rewards of blogging have been inspiring and engaging.  I have had my thinking challenged, my perspective is wide and I appreciate what others have to say and ask in regards to what I am sharing.  Through this type of online conversation I am inspired, my thinking is challenged and I begin to connect and learn from others, collaborations develop.

I began by creating a classroom blog.  My goal was to create a place where my students and I could create posts about our learning explorations that we experienced inside and outside of kindergarten.  As I began exploring blogging with my students, I found the children to be very excited about it.  They enjoyed seeing themselves, hearing their ideas and asking each other what they noticed.  This was the beginning of something wonderful for me in regards to not only becoming more transparent, but also how this asynchronous tool was about to transform my learning as well.

What I noticed….

  1. Opportunities for conversations:

As a kindergarten teacher I want to make sure that I have plenty of opportunities for my students to engage in rich, meaningful conversations in regards to what they exploring.  These conversations are extremely important because they validate the thinking and ideas that my students have.  When a child can hear and see themselves in a photograph, a video, a podcast they are immediately engaged and naturally begin to make connections and observations.  This is a wonderful way to begin to validate and highlight the conversations that are happening inside of your classroom.  Then when you post on a blog, you begin to model explicitly what can happen when you share your thinking with others. You are thinking about how you can share outside of your classroom walls. Your students will be intrigued by the blog and how it can be used to highlight what they are exploring.

Then by adding a map widget on your blog you begin to help your students develop the idea of audience and perspective. Your students begin to think about the value of what can happen when they share.  I always tell my students that this map is the world, it is a way that we can share what we are learning with others.  Others are interested in what we are exploring and learning.  This is another opportunity for me to explicitly to model how a conversation can begin through blogging.  We begin to notice, look at others blogs and make comments about what they are doing too.  Through this type of modeling I am beginning to take steps with my students about what it means to be a safe, kind and responsible digital citizen.  The map on our blog now serves as a place where we notice all of the attributes blinking.  This is motivating for my students because they get interested where people are in the world and that they are interested in what we are learning.  Engagement and interest is high.

Communication became fluid, available, enriching, variety of tools: Communication is vital.  I want my students and their parents to be informed about daily kindergarten life.  Blogging is a great platform for this to happen because it is always their.  Sending paper notes home is really inefficient for me because folks loose the paper, forget dates, etc.  Using blogging as a platform is one way that I can consistently share what is happening inside/outside of kindergarten in regards to learning.

  1. Parents want to be informed and be able to contribute and have conversations with their children about their day in school.  Blogging is a vehicle to help make this happen.  The blog is a way for parents to engage and have face to face conversations with their  children about their day in school.  The photographs, video, etc. offer an opportunity to share and reflect. Here parents can begin to see and hear how learning is enriched through using blogging as a platform. Through blogging I am able to open up opportunities for parents to ask questions, post comments and share with other family members.
  2. In Kindergarten I have many opportunities throughout the day to capture what and how my students are exploring their ideas and what they understand about them. When I am able to photograph and/or use a video I offer another way for my students to reflect and explain their ideas.  As an educator this also gives me a way to listen to what my students understand and how they came to their justification of what they share.  Through face to face conversations and turn and talks that occur authentically I am able to use my class blog as a way to share not only what my students are learning, but how they are learning. Here is where excitement and engagement can really be ignited!
  3. I have seen how all of my students become more confident and take risks with sharing their ideas because they enjoy seeing themselves and their work.  When I model and share their learning I am offering them an opportunity to share their perspective globally.  All students want to share and talk about what they are doing.  The blog offers a way for my students to get positive compliments and feedback.  The commenting that occurs has been thoughtful and positive.  This inspires my students to take risks and share more!
  4. When others connect with us we also have an opportunity to model and share our ideas. Without always being aware of it my students are mentoring their learning for others.  This is also inspiring and offers time for my students to reflect and share what matters most about what they understand. Once we begin to share our voice, we capture what is important and give others opportunities to try what we are doing and the tools we are using.  All it takes is an idea and the willingness to try.  The opportunities unfold on their own.
  5. We are modeling how to be safe, kind and responsible because we always share about what and how we are learning.  Our online etiquette is the same as it is when we are having face to face conversations.

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I blog because……..

1.Opportunities for conversations=Builds Positive Communication

  1. Family engagement, Connection
  2. Authentic Learning
  3. Positive Self-Esteem=High Engagement
  4. Collaboration can lead to mentoring opportunities
  5. Digital Citizenship: safe, kind, responsible, explicit modeling

Blogging has offered me endless ways for my families to connect and engage in their child’s learning.  As a professional I continue to grow, learn and be inspired through my own learning, my students and others who take risks and chances in sharing.  I am able to make a difference because I care, but I am also willing to be transparent and share and engage in global conversations with others who strive each day to make learning fun and meaningful.

So when others ask me why I blog, I say;”Why not?”

 

Connecting With Parents: Value of Conversations

I value connecting and communicating with my parents and my students before I meet them as well as throughout our year together. These are vital and very important in regards to not only the strong relationships I want to develop, but how it supports and strengthens learning.

How it starts….

Prior to Kindergarten I send a post card to each of my new students via snail mail. I then create an email distribution list and contact my new families. I welcome them, give them LOTS of information in regards to how we connect and where to go to get information in regards to Kindergarten.

I send out a Google Form asking permission for using Social Media, YouTube, Skype, kidblog, posting their work and photos, video on the websites I have created. (Click here to see the form) This way my parents and students have opportunities to connect, share, have conversations virtually about what kindergarten life will be like. This is so important. Parents need lots of opportunities to ask questions, share and connect. As an educator I welcome the opportunity to get connected with my students and their parents. Through our connections and conversations that we have before, during and after Kindergarten are extremely important and valuable.

I also offer an informational meeting prior to school staring for all my new families. The focus is getting connected digitally. I invite former Kindergarten students to help me show how and why we use the tools we do in regards to our learning. This is an easy, fun and interactive way to have a large group conversation about how my new students and their families will be connecting throughout our year together.

My Rationale…..

I feel strongly about making opportunities for both my students and families to connect prior to Kindergarten starting. What an awesome opportunity I have to get everyone connected in the beginning. Digital culture is really different for many people. I look at this as a way for me to really highlight and promote the use of a variety of technologies in a safe, kind, responsible way. As I model and use technology in meaningful ways I am demonstrating and encouraging my students and their families to interact in a variety of ways digitally. The interaction is always focused on their learning and is meaningful in regards to what we feel is important to what we discover.

In the beginning my focus and goals are about connecting and developing relationships. As an educator the relationship is huge for me and very important. I want to be as transparent as I can in regards to what I am doing and why. This way my students and their families gain perspective about what kindergarten life looks and sounds like. Also, most importantly, how they can interact and be involved with their child’s school experience. Time is very valuable and opportunities arise out of nowhere sometimes, even unexpectedly. I try to capture and embrace those moments to share and connect. Through my modeling, parents feel connected and that their voice is heard and needed.

The information I share…….

1. Class Wiki This is where parents can connect, read and ask questions about Kindergarten life. This wiki has the “nuts and bolts” of what their child needs, daily schedules, etc.

2. Literacy Wiki This is where parents go to read, see and listen to what literacy is and how it works in Kindergarten. Each page focuses on a different aspect of our literacy program.

3. Math Wiki This is where parents go to learn about what mathematical thinking and exploration looks like and sounds like in Kindergarten. Each page focuses on a different strand, concept of what their child will be experiencing.

4. Class Blog This is where parents go with their child/children to see what is happening in Kindergarten. I blog in the beginning of school with my students so they begin to develop a sense of audience and the importance of how we connect, share, and what we explore.

5. Life Studies Blog This is where I highlight and emphasize science exploration. I originally created this blog to showcase our 4 Winds program. This is a parent run and organized science program in our school.

6. Summer Reading Blog This was created for former and new students to connect with in regards to literacy. This idea was shared with me by our Technology Education Integrationist, Bonnie Birdsall(@bonniebird).

7. Kidblog This is an amazing platform to use with my students and their families. Through blogging everyone experiences how you can share your voice and connect with others in a safe, kind and responsible way. A wonderful way to experience and model how to be a digital citizen.

7. Kindergartenlife This blog was created as a place where I can reflect about what I am doing and why. I share my discoveries, challenges and celebrations in regards to teaching Kindergarten.IMG_5286

I use a lot of technology because it gives everyone a voice. Technology is not separate from what I do and explore with my students. It is a part of our daily life and culture because I model a variety of tools in authentic ways, ways that capture and enhance our learning experiences. Learning is for everyone.

Kidblog

Kidblog


I am entering my 3rd year using kidblog with my Kindergarten students and I’m so amazed and thrilled with all the learning opportunities that have appeared, that I just must share.  I never imagined that blogging would be the platform that I use to showcase student discoveries, make connections, collaborate and of course be such an important part of my PLN (Personal Learning Network).

Being a kindergarten teacher is really exciting and so inspiring.  I have been able to really enhance what I am doing in kindergarten with my students in such a meaningful and engaging way.  By making kidblog available to my students and their families the learning seems never ending.

Prior to Kindergarten starting I create a Google Form asking for permission from all of my students families about using kidblog.  Once I have this, I create a class.  I begin by creating a post myself with a welcoming message and usually a photograph.  I will create about 3 more posts prior to Kindergarten starting.  My posts are usually things I’m doing and places I have been. Sometimes I may even pose a question about a photograph I have taken of something interesting.  For example; I recently visited Chicago and found an amazing ceiling window that was designed by all triangles.  So I posted the photograph and posed the question; ”I wonder how many triangles are in the photo?”  Just by creating this simple post and posing an open ended question, I invite my students and their families to begin to engage with their child’s blog.  

I have found that this is a nice way to welcome my students into the world of blogging.

Now the connections and discoveries begin.  My students begin to become familiar with what a blog is and it’s purpose. This is vital and very important.  I always focus on the how and why of what I am doing.  The purpose has to be clear and exposed so that the meaning is clear.  By being transparent about what and why I doing, I invite parents to also think about how this is helping their child and the dialogue begins.

Through blogging my students have lots of opportunities to share what they are doing inside and outside of kindergarten.  This is important because it is through our discoveries and explorations that we are able to share, connect and collaborate with others.

Now I have had many interactions with my students and their families before kindergarten starts.  For most of my students we have never met face to face yet, so this is especially nice for my students and their families to begin to experience what kindergarten will be like, a way to begin to connect with others and establish new relationships.

Each child’s kidblog represents what they feel is important and what they wish to share with others.  I have found my students to be very excited about what they want to post and their reasons for why they choose what they did.  When children have choices about what they want to share they’re able to be very explicit about what they understand and experience.  Through these choices I am able to help my students elaborate and ask questions that may either further their understanding or inspire them in another direction.

To sign up for kidblog go to: http://kidblog.org/home.php

Kidblog has opened many learning opportunities for me, my students, their families and others.  What a wonderful way to share what a child discovers and understands.