Tag Archives: making a difference

Being Grateful…….

Today I am deeply grateful for many things.  I, like others, am especially grateful for family, my friends and my health.  All of these things are important and fuel my energy and support me always. They provide comfort and joy.

I am also grateful for the ability to share my voice.  Having a voice is so important because you are able to model, collaborate, connect and reflect on what is most important to you.  Through sharing my voice I have been able to model explicitly how I can make a difference through my interactions with others and my ability to be transparent also.  My voice is my own and I try to use it with a variety of tools that help to inspire, capture and share how innovation and creativity can make a difference and offer ways for  peaceful, thoughtful and  gracious change.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.38.24 AMPresently I am involved with a project based learning opportunity with my kindergarten students.  We have been building an awareness of hunger inside and outside of our classroom.  We have invited community people into share their perspective and the ways they, community business are making a difference for others who need our help.  My students are beginning to experience alongside their parents and others about empathy and how important it is.  Through this learning experience my students have created a plan of action and have also been able to share using their Kidblogs, Twitter, Skype and other face to face opportunities where they have been able to have conversations about the importance of caring.food

Thanks to Stephen DeCatur Elem@SD_Eagles my students get to see the impact they have had in the world! He tweeted: “@ We are collecting! We kicked it off by watching your video w/over 700 staff, students, & families.” I look forward to sharing this with my students after our holiday break.  An amazing impact we have had just by sharing our voices.

When my students created an iMovie and then shared our project globally we all began to experience that others were inspired by our idea and then in turn started making a difference where they live!  Such a great way for my students to share globally and experience the value of sharing their voice in positive ways!

unnamedToday I received a photograph from one of my students parents.  Their amazing child, my student has decided to sell her books over the Thanksgiving holiday to raise money for The Children’s Literacy Initiative. I am grateful for knowing about this and that my students parents thought that I would want to know and care.  My student will post on her Kidblog, but is also inspired to make a difference for others with the support of her family.

As an educator I have endless opportunities to model explicitly “how to” make a difference for others.  When I can do this alongside my students and my families in a collaborative way I am modeling not only the importance, but the value of this idea.  Perspective is important and what we do with ours is equally important.

Thanks so very much to all of you who read my blog and post comments that challenge my thinking and inspire me.  I continue to look forward to learning from all of you as well as learning alongside you.

Peace……….

A Celebration of Learning: Engaging Families Inside and Out!

One of the things I enjoy most about my job are the endless opportunities I have to celebrate and involve not only my students, but their families.  Family engagement is very important for all students and their success in school.  I continue to try to find ways for my families to not only engage, but also celebrate the wonderful learning that is transpiring daily inside and outside of Kindergarten.unnamed

Learning is really an amazing opportunity to involve and engage others around you.  Through our ability to connect, share and reflect what we understand we not only develop a deeper meaning of what we are learning, but we also get excited and want to share.  When we share our thinking is challenged and we are inspired by others feedback. Celebrating school, learning and each other is so much fun and inspiring.  Just simply highlighting an idea on a blog, using Twitter to “tweet” an idea can bring lots of feedback.

This morning we had our first celebration of learning.  It was wonderful!  Watching families engage and connect with their child and their learning is such a gift.  I appreciated all the support that my families offered ahead of time in helping me set up a breakfast buffet and also their commitment to attending and being present and sharing with their child and other families. One of my parents was not able to attend so the family used FaceTime on their phone to connect.  One of my students was able to share her work virtually, in a face to face way using a phone!  This is an example of how we , as educators must continue to think about creative ways to engage our parents.  They want to be a part of their child’s learning.  Technology can help make this happen! DSCF4582

Connecting and developing positive relationships is really important as an educator.  This is always my first priority when I begin each year. The relationships I develop are important and critical for the success of each of my students.  Parents need to feel engaged and also a part of their child’s daily life in school.  As an educator I have found many synchronous and asynchronous tools that can help with this.  Recently one of my students visited an aquarium and was able to post photographs of the different sea animals he saw.  This was an opportunity for a family to connect and share a learning experience outside of Kindergarten.  When the student had an opportunity to share he was able to articulate what he saw and facilitate questions that other students had.  Later on another student was able to post a compliment on his Kidblog. This is so motivating for students.  unnamed-4They want to connect and respond when others recognize their efforts and discoveries.

I continue to think of ways that I can connect with my students, their families and extended families.  Through our connection we develop positive relationships that support learning for their child.  I am grateful to have so many technological tools to begin to demonstrate alongside my families and their children how technology can be used in meaningful ways to engage, enhance and enrich their child’s education. Bringing families together to celebrate and connect is what is important. Learning is for everyone.  How are you engaging your students, families and extended families?

 

 

 

 

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?”

 

Kindergarten Mentors

As I am finishing up last minute things in my classroom today I was thinking about all the different ways my students have been mentors this past year with each other, helping model how to tweet and blog with other classrooms as well as sharing their expertise with adults.

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Last spring a teacher approached me and wanted to observe how I use technology with my students and was also interested in how I use the SMARTboard as well. I asked one of my students to provide additional support and more 1:1 time after our meeting.  As I watched and listened to the conversation I was really impressed with not only how comfortable my student was with the SMART technology, but the problem solving that took place during this 1:1 support time with a teacher.  I loved seeing the teacher take notes as she asked questions about not only the operation of the board, but what happens when things go wrong and do not work.  Watching my student navigate through how to solve problems as they arise was really wonderful.  k

I am not only proud of all my students, but this experience reminded me of the importance of  self direction, problem solving and critical thinking.  All of these ideas were happening at once and being facilitated by one of my kindergarten students.  As a teacher of young children I have a unique opportunity to model explicitly how synchronous and asynchronous tools can be integrated in a seamless way in regards to learning.  Once my students understood how this tool works, how we use it, then they are able to create and design their ideas as well and make contributions.  Through our contributions and being able to teach and share what we know with others we get inspired, experience positive self esteem and make connections.  This student was empowered because she was able to make a contribution, help another teacher and engage in conversations that challenged her thinking and helped her reflect on what she has learned.  For this amazing teacher, my friend, I think about what great professional development this was for her!

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Really looking forward to summer and ISTE 2014 where I have an opportunity to share what a magical place kindergarten is. Happy Summer Everyone!

My Advice: Caitlin, Megan, Jessica, Katherine and Patrick

Last week my students and I said our final good-byes to the last of our college interns in Kindergarten.  During this year I have had the pleasure of connecting and working alongside 5 amazing, collaborative, engaging and inspiring people who have challenged my thinking, supported my students and have been open to being transparent in their practice which has led to some deep, reflective conversations which have benefited all students.

One of my interns had a set of interview questions for me in regards to teaching culture, etc. One of the questions was about what advice would I give to someone pursuing a career in education and what would I recommend that they do.  I have continued to think about this idea for awhile now because it is really important for new people thinking about a career as a teacher.

So this is my advice……

1. Care, care a lot. You will be able to make a difference for many if you have empathy and perseverance.  Take the extra time to be patient and listen.  Notice how your students react and interact with each other and the culture you create and design.  Be responsive and flexible to making changes that support your students needs.  Collaborate to make a difference for others in the communities you teach.  Through your modeling of caring, your students and their families will become engaged.patrick

2. Be passionate.  Celebrate the learning that is happening inside and outside of your classrooms.  Express your excitement through your face to face, online and other opportunities that you create.  Through your passion, your students will get inspired and become passionate about their learning explorations.  Remember to dance, laugh and sing.gre

3. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and challenge your thinking. Remember as a teacher you have lots of opportunities to learn and interact.  Think about how you and your students might learn alongside each other.  Look for others who are doing creative and innovative things.  Through others ideas, you develop your own inspiration and find your voice.  You have the ability to be brilliant and make a difference.photo+1-30

4. Connect, connect, connect.  Develop your PLN!  This is vital and very important.  This is where your thinking is challenged and you will connect in many ways that will turn into future collaborations.  Through your connections you will develop a group of people, who like you, care, want to make a difference and are willing to make changes that improve their teaching practice.  Your PLN is always there.  Count on them and lean on them when you need support, want to celebrate, collaborate and need inspiration. Join online communities that promote and engage what is important to you.

5. Be transparent. mm2   It is okay to share what you are thinking and why.  Through your transparency you will invite others in and share your perspective.  Think about asynchronous and synchronous tools that can share the learning you and your students are exploring together.  Information is important for all of us.  Make it meaningful and interactive. Through your explicit modeling of sharing globally, your audience will be broad and you will connect and others will benefit from your ideas as you will be inspired by theirs.

6. Be well.catherine  Remember that what you do for your own personal wellness is important.  Your wellness of mind and body gives you stability, strength, endurance and patience. Exercise and healthy eating keeps your mind and body healthy and active. Be sure to pursue your passions that recharge you and make you feel energized.  Positive energy is contagious and helps everyone be successful.

I want you all to know that it has been my privilege and honor to have you in Kindergarten.  I have learned from all of you and I thank you for your daily energy that you shared with all of us. I wish you all the best in your future experiences in education.  I hope you will discover the magic in working with children.  We need people like you, who care, ask questions, connect and smile.