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About Jaclynn

Teaching is rewarding in so many ways. Teaching internationally has been a blessing! I love to travel and meet new people and experience new cultures. I wish I had more aptitude to learn new languages. Currently in Bangkok, Thailand, I am enjoying life and looking forward to growing in my aptitude for technology. I like to dabble and know that at times, it will be pure pleasure to dabble and at times, there will be growing pains. Bear with me in my journey to improve and learn!

Growing Pains Indeed

Initially I named my blog after something that happened in my kindergarten class that day. Spring time in a KG class is when the kids are literally sprouting. They come to school complaining of aches and pains like someone 5 decades older. I thought how appropriate, my students will be growing physically and I will be growing in my quest to authentically integrate technology in the classroom. “Pains” has such a negative connotation. In this case I wanted it to have a more positive effect, as in “No pain, no gain.” Learning shouldn’t be painful per se, but it should be uncomfortable in that it stretches us to think and act differently.

It’s been a quick 7 months since I started my sabbatical year! So much has happened…but I want to see how I can continue to grow and learn with and without technology.

  • Creating and updating my profile on LinkedIn (along with using a service like ISS). Looking for another international teaching job in the age of technology means being “linked in” to the network and the possibilities of connections.
  • Learning to play the ukulele using Ukulele for Dummies, which has video links, QR codes, and a CD with audio tracks.
  • Learning to draw/paint/watercolor/oil pastels and create my own masterpieces.
  • Updating my Professional Learning Community (PLC) and continuing to learn and contribute.

So here’s to more “Growing Pains”! Would love to hear from others who have expertise/advice in any of goals for the upcoming months.

know-pain-know-gain-no-pain-no-gain-tank.american-apparel-unisex-tank.silver.w760h760Picture courtesy of http://skreened.com/

 

iMovies on the iPad

The students have been on cloud 9 recording videos of their learning in all subject areas. I had merely asked if they might be interested in making their own iMovies. Enthusiastic cheering erupted! And off we went to make videos that we can use for their iMovies. This is perfect timing because the Kindergarten Celebration of Learning is next Thursday and this could be part of their digital portfolio.

They’ve recorded themselves reading their “just right” books. One student has made 6 recordings just for reading! They’ve worked in groups to record math games or by themselves skip counting by 5s, 10s, or 2s. Some even counted to 100 on camera. The surprising thing has been that they are not as excited to record themselves talking about the garden. I suppose that the garden has hit a plateau at the moment and we are still awaiting the cucumber to come to fruition and the flowers to flower.

Now because this was an unplanned thing, we are encountering a problem as we get ready to start putting the iMovie together.

http://goodereader.com/


Problem: Different kids have different videos on different iPads.
Solution #1: Tried using Dropbox to upload and transfer videos to another iPad. Problem is it took all night to upload 1 video to Dropbox. With over 40 videos to transfer, this will be the nightmare.

I am open to more suggestions. I am reluctant to put all of those videos on my computer but know that would be an option. Found an app that supposedly transfers pictures from iPad to iPad. Will it transfer video files? Please let me know if you know an easy way to transfer these videos.

In the meantime, the students are using an assortment of videos and playing with the iMovie app. They are experimenting with the themes, music, titles, etc.

Should be exciting to see their final products!

Almost There!

The Kindergarten Garden is doing really well this year! It feels like a miracle (compared to the disaster last year with flooding in Bangkok). We’ve optimized the soil in the beds and containers for growing and it’s working!

As I plan for the video finale, I find myself revisiting storyboarding to organize my thoughts. Kindergarteners do not typically think or use a storyboard for their personal narratives. I created a storyboard to record my first Educreations lesson for the students to add on to their plant tracking recording on Pic Collage. Educreations Lesson link.

It’s a bit daunting to make a 10 minute video! Since the video length will be much longer and comprise of more elements, such as video clips, it was hard to conceptualize the entire length of the video. It’s still bits and pieces in my head, (literally swimming fluidly in my head it seems) and hopefully with more thought and using the video storyboard I found online, the video will come together and coagulate by next week.

Filming in Kinder Hands

I guess I am “old-schooled” or “schooled” in the old ways and tech terminology. What do you call what used to be “filming” when it was on film or “taping” when it was on videotapes or “recording” when it was records? For this blog, all of the above are synonymous.

I have been trying to videotape the kids as they talk about their learning in this unit. First it was introducing the students to the living and nonliving things and how to use tools in the garden to plant, weed, and transplant plants. My finding is that it’s hard to film as one is teaching and at times, managing wayward kindergarten students.

It was good to get the students used to being on camera though. As an experiment I wanted to put the kids collaborative skills to the test. We’ve been writing How To books in Writing Workshop. What if in groups of 3, they would make a recording using the iPads and “teach” others how to do something. Something as simple as How to Wash Your Hands. The students worked together to come up with their own ideas. There were 3 roles in each group: actor, director/supporting actor (if needed), and “camera”/iPad person.

Beware: you might get vertigo or motion sickness from watching this. YouTube Preview Image
How to Swing (V.1)

Students recorded their How to skits and we watched as a whole class on the SmartBoard. They reflected on each other/their own video on what/how they could improve. Some of the comments were the speaker’s volume was too low, the background noise was too loud, and the camera was too low or not steady or changed angles. The feedback and reflections were helpful and served to inspire the groups to make another run at another recording.
YouTube Preview Image
How to Swing (V.2)

New BFA

My new best friendly app (BFA) is Pic Collage. I loved the potential of Skitch, which is connected to Evernote (which is another treasure trove) but it was not dependable due to internet connectivity issues. Pic Collage was a good alternative with some bells and whistles missing.

In our first application of Pic Collage, the students explored how to use the camera and text features to add to their pages while they investigated the different kinds of leaves of our seedlings.

We used Pic Collage again to track the growth of our “adopted” seedlings. Each week or so, we add a new picture to our own page to follow and chart the growth of our plants. This has worked so well because students are able to better show their understanding without being dependent on their fine motor skills to make a representational drawing of what they observe.
The independence the students exhibit when they use this app on the iPads is remarkable. The questions I get the most have to do with where to find the letters/numbers on the keyboard and the date.

Learning Along the Way

We planted the seeds on a Friday and on Monday, we already had some seeds sprout! One of the amazing things about living in tropical Bangkok where the average temperature year-round is never below 18 degrees Celsius/64 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s funny how serendipitous life is sometimes. I was exploring on the iPad for an app the kids could use for reading when I noticed Skitch. In the interest of keeping our app purchases synced, our school has 4 of the 5 classes (each with 5 iPads this year) on the same account. So I am intrigued at what gets downloaded on the iPads at each update. This time it was Skitch. I saw the potential of the app right away as I explored. It had bells and whistles that the iPad camera didn’t. One could use arrows to label and type/write in text and export/save in an Evernote account. That night, I saw on Silvia Tolisano’s Langwitches Blog about how she used Skitch. With that in mind, I set the parameters for our use. The students are to take a picture of these seedlings, focusing especially on the stem and leaves. Then they are to use the arrow feature to point to these two plant parts and label them using the type text feature. The last step was to save it on our class Evernote account.

Even the best laid plans have glitches. On the day I was going to have the students take pictures of the seedlings, none of the iPads would sign on to Evernote. Was it the internet/wifi connection? Was it the sign in/password? Checked and triple checked. We couldn’t sign on to the account. Plan B, we could save the picture on the camera roll. Caveat was you can’t manipulate (add arrows and labels) after saving them on the camera roll {whereas you could do that if it was saved on Evernote}.

The students came out in groups of 3-4 and capably maneuvered all the steps to take a picture, label with arrows and text, and save their work on the camera roll. It worked beautifully! The surprising thing was that all the kinder kids were able to “type”/find the letters easily enough to label and add their names.

Now if only I can convince my school to allow us to print straight from the iPads…THAT would make technology easier to use and imbed into our learning. How is your school handling this issue?

Garden Unit Kick-Off

And we have KICK-OFF! The Kindergarten Garden is ready! All 90 kindergarteners from 5 classes met in our quad to celebrate the beginning of our Garden Unit.

I am particularly excited about this unit because of my own love for gardening. I do have some anxiety about the garden though because last year was quite the flop. Nothing grew! Not even weeds! (I think it might have been the flooding we experienced months prior in Bangkok.)

We wanted all the kindergarteners to know that the Kindergarten Garden belongs to all of us and that we will all care for the Garden. Much like the book, The Little Red Hen, we will all share the work of preparing the soil, planting the seeds, weeding, and watering the garden. Of course in the end, we will hopefully enjoy the fruits of our labor!

Final Project Idea

The time is here to choose that “final” project idea! How did time just fly by like that? Am I ready to revamp a whole unit to incorporate all/many of the things learned in COETAIL? Being that Course 5 will begin in January, there are only a couple of options to choose from, well, really only one in my mind…science.

This is a critical time in Kindergarten for literacy skills and the students must meet standards and benchmarks for their grade level by the end of the year. I can’t readily “experiment” with this. At least I am uncomfortable “gambling” their future on some unknown. I don’t mind taking risks but my professional ethic also reminds me to do no harm. (Not that they would necessarily be harmed per se…just not up to the end of the year benchmarks. I am sure the first grade teachers would also appreciate this.)

We have the Garden Unit in science for most of second semester (February to mid May). The length of time for this unit is conducive to building the skill set to integrate technology authentically (not the crash course or the Cliff Notes version). In this science unit, we start by learning about living and nonliving things, tying in our Wood and Paper Unit from FOSS. We look at structures and behaviors of different parts of plants (i.e. leaves, stem, roots, flower). We compare different kinds of plants (i.e. vine versus plants with stems) and purposes (i.e. grown for edible parts, grown for aesthetics).

It’s an exciting unit of study for the students where they can make observations and see change on a daily/weekly basis. One of the goals is for the students to compare and talk about these changes and differences. In a way, it seems a natural fit to embed technology in this unit. This allows the students to record more of their thoughts and reflections than with typical pencil and paper in a science notebook.

The shifts in pedagogy for me will be to teach students to be more verbal about their observations and comparisons on camera, to validate their thinking using words and explaining their thinking versus pictures/illustrations, and to use technology responsibly and respectfully on an individual basis independently.

As I think of possible hiccups for the students and for myself, I am visualizing what happened last week as I asked the students to use the camera on the iPads to document how they changed the wood sample when they sanded it. Literally out of the corner of my eye, I caught a student (who was so focused on getting the picture of how he had sanded the corner of wood sample) almost let the iPad slip out of the leather cover. (Even though I thought I had prevented the problem by locking the screen in one position to force them to use the camera in one direction.) For adult hands, we can hold onto the iPad single-handedly and push the camera button. It looks very different in Kindergarten hands. For one, their grip is not firm and multi-tasking (holding, focusing, and pushing the button to take a picture) is a new concept.

Another concern and challenge is how to manage all their documented work. At the moment, I am uploading all the pictures students take with the iPads and cameras and printing pictures for their science notebooks. Ideally for this unit, it would be a digital portfolio for each student. We have 5 iPads and 4 “laptop” computers (that act like desktops). We can check out a class set of digital cameras temporarily from the library. Although our science investigations and documentations were always individual endeavors, perhaps it’s time to rethink and have students work collaboratively.

My challenges will be:

  • to continue to explore and establish my PLN with primary educators using technology
  • to try out different apps and software and see which one is the best fit for the demands of the individual and overall tasks (and not the other way around) in a primary setting
  • and to set up access to tech tools and digital portfolios that are Kinder-friendly.

There’s nothing like on-the-job training for the students (and for teachers too). But accidents can and will happen and I have to let go and let students have as much access as possible when using technology to document their thinking and reflections. It doesn’t hurt to try. Some ideas may flop and some might be successes. I know that I am not alone. We (my online network, my colleagues, my students) are on this journey together and will grow and learn together.

Is It Still A Laptop?

Picture courtesy of http://shop.computeroverhauls.com/product_p/white-macbook.htm


As I read the fourth point in Classroom Management, I had to ask myself the question, “Is it still a “lap”top when it doesn’t hold a charge unless it’s connected?” That’s what is happening to all 4 of my laptops. It makes me think that the Macbooks at our school might be the earlier models (or ??). In the end, I am treating these tech tools as “desk”tops.

The students see me plugging in the computers to charge for our every use. One day I was busy with another group and one of my students just plugged in her computer cord to the power strip on my desk. I don’t know if I was more proud of her or if I should have scolded her.

Then there’s the technical issues of wi-fi downtimes or congestion times, server failures and more often than not (especially during our rainy season) power failures. [Even as I am attempting to write this blog post, the internet has been spotty and some things have not been saved and there's a lot of re-dos.]

So if nothing was standing in the way to deter us in “techtopia”, how could I use the laptops? The obvious is websites that teach literacy and phonological awareness (i.e. rhymes, letter sounds, word families) and math literacy and fluency skills. But I would like to stretch it further than the superficial. As suggested in 23 Things about Classroom Laptops, doing a “mass” collaborative writing project where students learn to use collaborative tools like Evernote might be an idea. It could be the new shared writing of the 21st century! Then there’s the idea of a Kinder version of a MOOC. I want to build experiences for the students that are more inquiry, problem and project-based and because of their lack of literacy skills, it will probably be more manageable if it were collaborative in nature. All this will take time and planning and tech skills that I may/may not already have. The scope of all this can seem daunting at times.

I have high hopes after seeing that I don’t have to recreate the wheel in terms of assessment of learning using technology. There seems to be a wealth of different rubrics at Educational Origami to help assess digital activities. It’s a start….

Resource for Rubrics at http://edorigami.wikispaces.com