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Posts tagged ‘Early Childhood Education’

Winding down

This class has been quite an eye-opener for me. I first enrolled in this class because of the fact that I was pregnant and needed a class that would allow me to not have to go to the university once a week for the entire semester. The idea of technology and social media in a classroom interested me, but I wasn’t sure how much I would actually get out of it because I taught/teach Kindergarten or Grade 1 (yes, that was how I thought a few short weeks ago). I did use technology on a regular basis in my classroom but I never really expected this class to show me how much more I could be doing. Boy, was I wrong!

Now that this class is almost done, I can see the “error of my ways” and I can’t wait to try to implement these new found (for me at least) ideas into my classroom. I had slowly started integrating some of the ideas into my classroom, but I would love to do it on a larger scale. The following is few of the ways that I would love to incorporate what I have learned this semester into my classroom:

  1. Classroom blog – This was something that I had begun (thanks to this class) but I would like to develop it a little more. I would like to have parent permission to put up student’s working and copies of their work,  along with everything that I had already been posting.
  2. Twitter project – Kindergarten Around the World – Allow the students to connect with other children in a Kindergarten classroom in a different country to compare and contrast our lives.
  3. Digital Storytelling – After seeing how easy this was with my own children, I would love to do this with my students and then post it for parents to read.
  4. Incorporate more technology – Hopefully, use the SmartBoards in the school for interactive lessons with the children. My school division was also accepting applications for a “Mobile Device Project”, and if this happens in the future, I would love to submit an application.

Now, when it comes to my own personal use of Social Media, I will definitely be continuing with my blog. I find that by blogging, I have somewhat found a voice. I am able to write about things that interest me in my chosen career and there are people that will read and respond. Therefore, enabling me to hash out different ideas, or develop new projects, or create new themes, etc. Blogging has enabled me to find more like-minded individuals who have helped to encourage and support me in the new things that I have been trying.

 

I realize that there are still many things that I have to learn in regards to Social Media and the classroom. I would love to give VoiceThread a try. I have heard so much about it through everyone but that is one tool that I still haven’t wrapped my head around. I also haven’t quite figured out how I would use it in the classroom. There are still many of the Digital Storytelling tools that I would like to explore also.

I also would like to continue to explore Twitter. I know there are a lot of great chats that I could follow (and I do follow some really great ones already) but I find that I still don’t share as much as I could. I understand that it is all about learning and jumping in once you feel comfortable but something keeps holding me back. I don’t know if it is because I don’t think what I have to share is important enough or if I am uncertain how people will respond to what I say. I don’t know why I let something like that hold me back, because really if it is something you aren’t interested in, you can simply ignore it. I find that I have been taking some baby steps recently by asking for help with different things so maybe I am taking some of the all important first steps now. We will have to see.

iPads in Kindergarten

I came across a Tweat today of an article that was written in April of 2011 about the use of iPads in a Kindergarten classroom. Kindergarten iPads: Should new technologies be used to teach children their ABCs? is an article that I find has a bit of a negative tone to it. The author seems to criticize the decision made to use iPads in such a young classroom. At the end of the article, there was only one reply to this post so I clicked on it thinking that it would possibly give me another view point on the usage of iPads in a classroom. This second article, Maine Schools to Give Ipads to Kindergarteners. But will they know what to do with them? seemed even more negative to me. At one point, the author of this article called the children “snot-nosed sponges”. I then Googled the idea of iPads in the classroom and actually found some articles that seemed to be supportive of the idea.

The first article that I found iPads in Kindergarten? YES! was a well written article that explained how this teacher uses iPads in her classroom. After reading her blog post, I thought a little bit about how I could use this in my own classroom and it certainly seems quite feasible. Now I know that cost if often a concern, but I could easily see 4 or 5 iPads being very beneficial in a Kindergarten classroom. You would be able to use them during Centre time and have a rotation of the students through this centre. The time spent on the iPads would be monitored by the teacher, but similar to what was mentioned in the article, I have found that young children don’t want to loose their privileges so they have a tendency to do exactly what they were told to do. Therefore, if they were instructed to use the math app only, they would more than likely remain on the app.

Now of course it would be nice to have an iPad for each student, especially for math and writing centres. I could only imagine the time that would save in a day if I didn’t have to hand out manipulatives to 21 kids, but rather hand out 21 iPads and then ask them all to chose the same app. By simply holding up their iPad, I would be able to verify that everyone was at the correct place and we could begin our lesson. The children would be able to work on patterns, number concepts, 3-Dimensional shapes, etc and that is simply in math class. Of course, using an iPad would not eliminate the need for hands-on work also. I believe that it would still be beneficial for many students to actually play around with different objects in order to create different patterns, for example, as well.

 

Gathering around the iPad to watch Thoma by metaviews, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  metaviews 

After having thought about the usefulness of an iPad in the classroom, one does leap to the next logical question, which is how many apps are there available and how expensive are they? On the same blog as the article about positive use of the iPad in the classroom, their was a blog posting about the Best Apps for Education. Now I imagine that this is only a small glimpse into the apps that are available for younger children, however it does give you an idea about how useful a tool like this could be.

Does anyone currently use iPads in the classroom? And if you do (or you use them with your young children at home), have you found any good apps that you would recommend?

More on Twitter in the Classroom

Today while I was playing around on Twitter, I came across a link to a description of “Kindergarten Around the World 2011-12!” The organizer of this amazing project, Amy Murray, does a fantastic job describing what all a teacher would have to do in order to make an undertaking like this a success.  After reading her description, I wish that I would be able to commit to a project like this but it is just not in the cards for this year and I don’t see how I can swing it next year either because I will be returning from my Maternity leave after the project kicks off. I am just hoping that I can remember this project in two years time so that I can finally try it out in a classroom.

Check out the above link if you have time. How many of you would let your son or daughter participate in a project like this? I think that this is a great way to help our young children understand that the world is a huge place and that we are similar in many ways but so different in other ways.

Facebook in the Classroom

Here is an interesting blog post that I came across by following #kinderchat on Twitter.

The End of Facebook in my Class

I find it very interesting that a school district would tell a teacher that they would need to shut down a Facebook account because they didn’t want to hear the parents comments. It must be extremely hard to work for a school district that doesn’t want to hear what the parents are saying about them. I personally love parent feedback, whether it is in person, via email or on the classroom blog that I have set up for my students and their parents. I find that it is the parent’s feedback that makes me question what I am doing (if it is negative) or that reaffirms my choices (if it is positive feedback). I find myself checking my school email account on weekends just to see if a parent has emailed me a question or if they have anything else to say. It is thanks to parent comments that I continue to do certain things in my classroom and changed other activities.

I find it odd that the creator of the Facebook page was instructed to shut it down because clearly it was working in his classroom. Many parents have Facebook accounts and this would have been a simple way to stay in contact with the teacher.  Also, Facebook does have privacy settings, so I am assuming only parents of the students would have been “Friends” with the classroom page.

I have never thought of using a Facebook page for my students but that is mainly because I don’t use it a whole bunch myself. I have an account and check it every so often but I do not update my status or post many items on it. Is there anyone else out there that uses Facebook in the classroom? I have heard of some teachers using it for creative writing projects, but the idea of using to to keep parents informed seems ingenious to me.

Technology in a Kindergarten Room

I have spent considerable time these last few days thinking about different ways that I could incorporate technology into my Kindergarten classroom.  I find that I am relieved after reading this article to find that I do actually incorporate more technology than I realized into my classroom.

http://schoolcomputing.wikia.com/wiki/Technology_in_Kindergarten

In my mind, when I think of technology in a classroom I think of anything that involves computers. After looking at the list of things in this article that are considered technology I noticed that I have a lot of them in my classroom.  Computers and printers are used often to send home resources and information to parents, pictures are taken of the children, older resources are scanned to be saved for future use, projectors help the students to see information all at once, etc. I had always assumed that since many children don’t read in Kindergarten, and especially in French Immersion, that it is difficult to allow the children to explore different websites. I am still hesitant to put the children on the computers without paying very close attention but I can see how there are very valuable resources on the computer.

I am excited to see what other ways that I utilize technology in the classroom without even knowing it.

Importance of Play for the Children

Continuing along with my earlier theme of Play in the classroom, I came across two interesting videos on Youtube. The first video talks about how play is essential to a child’s development and is as natural as eating and sleeping.  This video does touch on a few of my earlier questions about how involved show I be, as the teacher, in the children’s play. It states that an adults involvement allows the children to feel like playing is important and that the adult is able to encourage the child to think of different ways to play. It does still leave me wondering though however that I could involve myself too much in their play and end up changing the direction of the play.

The second video is a keynote speech at the International Board for Educational Research and Resources – Forum 2008.  The speaker starts off making some good points but then near the end seems to head in a different direction.  One of the interesting comments that I took from this video was that he said that according to research done in the West many serial killers did not have the opportunity to play as children. He states that play is important for the soul.

After watching these videos one can understand that play is important but I am not sure that allowing the children to play means that we should not have instructional time also. I simply believe that the two should be balanced out.

Play and Learning in a Kindergarten classroom

I just finished reading a section of the Saskatchewan Kindergarten Curriculum entitled Children (Play and Learning). I found this reading quite interesting as it directly relates to a class that I took this summer for my Masters program. This class was about Play, Art and Narrative and how these three things are very important in Early Childhood Education.  While reading this chapter of the curriculum I was able to see my students in various stages of play.  There were a number of different types of play that were discussed in the article that I would like to further read about to see what advantages each type has.  The types of play discussed are the following:

  • Associative play (where the children play with each other)
  • Cooperative play (where the children play together for an organized purpose)
  • Solitary play (where the children play independently)
  • Onlooker play (where the children sit back and watch others play but don’t join in)
  • Parallel play (where the children play side by side with similar materials)

It is interesting to read about the different types of play but what I would really like to know is what I should be doing as the teacher. This chapter of the curriculum talks a bit about how every teacher is different and sets up their classroom according to their own program but I would like to know what is expected of me.  Should I sit back and let the kids explore play in whatever way is comfortable for them? Should I encourage them to try different types of play? How do I know if they are ready to try different types of play? etc.  I find that if I sit back some students include me in their play but only in specific situations.  The children in my classroom like to include me in playing with the puppets or the kitchen play but I am never asked to join in in making a tower out of blocks or playing with cars.  As I research these different types of play, I look forward to seeing how my role in the classroom needs to adapt to the various types of play of the children.