Tag Archives: play

Connecting As An Educator: What it looks and sounds like @kkidsinvt

This past week was an amazing one in Kindergarten!  I am so excited and thrilled at how my students, their parents and others are reaching out to connect, share and use technology in meaningful ways that capture what we are learning.  This is happening in a variety of ways.

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Last week we visited the food shelf in our community and dropped off food that we had collected.  My students reminded me that we needed to blog about our trip because others would be interested in how we made a difference.  When I asked; “How will they know?” My students shared that they see the triangles blinking on our map of the world on our class blog and that is how they know.  Wonderful!  The gadget on our class blog gives us feedback about where in the world people are from who are interested in Kindergarten Life.

I had a wonderful opportunity on Friday where I was invited to be a part of a class  discussion at Clemson University in South Carolina, facilitated by Ryan D. Visser, Ph.D.  So during my lunch time I was able to give an overview of how and why I use technology with my students, families and myself.  I was also able to share about what I am seeing in terms of engagement and how my students are interacting with technology and the positive impact it is having on their learning.  This was a great way for me to connect with others and have a meaningful conversation via Skype.  Ryan and I connected on twitter.

I needed to check in with a parent and thought of this while at my computer.  I noticed she was online(thanks to Skype) So I was able to call and have a quick conversation.  This was easy and seamless because Skype is part of my classroom culture.  We started using Skype on the 1st day of Kindergarten.  My point here is that once you begin to use technological tools in authentic ways that enhance connection, reflection and transparency, you begin to transform and your learning is open to others and others will begin to connect and collaborate through your learning.

Twitter is on all day in my classroom and my students are great about sharing what they want to tweet. Social media is used and part of my classroom culture because we use it to reflect, share and connect what we are learning and experiencing.  Last week we were beginning to read the live feed from others that we follow and my students began asking how do we tell them we are doing that too.

We are also part of a Flat Classroom project and we created a padlet about what the view is like from outside our window.  My students reminded me to tweet this and email this to their parents so that others can post their window view. This is another easy way to connect and share what you are learning.  I got this idea because another teacher from Ma. contacted via Skype over the weekend and asked me to post on her padlet.  We connected through Skype play last year.  Again connections are everywhere!  They are active and inactive, but they are always connections.

One of my students parents called us during snack time via Skype to say hello and ask about our day.  This is a part of our culture, not a disruption.  My students are excited to have conversations with others about what we are doing in Kindergarten.  Through authentic opportunities to engage, we connect and get inspired because we are wondering what is next.

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Try twitter, Skype, blogging, create a padlet and connect. Showcase something you are doing with your students.  For me it is always about the learning, but most importantly about how I am going to share my story with others.  Through sharing we get inspired, make connections and gain insight about learning.

I want my students and their families to feel a part of Kindergartenlife.  Learning is fluid, ongoing and exciting.  Communication is constant and helps build strong relationships which impacts learning in endless, positive ways.

Creating, Designing and Reflecting On An Authentic Learning Opportunity Through Play

Kindergarten is a special place where learning opportunities seem to appear from the simplest, yet important lessons we, as teachers can help to foster.  Young children really engage in lots of higher level thinking and collaborate when the purpose is clear and the experience is meaningful.

Yesterday I walked my class over to the food shelf in our community where we dropped off a wagon full of food to be shared with families in need.  This was our second trip this year. Our presenter, Reggie spoke to the children as we walked through the 3 rooms where food was kept and distributed.  The children immediately noticed the shelving and that labels were used to organize the food.  A few children responded by making a “c” with their hand showing that they made a connection and then shared their connection out loud.  Some of the comments were,”Mrs. D the food shelf labels are like the ones we do in Kindergarten”,”their labels are big”,we use labels for our scientific drawings too”‘.  As Reggie continued to talk the children began recognizing other things at the food shelf that they could connect too.  This is a great example of the learning opportunities that unfold and appear when young children connect with their environment. It is through this connection where learning has meaning and then children can develop a deeper understanding.

In my mind I was flashing back on the writer’s workshop model that I use in Kindergarten.  During our writing sessions together the children are introduced to an idea, craft and or big writing idea.  Afterwards we practice using our newly learned knowledge.  The application piece is the most important!  The idea of labeling will stick with the children, as they saw the application and some of the features are the same which can even be more powerful.  By features I mean large letters, letter formation, words match the picture/item they are representing.

The other idea I was thinking about was all the time we spend together in Kindergarten sharing, collaborating and designing learning opportunities that we can relate too and want to know about.  The morning meeting is a daily opportunity to introduce these ideas as well as the idea of empathy.  In our visit to the food shelf the children asked;” Can anyone could come to the food shelf and get food.  How do mommies and daddies know the food shelf is here?, Can we take pictures and put on our blog?”

This displays how children naturally become sensitive, caring and want to help others out who need help.  This field trip displayed lots of big teaching ideas I have worked on throughout Kindergarten and how easily these ideas can come together in a place where you can see, hear and touch how they make a difference for others.

On our walk back to Kindergarten the children talked about what they saw and heard.  One of my students remembered seeing a crate of books also.  The books were donated so families could take and read to their children.  By the time we returned to Kindergarten the children ate their snacks and then slowly as exploration time started I noticed children beginning to create and design a food shelf!  As I watched this evolve I observed the children creating shelves for food, stacking baskets to create the shelving that they saw at the food shelf.  Later the food started to arrive in bags, arms and baskets.  The children seemed to work together in a flurry of constant movement and dialogue without any prompting or help from me.

Life in Kindergarten is really exciting and engaging.  I love how willing young children are to try new things and how excited they get when they explore a new idea and/or experience.  Play is such an important part of a young child’s day and development.  I value the time spent challenging children to push themselves in ways that they are genuinely attracted to when inspired by an idea.  The implications of the endless opportunities that can evolve through play are available to us, if we just open our eyes to the possibilities that exist.  The technologies available give children an opportunity to reflect and listen to themselves create and design play situations that display true meaning of their understanding of what they experience.  The challenge as a teacher is to continue to find ways daily for this type of sophisticated play to emerge.