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.


Dads in Kindergarten!

We have had lots of mums coming in to KC, working with children and planning with teachers. We wanted to have some dads come in to class as well.

A couple of week ago Ulrich, Leander’s dad, came in and talked about his job. He showed the children where he worked (“So high up!”) and explained that the company he works with makes a special component which makes car breaking systems safer. He showed the logos of the car manufacturing companies his company works with. The children recognized the logos and were able to tell Ulrich what kind of car they had. They were excited to think that their car contained a component made by Ulrich’s company!

This morning, Greg, Ryan’s dad came to our morning meeting to tell us about his job. Greg works on programming for mobile phones. He showed the children how mobile phones had developed over the last fourteen years.

He explained how his job was to to improve the “ingredients” that make phones so that the phones get better and better over time. He showed the first palm-held computer he worked on, which had a black and white screen and no phone capacity. Then he showed the other phones that he worked on after that and explained how the features developed over time to include coloured screen, telephone, rotating screen, touch screen and smaller memory cards with bigger capacity.

In class we thought about our unit of inquiry into how we learn and change over time, and reflected that mobile phones have done the same!

Olivia’s Story

The children love to take turns at reading stories to the rest of the class. This is a wonderful opportunity to develop a sense of audience and to practice skills such as pause, voice pace and inflection. Recently, Olivia read a book that she had particularly enjoyed. We videoed the story session and showed the video to the children. I was keen to try out a new reflection tool that I had learned from Mr Geddes which involved speeding up a video clip. I tested this new technique on the clip of Olivia’s story time The children loved the speeded-up version and asked for both videos to be posted on the blog.

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.

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.

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.

KC Pattern movie clips

Elif is a technology teacher at our school. She helps teachers and students to integrate technology into their teaching and learning. Mrs. Cancemi, who taught the children in ELC, had a good idea about how the children could take photographs to make short movie clips to show their patterns. Elif came into our classroom to help the children make the idea happen.

Have a look at the video clips below. Can you guess the patterns?