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Feb 28

Little steps make a difference

Are you starting to notice different things in your classroom?
Before I answer this question I’d like to reflect on some of the changes I see in my life. First of all, I feel like I am on the ball, so to speak. At school we are moving toward 1:1 in the MS and HS. Even though I’m at the other end, in kindergarten, the IT department has asked the COETAIL group to be part of the vision and policies development focus group.  I see moving to a 1:1 as a huge step for our school with major implications if it’s not done correctly. These policies need to be well thought out, thoroughly developed and need to reflect the vision of our school and staff. It is because of COETAIL and the blogs I have been reading that I now feel more confident to be part of such a focus group. I feel more knowledgable, more up to date on other people thoughts on such matters all over the world and feel like I know more about how to reach/find this information.
The other day I was talking to my colleagues and I shared the idea of have a flipped classroom and what that would like if technology was embedded a class. It ended up being a fascinating conversation, and I felt I had an input in the conversation.
Secondly, I now have a good reason to get out of bed early. I sit here with my cup of tea, my breakfast and read some RSS feeds, some Tweets and/or write a blog. Meanwhile the house is still a sleep and it’s dark outside. I am a morning person and I have been finding this is a great way to start the day. The downside is feel exhausted by the end of the day and just wish I had more time to read and reflect. There just aren’t enough hours in a day.

Coming back to changes in my classroom…. up to now, we have had 5 iPods in the Kindergarten classes. Non of us have used them with our students yet because of technical difficulties, and then a lack of time. Being inspired by what other teachers are doing at other schools and how iPods and iPads are part of their classroom routines, I was determined to change this and started using the iPods in our literacy about 2 weeks ago. The students work on the iPods individually or in pairs. They work on vocabulary building and reading skills. AND they love it! What an addition to our class and I’m not sure if we can give them up to the other kindergartens if they want to also start using them.
Since the beginning of the year, I have had a class blog on which I post a picture everyday. Up to a couple of weeks ago, I would post a picture and would write one caption sentence. Lately, my blog has taken a different turn. I now use the blog to share what is being taught in class and how students/parents can follow up at home. I add web links so parents can further explore as well as links that refer back to our own class website. In return I have been getting a great deal more feedback from the parents, and students who visit the blog with their parents. I feel like now the blog has become more interactive. What an improvement.
As for the next year, I will use WordPress to host my blog. At the moment I use Kidblog.org, which definitely serves its purpose because it’s simple and easy to manage (i.e. it’s very easy to make class lists), however I feel limited with Kidblog because I can’t embed videos, can’t notify parents when I post blog, have very limited space, etc.
Something I started at the beginning of this year is making videos. I have made videos about special events at the school and/or in our classroom (i.e. Japan Day or 100th Day of school). Recently, I have given these videos a different look. I now want to share more about classroom learning and classroom procedures. Last week, I made a video about our math workshop. What does it look like for those who are not in my classroom at that time. What are the children doing when they are working independently, in small groups, with the teacher, etc. This was a huge succes with parents (and the admin I shared it with) and I now see so much more value in my videos.
My next project will be a bit more of a challenge. I want to make a video for each student in which they reflect on their writing. We have student led conferences coming up and I during the conference, I would like my students to share a quick video with their parents on their reflections of their writing. I love the idea of having the parents see a portion of the portfolio electronically and if this is successful, I might include more electronic sections for next year’s portfolio.
I have not decided exactly how to go about doing this (using just videos or voice thread, etc.) and plan to make this my UbD ‘unit’ for this course.
In conclusion, I feel like there have quite a few changes in my life as well as the classroom. These changes aren’t mind blowing but like I said,”it’s the little things that make a difference.”

2 comments

  1. Avatar of Aroma Pannu
    Aroma Pannu

    Little things sure do make a difference and it seems like those little things can add up to big things. There are a lot of people still who would say that at the younger grades such as Kinder, technology has a limited place. At this stage kids need to be interacting and learning to get along. Yet educators such as yourself can attest that using technology empowers our youngest learners in a way that might not have been possible earlier. Its exciting to read your blog because I find myself in the same place. An early years teacher full of ideas, constantly reading and finding out new ideas, considering their implication, and then trying to see how to connect it to my teaching. Look forward to learning alongside you and best to you as you go forward with these projects.

  2. Joy Seed

    These “liitle things’ you speak of really don’t sound so ‘little’ to me. I think it’s great that you have been able to incorporate so many things into your kindergarten class and that you are feeling more empowered to involve yourself in the changes at school. I especially like the idea of making a video of each of your students to show to the parents. What an authentic way to report on your students strengths and progress. I’m looking forward to reading more about your adventures.

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