#kinderblog2012 Summer Challenge #1
Posted by mrsmelva on 06/07/2012
What did you learn this past (or, for our southern hemisphere friends, what ARE you learning this current) school year that you couldn’t have learned any other year, from any other students or colleagues or administrators or parents? What lessons did this particular year, this particular setting, these particular children bring into your life?
The biggest thing I learned this year was that when it comes to new things sometimes we just need to take the plunge. I also learned how important it is to feel sage and supported when plunging into the new and unfamiliar things. My first plunge was into twitter. I had no clue what I was doing but I knew 5 people to follow: @kicode @courosa @kathycassidy @maxxakahotdog & @wrightsroom. I had met all but @wrightsroom in person so it wasn’t a particularly bold leap. As I began to read a few tweets I followed a few more people. I was still clueless especially about hash tags but #kinderchat caught my eye so I clicked and my learning snowballed. I learned about kidblog.org and #skypeplay. While my class didn’t #skypeplay this year we did blog and we also shared information about growing beans on http://www.fullofbeans.wikispaces.com I found that my students really enjoyed writing when blogging or contributing to the wiki. I felt so welcome when I joined my first Monday night #kinderchat. It was like visiting face to face; the talk was professional, educational, with personal bits added in. Although I was a little shy about budging in to the group I was quickly accepted and welcomed. there were teachers from all over the world sharing ideas, strategies and stories and they were almost as crazy as I am!!!!! (multiple ! Are for my new friends, you know who you are :):):)! My colleagues at school are great people to work with but we do think differently and have very different teaching approaches. I am the crazy lady letting the kids play and not doing all the phonics sheets. My new kinderchat friends inspired me to plunge again, this time into blogging with my kids. I had long admired the way @kathycassidy blogged with her kids. I have always been a Mac girl, so do not do well in our pc based computer lab at school. I don’t really like a lab environment for computer instruction, especially in early childhood and especially when the technology often doesn’t work! When I taught straight k it was not worth while to walk all the way to the lab and back in a single period. Last year I taught straight grade 1 and “they made me go to the lab” Many times things didn’t work and it was very frustrating for all of us. During a staff meeting the idea was brought up that it would be more beneficial if instead of going for two single periods every six days, each class went for a single double block instead. One of the nice things about my school is that when ideas are brought up we take time to discuss them in our grade level PLC groups, the grade leaders meet with admin and often change happens. Because I was teaching a k/1 split this year the change meant that every day 4 my grade ones would spend half their instructional time in the computer lab. Yikes, if I didn’t ramp up my skills that would be an awful lot of “falling stars”. We would go to the lab and the kids went to starfall.com, worked with TuxTyping and TuxPaint and typed their names in msword. Pretty lame, but better than nothing. I showed the kids @kathycassidy’s class blogs and they were very interested but I was still unsure, knowing I didn’t know how to do all those things that she does and afraid to look stupid in front of my kids.
Back to twitter and #kinderchat where I “met” @islandsparrow. She had a link to her class blog, including a link to her students’ blogs. I read the kids’ blogs and commented on a few. Then I took a deep breath and emailed @islandsparrow with many questions about how she had set up her kids’ blogs. She replied and explained it all very clearly. I set up blogs for my kids at http://www.kidblog.org and was ready to start.
At recess time I went down to the computer lab to make sure things were ready and working for the kids. I was nervous about the technology but also nervous about “not doing it right”. We plunged in anyway and the kids had fun. I demonstrated on the big screen, printed the password on the whiteboard and we began to blog. It was fun, noisy and engaging. It felt right for us. We continued blogging, sometimes with an assigned topic and sometimes free choice. One morning, after I had spent recess setting up, the Internet went down across the division. We survived. Another day a disgruntled student shut off the master switch to the lab and everything disappeared. We survived. We had fun. We commented on a few other blogs. Some grade three students commented on our blogs, so did the principal and vice principal and a couple of parents.
We were blogging and having fun. I had taken the plunge and so had the kids. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t fancy but it was learning. I would probably not have plunged into kidblogging without the support of the friends I had made on twitter. That got me thinking again about the importance of relationships and a supportive environment for kids to take risks, try new thing, and LEARN. My twitter friends gave me the support I needed to take this plunge, I passed that on to my students, and soon they were passing it on to each other, helping with spelling, ideas, and basic technical stuff like how to click on “publish”.
This whole experience taught me to take risks and try new stuff with my students, even if I didn’t feel confident in my own ability. It taught me that most people want to help, not judge. It taught me that I need to remember that if I want my students to take the plunge I need to support them and make sure that they feel safe. THANK YOU to all my “tweeps” especially the “kinderchatters”!