Tag Archives: PLN

Appreciation, Gratitude, Kindness

Appreciation, Gratitude, Kindness……

I am so grateful for many things that I thought I would begin to share the importance of how showing appreciation, gratitude and being kind is important and vital not only as a teacher, as an educator, but as a person.  Through our own ability to display gratitude and kindness we are able to make connections, show appreciation towards others which gives a feeling of confidence and comfort.

When I think about gratitude and appreciation and how important these ideas are, I am also thinking about how can I begin to model and support these ideas.  I want to encourage my students to also begin to see the value in having gratitude and being able to appreciate acts of kindness throughout our busy days together.  I think it can happen so easily, yet I am reminding myself how important it is to share this idea and feeling with my students so they in turn become and display how being grateful can encourage others, offer connections and give recognition to others.

I remember one of my students learning how to use a new app to create and design patterns.  The student was nervous about asking for help, yet really wanted to explore this new app.  I watched as another student walked over with an iPad, sat down and began working alongside this student to show how the app worked and within a few minutes this student was off and running!  The smiles exchanged were beautiful as well as the conversation.  “Thank you”, I didn’t know what to do”.  The student who offered to help just said; “I got stuck too.” I recognized both students in sharing how collaborative and kind they were being.  Then I have an opportunity to highlight what happened and have the students share how it made them feel and introduce the word gratitude.  This now becomes a special word in our classroom and everyone wants to be able to not only use the word, but explore opportunities with others as well. DSCF3067Think of a place in your classroom where you can display important/special words that you want to your students to use.

During a read aloud time one of my students was trying to find a place to sit and be comfortable.  Another child offered his place and gave me a thumbs up!  I smiled.  Later the student came up to me and asked me if I noticed that he gave his seat up.  I said I did and he thought that he should share that with the class because he was being kind. Right away my students are beginning to explore and experience what it means to help someone out, share something you are comfortable with, be a mentor, a friend.  This is how we begin to model and explore appreciation, gratitude and kindness.

When I offer opportunities for my students to share through role playing and talking about the kind deeds they notice, we then create  a special place in our classroom to post the important words we use.  Appreciation, kindness, gratitude now become part of our oral language as well.  This helps to begin to establish a culture of learning, connections, collaboration and also where children will take risks and try new things.

School is starting soon for many of us and I am so #grateful for how social media, blogging and other digital tools have helped connect, engage, challenged my thinking as well as offered opportunities to be inspired.  I have made many friends thanks to social media who have supported me and collaborated in many different ways.  I am grateful and humbled by the time and energy that others give so freely. Working alongside others enriches learning for me.

IMG_3178 I strive to model and offer invitations to my students, their families, friends and colleagues who, like me, are also trying to make a difference, one idea, one kind gesture at a time. This is at the heart of our work.

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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?

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?”

 

Impressions: ISTE 2014

I had an amazing opportunity in June to attend ISTE 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was like nothing I have ever experienced before.  Not only was this my 1st time attending, but I also had the honor of presenting a 2 hour poster session too.happy

Professional development is so very important, but interactive, engaging and inspiring development that challenges your thinking is really the best.  I found ISTE 2014 to be this and more.  From the moment I arrived until I left I found all volunteers, attendees and other educators to be nothing but supportive, energetic and passionate. I really appreciated the variety of presenters as well as the formats.  By having a variety of formats it really opened up possibilities for many educators to participate in ways that were conducive for their topic.  I appreciated this a lot and I was able to make choices not only on topics, but how the topics were being presented and/or shared.  Again, this is awesome because we all learn in different ways, at different paces, so the variety was great!

I also had the opportunity to connect with many of my PLN as well.  The people I met face to face for the 1st time were amazing educators that I met via Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, other formats. I think about how when I saw familiar faces that I already knew so much about them because of their willingness to share and be transparent not only about themselves, but their experiences in education. I felt at home and connected.saraphoto 1 (11)photo 2 (10)

 

 

These are some of the most amazing professional educators I have the pleasure of connecting and collaborating with.  ISTE 2014 provided an opportunity for us to meet and again, connect and inspire each other.  Unfortunately I was not able to meet many others whom I have the pleasure of learning side by side with, but maybe another opportunity in the future will present itself!  You never know.

ISTE 2014 Offered Me:

*inspiration: Walking through the trade center you could sense the excitement and support.  I had the pleasure of connecting with familiar faces as well as new ones.  I look forward to learning from them all in the future.

*engaged my thinking: Many of the poster sessions, share and talk sessions as well as roundtable discussions offered opportunities for rich conversations and a variety of perspectives. Perspectives are important because we gain new insights and a variety of ways to think about ideas we explore.

*made lots of connections: I had folks attend my poster session from Canada, the USA and even South Africa! Again, I am thinking about my perspective and the importance of having a global audience.

*time for conversations: It was an opportunity to engage in as many conversations as I wanted to with others in regards to their experience, tools used and other resources. It was really nice to be able to speak with many vendors of some of the tools I use inside/outside kindergarten too!

*#satchat: Being able to hangout and participate in a live #satchat was really unbelievable!  This is a very inspiring, engaging and creative group of educators who are very committed to learning and making a difference in education. ne

*keynote speakers: This was really a wonderful experience to be in an audience with thousands of others to hear from inspirational people share their stories, their journey.  I learned a lot by being there, present to absorb talented people share their personal journeys.

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*PLN: Meeting my professional learning network gave me an opportunity to say thank you and have conversations about our learning.  Collaboration is vital and very necessary for all of us, educators, in our work inside and outside of our classrooms.

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I look forward to the future where I will be connecting and collaborating with others in regards to the connections, conversations and rich experiences that ISTE 2014 provided for me.new

 

 

 

Reflections Inside and Outside of Kindergarten

As my year comes to an end I am thinking about some moments where I was able to celebrate, engage and experience authentic learning opportunities through learning alongside my parents and students.  I have learned so much from my interactions and conversations through day to day life inside my classroom as well as conversations that have been shared globally in regards to how technology has enriched learning for not just my students, but their parents as well.

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 My students were outside last week exploring nature and making observations about where birds might build a nest.  Some of my students heard some birds chirping and tried to use an iPad to capture the birds on video.  As I watched them and listened to their conversation I was so impressed with how they were collaborating and trying to figure out a way to video the bird that was so  carefully tucked away in the tree.  I am so proud of my students and their ability to understand how technology can be used in a meaningful way to enhance and capture something they found interesting and worth sharing.

gabbyDuring a writers and readers workshopt to t conn time one of my students decided to write about penguins. I asked her why and she pointed to her shirt!  She created a book complete with labels, writing about special features that a penguin has and then she had a question.  I did not know the answer so she decided to use Google to search for photographs of penguins to help her.  Through explicit modeling and directions about “how to” search Google safely, with visual steps, my student was able to get the answer to her question.

DSCF3069Visual models along with modeling and using authentic examples my students are becoming safe, kind and responsible digital citizens. They are beginning to experience and make decisions about not only the tools they use, but what features as well and how specific features can capture what they are seeking.

Another student during a writers workshop time had an idea of a topic to write about, Twitter!  She wrote a story about how Twitter helps people communicate and share.  When students are given choices about topics to write about it is really wonderful to see what topics they choose.  As I look at the writing I am reminded about how well this student is able to communicate her idea through her writing.  This is where as an educator I am able to reflect and notice what she has learned in regards to writing.  This is where I look to see what my students understand and if they are able to use skills they have been exploring independently.twitter

I recently had the honor of being able to present at the Dynamic Landscapes conference at Champlain College.  My presentation was on The Social Experience.  I was able to bring a couple of my kindergarten students who were able to assist me and also speak to other educators about how social media and other synchronous tools have made learning meaningful and fun.  At the end I had a few parent volunteers use Google Hangout as well to share their perspectives.  As an educator it really struck me at not only how technology has made a difference for my students learning, but my parents as well.  Click here to hear about what some of my parents had to say.

Kindergarten has been amazing and wonderful.  It is a place that continues to Dynamic Landscapesinspire, challenge my thinking and engage me deeply.  My students have had some amazing learning opportunities that have engaged them, inspired them and helped them begin to explore and experience what it means to be a digital citizen.  Digital citizenship is vital and important for everyone to experience.  Through our experiences we begin to become transparent and transform the ways we think and interact with each other face to face and virtually.

I look forward to celebrating the end of the year with my students. I also look forward to the future where I know I will be inspired and learn new ways to make a difference in regards to learning for myself and others.

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.

Tweets, Tweeting via Twitter @vermontkkids123

My students are amazing and brilliant!  We continue to explore twitter daily to connect, enrich and collaborate with our friends.  My students are benefiting from our daily conversations that we have with a variety of people.

How?  Together we are modeling “how to” have an online conversation in a safe, kind and responsible way.  We are also experiencing what it means to be a mentor and also how we are developing a learning community.  Our learning community is fluid and changes depending on what is tweeted and if we connect.  What I enjoy about this experience with my students is the dialogue and how we begin to “look” at twitter throughout the day.  I simply say:” Let’s see what others in the world are doing today!”  Through this simple dialogue and comment we begin to connect and share with others.

Exploring social media with my students has opened up a new perspective and given us opportunities to “see” the world globally.  While posting on our kidblogs my students made a connection with the map of the world.  They were so interested in where people were in the world and that they were sharing our learning.  kidblogThen we made a connection with another map of the world that appears inside our classroom and also on our class blog.  What do all these virtual and real face to face maps have in common?  They represent where we are connecting, how we are connecting and how we are not only sharing our learning, but modeling how to be safe, kind and responsible digital citizens.

Later during a reader’s workshop time one of my students makes a text to world connection.  She sees a map in a book and recognizes it.  I then have an opportunity to have a conversation about not only her connection, but why the map may be in the text and what it’s purpose is.text to world conn

One of our classroom connections on twitter is @vtfirsties.  Through our conversations we have been able to inspire, be mentors and learn from each other.  Our latest tweet from them. Screen shot 2014-02-14 at 10.55.02 AM

Now my students begin to experience how their ideas inspire others.  Through this experience we begin to connect and collaborate.

This past week I asked my students how we share our learning with the world.  These are some of the responses.

1. Take a picture and post it to Twitter
2. Take a screen shot, post it to Twitter and Tweet it
3. Just describing on Twitter what you wrote about
4. Post it on our Kidblogs
5. Take picture and put it on our classroom blog to share
6. Skype and share our story

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We connected with @kindertweeten, in Chicago and we discovered that we were both creating “How To” stories.  Now we have an opportunity to share our work!  Through this modeling we celebrate our writing as well as share with a larger audience.  The positive commenting inspires us to not only write more, but share!  The impact is so positive in regards to writing.  It helps us feel successful and willing to take risks.dld 1

As a teacher this gives me an authentic picture of my students understanding about not only that they share outside of our classroom, but the specific tools that we use.  We are beginning to explore the world in regards to our learning and how we connect and what we have in common as well as other perspectives.  My students really enjoy the positive feedback that we experience.  Through this positive conversation via twitter we become connected and engaged with our learning.  We are learning side by side with other students and their amazing teachers about “how to” use social media to connect, collaborate, get inspired and have conversations about our discoveries.