Monday, December 19, 2011

Story Writing in Kindergarten with iPads

Typing text into StoryKit
   Creating stories in the iPads is very engaging for kindergarteners.  I borrowed an iPad from another K teacher and was able to have 3 kids to each iPad (I had a few absent, so it worked out well!).  I was concerned about 3 students in each group as it hasn't worked well in the past.  I think with the 'threat' of removal looming in the air all were on their most cooperative behavior.  Typically, I use these fun pictures of Santa to help student extend their writing.  At this time of the year many students are capable of writing multiple sentences but it doesn't seem very appealing and frankly it's a lot of work!  So, these pictures have helped in the past.  This year, the pictures are part of a digital story.  The kids had a    blast and can't wait to share them with each other.

Check out these links to the stories some of the students created.  (Click on the speaker to hear their voices.)

Taking a picture to add to their story.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


As I reread my “Personal Theory of Learning” I completed in week 1 I am surprised that all of what I said still rings true to me.  Here’s an excerpt from the conclusion:

               I feel that as society changes then we must also expect education to transform.  Our students thrive on technology and as teachers we must use it. The challenge for teachers is to find ways to use technology in meaningful learning experiences that allow students to learn for meaning and not simply learning for a test. As we become more in tuned to our students we will be able to create meaningful lessons with a purpose. Finding these ways to connect with students will lead to more students inspired just as I was in second grade.

I refer to second grade because I was lucky enough to have a teacher who taught outside of the box and truly inspired children to want to be “more”. 

This course has reminded me that there are many different theories of learning.  I have a newfound knowledge of specific technology tools to use for each theory.  As teachers we are always searching for new “tricks” to put into our arsenal of tricks to reach each and every student.  I am excited to have added many more to my repertoire. 

Through this course I have made adjustments to approach to technology integration.  I am now using technology more as a way for students to produce artifacts that can be shared with others.  I plan on using advanced organizers more for my students. They were very engaged and interested when we created examples during this course.  I was impressed with the ease at which they are able to manipulate the software.  I will also be using more virtual field trips.  My district is unable to fund field trips at this time.  The virtual field trip resources will be advantageous in creating meaningful learning experiences.

My long term goal for integrating technology into my classroom involves the use of iPads.  My goal is to create projects based on the current curriculum that allows students to create an artifact they can share with others.  I would like to include our math curriculum as I see this as a hole in our pacing chart.  Our math is not integrated into our language arts, science, and social studies.  I plan to do this by starting with small groups using the iPads to create movies that include a math concept integrated into the current reading topic, which already includes social studies and science. 
The bottom line is...I'd like to inspire my students to be "more"!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Social Learning

Dr. Michael Orey states when children are engaged in social activities meaningful learning can occur (2001).  This is called social constructivism.  This week I was able to revisit the importance of cooperative learning. Cooperative learning focuses on student interactions (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007).  Cooperative learning is a tool which can be used to support social constructivism.  The text gives many examples of cooperative learning ideas that involve technology.  The most applicable tool for my kindergarten class would be keypals, or email pen pals.  Go to ePALS to find penpals for your class! Not only with this enhance my kindergarteners writing skills it will enlighten them on other cultures and places. I especially like this site because it also gives information on cyberbullying. It dedicates grade specific messages boards for discussions on dealing with cyberbullying.  Go here to check it out… STOP CYBERBYLLING!

Watch this short video about using ipads and ipods in a reading classroom.  3'Rs in Reading 

Although, this video if focusing on the technology it is easy to recognize the student collaboration within these lessons. There's no doubt in my mind that these students are engaged and learning from one another.
 Here’s another video of first grade students who use ipads to learn collaboratively in their classroom.  IPad in 1st! 
I believe that in kindergarten and first grade these type of projects are feasible for our young learners.  I am currently using an app called Story Kit with my class.

My kindergarten students work in pairs to create stories.  This app allows all students to be successful as they can draw, write, record, and take photos to create pages to a story.  When the story is finished it can be uploaded and emailed to parents. Click below to read a past post on Story Kit.  You can even hear an example of a story by my students!
 Now that my students are familiar with this app and creating stories I plan on introducing a story rubric.  This will allow the students to know exactly what is expected of them and to insure all are participating in the process (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007).

I believe the social learning theories are very important to today's students. As teachers we must ensure that all students are able to communicate and learn with one another.  We can do this by incorporating technology along with group work within our classrooms.

Here is the link to my VoiceThread that I created  . I am excited to see what ideas my students come up with for finding out information on other customs!  

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Free Apps!

Check out these links to Facebook pages where
 I have found many free apps!


Free the Apps!


Have any good ones???  Let me know!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Constructionism in the Classroom

This week I explored generating and testing hypothesis within all content areas as it relates to constructionism.  Although many of the resources were geared towards older students than my kindergarteners I am able to find the value in the methodology.  Pitler, Hubbell, and Kuhn describe six tasks teachers should use to help students create and test hypotheses (2007). 

Here are the tasks along with examples of how I could use it in my classroom.

              System Analysis
Learning about the life cycle of a pumpkin
               Problem Solving
What would happen if a pumpkin fell in the water?
               Historical Investigation
Why do people carve pumpkins?
Create something to make a pumpkin sink
               Experimental Inquiry
Will the pumpkin sink or float?
               Decision Making
How will we know?

By creating this entire problem based unit on pumpkins students would be actively engaged in creating their own individual meaning (constructivism) about pumpkins in a meaningful way.  I would extend this project to a constructionist approach by allowing students to create digital stories to share their findings.  The focus of constructionism is an actively engaged learner creating an artifact representing their learning (Laureate Education, 2011). 

To find out more about constructivism watch this video on youtube:

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with       classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cognitive Tools....

This week I have explored tools that fit under the cognitive theory of learning. Cognitive tools allow students to learn in a more meaningful manner by causing students to actually think about information instead of simply regurgitating it for a test (Orey, 2001). 

Check out this catchy song to help with your understanding of cognitive learning

One particular tool that is very advantageous in kindergarten is advanced organizers.  We created a concept map in Inspiration.  This concept map allowed students to organize thoughts on the life of the Pilgrims. 

One tool from the resources that I plan to implement more in my classroom is virtual field trips.  From a practical standpoint these are advantageous because our district is no longer financially able to provide field trips for our students.  As a teacher of kindergarten students this is very disappointing because students are able to gain so much more understanding of a topic by actually experiencing it and making connections to prior knowledge (Laureate, 2011).  Virtual field trips allow students to experience places and concepts that were impossible in the past.

This week our class took a tour of the Pilgrim Village and learning about the first Thanksgiving.  You can take this virtual field trip by going to Scholastic-Thanksgiving.  Imagining life so long ago is very difficult for a 5 year old, this field trip helped make it real. The students were so excited to go on a field trip, even if it was only a virtual one!

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program five: Cognitive learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


This week I was able to explore two instructional strategies, reinforcing effort and homework practice.  Positive reinforcement and reinforcing effort is vital in kindergarten.  Smith points out that positive reinforcement is key if you are attempting to control behavior (1999).  Teachers have control of the environment and in turn can have control of the behaviors in the classroom.  I find this to be glaringly true in a kindergarten classroom.  Kindergarten students are eager to please.  Many times all that is needed is a positive comment or a smile to reinforce the behavior you are seeking.  The wonderful thing about kindergarten is that not only do you affect the specific child who you are responding to, but the entire class wants the same reward as the original child, even if it is simply a smile!  Everyone in the class wants to use punctuation after Johnny received a thumbs-up for using a period.  Could there be a greater grade to teach?

As well as creating positive behaviors, reinforcement can create positive learning experiences.  Effort is one of the most influential factors in achievement (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). In kindergarten we are constantly discussing what our “best” work and behavior looks like.  We emphasize the process and the amount of effort a task took more importantly than the finished product.  I feel that my job is to be their biggest cheerleader in the classroom.  Eventually, the students themselves catch on to this and are found encouraging each other and praising their classmates. In kindergarten we create spreadsheets of student growth and are able to share these with students and parents.  Even if kindergarten students are not yet capable of understanding the charts and graphs they are excited to show “what they learned” and how much they now know. 

Watch this YouTube video to see an example of positive reinforcement in action.

Homework in kindergarten is not as prevalent as in other grades.  Pitler et al explain that parents should not be heavily involved in homework (2007).  Since the typical kindergartener would have difficulty reading and following directions we keep homework to a minimum.  The homework we give in kindergarten is many times an opportunity for students to show their skills to their parents.  We send home a weekly poetry notebook which is learned in class and simply presented to the parents at home.  Parents sign the notebook and are able to leave a comment for their child.  Most of the students love this chance to read to their parents. 

We use web resources in the classroom and as activities parents can do with their children.  I send home sites that focus on the skill we are currently working on.  I have found that parents appreciate the guidance in finding sites for their children. 

Behaviorism is most definitely alive and well in the kindergarten classroom.  When used appropriately it can be very effective.  Of course, like most good things, it can be over used.  Not all activities can have rewards for simply doing what is expected.  Teachers must find that fine line between overuse and behavioral harmony.
Check out this about behaviorism in education for more information.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Smith, K. (1999). The behaviourist orientation to learning. In The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from

Stanbridge, M. (2008, February 5). Behaviorism. Retrieved from Emerging perspectives on learning,   teaching, and technology website:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Story Kit

Story Kit is the app that I have been using to create stories with my kindergarteners. 
              I love it because:
                   -It is simple....not a lot of buttons,which is good for K!
                   -You can type text and record your voice, great for reaching all students in my class!
                   -You can insert pictures from your iPad or take a picture right then.  My students love this feature. 
                  -There is a drawing feature that allows students to add their own illustration.
                  -The app comes with some stories already saved (3 Little Pigs for example).  Students can then go and change the text and/or story.  I haven't used this feature yet but later in the year we will do this whole group. 
                  -  IT IS FREE!

Click here to see an example of a story some students in my class created.  Click on the 'speaker' to hear their voices.  (I do not like the look of the book on the web through the link.  The story is much more authentic when viewed on the iPad.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

End of Course Reflection

    As I look back on this course I feel fortunate for the opportunities and technologies I was able to discover in the past seven weeks.  Most importantly, I was able to collaborate with other professionals who are excited about technology, willing to share their ideas, and interested trying new technology.  I appreciate the fact that during the span of this course we were actually able to utilize blogs, wikis, and podcasts in a more "trial and error" way than simply reading about them in a chapter of a text book. 

At the beginning of the course I rated myself low on utlizing collaboriate of students working towards a common goal.  Sometimes in kindergarten we shy away from these activities because it gives too much freedom to students who are still learning rules and procedures.  This course has reminded me of the importance and even shed new light on the idea of 21st century skills being more than simply utilizing technology, but collaboration, problem solving, communication, and technology.  I feel that I have always realized the teacher should be facilitator and not the dictator in the classroom.  It is easy to get sidetracked though and this course was a great reminder in the importance of looking at myself as a facilitator. 

I have been able to share my blog with others along with updating my blog with information geared towards the ipad I now have in my room.  I am working towards recieving more ipads through a grant and district support and the research from this class has helped me make my case to the administration.  This course came at a perfect time of the school year as I've been able to test out many of my new skills.  For the future I have specific goals that I am striving towards.  I plan to utilize more collaboration in my classroom based on creating a project and communicating thtat out to others.  Another goal I have for myself is to maintain my blog and continue to update on the trials and successes of the ipads in my classroom.  I feel that my blog will be the perfect way to reach out to other professionals but also to inform my colleagues and head discussions of effectiveness. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Adventures in Podcasting....

So after going through a few different ways that I could podcast I came up with this....  Click play to see my podcast.  I recorded the sound using the microphone on my webcam for the students and recorded myself on a mac. I then spliced the sound bites together in movie maker.  This led to a problem... The volume of the two recordings were so different!  I attempted to fix the problem in movie maker by lowering one and raising the other... but it's still a problem! 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Quote of the day...

Saw this great quote on a blog today.....

Acquiring a digital competency is a student's right and not merely a random possibility. 

How true! So, in turn, it is my responsibility to help my students acquire this knowledge, just as it's my responsibility to teach them to read!  Do all teachers feel this way? If not, why? 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Don't drop it.............

5 year olds + breakable = Mrs. Dills' stress rising

I was fortunate enough to have my Principal purchase a case for my ipad.
I was also fortunate that no one dropped it before we received our case.  (The "Don't drop it" stress is valid...I can't tell you how many clickers have crashed to the floor!  Thank goodness they are very hearty!)

I was torn on what type of case would work best.  Here's the one that I have and I would suggest it to anyone with small children using your beloved ipad!  It fits snugly and is very easy for the children to carry around.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

21st Century Skills

There's lots to be found at by Partnership for 21st Century Skills!  Here is an overview of this site's belief that every student needs to be educated and prepared for the future. 

This site is full of articles and resources for teachers, professors, parents, and community members.  I especially found the Route 21 link to be helpful.  There are actual resources for giving assessments and lessons focused on 21st century skills. You are able to search for what fits your needs.  Unfortunately, I felt that there is so much information on this site that it is challenging to navigate and know which avenue you want to investigate.  Some of the material I found was dated 2004, which I believe it outdated! 

P21 and Fablevision created this short film below to help students and teachers understand that "education" is now more than the 3 R's... Now one must add the 4 C's (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation).  The film is called "Above and Beyond".  If you'd like to read about this project, click here!

What do you think?  Will this film help your students see the importance of the 4 C's?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How can I use this blog????

I see this blog as a way for me to share information about the experiences of my class using ipads.  My hope is that my experiences will not only help others but to also bring about comments and suggestions on how I can utilize the ipads most effectively.  So, for this particular blog my goal is to create a professional blog for myself and others to share ideas. 

I have a classroom blog which can be found at which I use to share information with parents.  I can share slideshows of pictures, information about upcoming events, reminders, and tips for extra help with school work at home.  Since I have kindergarteners I find it difficult for students to actually participate in the blog.  I do show them when I update the blog and try to encourage them to view it with their parents.  They love the sites we visit so they are typically excited that they can show mom and dad how to use the sites. Many parents love having the extra help!

Here's a screenshot of my classroom blog!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


On Friday, I introduced Sketchio to my class. This app is free and very simple, which is great for K! It is basically a can change pen colors, use an eraser, and add pages. One student got to use the Ipad while the rest of us used our small whiteboards. It is amazing how well kids can pick up anything, are not afraid to try it, and are successful in no time!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Digital Kindergarten: iPads in Kindergarten? YES!

Digital Kindergarten: iPads in Kindergarten? YES!: I'm a little surprised by how many negative articles I've come across this week about the school district in Maine that is going 1:1 with iP...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Free App

Thought I'd share this FREE interactive book for kids.... It will not be free for long!
Bartlebys Book Buttons

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ipad pics

This app is called "ABC Alphabet Phonics".  It starts out by giving two choices and tells you which letter to touch.  Be the end you're choosing among 10 letters.  There is also a number app that is similar.

Let the games begin...

     As we just finished our first week in kindergarten there is still so much to do! We are learning procedures, rules, and expectations.  I always try to introduce the technology I will be using in my classroom right from the beginning.  So begins the Ipad adventures in Kindergarten... I must say I had to swallow my reservations.  My biggest fear is that THEY WILL BREAK IT!  Can you imagine???? 5 year olds cannot be expected to understand the value of money (this is easily proven by the choice of a penny over any other coin time and time again!).  So, I am stressing the 'procedures' of using the Ipad.  The main rule of the moment is "Do not pick it up and take it anywhere."  I will let you know how it goes!!!
     So far about half the class has been able to individually use the Ipad for a letter recognition app.  I have also used it in whole group.  I have a document camera so I placed the Ipad under the document camera and demonstrated different apps and how to navigate the Ipad. 
     Needless to say all of the children are excited to use the Ipad.  As I get to know my students' strenghts and weaknesses I will be searching for apps that fit our needs. 
     As a side note:  The app "The Monster At the End of this Book" is from the Sesame Street Book staring Grover.  It is very cute and engaging!  My 10 month old was giggling and wanting to touch the screen the entire time!