Category Archives: Technology

Documentation in the Digital Age

When coming from intermediate, junior and even primary grades into kindergarten, one really has to check what their expectation of “work” means. As teachers, we’re so used to children being able to express themselves through writing that it is easy to imagine what you’re going to grade. The kindergarten program, though … you need to get really creative. Giving a test? A project? Not really a thing in kindergarten.

My expectations for assessment have gone out the window since arriving in the kindergarten program. Anecdotal evidence has become my thing. Everything that the kids do is accompanied by my notes on what they did. But what can that look like in kindergarten?

Well, last year, it culminated in a lot of paper notes. I made quick and easy charts and wrote everything that the kids were saying. My teaching partner and I would sit down together at the end of the day and compare notes, and discuss what the kids had been learning about. By February, though, I had discovered that that was probably not the most effective use of the talents that I have, which is that I’m pretty techy – I began experimenting with a variety of apps (and really loved Sesame Snap), but hadn’t really gotten it down by June. So when I got a new kindergarten classroom this year, and found out that I was going to be running it all by myself, without an early childhood educator, I had to buckle down and rethink the way that I look at documentation.

I had to start by thinking: what is the most effective way that I can document? To really come down to that, though, I considered a few thing: first of all, I’m not exactly a quick writer, and found that I was struggling to really to quote the students directly because I couldn’t keep up with how quickly they spoke; second of all, my school board is moving towards using Google Apps for Education, and I wanted to join in on the fun; I also needed to find the quickest and most effective way to organize all of this documentation in a way that would make it easy for me to not only find it, but reflect on it and share it with parents; and finally, I’m pretty technically inclined, so why not use that to my advantage? Continue reading Documentation in the Digital Age

Whole Body Listening

I know that at the beginning of the year, I can only get six-eight solid minutes every carpet time out of my students, so I have to make it count. I have found that this isn’t always easy.

So this gang of sweet, great and smart kids likes to shout things, which is not uncommon in classrooms. And there was no trick that I could think of that was helping me solve that problem. I didn’t like asking them to leave our carpet, just because they shouted something out. I’m excited that they’re excited about learning. I want to capitalize on that excitement, but it’s impossible to do so when kids are just shouting over one another to be heard. They have to learn to take their turn. But of course, we forgot that they have to be taught that.

It’s not about being “quiet”, it’s about being respectful to the fact that we need to listen and hear each other while we’re having whole group discussions. It’s about being calm so that you can really hear what someone else is saying. It’s about looking at someone when they speak, so that you can watch their facial expression.

Listening is hard. Listening is hard for adults … can you imagine how hard it is for kids that are just learning to listen?

But with the help of the Cookie Monster, it got a whole lot easier.

The video I’m embedding is called “The Biscotti Karate”, and teaches the Cookie Monster how to listen with his whole body: eyes watch; ears listen; mouth quiet; body calm. And so far, so good – it’s the most respectful I’ve seen them since we’ve started coming together for discussions on the carpet. We’re taking turns, we’re being mindful, and we’re breathing in deep. We’re listening, instead of thinking about what we’re going to say next. We’re reflecting on the words of others, which is an important part of listening.

So really, at the end of the day, the question is this: what does the Cookie Monster have that I don’t? What does he have that none of us have? Watch it to find out.

Learn To Read Chinese

I wish that this was a possibility with French characters. I’ll have to wrack my brain this summer to come up with a comparison, because I honestly think that her method of putting images to characters is so genius, and can only be beneficial, especially to my more visual learners. If anybody figures out a way, feel free to send your ideas my way! In the mean time, enjoy this really great TED talk.

How To Use ClassDojo In Core French

If you’ve been reading my blog for a little bit, you know that I raved about how much ClassDojo did for my classroom last year. It made such an amazing difference in my classroom that my entire view on rewarding and encouaging a classroom changed, and I’ve found it a struggle to switch back to life B.CD. (Before ClassDojo). So I’ve decided why mess with something that works? Continue reading How To Use ClassDojo In Core French