Tag Archives: transparency

Sharing Our Story…..

Sharing Our Story:@vermontkkids123

My Story….

Recently I had the opportunity as a former Ignite award winner to work with an amazing storyteller, Sue Schmidt. Myself, along with 3 other talented educators were able to share our stories at a recent Vita-Learn conference.  For me, this was really hard at first! As I practiced my story, wrote it down and then shared with a live audience I was struck by the ease at which my words and passion came through. I learned that when we share a personal story, it has such deep meaning because it represents a journey, a beginning and a place where we end up but still evolving.

The other thought I have about this process is how reflective it was. My reflection was both backward and forward about my experience. I thought a lot about my inward reflections as well about my journey and what I thought others might be thinking about what I was sharing, my story. As reflective and challenging as this process was, I felt very inspired and confident in my story and hope that it inspired others too.

Telling our story….

Back in Kindergarten, I started to think about when and how my Kindergarten students have opportunities to share their stories and when. One of the opportunities in our class is to create an iMovie about the Global Goals for Sustainability. One of my colleagues and awesome ELL teacher, Patti Tursi offers her expertise in being a director for our movie. She shares how we are going to talk about why we want people to know about the goals and why. As we begin this work collaboratively we meet and come up with a plan of action. The plan provides us a way to organize our thoughts and ideas but is also flexible if we need to change things. We use Google Docs because we can both add and change things anytime, anywhere. If we have questions we can post and support each other in our thinking. So we begin…

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Our plan….

  • introduction
  • What are the goals?
  • Individual photos with words
  • Voice over photos
  1. How are we learning about the goals?
  2. Service-learning connection/experiences
  3. Think: goal(s)
  4. Create photo/illustration
  • individual/small group
  • Background of the world with our identity(color, collaborative)
  • Exploration of the filming”studio”/stage we created with the children
  • Explore microphones
  1. Rehearsal/Filming: Practice using student voice to tell their story and connection with the goal they choose
  1. Filming Cutaways:
  2. A small group of students work with Patti to edit and make decisions about what we want to keep and/or retakes

The children learned so much from Ms. Tursi. She has a special expertise in creating movies and as our director, we all learned how to create a movie and what was involved. Through this process, the children were collaborative and very respectful and supportive of each other. They learned how to use technology in an authentic way with a strong purpose to inspire others. Thinking reflectively about what they thought of themselves as storytellers about what they are passionate about, helping the world. As an educator this really is amazing and how wonderful that we can all learn alongside each other to create a story/message about why others need to engage in the goals.

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Reflecting further…

Through the use of a microphone, iPad, iMovie, Google Docs, Ms. Tursi’s time, energy and expertise, and flexible space we were able to collaborate with each other to create something wonderful. The process is easy to think about: a plan, design, create/produce and publish.

So because of this experience, one of my students thought it would be a great idea to tell the school about the goals and ask for others to help us collect food one more time before school ends and then walk and deliver the food before school ends. So we did! Small groups of Kindergarten students are visiting interested classes to speak about the goals and why they are important. They share our work around Global Goal #2 Zero Hunger as a way to share how collecting food connects. Then something wonderful happens. Another Kindergarten teacher reads the story; “On Market Street to her students and shares that her students decided to do something kind for others and that they also wanted to collect food for the food shelf. Awesome! So now students from both classrooms are making a morning announcement at our school to explain what we are doing and why we need everyone’s help.

 

 

When we share and invite others to help we create a positive culture of learning and a culture that encourages kindness and builds empathy. I am proud to be an ambassador for the global goals and feel privileged to work and learn alongside so many inspiring educators, students, and their families globally.

Check out one of my kindergarten students writing she created during a play time….  What if we all felt this way? How can we all make this happen?

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

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

A Celebration of Learning: Engaging Families Inside and Out!

One of the things I enjoy most about my job are the endless opportunities I have to celebrate and involve not only my students, but their families.  Family engagement is very important for all students and their success in school.  I continue to try to find ways for my families to not only engage, but also celebrate the wonderful learning that is transpiring daily inside and outside of Kindergarten.unnamed

Learning is really an amazing opportunity to involve and engage others around you.  Through our ability to connect, share and reflect what we understand we not only develop a deeper meaning of what we are learning, but we also get excited and want to share.  When we share our thinking is challenged and we are inspired by others feedback. Celebrating school, learning and each other is so much fun and inspiring.  Just simply highlighting an idea on a blog, using Twitter to “tweet” an idea can bring lots of feedback.

This morning we had our first celebration of learning.  It was wonderful!  Watching families engage and connect with their child and their learning is such a gift.  I appreciated all the support that my families offered ahead of time in helping me set up a breakfast buffet and also their commitment to attending and being present and sharing with their child and other families. One of my parents was not able to attend so the family used FaceTime on their phone to connect.  One of my students was able to share her work virtually, in a face to face way using a phone!  This is an example of how we , as educators must continue to think about creative ways to engage our parents.  They want to be a part of their child’s learning.  Technology can help make this happen! DSCF4582

Connecting and developing positive relationships is really important as an educator.  This is always my first priority when I begin each year. The relationships I develop are important and critical for the success of each of my students.  Parents need to feel engaged and also a part of their child’s daily life in school.  As an educator I have found many synchronous and asynchronous tools that can help with this.  Recently one of my students visited an aquarium and was able to post photographs of the different sea animals he saw.  This was an opportunity for a family to connect and share a learning experience outside of Kindergarten.  When the student had an opportunity to share he was able to articulate what he saw and facilitate questions that other students had.  Later on another student was able to post a compliment on his Kidblog. This is so motivating for students.  unnamed-4They want to connect and respond when others recognize their efforts and discoveries.

I continue to think of ways that I can connect with my students, their families and extended families.  Through our connection we develop positive relationships that support learning for their child.  I am grateful to have so many technological tools to begin to demonstrate alongside my families and their children how technology can be used in meaningful ways to engage, enhance and enrich their child’s education. Bringing families together to celebrate and connect is what is important. Learning is for everyone.  How are you engaging your students, families and extended families?

 

 

 

 

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.

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!