Tag Archives: transformation

Exploring Coding:@vermontkkids123

Last week was really wonderful.  My students, some parents and myself participated in the Hour Of Code.  This is my 2nd year participating and I am already thinking more about how I can use the Hour of Code week as an opportunity to introduce coding to my students and then continue to weave in opportunities for my kindergarten students to continue to explore coding.

Last week our technology integrationist, Bonnie Birdsall visited Kindergarten.  She was awesome.  She shared a video of coding happening globally and then alongside me and my students we explored code.  We used Daisy the Dinosaur as a way to begin.  The children were very interested and intrigued about how they could make the dinosaur do things.  After this introduction I then began to explore more coding alongside my students and families.

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My students were so proud and happy when they finished a challenge.  I was so excited to hear how they were all supporting each other and asking questions to help them solve problems.  Lots of critical thinking happening!

I had 2 fathers volunteer to come in and work with small groups of children using Daisy the Dinosaur. What I noticed was lots of collaborating with students and I was amazed at how my students were supporting each other when stuck and the connections that were being made.  Remarkable really.

Here were some of the responses my students made about why everyone should know how to code:

  1. It helps you think mathematically.
  2.  It is so fun.
  3. It helps you learn.
  4. Coding helps your brain solve problems.
  5. It helps my thinking.
  6. It helps us learn to use technology.
  7. Coding helps us think and justify our thinking.
  8. Coding is learning Mrs. D.
  9. Coding helps you learn about math.
  10. Coding is important because you can do it by yourself or you can collaborate.
  11. Code

We created a poster to display in our classroom.  I really liked how a few of my students made brains.  I asked why and I was told that that is where we think!  Wonderful.

 

Later in the week my students created a Kidblog post about coding.  I am always reminded about how easily young children can make connections and build on their prior experiences when trying something new.  A couple of my students were creating their Kidblog post and wanted to know “how to” spell a word, so 1 child went to get a book to find the word he needed!   Another child went to get our ‘how to” use Kidblog book to help guide her through the steps.  Wonderful. What a great example of young learners using prior experiences and tools that we created together to create and design what is important.

As a teacher I am able to learn so much from my students through this experience.  How are they figuring things out? Sounding out words? Looking for environmental print? Print in books? Other ideas? This is also an opportunity for me to grow and to begin rethinking about what I need to do, where do I need to go next in regards to learning opportunities that my students need.

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Technology really offers so many ways for even our youngest learners to not only connect and engage, but also problem solve and build their own confidence with digital tools. I am grateful for being able to be a teacher and work alongside so many wonderful people.

Then I was inspired to write a project in regards to coding!  If interested, my project for Bee-Bots can be found here.

Allen Brook School’s Davison is VT NEA Dorta Winner – myChamplainValley.com

Allen Brook School’s Davison is VT NEA Dorta Winner – myChamplainValley.com.

My Advice: Caitlin, Megan, Jessica, Katherine and Patrick

Last week my students and I said our final good-byes to the last of our college interns in Kindergarten.  During this year I have had the pleasure of connecting and working alongside 5 amazing, collaborative, engaging and inspiring people who have challenged my thinking, supported my students and have been open to being transparent in their practice which has led to some deep, reflective conversations which have benefited all students.

One of my interns had a set of interview questions for me in regards to teaching culture, etc. One of the questions was about what advice would I give to someone pursuing a career in education and what would I recommend that they do.  I have continued to think about this idea for awhile now because it is really important for new people thinking about a career as a teacher.

So this is my advice……

1. Care, care a lot. You will be able to make a difference for many if you have empathy and perseverance.  Take the extra time to be patient and listen.  Notice how your students react and interact with each other and the culture you create and design.  Be responsive and flexible to making changes that support your students needs.  Collaborate to make a difference for others in the communities you teach.  Through your modeling of caring, your students and their families will become engaged.patrick

2. Be passionate.  Celebrate the learning that is happening inside and outside of your classrooms.  Express your excitement through your face to face, online and other opportunities that you create.  Through your passion, your students will get inspired and become passionate about their learning explorations.  Remember to dance, laugh and sing.gre

3. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and challenge your thinking. Remember as a teacher you have lots of opportunities to learn and interact.  Think about how you and your students might learn alongside each other.  Look for others who are doing creative and innovative things.  Through others ideas, you develop your own inspiration and find your voice.  You have the ability to be brilliant and make a difference.photo+1-30

4. Connect, connect, connect.  Develop your PLN!  This is vital and very important.  This is where your thinking is challenged and you will connect in many ways that will turn into future collaborations.  Through your connections you will develop a group of people, who like you, care, want to make a difference and are willing to make changes that improve their teaching practice.  Your PLN is always there.  Count on them and lean on them when you need support, want to celebrate, collaborate and need inspiration. Join online communities that promote and engage what is important to you.

5. Be transparent. mm2   It is okay to share what you are thinking and why.  Through your transparency you will invite others in and share your perspective.  Think about asynchronous and synchronous tools that can share the learning you and your students are exploring together.  Information is important for all of us.  Make it meaningful and interactive. Through your explicit modeling of sharing globally, your audience will be broad and you will connect and others will benefit from your ideas as you will be inspired by theirs.

6. Be well.catherine  Remember that what you do for your own personal wellness is important.  Your wellness of mind and body gives you stability, strength, endurance and patience. Exercise and healthy eating keeps your mind and body healthy and active. Be sure to pursue your passions that recharge you and make you feel energized.  Positive energy is contagious and helps everyone be successful.

I want you all to know that it has been my privilege and honor to have you in Kindergarten.  I have learned from all of you and I thank you for your daily energy that you shared with all of us. I wish you all the best in your future experiences in education.  I hope you will discover the magic in working with children.  We need people like you, who care, ask questions, connect and smile.

Being Intentional: Being Passionate: Being Transparent

Hip, hip hooray!  Tomorrow I get to go to Kindergarten and celebrate the new year with my students!

I have been reflecting a lot about how fortunate I am to have so many passions and also the importance of sharing them as well as modeling how passions can lead to making a difference for others.  Tomorrow I begin a new year with my Kindergarten students and I look forward to reconnecting with them and their families as we move into a new year of learning together.

Passion for me is something that inspires me and captures the essence of what I enjoy and am learning from.  It supports my confidence and gives me opportunities to share my voice. As an educator it is really important for me to have passions that challenge my thinking both inside and outside of my classroom.  Through my challenges I have opportunities to model how I persevere and grow.

This past year I have connected with some amazing people thanks to twitter, Skype, facebook and my amazing and inspiring PLN.  I continue to feel fortunate in experiencing the value of how we can all touch others in ways we never thought possible and inspire change to happen.

Opportunities that appeared for my students, their families, others:

* my students care very much about “filling buckets”(inspired by a story;”Have You Filled A Bucket Today?”)

* students inspired and connected with other classrooms to begin to use twitter and Skype to connect

*my kindergarten students collected food and are finding ways to make a difference for others inside/outside of Kindergarten

*students experiencing and exploring how kidblog can inspire them and give them a platform to share

*students are blogging about what matters to them and then sharing with a larger audience

*students all have voices and are using a variety of tools to share what they are learning

*students are developing close relationships inside and outside of our classroom that support their ideas in regards to learning.

*students are modeling and experiencing “how to” be a safe, kind and responsible digital citizen

*kindergarten students being models for each other and problem solving

* students modeling how to collaborate and have conversations in a variety of ways that promote critical thinking

*kindergarten students discovering their voice and experiencing how to share it

*students are learning how to learn*

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My students and I have had the pleasure of connecting with a grandparent of a couple of my students who has discovered how Skype can support and facilitate face to face conversations.  My students have also inspired and modeled for a Kindergarten classroom in Wisconsin about how twitter can give you opportunities to “talk” to others and share.  We are also experiencing together that the world is huge and amazing and how we can share our ideas.  We created a map that reminds us where and how we are connecting with others.  This has been amazing because it reflects who we have inspired and who has inspired us in regards to our learning.

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I look forward to thinking of how I can capture, model and share not only what we are learning in Kindergarten, but how we are doing it!  I strive to be intentional and explicit and hope to continue to model the importance of how much fun learning is.  My wish is for all students to want to learn, to desire to know and to be passionate about what interests them.  A huge task I know, but a task I welcome because what I do each day is meaningful and it does make a difference. 

Transformation is important because it captures the essence of who we are and all that we have to offer.  This past year thanks to my PLN I have been challenged and inspired as well as supported.  My PLN is full of amazing people that I may never have the opportunity to meet face to face, but they are always available and willing to support, share, connect, inspire and challenge my thinking.  I will be forever grateful for this.

The Importance of Being Creative and Innovative: Why?

I value and believe in creativity and innovation.  Creativity opens up ways for all learners to express and share how they make discoveries.  Innovation is a way to enhance the how of what we discover. It also reflects the deep and critical thinking process of what we have experienced in regards to learning.

As an educator I have a variety of technological tools available for me and my students that can help make creativity and innovation more present and part of our classroom culture.  I feel I’m most successful when my students and their families also begin to experience how these technologies can support what they are noticing about their learning discoveries.

asYoung children are amazing thinkers!  They see patterns and make connections easily.  When they have time to share and connect with each other about their ideas, they begin to create and inspire each other. How are you inspired?  By who?  Why?

An example comes to mind here.  During a literacy time my students were creating self portraits.  We were using mirrors, but they kept sliding over.  One of my students said, “Why don’t we just use an iPad?”  So we did!  Through this idea everyone was able to be more successful with the task and others were collaborating together to help each other set up their iPad using the camera and also why this was a great idea. ImageThe portraits my students created were amazing and contained so much detail!  The camera on the iPad made their face real and so clear.  Some of my students decided to take a picture of themselves to draw.  So just by using the camera on an iPad my students discovered “how to” enhance what they were doing and the activity became much more rigorous and enhanced through a technological tool.

Throughout the year I have had and continue to have many parents, students and professional colleagues share their ideas and understandings around learning in a variety of ways.

Many of my parents of my students send videos of their child discovering a “college word”, reading orally using expression, photographs of writing they’re doing at home, etc.  This is why I need to be open minded and creative when it comes to planning and learning.  When I am successful is when I am making a difference through my example of how I am using technology in ways that are meaningful in regards to learning.  The meaningfulness of what I am doing is shared not just with me, but with my students and others colleagues.  When we model how we are changing our thinking about learning, we are modeling how to be flexible in our practice as well.

I share with my PLN(Professional Learning Network) too!  We inspire each other with our experiences in regards to learning.  Using twitter with my students and my parents has also helped educate why it is so important to use social media in school.  It opens up endless ways to share and collaborate about learning!

This week as I plan I am thinking about how I can be flexible, and model how I change my thinking in regards to learning.  I am also thinking about what tools will help me share and model this  so that my students experience the learning that comes from making mistakes and how this is necessary to get closer to what we understand.  mr

So why be innovative and creative?  I look forward to hearing from others about what you are doing with your students too!

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

Air Server In Kindergarten!

Prior to our winter break I was introduced to Air Server.  Wow!  What I am finding out is how easy it is to use as well as how my students are also benefiting from this neat, wireless tool!  What is so amazing is that I can now and my students can remotely access our Smartboard through an iPad.  What an inspirational tool that helps me and my students think, interact and reflect with our ideas.

Now every time I have a new app to share, I can do this remotely!  I can be anywhere in my classroom.  The value of this is now I can be flexible about where I am and also my students can easily interact with the SMARTboard, but are also able to remotely share their observations as well about what we are exploring.air1

For example; During our “Number Corner” time the children use iPads to create patterns, write numbers that come before, after and count using iPads.  Now the leader of the day is able to use their iPad remotely.  So what this means is that the leader displays the number patterns, numbers, etc. and others create what is being asked on their iPad and then they “check in”.  When my students “check in” they are checking their understanding with what the leader of the day is sharing.  This is a wonderful way for all children to be empowered by using a technology that helps others reflect on their own thinking.

So this is what I notice(keep in mind that I have only had 3 days with this tool)

1.  My students are able to make decisions about where they are, physically in the classroom when sharing and checking their understanding.  This encourages all learners to facilitate what they understand.

2.  I notice how excited and engaged my students are about what we are exploring.  This is contagious with all learners in kindergarten.

3.  I see how easily my students can begin to take on leadership roles about what they want to share.  A great self esteem experience for all my students.

4.  Air Server seems to be a pathway for me, my students and others to connect and collaborate with in regards to what we are learning.

5.  The access of what I have on my ipad is available for everyone and everyone has an opportunity to investigate the possibilities of the apps we use.

6.  My students take risks with making observations and connections about their understanding.

7.  What another great way to help promote the idea of being a safe, kind and responsible digital citizen.

8.  I already noticed how a couple of my students began to problem solve “how to” get back on line, when Air Server delayed.  Really!  Just the idea of looking for a way to problem solve a problem in a collaborative way.  Critical thinking happening here for sure!air2

I look forward to blogging more about Air Serve.  I have only used this tool for 3 days!  Looking forward to discovering more using Skype and other tools that enhance learning opportunities for my students.

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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How Technology Can Impact Classroom Culture in Kindergarten

I always remember as a student in college how important the classroom culture was in developing a culture of learning that is safe and engaging.  I have found this to be true and very rewarding.  As a Kindergarten teacher this has proven to be one of the most important things that I can do each day for the children that are a part of Kindergarten life.

What has become most vital for me and my teaching practice is how aware I have become of the constant need to establish an interactive and positive classroom culture for young children to be able to be creative and design their ideas around what they understand. This happens in an almost seamless way in Kindergarten.  I would like to share the technology tools that have helped make this an on going reality which happens daily because of how the technology gives children a strong self esteem, sense of belonging, a way to connect and reflect on their ideas around learning.Image

Recently I observed a child taking a photograph of a friend who had created a building for her dolls and then later another child is observed getting the camera ready to capture a structure she had built with some friends to share.

ImageWhat is so wonderful about these photographs is that these Kindergarten children understand that what they have created can be shared.  They know that they have an opportunity to talk about what they created and of course what their observations were and what they noticed.  This is a very simple example of how a technological tool can enhance an opportunity for a child to share/show what they created and get feedback about it.  This also offers an opportunity for children to be reflective about what they designed and why.  As a Kindergarten teacher this is vital to help foster and create a culture that is safe, fun and a place where all children can take risks with their ideas.  When a child takes a risk, they are becoming more confident in their ability to show and share their understanding of an idea.

Another daily opportunity I have to help develop a positive and collaborative culture is through our morning meeting.  Each day we have a leader of the day.  The leader is responsible for reading the morning message on our SMARTboard and calling on others to come and interact with the message to find words, patterns, make and share observations as well as make connections with peers.

ImageThe technologies give the children an opportunity to share what they know and take risks with ideas that they are presented with and sometimes may not yet completely understand.  I feel that the technologies encourage and enhance these learning opportunities for all children.  Technology gives every child a voice and does not discriminate, but rather offers opportunities for children to shine and take risks with their peers that promote a culture of positive learning and interaction of ideas on a high cognitive level. Children have an opportunity to practice being a responsible digital citizen and build self confidence all at the same time.  I find Kindergarten children to be amazing thinkers and they seem to continually want to share their ideas of what they observe and understand.  Technology helps this become a reality for all children. 

Last week on Digital Learning Day I was able to watch many children reach out and make connections with their friends and families by sending an email, creating posts on their kid blog about how technology helps them with their learning, take photographs of things created in the classroom and interact with iPads and the SMARTboard during small and whole group discussions.  It was a bit over whelming, but so wonderful to be able to see and listen to.  The culture in Kindergarten was positive, interactive, engaging, reflective and engaging.  My challenge as a teacher is to continue to think about the transformation of classroom culture and what I can do to provide equal opportunities for all children to be creative and collaborate with others about what they are learning and discovering.

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I find myself constantly learning and being open to tools that will help me reach all children.  The technology helps build understandings of what we know, what we want to know and have yet to learn.

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