Tag Archives: technology

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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Tools That Help To Transform: Being Intentional

As an educator I want to be intentional about my actions within and outside of the classroom in regards to learning.  I feel that the more transparent, we, educators are about our practice, the more intentional our work becomes.

Just in the past few months I have begun to transform even more.  The transformation is intentional and sometimes it just “sneaks up” on me!  The technological tools available are all key and vital when it comes to any kind of transformation.

What a wonderful week I had with my Kindergarten students!  This time of year is so exciting because I get to see my students become more independent and watch as they navigate using the many technologies that we have been exploring and discovering together during the year.  Wow!  As an educator I am seeing some amazing ah ha’s and uses of some of the tools that are a part of our Kindergarten culture.  I have listed a few examples below.

1.  Twitter!  My students have opportunities all day to tweet about what they think is important.  This past week a couple of my students told me that they were “ready” to start typing the tweets themselves.  I asked ‘”How do you know?” They told me because they are reading.  They also shared because they know that they have to use a period, a capital letter and leave spaces between their words.  Oh yes!!!  This is a reflection of the many things we explore during our reader’s and writer’s workshop time.  This is amazing that my students see the connections here with not only that “they are ready” to tweet, but what they need in their tweet and that it can be shared with others.

2.  Air Server!  This has been a wonderful tool to explore with my students.  During our number corner time the leader of the day and a few others are able to connect through our SMART board and share their mathematical ideas!  Two of our Math Habits of Mind are Changing Your Thinking and Multiple air serverRepresentations.  By using iPads remotely my students are able to share the many different ways a number looks like!  If they have a different idea or Change Their Thinking, this is valued and recognized as a habit that all mathematicians do.  In order to learn we need to Change Our Thinking(make mistakes).  The self confidence of all my students is high because they all want to be able to share and collaborate using the interactive tools.  Interactive tools that promote deep thinking and collaboration as well as risk taking.

math3.  iPads!  I love that I am able to have iPads available for my students.  Their uses are endless, really!  During a dice game a couple of my students thought that instead of writing their numbers on paper they could write on an iPad.  When I spoke with them further it occurred to me that paper rips easily and it is hard to change your thinking.  An iPad makes it easy to try and try again.  I was also able to see how naturally my students offer to help one another too, not just writing numbers, but navigating with the iPad.

As I continue to model a variety of technological tools in a very intentional way, my students will do the same.  They begin to see and discover the value they can have in regards to their learning.

These are questions I find myself asking over and over again…..

What tools are you using with students?  How are you using them?  What are you noticing?  What are your students noticing?

My Kindergarten Students…..

Kindergarten is really an amazing place.  I am in my 5th year of teaching Kindergarten and I continue to be amazed at what 5 and 6 year old children can do.  Last week was filled with ah ha’s and clear reasons why it’s important to be transparent in my teaching practice and how technology can help with this.

During our “Echo Time” the leader of the day is responsible for building words using the SMART board while others use their “tapping hand” to tap out the sounds they hear, then create on their iPad.  The students check their understanding with what has been built in the word box.  Then the leader calls on someone to come up to identify the pattern.  This is a great opportunity here also for young reader’s to represent their idea using SMART tools and then they have an opportunity to justify their reasons behind their thinking.DSCF2118 DSCF2119

Through the use of these tools my students make authentic mistakes and then “change their thinking”.  They’re not afraid to make mistakes because the technological tools make it easy for them to “change their thinking”.  This is modeled and of course we all know that through our mistakes is where the learning takes place.

Later in the week we shared our “How To” stories with the help of our SMART board and document camera.  Both of these tools together give my students opportunities to interact with what they have created, become a leader and build confidence through asking for questions and comments about their work.  When students come to the board to interact with the writing all students make connections and observations.  Now when it’s time to write, the students have a new perspective about what they might change or add.DSCF2052

Just by having a variety of technological tools available, modeling how they can be used and what they can do, my students begin to feel confident about using them because it is just what we do in Kindergarten.

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In the photographs above you see the way in which we practice reading each day.  I use a variety of tools that support the reading and writing strategies that we learn in Kindergarten.  The variety of tools give all students an opportunity to use visual, auditory and kinesthetic ways to interact with print. ** An important point here is to note that as an educator I do want to and do monitor the face time my students have using electronic devices.**

We also tweet what we are learning as well as what we are discovering.  I leave our class twitter account open all day.  This way when my students wish to ‘tweet” something to share with others, they can.  Just through this social site we are able to connect and collaborate with others just like us!

Air Server has been a wonderful addition to our number corner time.  My students can remotely connect through our iPads and share their ideas on our SMART board.  After I introduced how Air Server works and what we could do, my students immediately began to explore, problem solve and share through this technology.  Many times I am not always clear about how the technology may or may not work, but through modeling my students begin to see and become flexible in their thinking. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t.  Through these experiences as a class, we begin to collaborate and work together to solve a problem.DSCF2124

Young Readers and Writers: iPads, Podcasting and Blogging

In the beginning of the school year I spend lots of time modeling and giving my students lots of opportunities to read and write in meaningful ways.  My students begin with real experiences so that they are able to express and share what they are observing and noticing.

Through our study of the Monarch Butterfly my students began making predictions about what they thought would happen, creating hypothesis, creating drawings that reflected what they were able to explain and talking in partnerships and large group discussions so other could make connections with each other. Some of my students used letters, symbols and detailed illustrations inspired by the many texts we read by Gail Gibbons.

As I am observing and listening to my students I am amazed at the what I am hearing and the almost seamless and authentic conversations that my students are having.  Right away I begin to ask my students if they can think of other ways we can share our work together that we are creating.  I am begin hearing my students respond, we can email our pictures, take pictures with an iPad, blog about what we are doing and make a podcast!  So that is what we did!

Through our explorations together I noticed some of my students creating scientific drawings with the date written numerically!  When I asked what the numbers represented, one of my students responded;”It’s the date” like what we do when we write and do # corner.  Wow!  A great example of what happens when a child is able to transfer what they have learned in a previous learning experience to a new experience!

My students are beginning to develop an understanding of how technological tools can enhance, engage and reflect about what they understand and experience.  As young writers and readers my students experience many strategies that both writers and readers do, rereading to understand. By experiencing this strategy my students begin to think about the what and how they are writing and reading.  They construct meaning from their work and develop higher level thinking about what they have created.   iPads, blogging and other technological tools help my students rethink and reflect about their literacy experiences.

I am so excited by what I am seeing and hearing in Kindergarten.  My students through their beginning stages of reading and writing are beginning to experience how blogging, podcasting and iPads can be helpful in regards to their learning.

Kidblog

Kidblog


I am entering my 3rd year using kidblog with my Kindergarten students and I’m so amazed and thrilled with all the learning opportunities that have appeared, that I just must share.  I never imagined that blogging would be the platform that I use to showcase student discoveries, make connections, collaborate and of course be such an important part of my PLN (Personal Learning Network).

Being a kindergarten teacher is really exciting and so inspiring.  I have been able to really enhance what I am doing in kindergarten with my students in such a meaningful and engaging way.  By making kidblog available to my students and their families the learning seems never ending.

Prior to Kindergarten starting I create a Google Form asking for permission from all of my students families about using kidblog.  Once I have this, I create a class.  I begin by creating a post myself with a welcoming message and usually a photograph.  I will create about 3 more posts prior to Kindergarten starting.  My posts are usually things I’m doing and places I have been. Sometimes I may even pose a question about a photograph I have taken of something interesting.  For example; I recently visited Chicago and found an amazing ceiling window that was designed by all triangles.  So I posted the photograph and posed the question; ”I wonder how many triangles are in the photo?”  Just by creating this simple post and posing an open ended question, I invite my students and their families to begin to engage with their child’s blog.  

I have found that this is a nice way to welcome my students into the world of blogging.

Now the connections and discoveries begin.  My students begin to become familiar with what a blog is and it’s purpose. This is vital and very important.  I always focus on the how and why of what I am doing.  The purpose has to be clear and exposed so that the meaning is clear.  By being transparent about what and why I doing, I invite parents to also think about how this is helping their child and the dialogue begins.

Through blogging my students have lots of opportunities to share what they are doing inside and outside of kindergarten.  This is important because it is through our discoveries and explorations that we are able to share, connect and collaborate with others.

Now I have had many interactions with my students and their families before kindergarten starts.  For most of my students we have never met face to face yet, so this is especially nice for my students and their families to begin to experience what kindergarten will be like, a way to begin to connect with others and establish new relationships.

Each child’s kidblog represents what they feel is important and what they wish to share with others.  I have found my students to be very excited about what they want to post and their reasons for why they choose what they did.  When children have choices about what they want to share they’re able to be very explicit about what they understand and experience.  Through these choices I am able to help my students elaborate and ask questions that may either further their understanding or inspire them in another direction.

To sign up for kidblog go to: http://kidblog.org/home.php

Kidblog has opened many learning opportunities for me, my students, their families and others.  What a wonderful way to share what a child discovers and understands.

Donors Choose: A Great Resource That Supports Creativity

As a Kindergarten teacher I’m faced with reduced spending each year due to cut backs and the economy. I’m always looking for ways to get funds that will support my students in their learning discoveries and explorations.  Two years ago a colleague, Bonnie Birdsall our Technology Integration Specialist suggested Donors Choose as a place where I could go and post project ideas so that others in the world could see what I am doing and the learning value.  I have had huge success with all my projects I have posted.

Another challenge that I face as a Kindergarten teacher is time. I’m constantly looking for ways to incorporate science and technological tools throughout the day. Donors Choose has provided me with a way to make my projects become a reality. Click here to see my past projects that were completely funded.

What To Do:

Go to: website and create an account.  It is so easy!  The site has built-in steps for you to follow.  You do your shopping through the site through pre-approved vendors.  I love this because it makes shopping for my materials really convenient and easy.  After you complete the steps, you submit your project to be reviewed by people at Donors Choose.  They will notify you within 5 days or less if your project has been approved.  Once approved you can share the link of  your project with people.  This is key, the sharing.  I email the link of my project to my students families, tweet on twitter, post on my facebook page and share on linkedin.  This summer I also created a post on my class blog. Donors Choose also offers special promotions called;“Spark”.  This is great because if people donate during when this is being offered, DonorsChoose matches all donations made during a specified time period.

When your project receives donations you will receive an email.  Then you go to your project page and write a thank you on your page to your donor.  I especially love this so I can thank people right away so I don’t forget.  This is the most important part, I feel is taking the time to thank people who support you, your students and your idea that supports learning in your classroom.

One of the challenges that I face as a Kindergarten teacher is time and funding. I’m constantly looking for ways to incorporate science and technology throughout the day. The projects I post at DonorsChoose help provide me with an avenue to pursue my innovative and creative ideas.

I have just recently posted anew project called:”Science Inquiry Through Blogging: With A Non Fiction Emphasis.”  Click here to read and make a donation if you wish!

I hope that after you read this post you are inspired to go to DonorsChoose too, to create and design your own project.  This is really a wonderful place where your dreams do come true!

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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