One of the most wonderful things about working with 5- and 6-year-olds is their ability to talk and communicate how they feel, their opinion, their ideas and what they understand. They have an amazing ability and willingness to communicate. The communication is spontaneous, contagious, fun and so important as we begin to learn together. Their language is encouraged, enriched and enhanced through authentic opportunities to engage.
When thinking about communication I am also thinking about the importance of having many opportunities for my students to have conversations inside and outside of the classroom. I am also thinking about the tools we have available to broaden and deepen our audience and getting exposure to the idea of perspective and the role it plays when sharing ideas and opinions.
Conversations are ongoing, interactive; they reflect what you understand and are thinking as well as what you might be curious about. In kindergarten, the conversations are always happening and are fluid. They happen in a variety of ways, with a variety of synchronous and asynchronous tools.
When reading and skimming our daily feed together on Twitter, we begin to scan and notice what others are learning. We pause, make observations of what we notice and connect with. Then we turn and talk face to face and have conversations about what we notice. Then we have an opportunity to tweet and connect our ideas with others. Our conversation begins in the form of text that we tweet. Through our ideas we communicate virtually with a larger audience that then replies to our tweets. Through this exchange of tweets my students begin to experience how social media can be used to enhance and deepen what we are exploring. The feedback and exchange of comments is important because it motivates and inspires my students to share and converse.
This online tool gives my students an opportunity to have more of a face-to-face, personalized conversation. We have used Google Hangout to share books with other classrooms, and one of my students used this tool to call when she was home ill one day to see what we were doing in kindergarten! Lots of possibilities here to have conversations with more than one group or person. My students explore how to use a webcam as a tool to enrich their conversation. This is one way I begin to explore and experience what an “audience” is with my students. Google Hangout is giving me and my students an opportunity to have live conversations and begin to learn online etiquette through meaningful conversations that we are having with others in regards to connecting and learning.
Through Padlet, my students are beginning to learn about kindergarten life in Seoul, South Korea. We connected on Twitter one day and our conversation started. We created a Padlet where we can share photographs, video and text of what kindergarten life is like in Vermont. We check our Padlet daily to see what is new! We have an opportunity to make a connection and share something about our culture. Through this type of interaction we are able to learn about a new culture as well as noticing similarities too.
The tools available to help my students see the world as a huge, wonderful place offer an opportunity to see the world as a place where we connect, develop the idea of what it means to have and be part of an audience and begin to think about perspective.
How does this happen?
I am open to thinking about how I can enrich the communication and richness of conversations inside and outside of my classroom. I use a variety of tools that have given my students and me, their parents and others ways to learn and make connections through what excites us and interests us. It is important to be transparent in your thinking and about how you can bring learning to life. The technology gives added voice and richness to learning experiences. My students get excited and motivated to learn and look forward to not only what we are learning, but why.
Through blogging on our class blog, we are able to have a map of the world which simply displays all of the people in the world who are not just looking at our blog, but they are interested in what we are doing and learning about. My students are able to see the different continents and think about where we are and where others are. We also created a virtual map on Google Maps which offers another perspective and opportunity to see where we are in the world.
By offering a variety of ways to represent a map of the world my students are able to observe, interact and make connections with what they are noticing. As a teacher working with such young students I am amazed and so excited about how much my students are beginning to understand, explore and show interest in.
I also make small paper icons of the different technologies that we are using to connect and collaborate with others. Then my students have something concrete and explicit to touch and share. The paper icons serve as a reminder not only about where we are connecting, but what tool we are using to connect. This is important because when my students take these paper icons home they are able to have a face-to-face conversation with their family about what they learned and connected with in kindergarten that day.
Making time to have conversations in regards to learning is very important. Through our stories and experiences we are able to make sense of new ideas and explore others further. I have a unique opportunity to explore and use a variety of technologies that help model and support face to face and online conversations with young learners. I do this through modeling and engaging my students, their families and others to make contributions in meaningful ways. The technology enhances and builds strong communication because it is interactive and fluid. I could not imagine not using technology. Learning is for all. Technology gives everyone a voice.
Sharon Davison teaches kindergarten at Allen Brook School in Williston, Vt. She recently was recognized as a VT IGNITED Teacher, an award given to teachers who are transformative and innovative. Read her blog and follow her on Twitter @kkidsinvt.