Tag Archives: professional development

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.

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

 

 

 

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 Eduwin: What is your #Eduwin?


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I had the opportunity to be a part of a live podcast yesterday at EduReach with Michelle Russell, Cheryl Lykowski, Carlos Fernandez and James Gubbins.  Wow!  It was an incredible experience.  If you teach, be sure to go to: http://www.whatisyoureduwin.com/  This is where you have an opportunity to share the awesome things that you are discovering with your students and colleagues.

How did I find out about #Eduwin? I was on twitter one afternoon reading about the wonderful things that my PLN was involved in when I read a tweet shared by @flourishingkids.  She shared the link to #eduwin and that it was a great place to share what you are doing.  So because of this tweet, I went to the link, read about #Eduwin and decided to share!  I shared my learning about blogging and the impact it has had on me professionally as well as my students, their families and colleagues.  Shortly after I submitted my idea, #Eduwin contacted me and an interactive, live podcast was organized.

This was my 1st podcast.  It was amazing.  I was able to have conversations with 4 talented people whom I have never met.  They are now a part of my PLN!  What was so great about this podcast was that we were all in different parts of the US;  Vermont, Chicago, Michigan and Florida.  This was possible thanks to Google Hangout!  I am new at using Google Hangouts, but it worked so well.  I felt as though we were all in the same place together.

The conversation was very inspiring for me.  As an educator I feel it is so important to have opportunities to share about what we are doing with our students.  I learn so much from the successes and challenges from my colleagues.  The dialogue is important and vital for my growth as an educator.  Through this type of experience I am now willing to do this again and encourage others to share as well!

I am struck continually by the energy, courage, creativity, perseverance and knowledge that I come across when I am connecting with my PLN.  For me twitter and linkedin play an important role in my transformation and growth.  If you are not using social media as part of your profession, I hope that you will consider it!  The world is a huge place with so many opportunities to connect, collaborate and grow.  I value all of the connections I have made because they have helped me become a strong and transparent teacher, who continues to find ways to make a difference for my students.

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!