Reading to the kinders

Today I had an amazing opportunity to read to Kory Graham’s Kindergarten class in Minnesota as part of the #KoryTellers initiative she set up for her kids. I was so impressed with their attention span and their engagement. It is always fun getting to collaborate via technology. Here are a couple of clips from the experience.

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Using Technology in the classroom

I really thought about this post and what I wanted to say about it. My past is filled with a love/hate relationship with technology. In my 3 years in my Education degree, 2 of them were written exclusively on an iPad or on my computer. My last year, I started to fall in love with paper and pen again.

I am bad with paper. I don’t like paper and I try to minimize paper the best I can but unless each of my students had their own iPad and Chromebook at their disposal, I will never get rid of paper. I like seeing what the students are thinking by writing things down. It is a different part of the brain. That being said, I am a huge fan of Google Drive submitted work. I can digitally hoard everything. I can give feedback as a student is working, They can collaborate, give and receive feedback to and edit and I can track everything they say and do. I really like the accountability.

What I don’t like is this: When technology is no longer the tool but the means of something. I love using Google Maps for geography. Sure we could make our own maps but this is fun and easy to explore while creating. What I don’t like about it is that I spend 1 hour teaching the students how to use Google Maps to do the assignment. The point isn’t that they can use the application rather that they can understand the learning that is happening.

I also don’t like when my technology doesn’t work. I have a SMARTboard in my classroom. I’d probably use my SMARTboard every day if I could figure out how to make it work. Instead, it is a glorified projector screen. Sad but true. It isn’t even mounted straight so that also bugs me. I could do without it. Actually I have. I would love to pull up a PDF and write all over it but instead I have become a fan of document cameras. They are amazing. I honestly think every classroom should have one. Once again, not needed. I am really good at quickly recreating things on a whiteboard. I have colours there as well. Don’t take that away from me… PLEASE! I love my whiteboard.

About 60% of my kids have their own tech that is useable for the majority of what we do in a day. I have access to Chromebook Carts all over the school if I need one. We are probably at about 75% of the way to being 1-1 between those who BYOD (bring your own device) and the ones at the school. I try to make use of them the best I can. I like having technology at my finger tips and finding ways for students to use it but I have to remember to balance it. We have our blogs but we also have a paper journal. I alternate using them based on certain activities, the point of what we are writing about and the classroom climate. Sometimes blogs just are not needed.

One of my favourite things about having technology at my finger tips is that I can record conversations, assessments and reading. I can look back at it and really know what is going on with my kids. I don’t have to be there every second but I still get the feedback as if I was. I take pictures, I tweet, I record videos and voice memos on a regular basis. The kids are used to it but what they don’t realize is their work becomes more important to them. I don’t have to find a fancy hook or wear a funny hat to do it but they want to show off their best work for the camera.