This year, I wanted to create an environment that sent the message that we were a digital community. Special areas and nooks designated for reading and writing have always been treasured classroom areas. Students know that reading and writing happen here from day one. It is a given that we can read and write anywhere in the room that we please, but having such cozy little spaces certainly makes it more enticing. So, I decided it was time to devote a piece of our space to a technology nook in hopes of creating the same type of invitation. Bulky computer tables and chairs were removed, and instead, computers are now placed café style atop a high shelf lined with stools, and iPads are easily accessible on a floor-level rack bookended by comfy lounge rockers. The students love this area of the room, and view it as a calming and relaxed space for learning through technology.
Documenting student learning is one of the most powerful tools for assessment at our disposal. Digital documentation allows for teachers, parents and students to create a footprint that can be viewed and reflected on by the audience of choice in an efficient and timely manner. This year, I have been able to take this to new heights for my young learners, as we started SeeSaw digital portfolios. Seesaw has proved to be very kindergarten and user-friendly, and has a wide-variety of functions. In just a few short weeks, kindergarten students have been able to upload videos and photographs of their work with ease. We are starting small with a goal of just one or two entries per week, but as time progresses, will create increased opportunities for students to share their thinking about reading, showcase their writing, and document any other projects that they feel to be portfolio-worthy. Padlet, Twitter, and our classroom webpage are also easy ways in which young students can document and share their learning throughout the year.
Traditional reading of high-quality books is still a large and integral part of our classroom life; but, when we, as adults, want to know something quickly, our first instinct is almost always to search the web; and from the play dough encounter that I had with my son, as mentioned earlier, it is evident that this is starting to be the case for children as well. Thus, making it is important to adjust my instructional decisions accordingly. Here are a few quick examples of how technology has become embedded into small moments of our daily classroom life in the first few weeks:
Daniel used the web, with assistance typing, to find images of the berries that he found on the playground in hopes that he could find out what they were, and determined that they were small crab apples.
Ben viewed Discovery Channel videos about lizards for his genius hour research.
Grayson shared with the class how he used “Google images” to find pictures of fall crafts, and tried to recreate some of them.
We have only just begun, and still have many emergent reader and writer challenges to overcome. In the meantime, I will continue to support, provide authentic opportunities, give them time and access, model and demonstrate, and always keep in mind that high-quality apps and bookmarks are a teacher of tech-savvy little ones best friends!