Kindergarten Around the World

As part of our unit of inquiry into Where We Are in Place and Time, KC have partnered up with a Kindergarten class in Canada as part of a project called Kindergarten Around the World.

Michelle, our buddy class’s teacher, and I have been emailing each other to plan how the project might unfold. Michelle’s class have been tweeting for quite a while. I had planned to introduce the KC children to twitter as a collaborative writing engagement but was waiting for an authentic purpose and audience. Et Voila! Perfect timing! Our Canadian buddy tweeting experts initiated the contact by tweeting KC. And so began the collaboration.

We know our Canadian buddy class as KinderPals, their twitter handle. The KC children pointed out that Ryan and Maya have Canadian connections. We wondered where in Canada our KinderPals were, and where Ryan and Maya were from. We tweeted KinderPals and emailed Ryan’s and Maya’s parents for more information.

KinderPals replied that they were from Abbotsford, in BC, about an hour from Vancouver. The children poured over globes and iPads, trying to find these exotic places. Recently, we have been talking about initials, and it wasn’t long before someone located British Colombia and connected that with BC.

The children wondered why KinderPals don’t reply immediately to their tweets. One child explained, “It’s because they have a different time there. My granny has a different time in England.” This lead to a discussion about time zones. I tried to explain, but I could tell by the faces gazing up at me that some of the children were not convinced. I made a mental note to think about how I can make the idea of time zones more accessible to the children.

We have added KinderPals to our blogroll so that the KC children could access the KinderPal blog independently using our iPads. Using Twitter, the children have communicated back and forward across the ocean. A post on one class blog might lead to a question tweeted out across the time zones. The children are excited to check our Twitter account each day to see if there is a response from their buddies.

The children have wonderful ideas about how to share their learning with their new friends. One child suggests making a video. Someone else suggests we send a link to blog post. Another child, responding to a tweet from our buddies, suggests taking photographs of different areas of the school. Yet another says we should make a VoiceThread so that we can talk about the photographs and our far-away buddies can respond.

Michelle and I email back and forth, following the children’s lead, supporting and guiding them as they think about each next step. I am intrigued to see where this journey leads us, weaving between two continents and many cultures.

Blogging and tweeting as a collaborative writing engagement

Through the class blog and twitter account, KC have found friends in other schools around the world. We have got several other Kindergarten classes on our blog roll, and they in turn have added us to their blog roll. Several times a week we check the other blogs and leave comments. We also check our blog for comments left by others. We are following classes from schools in other countries on our class twitter account and have got followers from other schools and from the YIS community. We regularly respond to questions on twitter and tweet our own questions to find answers from “experts” in other countries.

Writing blog comments and tweets has provided the children with meaningful opportunities to write for an authentic audience. They are highly motivated to interact with the children from other classes. They have a myriad of questions and wonderings. Often, a post on someone else’s bog will excite the children and inspire an idea for our class. The children are intrigued about a video that one class is making on counting from 100 to 1 and have asked that class to share the link to their video. They want to know if another class has Autumn right now and how other children celebrated Halloween. They are interested in a survey another class did on how children come to school and they want to conduct a similar survey in our class, and share the results with the other school, to compare how children come to school in different countries.

Using the data projector, we project the blog or twitter page on to the wall so that everyone can see. I type as the children dictate. The children observe as I think out loud, modeling how writers revise and edit the text. The children offer suggestions on how to make to a comment better. They notice when I leave out fullstops and instruct me on when I need to use upper-case letters. Together, we think about our audience. We discuss word choices and wonder how to help our readers form a clear picture in their mind. We add details so our readers will understand us better.
We also talk about how our comments will be interpreted, and discuss our responsibility when we interact with others over the World Wide Web. These five and six year olds are learning to be thoughtful and responsible digital communicators. Digital citizenship starts in Kindergarten!

A busy day out doors!

Today we had a busy day out, full of nature-watching and adventuring. We started by digging sweet potatoes at a near-by potato field. This is a popular Kindergarten experience in Japanese schools at this time of year, and helps children to understand where food comes from and the cycle of the seasons.

We had a picnic lunch in the park and then spent a long time clambering in a section of hilly woodland in the park. This was a wonderful opportunity for the children to work their muscles and develop their gross motor skills. As the children worked together to help each other climb up and down a very steep slope, they were engaged in problem solving, risk-taking and collaborating as well as supporting and encouraging each other. They spent over an hour developing strategies to help them negotiate the slope.

On the way home we stopped to sketch some of the changes we observed in the park this week. We were not the only ones sketching! There were some delightful exchanges between the Kindergarten children and the more experienced adults, out with their sketch-books and water colours.

A busy day out on PhotoPeach

Sharing With Parents

Over the last month, teachers and class parents have been exploring ways of involving parents in their children’s learning. We have been delighted to work with parents in many different ways over the last week.

Sharing children’s learning
Many parents were able to come and spend time in the class-room so the children could show their parents what they have learned. We will continue this sharing session on the last Friday of every month.

Sharing planning ideas
It was wonderful to be able to meet with parents to share our planning ideas for our current unit, and to get parents’ input and ideas. We will continue to hold these sessions throughout the year.

Mother Tongue reading
We had our first Mother Tongue reading session this week. Hal’s mom, Trenton’s mom and Rika’s mom came to school to read to the children in Japanese.

Dads’ sharing
We had our first Dads’ Sharing this morning. Thanks very much to Leander’s dad who came to tell the children about his work.

We look forward to continued collaboration with parents throughout the year.

Kindergarten -Grade 3L buddies

Throughout the Elementary school, each grade level buddies with another class a few years older or younger. This provides a wonderful opportunity for the children to interact and form relationships with children of a different age, and to make connections with children in different parts of the school.The children in Kindergarten are buddying up with 3L. We will get together once a week, on a Thursday afternoon, to share our learning.

Click here to visit the 3L blog and watch a PhotoPeach of the Kindergarten and 3L children working together for the first time.

E-learning in KC

Last week, school was closed as Typhoon 15 approached. This provided an authentic, connected experience involving children, parents, co-teachers and the ES Curriculum Coordinator.

  • One child emailed me her work and I posted it on the blog.
  • I left a comment and others quicky added their comments.
  • Another child emailed me her work which I posted in a PhotoPeach. Soon others were leaving their comments.
  • A third child, inspired by a VoiceThread we had been working on earlier in the week, decided to share her pattern work in a VoiceThread.

Between 8 oclock and 3 oclock we were connected via emails, blog posts and web links.  Zoe and Ms Catasti were also part of our learning web, just like we were all at school.

The next day at school, several children who had not responded digitally, brought photographs and drawings to share. Although they had not had an online presence, they had clearly accessed the e-learning through the blog and had participated in other ways. In the days since, children have continued share their home-based inquiries in school via the blog.

This is a wonderful example of how we can use technology to support teaching and learning, even with young children, and of the power of being digitally connected.

Typhoon Day

Today there is no school because Typhoon 15 looks like it will pass though Yokohama and Tokyo. It is VERY wet where I live! I wonder what the weather is like where you are?

Typhoon "Nabi" - 4PM 09/05/2005 JST

Even though we are all in different places, and not in our classroom, we can use the blog to continue with our inquiries and our learning.

You could:

  • listen to the new comments on the VoiceThread and leave some comments on your friends’ photos.
  • look at the pattern photographs taken by Mr Farrell and Zoe and make some drawings or take photographs of patterns around your house.
  • look at the videos made by Eric Carle, explaining how he makes his illustrations.
  • start a new piece of writing. Remember to add details to your drawings or your text to help the reader to get a clear picture in their mind.

Remember to click on the blue to links to get to the relevant blog posts.

Counting Large Numbers

Recently some of the children have shown a particular interest in counting larger sets. I was intrigued to see what strategies they would use for counting numbers over 100, and I wanted to see how much they understood about the relationship between ones, tens and hundreds. I told the children that I had noticed that some of them were interested in working with bigger numbers and suggested that they count all the cubes in our math tubs. The children liked this idea. I explained to them that I wanted to know about their mathematical thinking and the strategies they were using, and that I would be recording their conversations. Below is an example of the conversations the children were having.

  • When we finish all of them, lets put all our piles to together so we are not in muddle.
  • I got 148
  • Now lets put them all together
  • No, lets add them with the numbers (goes to get whiteboard and marker)
  • How many have you got?
  • I cant quite remember because there is so much. It’s because everything is in a muddle. That’s why I’m putting them together. I’m making a line. It’s easier if you do that, then you can count better.
  • Well I counted in twos and it was much easier. But you can count like that in twos, in a line.
  • Oh yeah, that’s a good idea, to count in twos. Then we can make pairs and count the together.
  • Will I help you? It will be quicker if we make tens.
  • Yeah, its easier because this way is very easy. Otherwise if you do it in ones it will be very hard because it will take a very long time.

Counting Large numbers on PhotoPeach

The children conducted their inquiry with very little help from the adults.  They were engaged for a two hours, spread over two days. As the children worked, they were:

  • exchanging and building on each others’ ideas
  • developing, testing and modifying theories
  • problem solving and trying new strategies
  • explaining their thinking as they helped each other

Reviewing the iPad apps.

Over the past weeks, the children have had opportunities to work by themselves and with different partners to explore the new apps that have been installed on the iPads. The children were told that at the end of the exploration time they would be asked to feed back to the whole class, explaining their thoughts about the apps they had been working with.

When the children had explored and revisited many apps, they chose one or two apps that they particularly liked and shared them with the whole class, talking about the educational value of the apps and explaining how the apps would help their learning.

Once the children had listen to all the reviews, they broke up into small groups and discussed the apps, in light of the new information they had heard from their peers.

Finally, the children worked in two groups to record their ideas on large pieces of paper. These papers are displayed for the children to reflect on and add to as they come across new apps. We will review the papers at the end of the year to see if the children still feel the same, or if their thinking has changed.

Reviewing the iPad apps on PhotoPeach