I. Teachers demonstrate leadership. · IV. Teachers facilitate learning for their students. · V. Teachers reflect on their practice.

A Much Needed Reminder that #kindersCAN

IMG_1106It is hard to believe that my 4th year of teaching is coming to a close. Being completely transparent, this year has challenged me in ways I have never experienced, both resulting from professional growth opportunities that I have voluntarily taken on and from the quality and quantity of needs among the students in my class. There have been glimpses of joy and rewarding moments that have of course made the year worthwhile, but I have also experienced my fair share of difficulty in a variety of ways. Even though I know it is my job to meet my learners where they are, it has felt discouraging at times to modify and even totally change routines and activities that have worked for past years. With many years ahead of me in my career and only a few behind me, I predict that there will be many “types” of school years, each unique in growing my practice and building the educator stamina that I have been building since year 1.

I have been aching to introduce my class to my brand new cart of 7 Chromebooks, devices recently rolled out to WCPSS classrooms at the end of this school year. But for several weeks, the feelings of a challenging and overwhelming school year, combined with continuous end of year literacy and math testing, prevented me from jumping right in with those devices. But with 6 days left of school and a newfound inspiration to take a risk, I decided to go for it. All year, I had planned to facilitate the creation of digital portfolios for each student in my room, and I was determined not to let that goal slip away. Student digital portfolios are a new push in the district, as a means of student housing of and reflection on work over time. The Kindergarten team and school leaders at my school believe that this should start for students at the beginning of their school experience in Kindergarten. So here is how I used our new Chromebook devices to make this happen on the Kindergarten level!

1. Practice logging in right away first quarter.

Yes, there is QR code option for younger elementary students to log into their Google account (a very long, time consuming process), and yes, that makes it faster. But in the long run, if students have been logging in the same way since Kindergarten, they will be faster in 3rd grade rather than having to learn “the long way” then. My team has learned the value in this over the past few years working alongside our ITF Chris Tuttell, and we have learned and evolved in our practice of working with Kinders in Google over the years. This was the first year we started the logging in process right away first quarter, and it has paid off! And now that we have our Chromebooks, several steps of this process (computer login + going into Chrome + entering web address) are eliminated and will allow us to move even more quickly next year!

2. Add work in Google Drive throughout the year.

Digital portfolios are really just a reflection on favorite pieces of work from the year, including work done in Google Drives. As the group prepared to create their Sites, they completed work in their Google Drives that would be linked to their sites, such as an animal picture and shape replication in Google Draw and an all about me Google Slide.

3. Advance student leaders in the digital portfolio process.

We have used upper grade student mentors while logging in and working in Google over the years, and I highly recommend this with younger students. With ambitions of having students create digital portfolios on Google Sites to link work from throughout the year, we started with a small cohort of K students from a couple of classrooms. This had 2 benefits: we could provide greater support to a small group of students as they created, and then these students could be tech leaders to assist the whole group in creating theirs.

These student leaders even taught our staff, along with educators around the state, about the benefit of a learning portfolio and how they reflected on their work from the year.

 

4. Start small with new devices.

With my own uncertainty about how to structure the use of 7 Chromebooks for 21 students, coupled with never having used a Chromebook myself, I decided that our after school program with 5 Kinders in my room would be the perfect setting to try them out! Starting small gave me the comfort I needed to go big! 

5. Create and add work to sites in small groups, with student tech helpers.

After reviewing Chromebook etiquette and procedures for taking out and putting away, students were put into 3 groups of 7. Student leaders who had already made Google Sites portfolios were strategically dispersed into each group. Groups of 7 rotated to 3 learning centers, one of which being Google Site creation on the Chromebooks. In this first step, students created a Site through their Google Drive, using the New Google Sites option. They worked specifically on the home page, typing their name and site title, customizing colors and background images, and linking in an all about me Google Slide. Next, we will add a Kindergarten page and link in more work!


After a tough school year, and with only 6 days left with this group of students, this was just the joy that I and they needed. Having 21 Kindergarten students successfully get their sites up and running reminded me of my strong belief in the capability of young learners. Each year brings a new set of challenges, talents, needs, gifts, and unpredictable circumstances. But I am reminded to embrace change and challenged to find the structures and modifications so that each year, #kindersCAN continue to do amazing things.

8 thoughts on “A Much Needed Reminder that #kindersCAN

  1. Fantastic share, Nathalie! Your buddy Chris talks you up all the time to ITFs and our team, and with this post, it is easy to see why! I love your thoughtfulness in using these tools and the intention above all. I love that you could’ve taken a pass and waited until next year, and that would have been fine, but you dove into the pool to begin generating ideas and strategies on how you can learn in order to implement even better next year.

    I hope you do not mind, but I am going to guide other teachers to this post. You capture exactly the right thinking in moving forward with any new technology. Things like using the QR code badges, but not using them as a crutch is exactly how we envisioned the process. This post reads like a well-researched guide to technology integration, and I think that obviously demonstrates your skill in pedagogy above everything else. Well done!

    Our ITLMS team is surely anxious to see how teachers continue to use Chromebooks, Google, and all technology, and we appreciate your willingness to take the plunge and then reflect on lessons learned! WCPSS and Washington ES are lucky to have you! Please continue to share out–it benefits so much further than you could imagine!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chris, thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I do not mind at all if you share my post with others! I love knowing that others could possibly be impacted through my journey and learning. I truly appreciate your feedback and kind words and look forward to keeping you in the loop!!

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  2. Nathalie, this reflection reminds me of how intentional you are with every learning opportunity you provide students and colleagues. You are an educator and leader I am lucky to have the opportunity to grow with on a daily basis. Thank you for always striving to be exceptional. 🖐

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so impressed, Nathalie! It is amazing what kinders can do with a dedicated, motivated, and organized teacher who is willing to take risks! I am so proud of your accomplishments this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, Nathalie. Here are three things I really liked about this post:

    1) I really liked seeing your progression of thoughts throughout many processes. Most people have no idea how much decision-making and problem-solving educators do in just one day. You have epitomized flexibility and perseverance. Through challenges, you have found ways to make things work. Starting small, collaborating, having older students develop leadership skills by mentoring younger students, having the vision to see how the beginning of one year compounds learning throughout the year, and then to also measure growth over multiple years with the same students, are evidence of a classroom teacher’s skills are priceless.

    2) The #kindersCAN message is precious, and it can be applied to many situations. Who are we to put a ceiling on what we think #kindersCAN do? And if #kinderCAN, then so can _____________. An educator who doesn’t have a #kindersCAN mindset would not have these possibilities on the radar, thus limiting student learning opportunities.

    3) Your willingness to try new things. Our world is changing faster than ever, and I can’t believe I just heard how you are having kinders create google sites?

    Keep up the great work, and I can’t wait till your next reflection.

    Sincerely,
    @KyleHamstra

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Kyle! I really appreciate you organizing your takeaways so clearly. Those things help me to reflect back on the post in a new way. The way you appreciate and share the #kindersCAN movement continues to inspire me and others! Thanks so much for taking the time to read, comment, and share!!!

      Like

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