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.
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.
Last night while I was working on the computer, I came across this wonderful article that talks about Margaret Atwood’s take on Twitter. Margaret Atwood says Twitter, internet boost literacy is well worth the read. We have all heard the critic that say Twitter is causing problems when it comes to knowing how to write in our youth today, but Margaret Atwood has a completely different take on it. In the article she says that Twitter is no different than the short forms of writing that proceeds it, such as telegrams.
She goes on to explain that Twitter and texting is encouraging our young people to write more because it is replacing other forms of communication, such as phone calls. I had never thought of it like this before. Yes, I know that Twitter can cause our youth to incorrectly spell words or substitute in numbers for different words, however it is encouraging them to think and to put their thought into words. It is refreshing to see someone like Margaret Atwood encouraging people to use Twitter.
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?
As I sit here thinking about everything that I have learned in EC&I 831, I can’t help but think that I am turning into a lurker. It took me a bit to get into the whole Twitter thing, but I really was starting to get used to using Twitter for educational purposes. I found that by following a couple of hashtags that really applied to what I was doing in the classroom, I was able to discover many new ideas, new activities, new resources, etc. Twitter has helped me to develop a PLN and to discover people who can help me out with small, everyday problems in the classroom because they are experiencing similar situations. My problem is that now that I am on maternity leave for the next year, I don’t feel as if I have much to contribute to the discussion. I know that I can certainly participate with prior knowledge but I don’t know how often I will be on Twitter in order to participate. I find that what I have been doing recently has been watching the Tweets as they pop up on my screen (thanks to TweatDeck) and then every so often I will scroll through the chats that I have been following and look up any of the links that I find interesting. Lately there haven’t been as many that capture and maintain my attention though because I am not living the same reality that I was just a few short weeks ago.
I have to admit that it does seem like it is just Twitter where I seem to be lurking. When I think about my blog I find that I still have many ideas that I would like to blog about. I seem to be a bit behind (in my mind) and I don’t actually blog as often as I would like but I find that I still make the time for that. I don’t know if this is because blogging feels more natural to me and it is easier for me to do or what, but that is the reality that I have noticed. I have noticed also that the feedback and comments that I receive from the blog seem more indepth than those via Twitter. I would think this is because if someone has something to share or comment on, they are able to say it and not have to worry about character limitations.
I continue to read all the posting by everyone else in class also, and have even added some other blogs that I have found on my own that I follow also. I find these blog postings a great way to stay current and to know what is on the mind of other educators.