Tag Archives: PLN

Twitter Continues To Inspire Me!

One of the things that I really like about twitter is how you are notified when you have new followers.  This is a great feature because it gives me an opportunity to read about my new connection, but most importantly how great for me to have yet another follower which is helping me build my PLN.  My PLN is my network of support and inspiration.  It is an amazing group of people from all over the globe, from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.  Twitter is where I turn to connect, collaborate and get inspired.

I discovered a new follower who happened to be a Kindergarten teacher.  So we started tweeting and getting connected.  Shortly I found out that she lives in Neenah, Wisconsin, my home town where I grew up.  It just happened that I am visiting my parents so we were able to meet face to face!  What a treat.  This is not always possible, but when it is, jump on the opportunity if you can.  So I tweeted her when I arrived and we met for an early morning walk.  This was amazing.  Through our conversations we began to ask questions of each other, our PLN, our schools and what we had questions about.  A few days later we met again for a 2 hour session at the public library.  We were able to share our insights, celebrations and challenges within our schools as well as share what is working.

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Now that we have connected, we will be collaborating next year. After a conversation about blogging, my new friend Patty now has her own wordpress blog that she is using for her professional reflection.  She is also now setting up kidblog.  We look forward to having our students using kidblog as a platform to share about what we are learning.

None of this would of been possible without twitter.  Twitter has really helped me develop rich, meaningful connections that continue to inspire and support me in regards to my  learning.  All it takes is an idea, a willingness to try and put yourself out there, take a risk and you will always have gifts from others that give because they want to make a difference, just like you!

Kindergarten Is Such A Social Place!

Kindergarten is such a social place!  I have been thinking a lot about this lately and the shift I have had in regards to my own thinking about what social means and the important role it plays in Kindergarten.

This past week a father of one of my students used Skype to connect with us from Paris, France.   As I listened and watched the exchange of conversation I was really struck by how all of my students were not only engaged and interested, but were offering suggestions on “how to” make the picture clearer and connection better!  So just by having this available, my students see and experience the value of connecting and what it means to receive a call, the idea of audience and how interesting it can be.

Later in the week we received a post card from Paris, France!  This was so great of this father because my students were able to see a photograph, experience what a postcard is and then add it to our map in our classroom! I am also able to add to our virtual map, Google map too!  This way my students have a variety of experiences and possibilities with how you can connect and communicate with others.

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Later in the day we received another call from our Kindergarten friends in British Columbia, Canada.  Ms. Garrioch and her students shared the metamorphisis of a frog!  Her students took turns sharing information that they felt was important.  Later in our conversation my students were able to ask questions.  It was an amazing exchange of ideas and many learning connections were made.

My students are so use to tweeting and using Skype to connect and have conversations because it is part of our culture.  Kindergarten is a very social place where we all talk all day!  I am thinking about the different tools and social media that I can expose and experience with my students to support our conversations with others.  I am always struck by the level of vocabulary my students are using and how flexible they have become and also their ability to problem solve.  It is all so inspiring!

We connected with Ms. Garrioch’s class through the Kindergarten Around the World Project that I found out about on twitter.  (Click here to read about.) So through this experience my students have made a meaningful connection with other students in another part of the world.  We use twitter to “tweet” back and forth.  Social Media has been a great way for my students to connect and have conversations with others.  I look forward to using twitter again in the fall to re connect with old friends and meet new ones!  What a wonderful, social year it has been in Kindergarten!

Why I Tweet and Use Kidblog In Kindergarten!

Last week one of my students created a post on their kidblog about something they designed with materials at their home. My student took a photograph, created a title and some words to describe what he created. He created something that “worked with electricity”.
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Afterwards he sent me a tweet to tell me that he had just created a post. I was able to tweet back using twitter to communicate and connect with my student. I am modeling how to be a safe, kind and responsible digital citizen through an authentic learning opportunity.

On Monday my student shared his kidblog post he created with the class. As you can read from the exchange of tweets I had with my student he understood how to communicate with me to let me know that he had something to say/share. (click on photograph to enlarge) This is a reflection of how young students can use social media in regards to their learning. This young child is beginning to understand and experience the power of using social media and blogging as platforms to connect and reflect with others. This is how I can help educate and give my young students meaningful experiences with social media and blogging.
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Some observations I made while my student was sharing his kidblog were very telling of the awareness being created in regards to the technology I am using in Kindergarten. I was also thinking about the opportunities my young students have had to make observations and be reflective about those tools as well in regards to their learning.

My student was at the computer using the mouse and went to touch the screen. He said; “Oh wait, this isn’t an iPad or a SMART board. What side of the mouse do I click Mrs. D.” Right away I was reminded about the tools we use and how important it is to use a variety of tools to help students become flexible and adaptable when they are interacting with their learning. He adapted right away and continued to share.

I then asked my student why he tweeted me. He said; Because I wanted to tell you what I did on my kidblog.” Another student shared; “That’s communicating!” Yes it is! Wow! This is really amazing to me because my students are developing an awareness of audience, how to communicate in ways beyond the classroom walls and experiencing the feeling of receiving comments and compliments in regards to their discoveries.

Kidblog is a platform available for all of my students and their families. It provides endless opportunities for them to connect, collaborate and celebrate what is important to them. Kidblog is a wonderful way for my students and their families to share their discoveries outside of the classroom and an opportunity to experience how to use kidblog in a safe, kind and responsible way.

Twitter is a way for me to model along with my students and their families the value of being connected and sharing with others. Through experiences like this my students begin to develop an awareness of audience. They experience the “how to” use social media as well as the importance of receiving feedback from others who make connections with what they are sharing.
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Through this type of interaction my parents will understand and experience the value of using kidblog and twitter in regards to learning. The beauty here is that my students and their parents are using the technological tools together, at a young age. This gives everyone opportunities to engage and enrich their learning experiences in meaningful, safe ways. As an educator I am responsible for my students, but also their families. I try to be transparent in my thinking and practice when using technology so my families will do the same.

Connecting and Sharing Using Skype!

This morning was amazing in Kindergarten!   One of my students is in Florida this week at Disney World.  He called us this morning to say hello! The students were so excited to say hello!  Later I received an email from a parent who has a child home sick and very upset that he can’t attend kindergarten!  She asks for my name on Skype so they can call us and check in!  Wow!

This type of connection is vital and important in the work we do as educators.  Using Skype my students and their families have opportunities to experience how to use technology in a safe, kind and responsible way.  I think about how amazing this is that not only my students, but their families understand the importance of being connected!

This is a great example also of how important it is to have an interactive and connected classroom culture.  This begins to develop prior to Kindergarten even starting.  Classroom culture helps support, encourage and give people a voice and opportunity to share what they understand and learn.  I always focus on the learning and the connections we make.  It is through these ideas that my students and their families feel a part of all the learning and everything that we do during our busy days together.

With so many technological tools available, it is so important as an educator to use these tools in very explicit and meaningful ways.  Through the authentic modeling, my students and their families begin to experience how the tools enrich and enhance learning.  Everyone has a voice in Kindergarten. We develop close relationships through our connections with each other. Our connections become meaningful and engaging not only because of what we are learning, but how we are learning.

Just think about what you could do with Skype.  Endless opportunities!

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Edcamp: Why Attend?

Yesterday I attended my 3rd edcamp.  Wow!  I was able to meet new professionals and reconnect with others.  Being part of such an awesome professional experience holds lots of surprises and new discoveries.  Every camp that I have attended has been amazing. I have no idea about the what I am going to be doing or what I am hoping to learn.  It just seems to present itself in the workshops that people offer and the ideas seem to just appear through informal dialogue and new learning that others experience.  It is free as well as food and beverages.20130323-101029This is what we collaboratively brainstormed together!  Lots of possibilities here for learning!

An edcamp is an unconference.  As a collaborative group, you get to decide together about what you want to do.  In the beginning you say hello and then design the schedule for the day.  The other great thing about this model of professional development that I love is that if you are in a session and it turns out not to be what you need, you just leave.  I love this idea because it is a great model for us as professionals to take charge of what our needs are.  If it isn’t working or not for you, find something that is.

In Vermont we have a dedicated group of professionals who organize this.  Big kuddos to Ned Kirsch, Larry Fliegelman and Greg Marino who helped make this professional development available!  I know I am forgetting others to thank also!  Thank You!

I look forward to the next edcamp.  I hope those of you reading this will consider attending the next time.  Really such an inspiring group of educators.  This is a very important part of my PLN(Professional Learning Network)!  Why not make it part of yours too!

A Collaboration Focused on Kindness

In celebration of Digital Learning Day my Kindergarten students are collaborating with Ms. Weegar’s 3rd and 4th graders in a mission to share and connect with others in world about kindness.  This is part of a whole school initiative supported and inspired by our Technology Integration Specialist, Bonnie Birdsall.  The idea is for teachers and students at one school site, to connect with a class at our other school site in celebration of Digital Learning Day using technology.  So the collaborating begins!

Ms. Weegar starts with the idea of focusing on kindness and we begin to develop her idea.  We created a kindness wall on wallwisher.  We are talking and sharing with our students about the idea of a kindness wall, tweeting it out to our students, their families and our PLN’s as well!  Our students will begin to experience the value of how small the world can be!100_0282

Just by posting stickies of how we are kind, our students will be collaborating and sharing their ideas with others and the world.  We look forward to reading what others will be posting and sharing how our ideas are similar.

This is a wonderful way to connect and work with others in a positive, meaningful way.  Our focus is universal in that we could all, always use a little more kindness.  Our students are exploring the importance of what it means to be a safe, kind and responsible digital citizen. ImageToday we started posting stickies about how we are kind each day.  Our SMART board is a great way for everyone to see what we are posting and how to post as well.

Last week we began by saying hello using Skype!  This was a wonderful way for us to share acts of kindness in our school, home and community.  Our students experience the value of using technology in a meaningful way.  100_0280

Our students make new connections with others and share what they are experiencing.  Ms. Weegar and I continue to connect using Gmail, facebook, Google circles and twitter to share our ideas.  Our students also use twitter, Skype and wallwisher to collaborate about kindness.  Click here to add to our kindness wall!

All it takes is an idea……..  Ms. Weegar, you had a great one!

Tweeting On The 2nd Day of Kindergarten!

What a wonderful 2 days of Kindergarten! Sometimes when you least expect it, something amazing happens and my students teach me something new.

I use twitter for myself and my students. This year I was planning on scaffolding something similar to what I did last year. Starting with introducing the twitter symbol, the bird and beginning to create a “live feed” of ideas in the classroom that represent our ideas of what we do in kindergarten and what we would like to share. Then I was planning on comparing our “classroom feed” with the live feed on our class twitter account.

Then one of my students noticed my “twitter bird” on top of my speaker and asked what it was. I shared that it was our classroom bird and we would use it when we tweet! My students started asking questions about what tweeting was and so I began talking about tweeting! I shared our classroom twitter account on the SMARTboard and read some of the tweets that a class of Kindergarten students at Yokohama International School in Japan had posted. As I read the tweets to my students they were interested and started making connections with some of the things I read. So I decided to begin tweeting! I gave our “twitter bird” to one of my students and asked what she would like to tweet and so it began! My students took turns passing the bird around to anyone who wanted to tweet.

This was so powerful as a teacher. It reminded me of how much we plan and organize resources to introduce new ideas and experiences to our students. I think about how important scaffolding is when introducing new ideas, but yesterday I was reminded at how simple, something abstract can be experienced in such a meaningful and authentic way.

Now that my students have had this experience we will tweet again on Tuesday and introduce ourselves to our friends in Japan! Twitter opened my eyes and my students eyes yesterday to the world. Wonderful!

“Tweeting Away” In Kindergarten

Since my last post I had yet another discovery around this idea of social networking with Kindergarten kids, wow!  I have only recently set up a class twitter account that is used solely for the purpose of making connections with other Kindergarten classes.  The children in my class seem to have naturally connected with this idea of making friends and sharing ideas with others in other places outside of our classroom.

As a teacher I really think carefully about “how to” develop this idea of making friends and connections with others.  I share with the children that these are friends that we have connected with because of a common interest with something that we are learning about.  This makes sense and is very real as well as explicit for the children.
Since this exposure and experience with twitter with my students they have really surprised me and made some unbelievable connections this week with twitter.  We now have a designated wall outside our classroom that has “Twitter Birds”.  The children created these symbols as well as smaller versions so they could actually “tweet” what they wanted to share.  The children shared with me, “now we have a place where we can write what we want to share and “tweet”. I then came up with the idea of having the children put a twitter bird next to the “tweets” they want to tweet to our Kindergarten friends in Texas, Mrs. Birdsall and Mrs. Starns.  The children name these people because they have either met them face to face or have met through SKYPE.  Wow!  These people are not strangers, but friends that we are getting to know because we share a common interest in regards to our learning.
In the photo you will see what our wall looks like outside our classroom.  You will also be able to read some of the things that the children find interesting and want to share.  If their is no t or twitter bird, then that child decided that they did not want to tweet that idea.
I continue to be amazed at how easily young children make connections and how fluid their thinking is.

So………..

1.  Children share ideas about what they’re learning and understanding with others who share a similar experience.  Sometimes we make connections with others who may want to learn from us too.

2.  As a teacher of young children I model always safe, kind and responsible ways when connecting with others outside of our classroom.

3.  I share all on line activity with my parent community.  The focus is ALWAYS on learning.  If not, we do not share.

4.  I have parent permission from families of my students to “tweet” things we are learning about as well as experiences we have through our observations.

5. Twitter is just one platform that I use to connect, share and reflect about the magic of Kindergarten.

Tweeting In Kindergarten

Not to long ago I learned about Twitter.  I joined Twitter not really yet understanding the value, meaningful connections and potential of establishing a Professional Learning Network (PLN).   Having been on twitter I have tweeted over 400 tweets.  My tweets have been about a variety of things.  Many times I have re-tweeted articles I have found interesting, video and photographs via yfrog about new explorations and experiences that I am discovering with my Kindergarten students.  All of these examples have been invaluable for my own professional growth as an educator and for my students.

I think the biggest thought and realization that I had once I began using twitter was that there are many people in the world who are interested in many of the things that I am and also have a passion for teaching, but more importantly learning.  This is where I really started to “harness” the value of twitter.

I now have 2 twitter accounts.  1 account I have had for over a year now is where I started…  I tweet on this account about things I am discovering in Kindergarten, tweet and re-tweet ideas and resources shared by other people who I follow and follow me.  It is here where I made many friends who are now a very important part of my PLN, Professional Learning Network.

I met another Kindergarten teacher in Texas through twitter over a year ago.  We collaborated on an author study.  This year we re-connected and we are now collaborating through video chat on Gmail weekly on a common literacy theme.  My teacher friend in Texas shared with me that she also has a twitter account for her kids.  I now have one too!  Through my class twitter account I am now able to use and focus with my Kindergarten children about the value of social networking and making connections that enhance our own learning and understanding of the world.

Now my Kindergarten children tweet!  They understand that by tweeting they are “talking” to others about something important to them.  We share our understandings and ideas by “tweeting them”.  Through this experience our friends in Texas have also shared a site where we could watch live, baby eaglet hatching!  This is wonderful as our next unit of study is about birds.  Just through this class twitter account I am able to collaborate with other teachers on an idea that is meaningful and helps us with our learning.

Some important things for me to think about as I continue to tweet and learn about twitter…..

1.  I model safe, responsible and positive discoveries that I wish to share with others in regards to learning.

2.  I follow people who are sharing professional work and discoveries about their experiences that enhance and interact with learning.

3.  I have permission from my parents of the children I work with to use photographs and video.

4.  When I tweet photographs and video I do not use names or any identifying information about my students.  The students in my class know and understand that when we use video we do not use names.  I thought this would be a hard idea, but the children understood this right away.  A nice introduction about the importance of being a safe and responsible digital citizen/learner.

5.  On my class twitter account I follow only Kindergarten classrooms that are using twitter with their students. Here is where I am able to tweet with other classrooms about our daily discoveries and what we find interesting.

6.  I model correct spelling, no text typing here.  I was reminded recently that we, as educators need to model correct use of our language for our students.  Very important…

7.  I encourage parents of my students to join twitter to follow us too!  I recently learned that parents can follow tweets without joining twitter.

In conclusion, twitter has and continues to provide endless opportunities for me to connect with others.  I am able to explore ideas around digital citizenship, critical thinking, social networking, collaboration and the importance of having a professional learning network.  As an educator I value innovation and creativity as well as sharing.  I want to be able to provide meaningful and rich learning experiences for all learners.  Twitter plays an important role here, for me.

The Value of Being Connected and Experiencing Transformation

As a teacher I have always valued the power and importance of building relationships that evolve from connections. I have a strong willingness to not only be informed, but to be actively engaged with my own learning.  I have made a huge shift from where I go to be connected and inspired about my teaching practice and with whom I am connecting with. By “putting myself out there” in a digital way I have begun to transform as an educator.  I view my transformation as never ending.  I say this because transformation never stops. I feel inspired through my discoveries and work with my students, but am also connecting with others who are doing similar things and finding themselves being inspired. Through my daily observations and discoveries I am a part of, I continue to seek ways to be connected and risk the exposure of my ideas as I hope others will find ways to use what they are discovering also to make a difference for their students.

Blogging has given me endless opportunities to keep my students, their families, my colleagues and others throughout the world involved in what is happening in Kindergarten.  The blog, my on line journal keeps what I am doing fully exposed and presented in meaningful ways that promote the learning that is happening in and out of my classroom.  The possibilities are endless. Keeping my eyes wide open and my mind exposed to the endless possibilities that being connected can offer.

Through blogging I have made many connections with my students and their families about the learning that is happening in Kindergarten.  This has proven again and again how much fun we are having and of course what we are involved in, in and out of the classroom. My students are excited to come to school each day and are always eagerly involved in the learning discoveries for the day and beyond.  With this idea, the children also have endless opportunities to reflect on their learning through our class, life studies, summer and individual kid blogs.  The children have begun to be connected in ways that begin with what and how they are learning in Kindergarten.  With this evolving the children are then getting their parents and their extended family excited about what they are doing in their classroom.Through this excitement the children seem almost relentless about demanding their parents to come to Kindergarten to see what they have been doing.

By having all learning and experiences “in the open” everyone has an opportunity to be as involved as they want to.  By ‘in the open” I mean having everything we do open to the public. This involvement can be anything from posting a comment on 1 of our classroom blogs, posting with their child about an experience on their kidblog, leaving a comment on 1 of our 3 wiki’s about a project we have created through voicethread, podcasting, etc.

What comes next is vital. I have an opportunity to make these connections more meaningful by responding to the comments, offering another opportunity for the child and parent to go further in their thinking, observation and comments.  The response time is also critical.  I try to respond within 24-48 hours only because after that time frame, it becomes harder… The idea/connection made “gets lost” or the child/teacher has moved on to other ideas.

As an educator I want my students to love school, but more importantly, love to learn.  The connections we make with each other helps amplify this idea and makes opportunities for parents and their children to be not only connected with the classroom, but each other.  Many children are now beginning to blog to each other on their kidblog, yup!  5 and 6 year old children reaching out to classmates and saying hello!  This is the beginning of how children are beginning to learn the importance of becoming a digital citizen and how being connected is important as you learn from a wide variety of experiences and connections with lots of different people that you may never meet, but are drawn together through a common idea and/or experience.  That is the power of the technological tools available and how they can be instrumental in making learning meaningful and engaging, while also reaching beyond the classroom as looking in other places to answers that we may have about an idea/discovery or experience.

Since I have put myself “out there” in ways to share and make connections with others, my learning has increased immensely.  I have developed a very strong PLN (Personal Learning Network) that I have come to depend on for making connections, sharing ideas, getting resources and making new learning opportunities possible for my students and their families.
ImageHere one of my Kindergarten students is reading the “tweet” we just posted on our class twitter site to our friends in Texas.

For example….  Since I have been on twitter I have made over 200 connections with people who share a love for learning using a variety of technologies.  These friends are people that I may never meet, but we connect because of a shared passion, experience or desire to learn/try something new.  We care about learning and making opportunities for our students that are meaningful and engaging.   I have developed a closer relationship through twitter with a few other teachers of Kindergarten and 1st grade who I have had opportunities to connect and collaborate with on ideas and learning.  I met a teacher in Texas.  Our interest developed with literacy.  We shared a common interest in an author study, so we created a voicethread together.  The children were able to listen to and respond through a meaningful, learning connection around books!  A very simple, easy way for children to share their love and interest of a book read.  Later we connected again, this time to collaborate on an author study, but in a different way.  We began by SKYPING with each other.  We introduced ourselves and shared what we felt was important about reading and writing and the tools that we use to help us.  So our relationship began… a connection being made.  Our next connection/meeting time will be around a story, a sharing , read aloud that we will do through email or by SKYPING.    My collaboration with another teacher has begun…  This teacher began by setting up a Google Doc that we can communicate with to share our ideas around our next steps of collaboration.  Wow!  The power of Google Docs, anywhere, anytime…  Another great way to be connected and collaborate…

Through twitter I have now connected and made a new friend/professional colleague because we have shared a common idea/theme that is of common interest.  So I created another twitter account for my kids in Kindergarten.  This is a way for my children to tweet about daily/weekly things we are doing/sharing with others we have connected with.  So now through my initial connection, I have learned the power of being connected as it has helped me learn the value of tools I use, but had not understood or experienced the value and possibilities of those tools.  Twitter, wow!  I could not imagine not having this available for me and my students.

Another great story…..

I was contacted by a language arts coordinator/leader in Virginia who came across my class blog and was so interested in the technological tools that I was using with my students, that she sent me an email and inquired if I would be willing to be a host for 3 days so she could see 1st hand how I am using technology with Kindergarten children.  Then she applied for a grant that was funded so she is now coming to Vermont to spend time with me observing, talking and interacting with me and my students and other classrooms.  Her goal was to learn how I am using technology and to establish some possible connections with other teachers in her school.  What a grand opportunity for endless learning opportunities!
So this is possible because she came across my class blog which is open to the public…  It really seems amazing to me at how easily connections can be made.

As an educator, the best things I have to offer are the things that I am also learning about and the things that I know about.  I am learning how to “fine tune” and enhance these best practice ideas through technology.  The technology makes the best practice work even more powerful and offers endless opportunities for my students, their families and others to share and collaborate on any level you wish.  The connecting can be short or long term.  For myself this is wonderful as the connections are meaningful, and are always there, “waiting” in a sense to be re connected or ignited again when an opportunity arises.

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In this photo you see a Kindergarten child showing a parent volunteer how to access his email on an iPad!

I learn best through my own disequilibrium and my modeling of making change.  Change is so rewarding and inspiring and can offer lots of opportunities that I may not see if I don’t take risks. This change evolves for me because I keep my eyes wide open, I read lots of different things and believe and value in innovation and collaboration.  Everyone has gifts to offer and share, it is what we do with these gifts that makes connections come alive and meaningful.  My students and their families learn through my example and modeling of what I feel and experience.  I take risks with this, but am not afraid of being exposed.

What I love most about the idea of making connections is how rewarding it is for me, my students and their families and others that I connect with.  The excitement is real and contagious.  This is where the learning happens and the ideas flow…  Being on facebook, linkedin and twitter I am now understanding the full value and importance of these networking sites to make and keep connected with others.  The sites differ in what they offer, but all are ways for connecting and collaborating around personal experiences, ideas and common interests.  All of these ideas can be used in any way we feel comfortable sharing.

The transformation that I am discovering and experiencing is a result of my willingness to keep my mind open to the endless possibilities that I explore with my students through a variety of technologies.  Without a doubt the technological tools are key and vital.  These tools give children voice and opportunities that strengthen their desire to learn and explore ideas.  I can’t imagine being in a classroom without them.

Children returning iPads to the lab!  One of the children made a connection here and said; “Hey, this is like returning books to the library!”

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