So for the first time tonight I participated in a Twitter chat. I have been a little hesitant to jump into a chat in the past but I was on my computer (under the pretense of doing some homework for my current grad class) when the chat started so I thought that I would give it a try. The topic of choice tonight on Kinderchat was Report Cards: Friend or Foe. I knew right away that this was a topic that I have some background knowledge on (seeing as I have to do them three times a year) so I thought that I would try it out.
Before I knew it, the chat was over and I had participated in a fairly good conversation with people all over. We compared how report cards work in different schools, talked about how the grading system worked (there are actually some schools that use grades still in Kindergarten instead of a number scale), how some schools are phasing out report cards in favor of portfolios, etc. The topic also changed slightly as the night went on. There were a number of teachers that were talking about making sure that they had to have their retention list in to their administration before their report cards went home. This sparked a conversation about how many school were on opposite sides of the coin in regards to retention. We also discussed the benefits to full day kindergarten.
This last topic interested me greatly as the Saskatchewan government has been making noise lately about making Kindergarten students attend school full-time. When the topic was first brought up in Saskatchewan, I was on the fence as to whether or not it would be a good idea. After having listened to many of the people tonight, it certainly seems like it might be a smart move. Full day Kindergarten will give the children a chance to explore new concepts with even more depth, spend more time on literacy skills, play more with math, etc. As a teacher, full day Kindergarten would enable me to feel less stressed. When you only have two and a half hours in a day, it is hard to fit everything in and some of the basics were often falling to the wayside. This might just be one move that the government makes that will actually benefit the students.
I have spent quite a bit of time lately thinking about how I can encourage parents to be more involved in their child’s education. Now before I start I realize that there are many ways to be involved, including being active in your child’s education in the evening by taking an interest in what they are learning. Having said that, I would like to get the parents involved in what happens during the day at school. I do realize that many parent work during the day and that this is not always possible for all parents, but I would love to see more parents in my classroom. The children love being able to show off their parents.
In the past I have used parent volunteers to help mainly with different projects that we have been working on. Most of them are art related but a few have been writing projects also. The newest idea that I have been thinking about would be to invite the parents in for Story time a few (or more) times during the year. The parents would bring in a book that they enjoy reading to their child at home and share it with the class. If I had more than one parent interested in coming in I would either split the group up or have them come in on different days. My main goal would be of course to allow the parents to see a small portion of our day, but also to show that kids that literacy is important and that reading can be fun.
Typically in my classrooms, story time is folowed by play time, so I would invite the parents to stay if they are interested and they can watch how their child interacts with the other children as this is often a concern for kindergarten parents.
Do you have any more ideas about how I can encourage more parent involvement in the classroom? I am open to anything and willing to give it a try.
For anyone who is interested in how the organizer of Kindergarten Around the World actually uses Twitter in her classroom here is a great new clip that shows exactly how it is done. It is truly amazing to see how engaged these young children are in what they are learning about. Hope you enjoy.
P. S. I am really loving how everything I have learned in class is coming together. I can get awesome ideas from Twitter, blog about them here and link others to these valuable resources also. I am beginning to wonder how I functioned before this class!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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?
I have spent lots of time over the last few days thinking about different ways that I could incorporate some of the Storytelling tools into a Kindergarten classroom. I have played around with a couple of the links that Alan Levine has on his list, however I seem to always come back to the 5 Card Flickr. I really enjoyed this and I have told anyone who will listen to me about it. I have a number of friends who teach middle years and and they have all said how they think that this would be good for a writing assignment, in French or in English. I found that I could easily see how this would be beneficial in an older classroom because the students do more independent work and can work through a project like this. It did however take me a long time to figure out how to use it in my own classroom.
Finally it dawned on me that I could do it as a whole class project and introduce the students to storytelling. The children are all great at telling stories, but they are stories that have happened to them so they are more re-telling stories instead of creating stories. With a project like 5 Card Flickr we could learn about how to create stories based on the images that we were provided with. One benefit of using a tool like this is that the children have a starting point because they would have a visual to work with. It might be a little difficult because they pictures are not directly related but with a little practice I am sure they could get the hang of it.
Unfortunately due to my current maternity leave I can’t actually try this in the classroom. On the other hand, I do have a couple of kids at home that are close in age to Kindergarten students so they might be able to help me out. I am going to try to get my sons to help me later today (once the oldest gets home from school). I will be sure to post their attempt so that we can all see if it is in fact a possible project with younger students.
This week’s EC&I 831 class was a very thought provoking class. Our presenter was Stephen Downes and the discussion was about the role of the Educator. Throughout the class, Stephen must have mentioned about twenty different roles that a teacher can play. At the beginning of the discussion he brought up two very interesting comments that I had never thought about before. He stated that the teacher is no longer “the sage on the stage” or the “guide by the side”. Through out my education, I have had instructors or teachers that played both of these roles and I find it interesting looking back at my educational career and thinking about the different roles my instructors have played. I find that when I am in the classroom, there are times when I am “the sage on the stage” and other times when I sit back and am the “guide by the side”. I find that with the little ones, it is important that one bounces back and forth between these two traditional roles often.
As class went on, Stephen delved into some more in-depth roles that a teach/instructor portrays in the classroom. When I look at my classroom, I find that one of the roles that I like to play is the role of the learner. There are many times where I will try a new project or theme with my students and I tell them that I am learning along with them. Often to keep life interesting at work, I will pick projects that I have never done before because this allows me to learn at the same time as the children. While the children are working, I am constantly adapting the project so that it is either easier or more challenging for the students. Another role that I play in the classroom is the role of the moderator. When you work with children between the ages four to six, I find that I am constantly trying to make sure that everyone has a turn, that all the students have a chance to participate, that the child who answers every question allow time for the others to answer also. This role however seems more dominant when we are working in a large group setting. I also agree with Chelsi that the role of the peacekeeper is important also in a classroom. As she describes this role in her blog, it is one that educates while maintaining law and order. This role is obvious in a Kindergarten classroom because there are times when I spend most of the day talking about behaviours and how we need to treat others in the classroom. Another key role that I find a Kindergarten teacher plays is that of caregiver. Often the teacher spends more time with the child during the day than the parent is able to due to many different circumstances and it is the teacher that is there to comfort the child when something bad happens, to celebrate when they do something well, to encourage when they are trying something new and to push them when they think that they can’t do something.
This picture sums up for me what it is like to be a teacher right now in a classroom. When you look at this picture, you can see one man being many different things all at once. The only thing that is missing in this picture for me is the students. If you were able to insert the students in this image, I imagine that you would see this man working individually with some students, helping other students with something that is bothering them emotionally, encouraging yet another group to try something new, talking to the whole group about a new concept, evaluating how the students are interacting, etc. I feel as if I could go on and on about what this one man is doing in the classroom and probably never mention everything that he does on a daily basis. When it is written out like this, it certainly feels like we do a lot during the day, but I don’t know if I really want to change that aspect of my job. I enjoy the fact that I am able to be many things to many people at once. I find that is what makes us unique as teachers because we can do this. I often here from parents that they can not imagine doing my job and they seem to always end that conversation with a heart felt thank you. That is just one of the many reasons that I love my job.