Monday, February 17, 2014

Kindergartners can do research!

I've been following the live monthly #tlchat on Twitter since it was started in 2012, but this one was particularly intriguing, especially since I've been watching what Matt Gomez does with his kindergartners and technology. 

So last December, I focused my Tweetdeck on the #tlchat column and got inspired!

Soon after, I contacted my kindergarten colleague, Andrea Dibble, to see how I could help bring research tools to her students. It took us a few tries to make a date to meet, but we finally sat down together in mid-January. 

I was excited to prepare, as this was the first time I was doing more than provide traditional print resources. But when I dug into what we had available, it was a little disappointing.

Britannica Online is wonderful, but the elementary level was still too difficult for kindergartners. The read aloud function had potential though.

The PreK-2 Learning Zone was great for browsing and exploring,

but not helpful for research. 

I showed her our subscription to Exploring Nature, which is great for 3rd and 4th grade, but not really for kindergartners. I would need to keep looking for more appropriate resources.

During our sit-down, we reviewed the online resources and looked at access, laptop versus iPad and talked a little bit about process. We also started to brainstorm on how her students could report out. She needed something that would show a save image that could be annotated with a voice over. 

We were both thinking positively about bringing research into her classroom and we promised to keep exploring and checking in with each other.

In the meantime, I started working with  another kindergarten teacher, Laurie Stinocher, who was doing a lesson on farm animals. The number of animals was limited, so it would be possible to purchase unlimited usage ebooks for this project. I selected 5 titles with read aloud capabilities from FollettShelf and thanks to our great purchasing department, had them added to the collection within a couple of days.

I set up simple logins and made arrangements to have laptops available and logged in daily for 5 days - one day for each animal! Laurie gave the students workbooks

and they listened and took notes.

As I was working with the kindergarten teachers, I remembered positive reviews of a database designed for younger students. I contacted the rep and asked for a trial subscription to PebbleGo Animals. It is fabulous and is being used K-3! Andrea set up research stations with links to PebbleGo on her classroom laptops and students did their research in small groups.

The perfect app for capturing student learning in Andrea's class turned out to be ChatterPix Kids on the student iPads. 

Check out their movies on the KB web site!

It was so fun bringing research tools to kindergartners and working with their teachers! 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Digital Learning Day 2014

Technology is ubiquitous throughout our district. Wonderful learning experiences are happening everyday in every classroom.

Take a look!