Reviewing personal writing goals

The children have been reflecting on their writing development. Individually, they looked through their writing books, comparing their writing at the beginning of the year and their writing now. Then they worked with their writing partner, looking together at each other’s writing, noticing how the writing had improved. Finally, we met as a whole group and the children shared their observations.

  • The illustrations have more details.
  • Before there was no text.
  • Now we can write letters.
  • We can stretch the words to hear the sounds.
  • We can write with lower case letters.
  • Now we know about speech bubbles.
  • We don’t need a teacher to help us.
  • We can do full stops and sentences.
  • We leave spaces so (the writing) is easier to read.
  • We know tricky words with silent letters.

We made a VoiceThread and the children reflected on their personal writing goals. This is a work in progress. I have been adding my reflections to the children’s. It would be lovely if parents, siblings and other family members and friends could add their reflections also. Getting and giving feedback on writing is an important part of the writing process.

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!

iPads in Kindergarten: tools or toys?

A year ago, our school decided to invest in a set of 15 iPads to be shared between the Kindergarten and Grade 1 classes. Over the last year, teachers and students have been exploring, reviewing and reflecting on ways to use iPads to support teaching and learning in all areas of our curriculum. Zoe recently returned from a Digital Technology conference in Shanghai, where she had participated in a discussion about using iPads as tools rather than toys. Some of the things she had heard resonated strongly with her, and as she shared her thoughts, I found they resonated also with me.

One thing that we agree on is that the iPads should support learning in other areas of the curriculum; tools, not toys. When the children use the apps, we make explicit the connections to learning across the curriculum. The IB Primary Years Program places inquiry and conceptual understanding at the heart of the curriculum and so we search for apps that will support children’s inquiries and help deepen their conceptual understandings.

As the first half term drew to a close and the children reflected on their personal learning journeys so far, I asked them to think about how the iPads had helped them to learn. Below are some of their comments which show a glimpse of the children’s insight into the way digital technology can support their learning.

  • Nia Well, when you have an author, like Eric Carle, you can read his books on the iPad and that’s better if you don’t know how to read.
  • Maya Because I can do counting. I practiced and practiced with the iPad to be better and now I can be better.
  • Olivia Sum stacker is my favourite because it’s quite tricky because you have to think about how to make all the stacks the right number. Sometimes one or two are right but the third one isn’t. And when you get really good you can do it in different languages and with different things like money, so you just keep getting better.
  • Rika And it has Korea in one story and Yeseul can read Korea because you can choose if you want English or Japanese or Korea.
  • Ryan And you can even count like 1,2,3 or like 2,4,6
  • Trenton I like Trace because you have to think how to make a path. And sometimes it is too hard. And then you have to think how it work.
  • Phebe I like to do 100 square because I find patterns.
  • Nikhil It’s good for Walter because he don’t speak English and so he can see how to do it. And I can show him on the iPad.


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.

Literature as a way of understanding

Stories can be a powerful way of helping children to understand the world around them. I asked our librarian, Mrs Kar, if she could recommend some picture books that I could use to help the children explore the concept of learning journeys. She found several books, and I chose “Clem Always Could” by Sarah Watt.

The story is about a boy called Clem who thinks he could always do the things he can do now. When, one day, he has to learn something new, he is worried about what will happen. I read the book several times, so the children were familiar with the story and had time to think about it. Then we talked about the story and thought about the big idea that the author wanted to communicate.

I asked the children to think about a time in their own lives when they had to learn something new, and to show their thoughts on paper. Recently we have been talking about the techniques that illustrators use to help their readers get a clear picture. I reminded the children of some of these techniques and the children got to work. Once the illustrations were finished, we photographed them and put them in a VoiceThread. Over the next week, the children will add voice comments to their photographs. The children have made several VoiceThreads before and are beginning to understand how VoiceThread can be used as a tool for sharing and collaborating with a wider audience.

It would be wonderful if others could add their comments to the photographs, particularly family members or friends who might remember the events described in the illustrations. It is the possibilities for involving others through voice comments that makes VoiceThread such a powerful tool.

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.

Parent Sharing

Today we had our first monthly Parent Sharing session. As part of our Unit of Inquiry into Where We Are In Place and Time, we decided to trial a new initiative to strengthen links between home and school, and to involve parents in their children’s learning. We invited parents in to class so that the children could share their learning over the last six weeks. We videoed the session and speeded up the video clip so that we have a one minute video clip that children and parents can reflect and comment on. We hope that this will help spark discussion at home and at school about the children’s personal learning journeys.

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.

KC Personal Reflections

As part of our unit of inquiry into where we are in place and time, throughout the year the children will be reflecting on their personal learning journeys and on how their growth and development leads to new opportunities. The children have been thinking about things they can do now that they couldn’t do before. They recorded their thoughts on the VoiceThread below.

The children would be delighted if you could share your thoughts on what you notice your child/ sibling/ grandchild/friend can do now that they couldn’t do before. Simply click the comment button on the voice thread to record your comments. Your child can show you how. (Your comments may not show up immediately. I may have to moderate them first.)


KC children were wonderful during the earthquake this afternoon. As soon as we felt the shaking, everyone crawled quickly under the tables. A few children were a bit scared but we whispered about what was happening and the children felt a little better. As the shaking intensified, the children held hands and whispered words of encouragement to one another. All the children made a big effort to be brave, and were calm and quiet throughout all the shaking, despite feeling frightened. We stayed under the tables for the first few aftershocks. Once everything was calm, the children came out from under the tables and gathered on the carpet to talk about what had just happened. These are some of the children’s comments:

That was so, so scary!
I wasn’t scared.
It was cool!
I didn’t like it. It felt like the whole world was shaking about in big waves.
I thought it was never going to stop.
I’m glad we have this safe school.
I want cry but I not.
It’s a good thing we did all that practicing.
I was scared but even I didn’t cry.
It’s my big one. I never seed one before like that.
Me too, it was the scariest one ever.

We talked about how our school was a very safe place to be in an earthquake, because the buildings are specially designed to withstand earthquakes, and all the adults and children have had lots of practice and know what to do. When you talk to your children about the earthquake, it may help your child if you focus on the positive aspects, such as the good design of the YIS buildings.

I was very proud of the children. They all coped extremely well in an unnerving situation.