Posted in Professional Development

Teaching in the Digital Age – Chapter 3

Rethinking Projectors

For me personally this chapter was not as insightful as the first two, but I still learned a few things.  I am very fortunate to work at a school where technology is very important and subsequently funding is provided.  By Christmas of last year every classroom in the school had their own Smart Board with the exception of our two Kindergarten rooms, however we had 2 on loan from the school board office.  Our own Smart Boards with proper wall mounted projectors are currently on order and should be installed in the fall.  With those we are each getting a netbook to hook up to the Smart Board, and we have wi-fi throughout the school.  We also have had PD sessions where trainers have been brought in to teach us the technology and sessions where we share our uses with each other.  In terms of other technologies I have my own playbook and mac book that I often take to school with me and it has been hinted that we may be getting tablets for use in the class sometime next year.

Some of the ideas I picked up from this chapter included:

  • using turn and talk to make sharing images a social experience
  • using images from books to inspire dramatic reenactments or discussion
  • demonstrate math concepts using manipulatives
  • students sharing their art and creations with the class

These are all things that I do with my class now without the projector but am now considering taking it to the projector to make the experience more social and give all students access to the visuals at the same time.  I am thinking about all the time it will save not having to pass things around or all huddle around a small object.  In our new ELK program there is a lot of inquiry learning but I feel the two main skills that students are working on developing are questioning and sharing.  Questioning starts the inquiry and sharing expands it to include the rest of the class.  The use of projectors keeps coming back to this but there is one main thing I and starting to think I need to get: A DOCUMENT CAMERA!

After finished the chapter I decided to question my #kinderchat network on their thoughts on document cameras.  I got a very good and concise reply from Matt.  I don’t want to retype all his great ideas but you should check out his blog.  So now that I have decided we need a document camera I need to figure out which one will work best for us and put together a proposal for my principal.

Posted in Professional Development

Teaching in the Digital Age – Chapter 2

Chapter 2 is on using photographs and images to inspire in the classroom.  I already take a lot of photos with my class so I was interested to read this chapter.  I knew in advance that the biggest difference was going to be that currently I am the one using the photographs but I need to get my class involved in interacting with images.  I was pretty successful in using Evernote to take notes on this chapter so I am referring to it to write this post.  It would be cool if I could find a way to import into wordpress from Evernote but I think that may be asking too much.

As with all my reading I am constantly trying to find ways to incorporate different methods and teaching styles into the new Full Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program (ELK) that I will be starting in September.  The first thing that struck me was to use photos to encourage questioning and our infamous ‘I Wonder’ questions.  With our inquiry based learning class students are to drive the learning but before they can ask inquiry questions they need to know how to question.  Sometimes they know what they want to learn but they have trouble articulating it out loud.  Images would be an excellent way to model questioning!  I can see starting the day with a picture on the Smart Board that the class can see as they arrive in the morning.  I would first just let them approach and view it on their own.  Once we meet on the carpet I would ask them if they have any questions about the image and record them around the image.  Near the beginning of the year I may need to do a fair bit of modelling as to what questions I may come up with but  I would hope it wouldn’t take them too long to come up with great questions independently!  This could provide spin off ideas during learning centres – story writing, research, drawing, etc.

The next idea that would work great in my ELK class is using photos to develop background knowledge when developing dramatic play centres.  This is a great way to incorporate learning into playing and the children would never question having to do the work to help set up the centre.  In the book they disussed making an Australia centre., but you could use the same strategies for any type of dramatic centre.  Last year I did a unit on space and gave the students a large fridge box to make a spaceship.  They had a great time but would have gotten so much more out of it if we would have first explored photos of other spaceships and what parts they might want to put on theirs.

One of the big initiative in Ontario are TLCPs – Teaching-Learning Critical Pathways.  This is a model of how we plan and run a critical thinking/comprehension area of our language program.  Sometimes in Kindergarten we find this model difficult to run as our students are at very beginning levels of literacy.  We cover different expectations throughout the year but at our school the one area we are always focusing on is making connections – text to self, text to text, and text to world.  After reading chapter 2 I was starting to think that we could use digital images to help our students make connections.  Peurling writes that people take photographs to capture moments in life and “When this happens, people engage in familiar discussions about people, events and stories associated with memories”.  The key for our Kindergarten students to have them connect their memories and experiences.  For example, if we were reading a number of books on winter  then I could show them a picture of a winter scene similar to the one Puerling showed his class of the Chicago blizzard.  They could make connections to events that they have experienced or books we have read.  I would do this by putting my playbook beside me and recording their observations as they looked at the photos. Then I would have a record of their thought and also any prompts I had to use.

A couple of other areas that I found very interesting in the chapter included using pictures to teach emotions and self-regulation, using photos to create anchor charts for behaviour at centres, and illustrating book similar to Mo Willems’ Knuffle Bunny.

Finally the main thing I got from this chapter is that I need to figure out a way to get the camera out of my hands and into the hands of my students.  I am not sure how to get this to happen with our expensive school cameras but I need to figure out a way!

I will link to the Blog party at Dr. Jean‘s site but I wanted to mention to make sure to check out her post if you aren’t finding me from the link.  I love ALL of the amazing activities she has listed.  I so want to make the books with my class!  One of my goals for next year is for us to make more cooperative class books.  ‘Welcome to our Room’ would be great to use at the beginning of the year to help students become familiar with their classmates and to recognize their names.  I want to do this before Meet the Teacher Night!!  I also love the ‘Alphabet in my Mouth’ book at it would be great to make to celebrate with my JKs after we are done our Jolly Phonics letters.