Empowering My Kinders- 1/11/2020

January has been my favorite time to work with Kindergarten the past two years. After several months of hard work, it is now time where my littlest learners transition in the lab from just consuming digital content to creating it.

Each of these years, that milestone has required a lot of collaboration. Classroom teachers encourage students to practice. The paraprofessionals work with students both in their classroom and during technology classes. Parents practice helping their children to learn their logins and passwords. As a technology specialist, I try to engineer an environment that promotes success for all students. Lots of repetition is needed on all front to get these students ready, but in January, they finally are.

What goes into this transformation every year is a little different.

Last year, in the fall of 2018, I discovered the magic of icon literacy after listening to the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast by Vicki Davis as she interviewed Pana Asavantana about how her kindergarten students learned how to use iPads. In this interview, Pana shared how just like she taught her kinders to read by decoding, she had realized she could teach them the language of computers through icons. She shared how she added these icons to her morning messages and learning thrived. To learn more, check out my home page.

This idea transformed my teaching...

I started teaching my kinders icons and embedding them in my greeting. After this initial success, another inspiration hit me and I created an icon word wall for my kinders. Even my older students noticed and commented. As my littlest students learned these icons and understood their meaning, their technology proficiency improved. They became more independent and used problem solving strategies before asking for help.

So in my naivety, I started the same protocol this year. But quickly, I noticed how my kindergartners needed something more. They were fidgety and needed movement. This led to me making up signs for important words. Using principles of Whole Brain Teaching, students learned signs for username, password, and more. Username was seven fingers, since their usernames were seven digits. Password was a lock because it was our secret words and numbers.

After teaching these signs, I linked these signs to icons. This made this process more concrete for my kinders.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, right? During first quarter, my technology classes with my kinders were exhausting. The first few sessions, it took the entire 30 minute period to get everyone logged in. After that, we added to our icons up- students learned Google Chrome, FCPS Google apps, the "waffle" and Google Classroom. But by the end of the first quarter, my kinders could log in, find Google Classroom bookmarked and access a link with assistance.

During this current quarter, we added on to these icons again. Students began by learning how to access links and watch videos. They even learned how to log into PebbleGo, a primary database. My kindergarten students were so proud as they learned these essential skills.

This week, we took it to the next level. As I shared earlier, this week, we began creating.As my students entered the lab, I pumped up the day:

Today was the day we start to CREATE using Wixie!

This week, my kinders learned how to log in to Wixie and add stickers or images to a snow globe. We reviewed the icons that they already knew: Google Chrome and KinderTech first. Then, we went over how to log into Clever and get started in Wixie by adding two stickers to their snow globes.

Their joy and excitement as they learned these simple tasks was contagious. They all loved logging into this "new" program and selecting stickers for their special snow globe. As they worked, I took out my phone and started taking photos. "Can I tweet your picture out?" I asked. They were so proud and immediately agreed

But this week is just the beginning...

  • Next week, students will use paint tools and add color.

  • The following week, they will add text and record their voices.

It is so amazing watching our littlest learners build these skills one by one, as they tackle "eating their elephant." Using Wixie has made this process much more accessible for my kinders. Over the summer, Wixie had a major update and is even more user friendly than before. As much as a Googly girl as I am, I love how this program scaffolds the creation experience for our younger students.

Last year, their products were so wonderful. This began a semester of creating in Kindergarten using new tools. But don't take my word for it. Check them out here and see for yourself. I can't wait to see what my kinders this year create.

Check out my Twitter feed @MrsTannenb throughout January 2020 to see what they CREATE!

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