Kindergarten Teacher

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Class Blog: Student Faces Are Not Necessary to be Successful

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I recently posted examples from my Kindergarten class blog and there were two questions that I got asked several times that I wanted to discuss in a separate post.

Question #1- “Do you have permission to show the kids faces on the blog” or “how do you get permission”. 

When I first started my blog I did not have permission to show the kids faces on the blog. Please don’t let that keep your from starting a blog. As long as your administration approves you having a blog you CAN have a very successful space without ever showing a kids face (I rhyme all the time.) You only need to be creative with how you take pictures. At the bottom of this post I have examples of images from our blog without faces. The key is taking a picture that will promote discussion at home. Another option is blurring faces (see below.) To get permission for my class blog I had every parent sign a permission slip at meet the teacher. It was required for them to fill out. I gave them three choices: 1) I give permission for my child’s images to be on the blog 2) I give permission but I want my child’s face to be obscured 3) I do not want my child on the blog at all. You can download the permission slip here and the blog parent info letter I use here.

Question #2- How do you blur the kids faces in the photos

I use skitch to blur the kids faces. Skitch is a web tool and also an app. You can see how to do this with Skitch by looking here. I mainly use the app on my phone to quickly blur out things I don’t want showing before posting on the blog. Even though I can post the kids faces I make sure to blur out names on the wall or anything that will connect us to a specific location. This tool is free, easy to use, and a fast way to blur a part of an image.

These are actual images from my class blog when I could not post the kids faces…

Learning about seeds

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Labeling the sprouts (done with Skitch)

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Observing pumpkins

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Making applesauce

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Science experiment ingredients

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Q-tip painting

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Building Poems

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Math story problems with Educreations app/website

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Literacy lesson using Popplet app/website

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Voting for the president

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Listening Center

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Library time

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Flipping In Kindergarten: Connecting Home and School

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Photo Credit Nick Moise

One question I get asked often is about flipping my Kindergarten class. If you have never heard about a flipped class read more about it here. The quick answer is I don’t flip my class for my students. I simply haven’t seen a need for this for my young kids. What I have been doing the last few years is flipping my class for the parents by using a classroom blog. This might not be flipping in the true sense of the word but it is as close as I have come. My goal is to use blog posts and videos to help parents understand the learning that is happening in our classroom. With that knowledge my hope is parents can support or even expand on that learning at home. I believe that informing parents about our learning is important at all levels, but especially for young kids.

My main focus on our classroom blog is the vocabulary we are using in our lessons. I really try to keep the wording short and sweet (mainly to make it easier on me) while still using the vocabulary from our learning. My goal is to post at least twice a day. This may seem overwhelming but one way this is possible for me is I use the Blogger app. This app (all main blogging platforms have apps) allows me to post as things are happening directly from my phone. I can take pictures, add a few sentences and publish in less than a minute. I found a good guide to using the blogger app HERE. Pictures also make blogging simple, they are worth a thousand words after all.

This year our classroom blog is off to a great start. After three days we have 14 posts, 1,000 page views (all from parents) and 15 comments from 8 different families. I always start the year by posting about the basics of our day. I want parents to know what library check-out looks like, about literacy centers, where we sit for lunch, etc. After I have shared most every aspect of our day I then focus on sharing our learning and the fun that happens daily.

Today I was reminded why I try so hard to make our blog a space that supports learning when I got this message from a parent  “Johnny was excited about the sign “spider web”. On our drive he pointed out all of the signs that were part of the class “spider web”. Now I understand!” What she is talking about is the word web we posted yesterday on our blog about signs (see below). Her son called them spider webs and she was able to understand what he was referring to because of our blog. I wonder how often the kids remember just enough to start a conversation but not enough to help their parent understand. This is where sharing our learning can be such a great tool for parents.

A couple of tech tools that we use often for sharing our learning are Skitch, Popplet and Educreations. All three of these tools are FREE apps and also available for FREE as a web based tool for the computer. One of my goals this year is to use Educreations more to create videos to share with parents. Since Educreations offers the ability to embed the video directly into our blog it is a great tool to use for this purpose.

sign word web

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My Hullabaloo Facebook Page

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Please take a moment and like my Facebook page! I post many links there including technology lessons, app suggestions, free apps, and other ideas I find through twitter and blogs. Thank You!

My Hullabaloo Facebook Page

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Example Blogs for PreK-3rd

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I had many great sessions this past week at TCEA in Austin, Tx and one of them was led by Dean Shareski and Steve Dembo.  Their session was a great reminder that relationships are the center of any great school and that we should be using technology to build those relationships with parents and stakeholders. I tweeted this great quote out during the session…

“Your story is being told with or without you – @shareski”

The connection between home and school does not just happen on its own. It takes time and effort and those connections need to be reinforced often. This is where I feel technology can really benefit teachers. Class blogs or websites offer a chance for teachers to share the daily happenings, not just big events. Parents, especially of young children, appreciate and benefit from these constant interactions. It is important to remember that social places need to be social spaces. Our classroom blogs and websites can not simply be a digital newsletter. Relationships are not built from those types of spaces. Dean summed it up nicely by saying

“Newsletters don’t build trust, they are just information- @shareski”

So what does the perfect blog/website look like? I don’t have that answer, each class and community is different and the spaces will reflect that. My goal is to curate a list of examples that will provide ideas and inspiration for teachers looking to get started. Hopefully this list will give you ideas on the many different tools that are available to teachers and how those are being implemented in the primary level classroom.  If your administration needs convincing these examples might be helpful to show the value these spaces can provide. If the story is already being told I think that teachers, students and administration should take part in creating the story.

Example blogs and websites here! Add yours if you have one already

Here is another list sorted by blogging tool started by Kathy Cassidy

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Dean, Steve and me

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Wondering About Islands

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It has been a while since I posted about one of my favorite websites, Wonderopolis (read more about it here)  Today, we visited Wonderopolis as part of our morning routine and the wonder of the day was “Who Lives On Easter Island.” The wonder included a beautiful time-lapse video of the island that the kids asked to watch several times. Then, like every time we visit, I asked the class “what do you wonder?” We talked about the definition of an island and then a one kid asked “how do you make islands”. We already had some background knowledge about islands thanks to the book our twitter friends from Japan sent us earlier this year, (read about that connection here) but we had not discussed how islands are formed. So I showed the class with a real simple drawing how some islands are formed from volcanoes (pictured above). The class wanted to share this picture with their twitter friends and parents so we decided to label it with the Skitch app before posting it to the blog. The kids were so excited as we discussed magma, lava, and erupting. They even asked if there was a video of an island being made so I found one to show later in the day (see below) This is why I love wonderopolis, even thought the wonder itself didn’t fit exactly with our learning standards it still was valuable because the kids were interested. I find these teaching tangents happen often when we visit the site and I love the learning journey it leads to.

Video: Lava Enters the Pacific Ocean in HawaiiI use safeshare to show YouTube videos without all the ads and similar videos. More info here 

Here is one of the pages from the book our friends from Japan sent.

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Your Voice Is Needed!

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CC Image Courtesy of JMR_Photography

You have something to share (Yes you!) We are looking for guest bloggers and you DO NOT need to have a blog to participate. You can even submit your thoughts via a word document. Any topic that is related to the care of young children is welcome. (what are you passionate about, what works in your class, what lesson was amazing, what do you have concerns/questions about?)  Blogging is not that scary and this is a great way to give it a try. We all benefit from hearing others thoughts and ideas. Check out the information below and give it a try.

 

Based on the response I got on The Twitterz and The Facebook, it looks like several of you would be interested in helping #Kinderchat participate in BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). The rules of participation are simple: we need to post a blog post every day for 31 days. To do this, we need your help. Here is how it will work:
If you would like to contribute, please complete the form embedded below. Once you have signed up, you will receive a link to a spreadsheet where you can choose the date for your post.  If you sign up to contribute, your post is due to us, via e-mail or Twitter DM, or Facebook Message, no later than 3 days before your date of publication. This will give us time to proofread and format things. So, if you sign up for the January 15th post, please get it to us by January 12th. You are more than welcome to submit your post more than 3 days in advance. In fact, we would love that!
Preliminary guidelines for posts:
  • There is no length requirement. You post can be as wordy (or not) as you like.
  • The topic matter is wide open, as long as it is in some way related to the care and education of young children.
  • As much as possible, it is a good idea to include a picture, video, or image of some kind. This helps make the post “pinnable” and more Facebook friendly.
  • Whatever images or video you use, please make sure you are using them legally and with permission. Creativecommons.org can help you find images that can be used without violating copyright.
  • Your signup to be a contributor is understood as permission for us to use your content, images, and video, on this site only, for the purposes of this project only.
  • You are welcome to cross-post on your own blog.
  • We will give full attribution for your posts, and will include (at minimum): a link to your twitter account and/or your blog. If you would like us to include additional attributions, please share that information when you submit your post.
  • Posts can be submitted as Word attachments via e-mail (kinderchat123(at)gmail(dot)com); by Twitter DM to a linked google doc, or by Facebook message at the Kinderchat Page (message should include a link to a google doc).
Ok, ready to go? Sign up here to get started! Within 2 days of signing up, you will receive an e-mail confirming the instructions for submission.Happy New Year, friends! We can’t wait to read you! The form is HERE
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