As this class now draws to an end I have spent lots of time thinking about what I have learned in this class and what I have yet to explore. Each time I think about how great this class has been, I can’t help but think of the Thanksgiving projects that are done every year in school when we list what we are thankful for. Therefore, here is my list for this class. Careful, it is quite long (I never imagined that one class could teach me so much in such a short length of time).
- I am thankful that I got the chance to see that Social Media can have a positive impact in regards to parent communication in the classroom. This past semester, I implemented a classroom blog for my parents and they loved that they could see a little snip-it of their child’s day.
- I am thankful that I got the chance to learn about so many on-line tool. Never would I have had the time to discover all of these tools myself, but now that I know where to go to get a list of tools that I can use, I know that I will be using them in the future.
- I am thankful that I was introduced to the world of blogging. I was skeptical of blogging in the past because I never really saw much of a point to it. Now, having blogged for the last four months (or so), I am loving it. I love that I can share my thoughts with those who want to read about what I have to write about. And if no-one wants to read it that is fine, but at least I have had the chance to share what I was thinking about.
- I am thankful for learning how to use Twitter. It took me a while to start using Twitter but I am starting to get the hang of it. I am still a little sad though that I can’t use it to it’s full potential because I don’t necessarily need to be connecting with other educators right now because of my maternity leave.
- I am thankful for everyone who has become part of my PLN. I love that there are people out there who are willing to support one another and to take part in my learning.
There are many more things that I could list however I think you get the point. I have found this class to be extremely useful, not only for educational purposes but also for personal ones.
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.
Well, this is what I am calling them at least but I don’t believe that they are truly a portfolio in the truest meaning of the word. The students are not choosing what goes into them and truth be told, I am not sure that the students even understand what exactly they are. In my classroom, I have created a portfolio of sorts for each child and in the portfolio I have room for different examples of the students work throughout the year. There are five different section in the portfolio: printing, drawing, math, crafts and projects. Each section is differentiated but a title page and a poem that are on different coloured paper.
Here is the dilemma that I am having with myself. Do I use this portfolio as I did last year or do I change the purpose of it this year? Last year, because I started the year half-way through, I used the portfolio as more of a keepsake for the parents. There were not many parents that knew that I had been keeping this up during the school year and even less who knew what would be included in the portfolio. On the last day of school, I had the parents in and the children did a little presentation for them and then I presented each child with their portfolio. The children were all very proud to show their parents their work and it was a good way for the parents to see how their child had progressed (or not progressed in some situations) from January to June. The parents were all very supportive and thoroughly enjoyed their child’s portfolio. However, this year, I have the chance to use this as more of a tool to show the parents where their child is at the time of Parent/Teacher interviews. I would like to show the parents some examples of their child’s work so that they can see what we have been doing in class and also so that they can see where their child is starting out. This way at the end of the school year, when they look at the completed version of the portfolio they will be able to see how far their child has come in one school year.
How do you use portfolio’s in primary classrooms? Do you let the children help decide what is included in the portfolio or is it basically your choice what is included? Do you let the parents see them whenever they want or do you keep them for the end of the year? I feel as if I should also explain that in my School Division, French Immersion Kindergarten classes do not have report cards the first term. So this portfolio, of sorts, is a good way to show the parents how their child is meeting different objectives in the classroom. We do have Interviews, but the information that we tell the parents comes mostly from the testing that we do in early November.
While I was playing around on Twitter tonight, checking on one of the chats that I follow, I came across this interesting blog post. I am not sure who the author is (I tried looking in a number of different places on the blog but couldn’t come up with anything). It is entitled Sharing with Parents. The author describes how they invited the parents in to partake in a sharing session one Friday afternoon. The students had completed six weeks of classes and they seemed very excited to share with their parents what they had learned while in school. I wish that I had the time to do something like this with my parents this year. I have extended the invitation numerous times to have parents come in and volunteer in my classroom and I have had a few takers on it. The number of parent volunteers is lower this year than last year however and I am not sure why. I guess there could be a few reasons, one is that it is a different group of students whose parents may have different commitments that last year’s group and also my school division has implemented a new policy where the parents have to have a Criminal Record Check in order to be in the classroom. To date, I only have six or seven out of forty-two parents who have given me a copy of their Criminal Record Check so this limits the number of parents who are able to volunteer to help me. As for parents in the classroom for special events, I did have a Kindergarten Liturgy for my new students and the parents were able to see a few things that their child has been learning, so I guess I have done some parent involvement activities.
On another note, while I was exploring the website I came across some other interesting post. One in particular was about how this classroom used technology in the classroom. This post describes the many different ways that they students use technology in the classroom. I am a little jealous reading the different things that they do because it appears as if the iPad is used often in the classroom. I would love to be able to provide my students with an opportunity like that (especially because I am sure that many of them already have background knowledge as to how to use it) in my classroom. There is a short video on the site and it shows the students interacting with their parents and if you pay close attention you will notice a number of different pieces of technology used in the classroom. There are children on laptops, using iPads, adults taking pictures, etc.
Okay, so it is about time that I get started on my final project for EC&I 831. I have had the idea since it was first mentioned in class and I have emailed Alec and he says that it will work. So all I really have to do is get started. For some reason, I find myself stalling.
My idea for the project is to create a blog about all the different websites that are available to help parents of children in French Immersion. I am thinking that I will aim my blog for parents of Kindergarten and Grade 1 students. I know that there are lots of other websites that help children who are older than this however I don’t have much experience with older children so I decided to concentrate on the younger years. A blog like this would also assist parents of children who were a little older (say Grade 2 or 3) who were struggling with some of the base concepts. My intention is to locate a number of websites, critique them and give a little information about how the site works. The reason why I chose a blog is so that if any parents were to have questions about how a site works they could leave a comment and I would be able to get back to them. Also, if a site changed, I would be able to update the information in a comment as well. This blog would also serve to help teachers also (I hope) so that they could easily locate a website that would be helpful for different outcomes they might be working on in class.
So now on to the stalling part, after emailing Alec and getting the go ahead I have done nothing. Alec mentioned having a page on the blog or a Google Doc where I talk about how the project is going, different feedback I have had from parents, any snags or accomplishments that I have run into, etc so that I am able to reflect and analyze the project as I am going. I think this is a great idea but I have decided that I don’t want to have this on the blog itself because the parents don’t really care about my personal reflections of the project (or at least I don’t think they would care about it) so that means that I will use Google Doc. Now, maybe this is why I am stalling. I have no idea how to use Google Doc (so if anyone out there has any hints, please feel free to pass them along). My goal for this weekend is to get the blog started and to attempt to figure out Google Docs. Please wish me luck.
So it has been almost two weeks since I started my classroom blog (Mme Lizee’s Classroom Blog) and I am finding the whole experience quite interesting. For one, WordPress doesn’t seem to work so well on my classroom computer. It will often load, but not load properly. Therefore, it can take twice as long to post something then I had expected. The pictures don’t always appear properly and then I have to go back and fix them up. However, aside from those few issues, I am finding the whole process rather interesting.
I have had only a couple of parents subscribe to my blog and I was beginning to think that not many of them were checking it either. However, thanks to my wonderful husband, it was pointed out to me that I could see how many people were checking my blog on my dashboard if I simply scrolled down a bit and checked out my stats. Yes, I am still quite the novice at this but I am enjoying the whole experience. When I checked out my stats, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I averaged about 40 hits a day. Now I don’t know if this is from the parents in my class or random strangers but at least now I feel better about taking the time to do this daily.
I have also evolved my blog from what I had originally thought that I would do. My original intention was to keep the parents updated on different activities that we have been working on and give them visuals to use at home but I am finding that it is also a good way to direct them towards websites and Youtube videos that are/could be useful for their children. Overall, I am very happy with my blog to date. I must admit that I am a little sad that I won’t be continuing it for the entire school year due to my upcoming maternity leave.
Earlier this week I blogged on the topic of Twitter in the classroom (click here to read this post). This continues to be of interest to me however I am still so new at Twitter that I don’t completely understand how that is possible. I was hoping to participate in #kinderchat last night, however life caught up with me and I wasn’t able to do that. None the less, since I have started paying attention to a number of different social media sources, I have realized that there are many different ways to incorporate social media into a Kindergarten classroom. While looking at the different links that often pop up in the tweats that I follow I have come across another blog posting about Twitter in the classroom.
This Kindergarten teacher blogs about how he uses Twitter in the classroom. Exploring the world in Kindergarten He describes the different projects that he hopes to accomplish via Twitter. I do wonder often when I am reading these blog postings how people end up finding the time to do all of this in their classroom. Is it just a once a week thing or is it done daily for a couple of weeks? When I look at my day, I can’t imagine finding anymore time to add something else into my lessons. I don’t know if this is maybe because I am a French Immersion Kindergarten Teacher for a Catholic School system and I already am making sure that I fit in my Religion lessons and at the same time teach the kids to function in a French community.
Nonetheless, if anyone has any suggestions for me as to how to help fit in a wonderful tool like Twitter, I am all ears. Thanks in advance for your help.