Thursday, September 20, 2012

Class of 2025...Graduating with Technology

     Well, the new year has begun!  August and September are a big blur...... months you'd like to forget..... October can't come fast enough.  I think it's simply a necessary evil as you start with this diverse group of 5, 6, and 7 year-olds (many who have never been exposed to what a 'line' might be and then there are some who can already read) and you slowly but SURELY mold them into your little kindergarten soldiers students.  By the end of September you can begin to start teaching content and you start to feel like a 'real teacher' not a hen trying to keep her chicks from running around the farm! 

     We have started to use our clickers. I am fortunate to have Sparks this year!I just love them and would recommend them to anyone asking!  Here's a news story from a local channel about my classroom use of clickers a few years ago.  Click here!

It's amazing to think that this year's K class will be graduating in 2025!  YIKES!  
Check out these stats from LearnStuff:
Notice the growth of Twitter and Facebook in 2 years. AMAZING! Speaking of Facebook...be sure to check out my class Facebook page here!

Graduating With Technology

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Math App!

One of the math apps I love to use in Kindergarten with the iPads is KG Math. You can find it here.   What I love about it is that it is actually geared towards kindergarten. It hits tons of standards and they keep coming up with new updates with more games.  The game does cost $1.99 but I think it is worth purchasing.  (I am not getting any kickbacks for recommending this app... I just truly love it : ) 

Here is a screen shot of some games the students can choose.  It is a very simple format and extremely kid friendly.  I love that they even included symmetry!  How many symmetry activities do you find??? Not many!  The only complaint (which I hope with one of the updates they will change) is that if a student gets it wrong there is not an explanation or teaching moment that helps the child.  This is the one drawback I see.  I'm hoping that feature will be there soon!  Maybe if enough of us check it out and send that suggestion then it will happen...... 
What math apps do you love?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

UDL Glog!

Have you heard of the Universal Design of Learning?  Check out the glog I created here to help understand some of the vital points.  If you are not familiar with glogs they are soooooooooooooo much fun!  Look for hot pink arrows to click on (you'll hear my voice, seriously, try it : )  There is a movie you can watch, and links you can click on...... Click around and you'll figure it out, seriously, if our students can do it than so can we!!!!

Want the cliff notes????  No two students are the same, no two students process information the same, and therefore students deserve to have information presented in multiple ways, students should be encouraged to showcase their knowledge in multiple ways, and students should be motivated in multiple ways. 

What are some ways you differentiate within your classroom?  How do you make sure you're reaching all of your students? How do you KNOW you are????? Inquiring minds want to know : )

*Share this link with someone and you'll receive 10 bonus points.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Kleinspiration: The Biggest Give-Away Yet - Thank You Readers and my Personal Learning Network!


So..... want to enter a give-away with TONS of wonderful prizes?????  I have not every won one of these before but I'm feeling lucky today... How about you????? (Maybe I shouldn't blog about it then I have a better chance of winning!!!!!!!!!!!!! OK, I can't keep my mouth closed for that long.....)
If nothing else check out Kleinspiration and you'll find something, no matter what grade you teach.
Click here to check out the Give-Away!  Good Luck and let me know if you win!!!!

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Hx6V689Fveo/T_BzDhTdtZI/AAAAAAAADmc/28FoGmDuhiI/s1600/kleinspiration+1000+follower+give+away.png

Monday, June 25, 2012

Student Data Folders...New App!

So, how many of you keep the traditional student data folders???? (My hand is raised...) In kindergarten it looks like this..... Little Johnny does poorly on the rhyming test, I take the rhyming test upstairs to make a copy, I 3-hole punch the copy, write the date, put it in Little Johnny's binder.....Then of course when I give an important test that I mom and dad to see at conferences I 3-hole punch and keep it..... keep a few writing samples.... make a copy of a behavior slip sent home (I call them 'oops reports')......The list is endless, then the binder is filled, blablablablabal Such a bother, but I obviously see the benefits and need for these binders or BELIEVE ME I WOULDN'T DO THEM..... 
So today while blog hopping/stalking I found this post by KindergartenWorks
 

Click on the picture above to read her description of a time-saving organizational power-house app for the iPad/iPhone called 3 Ring.  It can be found here at http://threering.com/.
Check out this short video about 3 Ring!


 The organizational aspect is AMAZING.... The general idea is that it's a 'virtual data binder'.  Simply take a picture of the document, choose who and what it belongs to, and it's uploaded. So, at conferences I can pull up Little Johnny's writing to show mom and dad what he produced.  "Oh, what was that, mom and dad? You're not sure what is expected from a kindergarten kid at this time of the year.... Well, let me just pull up all of the class' writing about ol' Abe Lincoln and we can just take a little peek at the rest of the class' work."
Ok, seriously, pick your mouth up off the floor and go check it out....
Oh, you're concerned because your school is low on funds and won't purchase any apps? 
IT'S FREE TO TEACHERS!!!!
So, I'll be downloading this on my personal iPad (which I got for Mother's Day.... do I have the best husband or what?????) and playing with it this summer.  And I'm sure my principal will be getting an email very soon about this app and what we can do with it...... Just think of the possibilities!!!!!  What are your ideas????

Friday, June 15, 2012

Reflections...

     As I finish up a course named "Integrating Technology Across Content Areas" I am happy to tell you that this has been time and money well spent.  You can't help but worry as you begin any new course!  I have added many new tools to my bag of 'tricks' and am excited to create more activities to start the new school year come August. 

     I started this course by creating a GAME plan for advancing my competencies in technology integration. My goals were to: collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation and engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.  
These are not goals that end now that this course is coming to a close.  These are goals that I am continuing to improve upon as I plan for the new school year.  I suspect that I will be working on these goals for the duration of my school career.  Are we ever 100% effective?  I know I'm not!  I can't imagine being 100% effective, but who doesn't want to be??? So I will keep striving up, up, and (hopefully, not 'away'!)!!


Here's and update on how I'm progressing.  My new class blog can be found at Dills' Darlings! I am starting to work on uploading important documents and forms parents might want so they can find what they need.  I will add links to other web pages that may be helpful.  All of this will be ready for the start of the year (one less thing to do in August, can I get an AMEN?).   I think this class blog will be an integral part in communicating with my parents and truly enhance my students' skills digitally and within other content areas.  Killing a bunch of birds with one stone..... I'm thinking, YES!

I am very excited to be incorporating more 'real world' activities into my classroom.  The project that I worked on during this course was all about the Lost and Found.  If you've ever been around kindergarten kids you know that they can't quit talking about this thing!  When a child goes to look in the lost and found they get this look upon their face....how can I describe it....hmmmm, similar to the look I get on my face when I walk into the Apple Store.  It's like 'ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh'.  They are truly transfixed on the Lost and Found! Our unit was so much fun, for them and myself!  We sorted, counted, tallied, organized, compared, predicted, created a commercial....and then when others claimed their items we did it all over.  The students were so engaged.  For a kindergarten student 'engaged' can be synonymous with 'excited'.  Let me remind and tell you that we did this project that last week of school..... yep, the last week!!!!  Many students didn't want to leave the room because they were afraid if someone had some questions about the lost and found they wouldn't know who to ask!!!!!!  At the end of the unit/year one boy said "I wish we had a few more days of school so maybe we could find some more things and try to find the loser."  (OK...by 'loser' he meant the person who 'lost' the items..... Remember, kindergartners here!  That was the appropriate way to use the term 'loser'!  Ha!  I love kindergarten!)


Here's the 'commercial' we made to encourage others to come find their belongings:

One idea I received from a classmate to enhance my lesson would be for the students to participate in a skit about someone losing an item and what to do if you find something. I see this lesson as something that could be done multiple times throughout the year and additions could be made to stretch the students' learning. 

I would like to incorporate using the GAME plan with my students.  They will especially like the acronym.  Even kindergartners can look at where they are and discuss what they need to improve upon and even come up with ideas to do it! 

Good luck to everyone as they being their summer relaxation/preparations for next year! Here's my little sweetie I'll be hanging out with!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Counting Songs!

Have you or your students experienced the Have Fun Teaching videos?  My students (and I) are addicted!  Daily they would ask to hear one of the letter videos or counting videos. 
This is the counting by 5's video.  We performed it at our kindergarten program!  The kids love the techno music, catchy phrases, and fun graphics!  Be sure to check out the counting songs by Have Fun Teaching.  Anyone else have any great free resources for teaching some of those not-so-fun rote memory skills?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Half Time of the GAME...

The last few weeks you've been hearing about my GAME plan.  My goals are to: engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources and collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation. 

One of my fellow classmates, Cindy Clark, shared this slideshow about blogging. Check it out here: Slideshow .  I love some of the ideas and even though this is through the eyes of a 4th grade teacher I am inspired for my kindergarteners. I created a new class blog.  You can see it here: Dills' Darlings.  What do you think?  Do you think I should have seperate pages for students or just have them blog on the main page, then it's sequential... I'm not sure yet!  Any thoughts? My main goals for the blog is 1)communication with parents and 2) student interaction through writing and sharing which will lead to a greater degree of student ownership.  I already like the 'cuteness' factor much more than my previous one here: Dills Old Blog. This new one is also much easier to navigate. 

As for creating more authentic learning experiences I am busy finding more resources.  I am currently investigating the Project Based Learning Site to find ideas of suitable kindergarten activities.  Here are some of the projects that might fit into a kindergarten classroom:
~creating our own healthy granola bar
~How much water goes down the drain?
~Math Hunt around the school

Any ideas you've used with younger students????

I feel that this is the half-way point in my GAME plan.  I feel that I am on the right track to meeting my goals.  I will continue to monitor my progress.


Resources:
Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

GAME On.....

Last week I posted my GAME plan for advancing my knowledge in technology.  My goals included engaging students in real-life experiences with technology integration and collaborating to use technology to enhance student success and creativity.  Don't we all want to get improve on that?  One way that I have started this process is to become members of blogs by people who are on this journey with me.  Not only am I following blogs of those in my course but I have also found some blogs of others.  Check out these blogs if you're interested in technology integration:


Those are just a few of my favorites. Do you have some favorites to share? I think it will be important to stay active in the blogging world as I finish up my Masters as I'm always finding new ideas, new technologies, and new inspiration.  Let's face it, our job can be challenging, so the more we collaborate with each other the better chance we have to achieve our goals.  Our superintendent always says "Work smarter, not harder!" I'm all for beg, borrowing, and stealing  using with permission! 

I will also need to set up a classroom blog. Currently, I use a blog housed through my district's website.  You can see my class here: Mrs. Dills' Kindergarten Blog.  This blog has some limitations, and let's be honest...I teach kindergarten...The cute factor is not evident on our blog, nor can I make it. I also need the ability to have comments, and currently our district one does not do that. So, I'm looking at creating another blog where I can utilize all the advantages of the blogging world.  I'll create it on Blogger, just like this blog.  You can even go as far as hiring someone to create a 'blog face' for you, a template that is personalized.  Have you visited the 3 A.M. Teacher?  She does amazing work.  Check her out here: 3 A.M. Teacher. She's posted about creating badges and specific looks for teachers.  I have no idea of the cost, but I'm contemplating it.

What are you doing to keep yourself 'current' and in the know? 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My GAME Plan...

Have you checked out the technology standards for teachers lately?  You can view them here: The ISTE NETS and Performance Indicators for Teachers (NETS•T)
As I reflect on these 5 standards and 25 indicators I am somewhat relieved to say that I feel comfortable with many of the standards and indicators.  With that being said, it is also evident that there is still much work to be done and technology advancements to be made.  The two indicators that I will focus on will be 1.b (engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources).  The key words in this indicator for me are 'real-world issues' and 'solving authentic problems'.  I am striving to utilize technology in a way to that promotes problem solving skills and creativity, not simply practice academic skills.  The other indicator I would like to enhance is 3.b (collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation).  Within this indicator I would like to focus on collaborating with students. 

Doesn't this sound like a great idea?  Of course, great ideas are simply that..ideas.  To make these ideas turn into reality I must have a plan, specifically a GAME plan.  Cennamno, Ross, and Ertmer (2009) explain that the GAME plan should include:

Set Goals: My first goal is to create more meaningful real-life activities for my kindergarten classroom that utilize technology and promote creativity. I see this goal as an opportunity to create more project based lessons within my classroom. My second goal is to collaborate with students to enhance their learning through the use of technology and digital tools. I specifically want to create a class blog where my students are able to post daily.

Take Action: I will research what other kindergarten teachers are doing to include project based activities.  I am already finding many examples of wonderful projects.  Here's one about school buses! I will set up a classroom blog and begin teaching my students how to summarize our learning and our day to create a post. I will also find other kindergarten blogs to show my students. Here's an example of an individual student's blogHow cute it that????

Monitor Your Learning: As I begin this process it will be imperative that I track my learning and progress.  As needed I will adjust what I am doing to fit out needs.

Evaluate and Extend Your Learning: I don't see these goals as a final destination but a continual improvement plan.  As I complete each project I will need to reflect upon my learning along with my students' and make any other changes that need to be made.  As I look at extending my learning I will be able to include more project based activities that include technology and digital tools.  I will also be more skilled at blogging and finding learning opportunities within blogging.
Any suggestions to help me be successful??


Resources:
Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). National education standards for teachers (NETS-T). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/Libraries/PDFs/NETS_for_Teachers_2008_EN.sflb.ashx

Sunday, April 29, 2012

3 AM GIVEAWAY!!!

Michelle over at The 3am Teacher is having an awesome giveaway!  Click on over to see the details!  PS  She has the greatest graphics and best freebies!
 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Digital Stories

My kindergarten students have been working on animal projects. This project has become very involved and I must say I became a little as we worked away on these projects.  Here's a break down of what we did.....
~Looked at animals and learned how to make observations.
~Discovered how to ask questions about our observations.
~Students worked in pairs to choose an animal and make observations and create two research questions about their animal.
~We then learned how to find key words in a question.
~Next, students found key words within their own questions.
~We worked together to find information on the internet.  We learned how to type in our two keywords with a "+" in the middle to find what we were looking for.
~Next, each group worked with me individually to research on the internet.  We discussed finding accurate information and learned how to be careful of inaccurate information. 

**I do want to remind you at this point.... these are KINDERGARTENERS......... 

~Then we printed the two sites they wanted along with some pictures.
~The groups then used the iPads to create digital stories.  This was the part I was not so involved in.  At this point in the year my students are very good at creating stories in StoryKit.  (Click here to read my review of StoryKit.)  The students took pictures of the printed pictures, recorded their voices, typed text, and created their own illustrations.

Click below to see some examples of the finished digital stories.  **You can click on the 'speaker' symbol to hear their voices!

Sharks  
 Deer    


I think the students did such a great job!

~Then the students took home a folder with all of their info, pictures, and guiding questions.  Along with this they took an 'animal info' sheet.  Instead of their typical reading/writing homework the students will fill out the info sheet with the support of their parents.

~Then students will create some type of display or presentation about their animal at home using their info sheet as help.  They could choose about anything create.  Sounds like many are creating posters.  Some said they are creating powerpoints.  We'll see what they come up with.  Then they will present their animal and information to the class.

So far the students have loved these projects and area already asking to do more.  I love how engaged they are in what they're doing.  I can't wait to see what they come up with!

Monday, February 27, 2012

What matters???

Ever wonder if what you're doing is making a difference in how your students learn????  How can you really tell???? Many districts are jumping feet first (or should I say 'check book' first) into the newly popular world of iPads.  I read with envy about the districts who are purchasing mass amounts of iPads and creating many 1-on-1 classrooms.  Can you see the drool on the screen????  Even though I am soooooooooooooooo envious I want to be able to say with some measure of proof that my work with iPads matter.  Do I think they make my students learn more? Do I think they help create better 21st century learners? Do I think my students are more engaged?
YEP, I do!

Unfortunately, there's not much proof out "there"!  ("There" being the land of peer reviewed scientific studies.)  

So, this kindergarten teacher is embarking on a teacher inquiry on the effects of iPads on student learning and engagement.  I will be reviewing student surveys, test results (compared to my neighbor not using iPads) from common assessments along with student gains on the STAR early literacy test.  

Wish me luck!  May the force be with me, break a leg, and anything else you can think of!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Parlez-vous francais?

I decided today to take a look at my 'stats' for this site.... I was so excited to have over 2,600 views on my blog. As I looked further into the stats look what I found.....

Over 700 views in France!?!?!?!? Je devrais peut-ĂȘtre changer de parler français? My French is a little (a lot) rusty, but I could try! Seriously, take a look at the views per country.... I feel like singing 'It's a small world'! Really?? There is someone is Malaysia who is interested in what this Ohio kindergarten teacher is doing??? 

Ok.... enough of my wide-eyed amazement... Here is my new trick for the day!

If you'd like to take a 'screen shot' of what is on your ipad simply:
  • have your screen set to the pic you want to take a 'picture' of
  • hold down the 'home' button and the 'power' button at the same time for a second
    • You will hear a click of a camera (if your volume is turned up) and a flash of the screen
  • the screen shot is now in your pictures!  Voila!

See full explanation here!

 Au revoir mes amis!