Tag Archives: literacy

Literacy Enriched: iPads, Google Hangouts and AirServer

One of the things I really enjoy about being a Kindergarten teacher is teaching my students how to read.  Really, learning to read is a very complicated process, but with rich literature, explicit teaching, meaningful use and integration of technology, connections and opportunities for conversations between students begin to develop. Students not only develop the skills they need to read, but learn how to use what they have learned, to help them continue on their journey.

This month we are exploring the world of Dr. Seuss.  My students had an awesome opportunity to connect with other students in Wisconsin via a Google Hangout as part of Read Across America.  It was wonderful.  Our friends in Wisconsin did an awesome job doing book talks about a few books written by Theodore Seuss.  My students were able to ask questions and give feedback about what they saw and heard.  This was a great way to begin to excite my students about our new author study.  I asked my students what they noticed.  My students shared that they noticed that the students read with expression,  their voices changed when they read, they read well, they were also taking breaths.  As a teacher this was wonderful because their responses reflected many of the skills and literacy experiences we have created and explored together. lf

Later we used AirServer to share another Dr. Seuss story on our SMARTboard.  Wow!  My students all had wonderful smiles and were making connections through conversation as we watched and listened to the story. I so enjoy the expressions my students make when they are connecting and engaging with books.

Afterwards we had another opportunity to have a conversation about the story.  When I asked my students what they noticed this is what they had to say:

*the voice paused at commas

*we heard rhyming words

*it had lots of digraphs

*every word has a vowel

*we saw important words and sight words

*we use iPads to read books

*AirServer helps us read books

I am so inspired about how AirServer and iPads can capture and enhance the essence of what my students understand.  Their observations give me immediate feedback about what they understand and through the connections they make, I learn what has resonated with them in regards to their learning.  It is also wonderful at how young children can connect with a variety of text and make meaningful connections through rich, interactive, literacy experiences. The phototechnology gives voice and highlights many of the skills we explore during our reader’s workshop time.

The technological tools that I used were AirServer, SMARTboard, Google Hangout and iPads to enrich a read aloud.  Even if you had 1 of these tools, your students experience with a text will be enriched.

AirServer is really a wonderful tool because you can remotely access what is on your iPad.  This helps demonstrate what is possible.

Google Hangout is available through Google Plus.  This is an awesome way to connect your students with others to have conversations.  You will be surprised at the connections they make.  Google Hangouts through video can have up to 10 people at one time, so the possibilities are endless here when it comes to audience.

Learning to read is magical.  I really enjoy the endless expressions my students make when they begin to realize they are reading words and interpreting illustrations.  This is where I can really help enhance what my students discover.  Learning is for everyone.  Technology gives all my students a voice.

Using Google To Create Informational Books

My Kindergarten students have become these amazing, independent and enthusiastic writer’s and illustrator’s. We only have 1 and 1/2 days left together, but my students decided to create their own informational book about a topic they choose. So this is what they did!

Some amazing things started happening right away! Wow!

My students used iPads to do a Google search about their topic. The idea came from my students because this is something we have used throughout Kindergarten in regards to our learning. We have had many conversations about “how to” do a Google Search. Simply…. My students tell me they are doing a Google Search. Then they type in photos of…(their topic). They navigate the gallery of photos independently to choose what they are looking for. Through this process and experience of interacting with their ideas, they create and design what they want to write about. For many of my students this is new learning, they choose topics that they are interested in. The engagement is high and everyone is so enthusiastic about what they are discovering.

Let’s Google Tornado so we can see what a real one looks like!Let's Google To See What A Real Tornado Looks Like!

As an educator I am reminded about the importance of developing a culture that supports and promotes my students individual ideas. Through their ideas and interests they become self directed. As I listen to the many conversations that are happening throughout my classroom I am impressed with the vocabulary my students are using as well as what they are learning. One of my students said,”Mrs. D. I read this all by myself”, “Did you know that…”, “I did it, I drew a toucan!”.

Making Observations About The Text Features

Making Observations About The Text Features

This is authentic learning at it’s best. Everything that I am observing this time of year are reflections of our year together. Not only am I noticing the skills in regards to reading and writing that are happening, but it is what my students are doing with their skills that counts for me. The application of knowledge and independence is really remarkable.

Tomorrow I look forward to sharing our informational books. We will be creating a video of the importance of having choice and writing about what we want to know. Of course we will be “tweeting out” to our friends too about what we learned.

A Scientific Drawing On Google!

A Scientific Drawing On Google!

Ahh…… Kindergarten Life is so inspiring. What a grand year it has been!

21st Century Thinking and Learning In Kindergarten, Really!

I hear and read a lot about 21st century learning and thinking.  I am always so impressed and thrilled to read, watch and listen to what other educators are doing with their students.  For me this is very inspiring as it helps me to reflect and think deeply about my own teaching practice and what I am doing to support my children in finding and using their voices when it comes to learning.  I had an aha moment on Friday morning……….

I introduced a new app called;”Scribblepress” to my Kindergarten students.  I used my document camera along with my SMART board to enhance and encourage my students to be observant as well as interactive with what I was showing them.  Oh yes, I forgot to mention that I just learned about this app on Thursday at an after school technology workshop offered weekly by our Technology Integration Specialist.

Anyway as I began to show “how to” create your own book the children immediately started making connections with previous writing experiences…  Some of the children shared;”That is like our paper, look their markers are like ours, but have more colors, Mrs. D. remember we need erasers for writer’s workshop, that T must be for typing text like we do when we use our Gmail, I think I will use my finger to draw just like I do when I use Doodle Buddy.”  These connections and observations continued as we explored the app together.  Then we looked at some colored stamps.  I forgot how to use on the page and one of my students said,”Mrs. D. just drag the marker up next to the other ones”.  It worked!  You can just imagine how excited this child was who problem solved this for us!

As the children took an iPad they worked with a partner.  I was so impressed with how collaboratively they were working together as well as how they were communicating and problem solving together to create and design a story.  Within 20 minutes, I had 6/17 Kindergarten children who created their own book, varying in length, but they did this independently!

I feel so fortunate to be a part of a school community where there is weekly support for teachers in regards to technology.  Our Technology Integration Specialist offers a 1 hour workshop each week where she focuses on different tools that we, as teachers can use with our students.

Some of the wonderful things I noticed were…  my students were very confident and comfortable using an iPad as a learning tool to create a piece of writing.  The writing contained lots of illustrations, sentences about the illustrations that were drawn, the stories had meaning and made sense and some of the children even wrote The End to make sure that people knew the story ended.  The stories all had a title, a common theme, the children wrote about a topic they choose and they stuck to that topic.  I also noticed how comfortable the children were using their invented spelling, leaving spaces between their words and remembering to give their page/story a title!  As a teacher this was great feedback for me as their designs and creations were reflections of the many things we have focused on during both our writer’s and reader’s workshop time.

Some other observations that I made really made me think about how my students are 21st century thinkers!  The children were not only able to maneuver around on the iPad, but a few of the children figured out “how to” use the camera and took their picture and then inserted it into one of their pages, another child figured out “how to” take a screen shot!  I learned from one of my kids about how to do this.  I asked why they would want to take a screenshot and one of my students said; “so I can email this to my mom!” All my 17 students were completely engaged and excited about this new app and of course, the technological tool, the iPad!

I think about how my writer’s and reader’s workshop mini lessons have been really important times where my students have learned so much.  I observed how easily young children can apply what they know to a new learning situation and be so inspired about their work.  I noticed reflections of their understandings about what I taught and exposed them too. Every child felt so successful and pleased with what they had created.  Our share session was really wonderful too!  The children did an awesome job of listening to understand while each child shared their observations and discoveries about this new app.

So for me, my students are 21st century thinkers and learners because they collaborate, create and design as well as interact with their learning in meaningful ways.  Near the end of our writing session one of my students asked if we were going to ‘tweet” our stories on vermontkkids123.  I asked her why, she shared with me so that others will know what we did.  This is a really wonderful example of an awareness that young children can begin to think about when it comes to learning.

Yes! Kindergarten Blogging!

I had one of those ah ha moments this morning during our writer’s workshop time.  The children were sharing possible choices during our writing time.  One of children shouted out,”Mrs. D. what about kid blogging?”  The child shared that he wanted to write about Kindergarten and how much fun it was.  Then other children were also excited by the idea as well.  The children are independent now on their blogs.  We have gone through ‘how to” make a post and save their post until I have had a chance to approve.

The children came up with the following criteria for blogging: 1. Make sure you have a title.  2.  Write at least 3 thoughts about your idea .  3.  Take a picture of what you want to share and ask Mrs. D. to help you put your picture on your blog.  4. leave spaces between your words.  (use the space bar to help you)  5.    log out

I am so amazed as to what the children are doing at this point with their kidblogs and how aware they are of audience!  They love to share and look forward to receiving comments from me, other classmates and their families.

Blogging has been another way to engage young children and their families and others in the world to make connections.  Young children are beginning to think about what they are learning and what they want to post/share with others.  The feedback that the children get is so positive that the comments are engaging and seem very reinforcing so that they have a chance to think a little more deeply about what they posted/shared.

Blogging in Kindergarten!

My First Post!  A little exciting and yes, I am a bit nervous, but here I go……..

One of the wonderful things about Kindergarten is that we share all day long and take great delight when a child’s eyes widens to a discovery, an ah ha!  I hope that this blog will inspire others to try new technologies that promote engagement and excitement in learning, while also providing endless opportunities for designing and creating learning too!

It all started for me 3 years ago when I took a workshop on blogging.  Blogging?  What is it?  What does it do? How will it be helpful?  Why blog?  These were the questions I had prior to signing up, but I am so glad that I did!  Now, 3 years later I manage 3 class blogs; class blog, science blog and a summer reading blog!  I even started using Kidblog this year!  Yes, every 5 and 6-year-old child in my classroom has their own blog!  Amazing…  So my transformation begins and my eyes widen in amazement as to what is happening and continues to unfold before my eyes daily, in Kindergarten!

Blogging you say?

I created a class blog for the children, myself and their families, then as it became more interactive and reflective, others outside of the classroom, community, state and country began to take notice of what we were doing.  I began everyday during our morning meeting talking about our schedule for the day and what new learning lay ahead.  At the end of each day I would create and design a post with the children.  I was amazed at what they wanted to share, everything!  I had a digital camera, 1 FLIP camera and we began documenting all the learning that we could each day.

The next ah ha for me was getting a SMARTboard!  Our school was purchasing 6, so I had to apply.  I did and was lucky enough to have been selected!  So… you see the blogging became really powerful as the children were not only to be reflective, but also interact.  Wow!  Again, the language, the engagement just unfolded before my eyes.  Back to blogging……….

Right away children were excited to go home and share what they did in school that day!  Parents were so pleased and immediately I received feedback about how much they felt integrated and a part of their child’s day!  This was the beginning of change and transformation for me as a teacher…….  No more paper handouts in folders, everything became digital and available anytime people wanted to access the information.  The beginning of developing responsible and safe digital citizens who embrace the tools of our age to support learning, collaboration, designing and creating their learning as well as making connections.

My Life Studies Blog was and continues to be wonder!  It reflects what 5 and 6-year-old children observe, explore and experience in the physical and natural world.  I created this blog 2 years ago so I would have a place to showcase our 4 Winds Science program which is led and directed by volunteers, parents in our community.  I soon discovered that this was also a place where I could post the physical and natural science we were doing in Kindergarten too!  My reason for starting this blog was to make more room!!!  I found that our class blog had so many different types of experiences recorded, that the pages were archiving quickly!  So this way the posts did not seem to be archived as fast.  Science is also one of those wonderful opportunities for young children where everything that we, the Kindergarten teachers need to teach, we need to do through inquiry.  The inquiry becomes important as it allows for the young child to explore and discover in a way where they can ask questions and begin to “talk out” what they observe.

Science in Kindergarten! The ideas I am sharing can be done, incorporated in all/any grade levels and have really made a difference for me and my teaching of science.  In the spirit of collaboration and sharing………..
A blog that focuses on science is a great as it allows and encourages others a place to  communicate and interact.  Once it evolved into something more, a place where I post all science related content that I am covering in Kindergarten.  I have had many children sick, traveling etc. and the blog has been great to keep parents and their child involved with experiences they may have missed.  Also my followers are beginning to grow.  I only have a few now, but 2 of them have shared science related activities and topics with me that have been used by other teachers in their classrooms.
Podcasting has also been really powerful as it has given children a chance to reflect on their scientific thinking!  I created 2 podcasts, one was of the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly and the other of the bird. You can find them on my literacy wiki. The children had an opportunity to explore the science topics, create a model of the life cycle and then reflect, talk about the stages.  Really a great tool to use as an assessment tool “did they get it?”
The other wonderful idea/practice that I am using is twitter. Wow!  I have made lots of connections with other teachers on lots of different topics.
More on collaboration in another post.

Then summer was approaching last spring and our technology integration specialist  shared a summer reading blog she had created when she was teaching!  Yes!  Blogging in the summer, sure!  Why not?  So I created  a Summer Reading Blog! It was a great suggestion and idea!  I created posts of former students and new students whom I have never met!  The connecting and collaborating began!  New student and their families would post comments, artwork and even notes about books they had read with their child.  I checked periodically to read and see the posts and then of course comment.  The power of connecting and relationship building began immediately!  I was thinking… hmm…. Can it be this simple? easy?  It was!  Now both parents and their children are reading together, posting together and meeting other children and their families who will also be in Kindergarten in the fall.  One parent shared with me how it was so inspirational for her and her child as the child felt connected and saw books she knew and wanted to try.  This is just another wonderful example and way to promote literacy, but also begin to model how to be a safe and responsible digital citizen!  I was thinking how grand this is.  Also, hmm… thinking that this is what it looks like for children.