Posted in Books, Professional Development

Teaching in the Digital Age – Blog Party (Chapter 1)

I had been waiting to see what the book was going to be for the pre-K/K blog party this year and  was excited to hear it was selected to be: Teaching in the Digital Age by Brian Puerling.  I like to thing that I am techie but I am always striving to find developmentally appropriate ways to use technology in my JK/SK classroom.  This past year I found that 75% of the time I was the one using the technology and my class were simply passively observing.  The only times they were engaged is when we were using the Smartboard but even then there was very little critical thinking taking place. I am starting the book study a bit late for a couple of reasons.  First it took a month for my book to come in – it was on back order.   Also in Canada we don’t finish school until the end of June so I didn’t have time to crack my book open until school ended.  Now that school is finished and I am starting to feel relaxed I am catching up on my reading!

I started by reading the introduction and chapter 1.   I love how it is written very simply.  I find too often I am reading education texts that I first have to think about decoding the vocabulary and it takes a bit more concentration to understand the deeper meaning.  It is summer and as a rule I don’t want to have to think too hard about anything!  Before I even got to chapter 1 I started to take advantage of the QR codes and I downloaded a QR code reader on my iPhone – I don’t know why I hadn’t done this earlier, it is so cool!  As an aside I also downloaded one on my new playbook but I can’t get it to work.  I especially like how it points out what should be obvious to me but I need to think about.  For example it talks about getting media consent.  I never post any pictures or names of my students on the web but this is something I need to figure out for September.  I would love to have a closed website/blog that parents can view with a password and then I can post student pictures and videos.  I need to figure this out.  With the new ELK program we are starting in September many of our assessments and observations will be done on my new playbook through a lot of pictures and videos I would love to be able to have the students use this material more interactively and also share it with student’s families.  That is one of the things I am hoping to get out of this book.

Chapter 1 is entitled “The Digital Classroom”.  This immediately reminded me of David Warlick’s Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century.  This was a great book I used when I use to run the school library but many of the strategies I found too difficult an abstract for my kinders.  Often the limiting factor is a requirement of basic literacy: reading and writing.

In chapter 1 Puerling discusses the world our students are experiencing inside and outside of the classroom.  As a parent I immediately thought of my own children.

This is not an unusual sight – to see all three of my kids sitting around the iPad.  What is more common is to see one on the iPad, one on my iPhone and one on the computer.  My youngest, Michael is very adept at using the iPad and can easily find his favourite apps (he is not 2 years old yet).  Now don’t worry my kids aren’t on technology all day.  Often they play a bit in the morning while they are still waking up and then maybe a bit in the afternoon on a really hot day, like we have had all week, when it is just too hot to go outside.  When they are not on technology they are usually dancing (to the same songs over and over again) or doing crafts.  But I digress …

The reason I mention my kids is because I feel they are not indicative of the population we live in.  Last year I set up a symbaloo site for my class to use at home and very few actually did.  I want to set up a class website/blog but I am not sure how many families may actually use it.  A few families in my class don’t have internet at home and of those that do some are still on dial-up.  Our county is expanding broadband to the more rural areas but this process is slow and frustrating.  This does not mean that I shouldn’t use the technologies in my class but it means that I need to be aware that my students will come with varying levels of background experience.

The key is to marry the use of technology with my play based classroom.  I love Bonnie Blagojevic’s comment that we need to: “Use technology to enrich, not replace, hands-on learning experiences so important to young children”.  We don’t use the technology to teach the technology but rather as a tool to learning.  If we keep this in the forefront of our minds I believe both teachers and students will be successful!

Take away from this chapter:

  • Check out the forms at the back of the chapter.  I may not be able to use all with the new way of planning in the ELK program but they will help me get organized.
  • I want a document camera!  After they were mentioned I looked them up and one would be awesome to use in my class.  We could use it to share the awesome work students will be doing and exploring in our inquiry based class.  Think how we can share the items my students bring in from the natural world!
  • Use my Evernote!  This is one of my goals for the summer.  Come September I am hoping to use Evernote to record assessments of my students (using my new Playbook) and why not start now.  I hadn’t thought of it until Karen on Pre-Kinders commented on using Evernote to record comments so I am going to try it with chapter 2.


Proud mother of 3, Kaitlyn, Eileen & Michael Kindergarten Teacher

2 thoughts on “Teaching in the Digital Age – Blog Party (Chapter 1)

  1. Thanks for linking up to the Teaching in the Digital Age book study! I just added my reflections to chapter 3 to the linky. I included two video segments there about using document cameras. When I first started incorporating technology into my classroom in 2001 very few families had access to the internet and didn’t really visit my site. As the years went by I noticed more and more each year did. Many of them were doing so from work. I find that if you can use technology that they have access to on their mobile phones like e-mail and text you can get parents attention more so than by giving them a website address. There are safe ways to text parents, Remind 101 is a free app that allows you to do this. There are also safe ways to set up classroom websites. The best easy and free site I have found is Shutterfly. I tried 3 different sites and set a timer to see how quickly I could create a site at all 3 and Shutterfly won hands down, it took a total of 5 minutes and that included adding about 5 pictures. Shutterfly sites are also very attractive and you can make your site a private site or password protect it so it will be safe from public view. (I don’t work for Shutterfly- just the results of some research I did for a technology presentation) Hope that helps and can’t wait to hear what you think about the other chapters!

  2. Hi, thanks for linking to me! Glad to see you’ve joined the book study. I blog my weekly classroom newsletter on WordPress, and I set each post with a password. You can do that in the space where you hit “publish” (just set a password before publishing). I always use the same password for each post, so the parents don’t get confused. Parents love it! Many of them view it at work or on a phone. Using a lot of photos of the kids is key – that keeps parents interested. They’d rather see lots of pics than read a lot of text with no picture.

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