Tag Archives: SKYPE

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?

@SKYPEClassroom: Inviting Perspective To Enrich and Engage!

Yesterday was one of those amazing experiences that I had using a synchronous tool with my Kindergarten students that really had a positive impact on what we were exploring inside and outside of our classroom.  As a Kindergarten teacher I have lots of opportunities for my students to create and design their understanding of the topics we explore. We use our imagination and interest, but also our hands!
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Yesterday morning we had an opportunity to use SKYPE to connect and learn from a forest ranger in Yellowstone National Park!  Wow!  My students were so captivated and interested in this session.  Our forest ranger was engaging, shared photographs and real artifacts of animals and other real things that are part of forest life.  Through this experience my students learned about forest life in the west.  We were able to make connections with ideas that we were familiar with in Vermont too.  My students learned about special adaptations of animals and how these adaptations impact their life.  As I watched and listened to the conversation between the forester, in Colorado and my classroom I was struck at how comfortable my students were in using Skype as a way to share and the great questions they had. My students were engaged and enriched with this experience.  They were able to experience again the value of making connections with others who have a special expertise and a different perspective about what we are exploring.
unnamed-7I look forward to using @SKYPEClassroom again to enrich my students learning.  This is a wonderful, easy and fun way to connect real learning opportunities in authentic ways.

As we began to explore the forests of Vermont my students were very interested in the trees that grew in the forests and the animal live.  So we began to create our own forest inside of our classroom.  We constructed trees using paper, paint and cardboard.  We even collected real tree growth from the natural world and found ways to display and share inside our classroom.  Later we created non fiction books, created posts on our Kidblogs about our favorite forest animal, the rabbit!  Later we were also able to create our own rabbit too!unnamed

As an educator I have opportunities to use a variety of technologies to support and enrich learning for my students.  I continue to share and try new ideas that offer inspiration and challenge my thinking.  It is vital that I think in a transparent way when teaching.  It is an opportunity for me to offer my students and their families to learn alongside me, with me and feel like they are a part of their child’s education.  This is how I am able to make a difference, engage and connect.  I would not do it differently.  Technology is definitely changing education, but it is creating an opportunity for all of us to connect and engage in meaningful ways that supports learning inside and outside of our classrooms.  How are you making this happen?

SKYPE: A Way To Connect, Enrich and Engage

Skype has been a fun, easy way for my students to say hello, have conversations about what we are learning, ask questions, listen to a story, connect and learn new things. Earlier this year a friend, Cathy, I met in an online course thanks to the #plpnetwork that we were both participating in last spring offered to be a guest speaker for my students. I discovered that she was very interested in and had a lot of knowledge about the Monarch Butterfly.  So this Fall when I was exploring this unique animal I was able to use Skype as a way to connect my students with an expert and ask her questions about the life of a Monarch.  My students had great questions and were very comfortable using this synchronous tool because we have had many opportunities earlier with different parents who were willing to call us and say hello and ask us about our learning.  Through this type of modeling and explicit exploration of this tool my students were able to experience what it might be like as well as explore what online etiquette is and how this tool can help support our learning, learning as digital citizens.

Last week another friend and colleague, Brianna Laue, I met at Vermont Fest 2 years ago used Skype to have a few of her students read a couple of wonderful stories aloud to us!  This type of experience gave my students a chance to enjoy a read aloud, but also make connections and other noticings about the story and some of the strategies that the readers were using. Some of the strategies that my students noticed were: *read nicely, good readers, read with expression and they showed us pictures.* This is the beginning of reader’s workshop for my students.  They had an opportunity to be a part of a read aloud where other students were teaching us and through their modeling I can now build on this experience to further my students understanding.photo 3

6 weeks into Kindergarten and all is grand!  I am very grateful for the connections I have made over the years.  My connections are an important part of my PLN.  I continue to be inspired and supported through my connections. They challenge my thinking and broaden my perspective.

The Value of Conversations

Last spring I had the honor of participating in a panel discussion with Steve Hargadon and other amazing educators at the Dynamic Landscape Conference at Champlian College in Burlington, Vermont.  Prior to this panel discussion I first met/heard Steve speak through a prerecorded Google Hangout created by Lucie Delabruere and Charles Wilson.  It was an amazing conversation.  Steve shared with us about the importance of having conversations and being open to what they can reveal, inspire and the value of face to face conversations.  This has had me thinking deeply for awhile now about how I can not only have meaningful conversations, but how this might look and sound like for me professionally and with my Kindergarten students and their families.

View the panel discussion…..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUVRPyR4Ot0&list=PL1oMB99j4uZZYwb3EjI2YKk_CzLOx3mr_&index=1

What has happened so far….

1. Twitter:  My students have “conversations” through threaded tweets about ideas that we find interesting, curious about or that we connect with.  The blue lines help my students visualize how our ideas, words are connecting. My students parents are also tweeting us as well and asking us questions about ideas we have explored.

2. SKYPE: Skype has been an awesome tool for us to use to have face to face conversations with others outside of our classroom.  This tool has only enhanced and enriched our thinking and we have developed a very positive and kind online etiquette as well because of how we use Skype to converse.

3. SpeakPipe: This is a great gadget that I found out about thanks to Karen Lirenman. I put this on our science blog.  Some parents leave questions and comments about scientific ideas we are exploring.  I have also had a few educators leave comments and questions for me as well.  This is great because I am then able to continue our conversation via Skype or Google Hangout.

4. Blogging/Kidblog: Blogging is an amazing platform to share and reflect.  My students experience commenting and giving compliments as another way to “speak” about what they are discovering.

5. Google Hangout: This is an amazing tool that can bring people together to have a conversation regardless of where you are.  I have used this tool with students, other professionals to share their ideas, have conversations and get help and advice.

6. Oral Language: I have created an Important Word Tree in my classroom where we post new words that we begin to explore and use everyday in Kindergarten.  This has been an amazing opportunity for me to capture and enhance the words of my students as well as offer them other words that mean the same thing.  For example in kindergarten we are not talking, but having conversations.  This has really raised the level of vocabulary not only being used, but how my students are beginning to strengthen and develop their oral vocabulary and understanding.DSCF3067

So because of my experience last spring I was inspired, my views and perspectives were challenged and I made some new connections with other inspiring educators.

I learned about how conversations can be experienced in a variety of ways and some of the tools that can make this possible.

One of the things that I enjoy most when I meet new people is what their story is, their experience and what they have discovered.  This offers me an opportunity to stay connected and know that these connections are always there and available.  The technology does not replace ideas or opportunities to have face to face conversations, it captures, connects and enhances our stories.

Who are these amazing educators?

You can find these educators on twitter.  They are: @stevehargadon @alanfletcher4 @babbitjoyce @nissakauppila @mattallenedu @techsavvygirl and @chaswilson.

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.

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!

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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