October 28, 2015

The Power of Questions

Six years ago, I created a class blog to help parents start the conversation at home about what their child was learning in class.  I thought that by sharing with them in photos, videos and texts what their child was learning, it would help their child recall the events of the day. A class blog would help solve the problem when parents would ask "What did you do at school today?"  and their child respond: "Nothing".  

The class blog has given the parents an opportunity to see and hear what their child is learning on a daily basis.  After attending a professional learning group today, I am wondering if perhaps we need to build capacity with parents in asking the right questions. Open ended questions are very powerful! When we ask the right questions, we get information.  Here is a great video that explains the power of questions!   Let's encourage the parents to: "Instead of asking their child: What did you do at school today? Let's start asking what questions did you ask?"

June 12, 2014

Chromebooks in Kindergarten

Are you wondering how Kindergarten students might be using Chromebooks? 

This year, we received one tech tub with five Chromebooks in our class.  The students loved using these fast computers to learn all year. 

First, the students have learned to take their log-in information cards and independently type in their usernames and passwords. Next, from the home page that has been set up by our learning technology department they can choose Raz-Kids or Dreambox by clicking on the icon. The students can go read a book or master the key concepts of elementary math anytime during learning centers. Then, they have learned to use Google Voice to ask various questions. They can discover how to say new vocabulary in French (e.g., Say friend in French), get answers to their wonders (e.g., Caterpillar picture), learn how to spell words (e.g., Spell dog) or discover how to represent numbers using numerals (e.g., What is 5?). In addition, we have caught students going to YouTube for purposeful learning.  The students found the YouTube icon, typed various titles of songs that we had previously learned, had fun singing and dancing to them. 

The students are using the Chromebooks very well. They are responsible!   No Chromebooks have been accidentally dropped on the floor.  They share and work together to problem solve when they encounter difficulties (e.g., typo in username when logging in).  Observing how the students use the Chromebooks is impressive and I realize that there are many possibilities for 4 and 5 year old children to use them to learn.

Here are more possibilities that I will explore with my Kindergarten students:

  • explore Google Drive-Drawings (e.g., make a plan before building at the block area)
  • explore Google Drive-Document-Research-Images  (e.g., labeling the doctor's office at the dramatic play area) 
  • show them how to navigate to the class blog and select learning links (e.g., ABCya)
  • explore apps (meegenius, pbskidsplay, scootpad, spell up)

How are you using Chromebooks with your Kindergarten students?

April 13, 2014

Parent Tech Night: App SmackDown

Our APP SmackDown Pizza Night was a huge success! Parents joined us and learned how we use technology in innovative ways to enhance our literacy program. They had an opportunity to learn from their child and see how tech allows for the creation of new tasks previously unimaginable. This hands-on networking session, showed them how the apps that we use promote creativity, opportunities for differentiated learning, personalized learning and collaboration with the world. Parents discovered how throughout the day, technology in embedded in their child’s learning in a meaningful way. The apps that we used allowed their child to have choice, to have ownership of their learning and therefore be engaged learners! In addition, they listened to their children’s tutorials, their child helped them explore the apps and they learned where to find app resources. Here is my presentation: Here is the app activity:

February 17, 2014

Kindergarten Twitter Night

Kinder Twitter Night was a success! K parents and their child were invited to a Twitter Pizza Night! Parents were invited to join us to learn all about one of the most popular social media on the planet: Twitter! Their child shared with them how we use Twitter in the classroom. We helped them set up a Twitter account. We showed them how to follow the class and school news. We shared with them what skills their children were developing when tweeting and how we used Twitter to connect globally. Here is my presentation:

November 10, 2013

Safe Place: Record Your Kinder Parents

In our classroom we practice, conscious discipline which is a self-regulating program that integrates social-emotional learning and discipline.  According to Dr. Bailey, ”Discipline in not something you do to children.  It is something you develop within them.”  
Through the Shubert’s books, the students are learning that our safe place is a corner where they can go to change the inner state of mind from upset to calm or sad to happy in order to maximize learning.  The children are learning to identify their feelings and choose helpful strategies to calm their bodies.  There are different breathing techniques that they are learning to use, for example they can do the pretzel, the drain, the balloon… Also, the students are learning to identify their emotions and choose to self regulate their behaviour (e.g., I am angry that you don’t want to share with me, instead of hitting you, I am going to go take 5 deep breath, relax and then talk about it to find a solution).  When the students go to the safe place, there is a “calm you body bin” where there are different sensory objects to help them relax.  We have squishy balls for touch; a motion wand for sight; aromatherapy scent bottles for smell; and a recording of an I love you message from parents for sound.  
When, I tweeted in September that I was planning on recording my parents at my Kindergarten meeting saying an "I love you message" with the iPad. Then QR code, print it and insert it in a scrapbook for our safe place. I got many retweets and questions regarding how I did this.   Well, it was very easy and one of the best things I've done this year. Here is what I did:
First, during Kindergarten interviews in September, I recorded the parents in their first language saying an I love you message to their child.  I used the app called Fotobabble to snap a picture of the parents and then the parents recorded their special message for their child.  The parents were thrilled to be able to do this for their child. Some parents had tears in their eyes and all their messages were unique and special.  Some even said: "I wish my parents could of done this for me when I went to Kindergarten! Technology is amazing!"  Next, I used the QR code generator extension in Chrome to QR the Fotobabble link. I printed it and the students had fun making our family scrapbook.  Each student brought in family pictures, drew pictures and glued the QR code on their page in our scrapbook.  Then, the scrapbook was placed in our safe place. When the students were sad or when they were missing their parents, they went to the safe place, scanned the QR code with the i-nigma app and listened to their parents. When the students heard their parents message, they felt better right away. It was so comforting for them to hear their parents voices! It was great to see the children's eye brighten up as they heard and saw their parents. It made them feel instantly better. The scrapbook continues to be in our safe place and is readily available to the students! 

October 6, 2013


This year, my class is participating in the Global Read Aloud Project. We are studying the author Eric Carle.  Our first book was The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Last week, we had a great opportunity to video chat with two different classes from the USA via Skype. Mrs. Jones Grade 6 students read us the book in a creative way and lead a discussion.  We loved the props they used! Mrs. Andrew's Kindergartens taught us the cycle of a butterfly.  We loved their drawings! In addition, my Kindergarten students, used the app Draw and Tell app to create their own representation of a butterfly.  Each student recorded his/her name, where in the world he/she lived and shared something about his/her butterfly.  My students work will be part of a collaborate iMovie video with 3 other classes: Mrs. Lirenman's grade 1's from Vancouver, Mrs. Sargent PK-1st from Massachusetts and Mrs. Goold Kindergartens from California.  This was a lot of fun!

Ms. Lirenman taught me a cool way to share my student's work created on an iPad with her, who is far away. And I was able to do all of this all with my iPad! It's called dropitome! First, I saved the students work on my camera roll. Next, I opened Safari and typed in the http://dropitto.me/  address that Ms. Lireman created and shared with me. I typed in the password, uploaded the file (student work) that I wanted to share with her and hit send! That's it! It was very easy to share my students work with my global read aloud partner.  Thank you to Ms. Lirenman for teaching me how to do this. I've already shared it with some colleagues and they also think it's pretty cool too!

September 22, 2013

Aurasma App in K

After reading Mrs. Wideen's Blog post on how she used the Aurasma App in her classroom, I wondered how I could purposefully use that app with my Kindergarten students.  The Aurasma app allows you to create an overlay over a picture making your own augmented reality.  In other words, your picture comes alive! Thinking ahead and planning for Meet the Teacher/Open House, I decided that this would be a great way to engage parents and give them a sneak preview of how I embed technology tools in their child's learning. Yes! I had learning goals.  Let me explain how I did this.

First, I wrote this message in chalk outside in our yard and took a picture of each child with it. I got the pictures developed.

Next, I downloaded the free app.  I tried to figure out how this app worked but I was unsuccessful. I turned to Google search for some help and came across this fabulous video tutorial on Two Guys and Some iPads Blog. Now, I was ready to make some magic happen. 

I video taped each student individually using the camera on the iPad. I asked the students to explain to their parents what happens in our Kindergarten class and what they enjoyed the most.  I opened the Aurasma app, pressed the triangle at the bottom, pressed the plus sign, pressed device, pressed the plus sign on the top, got the video for student 1 from my camera roll, selected the video, took a picture of the trigger image (kindergarten =awesome for student 1), pressed the arrow to the right at the bottom, named the aura, added the aura to my open house channel and finished!  It sounds complicated but it's really easy!  

Then, I created a bulletin board outside my classroom with a note to our parents. In order for me to remember that the pictures were AR, I just put a white label with a purple triangle on the picture.

On the day of our Open House, the parents were curious to see the special message from their child.  I had iPads available for them to use for those who did not have a device. The parents reactions: "That is so cool! I wish I was in Kindergarten!" Some parents had tears in their eyes and were happy to hear or see their children communicate with them what they were doing in class.  


What were my learning expectations:
Personal & Social Dev: talk about their interest & preference, recognize personal interests
Oral: use language to talk about their thinking, to reflect
Media: create a video to communicate their feelings about Kindergarten (The intention was to teach the students how to do the auras but since I was having wireless connection issues, this was not possible. I am confident that they will be able to create some auras)
Differentiation: for ELL students, record their message in their first language; for non-verbal students, I video taped them at a learning center.

Augmented reality is another cool tool that we can use to embed the K program purposefully!