Tag Archives: technology

My Story as an Ignite Teacher

 

Today I had the opportunity to share my story as an ignite teacher. What a pleasure it was to share and listen to my fellow Ignite teachers stories.  I shared my story about how my learning evolved with the support of technology and how opportunities for developing meaningful and deep relationships were created. I believe that because of the connectivity and my willingness to be transparent in my own learning, I am able to learn alongside my students daily as we share our voices globally.

Here is my story………

I am learning how to connect and learn about the world alongside my students. Together we are exploring how digital tools and platforms offer opportunities to have conversations with others, who like us want to make the world a better place.

In the beginning, I had computers in my room that I did not want. I asked to have them removed because I wanted the space for other things. The computers stayed, collecting dust. I did not understand how technology could be used and why did we need computers anyway?  I kept thinking about why do I need these machines, what purpose do they have, and how will they help with my learning and that of my students?

In 2008 I participated in a blogging workshop. I was immediately intrigued by how I could use blogging as a way to share what we are doing in Kindergarten, why it is important and how learning evolves. So I started a class blog and immediately my students and their families connected and our conversations and relationships deepened and learning became the focus. Blogging helped me experience the value of audience and how by sharing a variety of perspectives, relationships develop and we open up opportunities to have conversations about our learning. Now parents, students and others globally can read and listen to what we are learning about and how. I thought about how wonderful this will be for parents especially. Families had access to our day of learning, our stories…Families were in a way being invited, daily to see what is happening inside and out of Kindergarten anytime they wanted to, no more losing and misplacing endless pieces of paper about our days. Our learning was always available. Parents and their children would have a way to begin a conversation about their day.

One of my students was from Africa. He traveled by himself to the United States where he met his new family and school. With the help of his mom, we were able to use Skype as a way to say hello and learn a bit about Africa. My student introduced his Mother to us as his African mother, Rita. The children were mesmerized by this conversation, and as my student introduced his classmates, I watched the expression on Rita’s face, one of happiness. Then his mother asked her son, “How are you? Do you like your school?” Right then, at that moment it struck me about how important conversations are and the value of developing relationships that share who we are and where we come from. So at this moment, we all learned about how technology can be used to create a bridge to connect. Later my students asked why this child had more than one mom. He shared; “I am lucky because I have an American mom and an African mom.” We learned about the value of acceptance… and our perspective of family widened, we learned that families look different.

Later another child’s parents were traveling in Japan. They shared videos and photos of what life was like there. The children were really intrigued by the speeding trains. When the child’s parents connected with us using GoogleHangout, their child was able to say hello. As he softly cried, when he saw his parents on the screen. he told his parents how much he missed them. In those moments he was reassured that he would see his parents tomorrow. The other children immediately spoke kind words and told him that it would be okay. At that moment we experienced empathy and the webcam that was once put in mouths and licked was now a portal to connect and speak with people who care about us and our learning. Through our interactions with each other, we learn about the importance of friendship and empathy. 

As we explored Global Goal #13 this past year, and previous years, Climate Action, the children were able to learn about waste.  As we explored what waste, how it is created and what might be some possible solutions we connected with Recycle Rhonda from the Chittenden Solid Waste District. We learned about ways that we could be less wasteful through hands-on workshops. We created a padlet to ask others globally what they were doing to be less wasteful. Then during one of Recycle Rhonda’s visit,s one of the children asked if she was on Twitter. She replied, “No.” Sothe children explained to her what Twitter was and if she joined Twitter we could talk to her. So she joined! The children now share their positive actions around waste with her via Twitter. The children, at the ages of 5 and 6 are modeling and teaching an adult about how to use this social platform in a safe, kind, and responsible way.  The children begin to experience and understand how this platform can help us make connections, share our learning and have conversations with others who are interested in our learning. Now we, together with experience understand how we can deepen our learning through the use of technology. Twitter becomes a platform to have conversations.

I’ve decided not to try to keep up with it all, but to focus on the things I’m using while being open to new ideas.  Another challenge is being explicit and intentional about what digital platform to use and how. I have been inspired by the authentic, personal experiences that myself, my students, my colleagues, and their families have shared in regards to how technology has enriched and enhanced their understanding and connection with each other and the world. For me, learning is for everyone. I have hope that technology will offer endless opportunities for everyone to share their voice and connect with others who have a passion for what is important to them. Learning is always the focus… the technology is a tool that offers a bridge to the world. Through our ability to be transparent, we model how we can all learn from and alongside each other in positive ways to make the world a better place.

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Exploring the Global Goals

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.