Tuesday, August 16, 2016

References for using social media in the kindergarten classroom

In preparing for these blog posts, I have tried to be as extensive as possible in my research, using both texts from my 21st Century Learning course as well as outside articles and blog posts. If you are interested in learning more, please check out the resources listed below:


Flat Stanley His Original Adventure! Jeff Brown, Harper Collins 1964

Bonk, Curtis J.. World Is Open : How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education. Hoboken, NJ, USA: Jossey-Bass, 2009. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 1 July 2015.

Boss, S. (2015). Powering up learning with pbl plus technology. Deeper learning. Beyond 21st century skills. Chapter 4.

Davidson, S. (2014). It’s never too soon to teach digital citizenship. Learning and leading with technology. December/January 2013-2014. International Society for Technology and Education. Article can no longer be retrieved.

Lieberman, D. et al (2009). Young children’s learning with digital media. Computers in the schools. Online doi: 10.1080/07380560903360194

Morgan, Hani (2015). Creating a class blog: A strategy that can promote collaboration,     motivation, and improvement in literacy. Reading improvement. Vol. 52 Issue 1, p27-31.

National Education Association. Preparing 21st century students for a global society. An educator’s guide to the four cs. Retrieved from: http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/A-Guide-to-Four-Cs.pdf

Scardamalia, M. Bereiter, C. (2002).  Knowledge Building. Kindergarten.

Trilling, Fadel. (2009). Learning past and future. Part 1. What is 21st century learning?

Zywica, J. (2013). Using social media to connect families and kindergarten classrooms. Retrieved from: http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/20359/





The Third and Fourth Cs- Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Going back to the beginning of the last blog post on Collaboration, I spoke of students and their ability to collaborate and create intricate block structures. In this way, the C of collaborate fits right next to the C of Creativity and Innovation.

Collaboration and Creativity work together, especially in 21st Century Learning. It has been said by many that we are educating students for jobs that do not yet exist. We need to help our students create and maintain a flexible mind when it comes to innovation.

“Creativity is another area in which social media encourages huge growth – from writing posts, comments, jokes and blogs – to photography – to image editing – to the creation of gifs and videos. Social media is a hive of creativity. Never before have young people had access to such powerful tools of creativity.” (Maxwell, 2015).

We are living in an age where students can make movies on tablets, post them to Youtube, and have instant feedback from the viewers. No longer are we waiting for “the professionals” to do this, we have it all at our fingertips.

In Kindergarten, creativity is an expected outcome of our day. We spend long periods of time in play in order to think through problems at our own speed. When we are given large blocks of time, we are able to stretch our creativity beyond the basic and into the intricate. On this very blog, you will see many posts relating to creativity and play, but let me share with you a few specific ones:

You will find that I am a “play enthusiast”. Play, in my opinion, promotes the highest form of learning. It is through play that we are able to tap into our own creativity. Another tool of play in Kindergarten can be the use of social media.

There are times when we have a question and cannot come up with a satisfactory answer, we can go to other “experts” to see what they have to say. There are times when we wish to express ourselves through writing, and we can share that with the class through the class blog or google docs.

It is through Creativity and Innovation that we truly show that social media can be the Flat Stanley of the 21st Century. “If you were Flat Stanley, and could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? What would you do?” On the Flat Stanley website (https://www.flatstanley.com/ ), we can find ways that other students have traveled with Stanley, we can find other adventures that Stanley has been on. Or we can create our own.

Through Social Media we can share our adventures with our family and friends. We can see and speak to people across the world via Skype, sharing our adventures and ideas. A Twitter group that I am very involved with #kinderchat, is a fantastic resource for social media in Kindergarten. One of the projects is SkypePlay https://sites.google.com/site/kinderchatplayproject/project-leaders/show-n-tell

In SkypePlay, classrooms connect via Skype. They have the chance to speak to students from all over the world, ask questions directly to them, and find out answers. They can share their experiences of the day with each other. It's just one way to connect students who might never have made a connection.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Who doesn’t like a good old fashioned game of tic-tac-toe? With google docs we can play against a class in another school. Playing together as a class teaches us to collaborate, problem solve, and look at the situation critically. But yet, we’re still playing tic-tac-toe.

What about a game of trivia? We could tweet to another class questions about what they are learning, and they could tweet back the answers, and a question for us.

These are just two examples of ways to use social media for critical thinking and problem solving.

“Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are excellent platforms for students to develop higher level thinking skills. Students do not join these social networks simply as passive consumers, instead they engage as active members interacting with potentially thousands of other users from around the world. And while interacting on these sites, young people are engaging in a wide range of higher level thinking skills.” (Maxwell, 2015)

Those who engage with others on social media sites are not merely consumers. They do not sit by and let the media do the work. They are active participants. The mere label “social” means just that, it is interactive, there is a social commitment.

As an active member of social media sites myself, I know how much information can overwhelm the participant. What is important to realize is that people are constantly questioning, constantly adding new information. There are times when the information may be false, and those participants generally will point out where the original poster went wrong.

“On social media sites students are bombarded with data, they need to apply their critical thinking skills in order to analyse and interpret this data. This is done by asking a range of critical question such as; ‘is this believable?’, ‘is it reliable?’, ‘who shared this information?’, ‘Why?’…..etc” (Maxwell, 2015)

The role of the teacher is imperative here. This is where the teacher helps facilitate the conversation. The teacher asks the questions that stretch the thinking of the student. As a class we can ask, “If Stanley were to go to Antarctica to see the penguins, how long would it take him?” Then we can find out about it. With sites like Padlet.com we can post our findings in bulletin board form. Others can see what we’ve done and add suggestions, questions, etc.

The world is opening up for our students, and how we can use the tools of Social Media to help them navigate this world. We are no longer waiting for the world to come to us. Now, in the 21st Century, we can go to the world. In the past we might write a letter, look up information in an encyclopedia, sent our own version of Flat Stanley. Today we can (and should) do all of those things, but we can also explore the world from our own classroom. We can watch a bear hibernating from a webcam, or penguins swimming at a zoo. We can tweet to kindergarteners across the country, or Skype with people across the world. We can write a blog post and our parents can comment on it, strengthening the home and school connection.

The internet and social media can be a scary place for people. But with the right sites and with proper guidance, we can make it a lot less scary. I am looking forward to this journey across the world from my classroom. I want my students, in 15 years time, to be prepared for the world that exists then. I want them to be participants in the culture that will surround them. Because when they are prepared, when they can participate, then they will be ready for any challenge.

Check out my classroom blog: https://mrsmarshallkd.wordpress.com
My class Padlet page (still under construction): https://padlet.com/cmmarshall/8hiwn271k6
And you can find me on twitter at https://twitter.com/CarrieMarshall1

The Second C- Collaboration

In Kindergarten, collaboration is demonstrated in a variety of ways. One of my favorite examples though is in the block area. When one student works alone in the block area, they can create a wonderful structure:

But when two or more work on a structure, it’s amazing how much more can happen:

It’s the same way with discussions in class. When a student has a question, I can answer it, or someone else can, and that answer may or may not be satisfactory. But when the whole class is involved in the discussion, there are more voices and more perspectives that join into the conversation. There are times that, no matter how hard we try, the words we use just don’t reach the listener the way they need them too. But sometimes someone else can understand and translate that for us.

On our own we can do some, with others we can do much. The collaboration that takes place through social media can help foster a learning network, even between kindergarten classes. Collaboration is not always an easy thing to achieve. It requires compromise, listening skills, patience, and even letting some of our ideas go for the greater good of the group.

In the 21st Century, it is no longer just “the books” or “the authorities” who are the sole references for knowledge.  When students are able to share their knowledge to help build up another person’s knowledge, they are seen as the authorities. The classroom works together to “co-construct” knowledge, based on what we have learned. As time goes on, we are able to edit that knowledge, share that knowledge. While there is definitely a place for such direct teaching, there are other times when knowledge is co-constructed with peers (Scardamalia, Bereiter, 2006).. What is interesting is that, especially in Kindergarten, this is not necessarily a surprise to them. Collaboration in the classroom, collaboration in social media, makes us all “the authority”.

One way to promote collaboration is through a class blog. Students and teachers alike can upload a post and others can comment on it. There is a give and take of conversation that happens.  “As a consequence of features that promote collaboration, blogs encourage reflective learning and a deeper understanding of content (Angelina & Jimoyiannis, 2012).” (Hani, p. 2). When a student blogs, they are given a voice. They are empowered to share their thoughts and ideas. When a student blogs, they are given the chance to tell the world how they feel, and the world is given a chance to talk back to them. They are given a chance to share with their classmates, and their classmates are given a chance to reply.

Twitter is another way to promote collaboration between students and the world.  “Use a classroom Twitter account to connect students with the world. They can have real-time dialogues with experts, museums, publishers, journalists, and more. I remember the excitement when a major library retweeted information about a project one class was working on. Also, in a PBL summer school program, the class promoted student work via Twitter, and students were amazed by all the responses from around the world. (One student even said, "If I'd known someone from Australia was going to see this, I would have done a better job.")”  (Asher, 2015).

Sharing via social media empowers young students and their learning.

During the winter of 2015, Charlottetown received 16 feet of snow. In order for us to put this into perspective, the students were wondering how much that was. Through the CBC website, we were able to pull up this graphic and share it to other kindergarten classes on Twitter:


Not only were we finding out information and sharing it, we were allowing others to find out that information as well.

“Organizations are increasingly looking for ways to build global mindsets in formal training programs, as well as informal ones such as using twitter hashtags; #global mindset, #globaled and #china, to learn from a diverse network of colleagues around the world on the topic of building a global mindset. Agility will be the new normal in the workplace of the future. Employees will increasingly need to work in small, self-organized teams demonstrating skills in agile management, critical thinking and virtual teaming.” (Staff, 2012).

The ability to collaborate with one’s peers is a skill that will be much sought after in the future. Gone are the days of the cubicle, where you work on your own. We are in an age where we not only expect, but are expected to work well with others. A key skill taught in kindergarten, and one that can be accentuated with the help of social media.

The First C- Communication

The first C of 21st Century learning that I want to talk about in relation to Social Media in the Kindergarten classroom is Communication.

Of all aspects of our “brave new world,” Communication is one that seems to have been amplified the most. Our society seems to be on hyper-mode in relation to communication. We are constantly connected. With our cell phones, we can be reached 24/7. As I sit in Starbucks writing this, I see people on their personal computers, their cell phones, their tablets. Coffee shops aren’t just for coffee anymore. Everywhere we go we can sit and chat with a friend, whether they are there with us, or across the world. It is imperative that our students learn to communicate within the context of the 21st Century.

The beautiful thing about communicating though, is that at its foundation it is the same as it ever was. We still need to speak clearly, to write effectively. Social media is just another tool for us to use to communicate with others.

“Social media allows teachers to pass along information in ways that weren't possible before. It knocks down the classroom walls and lets learning happen anywhere and at any time. It's important for teachers to start considering how they can use social media for connecting their students to support learning in a connected world.” (Provenzano, 2015).

Social Media allows for faster communication across a variety of places. From Tweeting about our day, to commenting on class blog posts about the week. We no longer are dependent on the phone, or even e-mail to get information to others.

Through the classroom blog, parents can see what is happening in the classroom, as it happens. From what is going on in the block area, to a story or poem the class is creating:

https://mrsmarshallkd.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/pictures-of-the-week-may-30-june3/ (where we showed parents the beginnings of a poem about June bugs that we were writing)

https://mrsmarshallkd.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/january-25-29/ (where we started to make our own hedgehogs based on an art tutorial we saw on you-tube).

“Technology tools such as smartphones, mobile devices, and apps offer new and more affordable ways for busy family members to communicate, connect to the Internet, and access information and social media tools to stay in touch with their families and their child’s teachers and caregivers. “ (NAEYC report on internet usage in young children) p. 7

Our daily internet interactions aren’t just about the class telling what they are doing to our parents or others who may follow the blog. By using Social Media we can connect with classes in other parts of the world. Below are some tweets sent to another class in Washington state (you cannot see their replies as their tweets are protected):

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 4.35.45 PM.png

Through those interactions, students in Prince Edward Island were able to share their knowledge and interest with students in Washington, on the other side of the continent, and reply the same day. They were able to find out information, not just share their knowledge.

“When it comes to kindergarten tweeters, what functions as a stimulating “play” classroom activity is indicative of how this uniquely hyper-connected generation is learning and communicating.” (Staff, 2012)

When monitored by an adult, social media is a great way to connect our students, and allow them a new format to communicate to others. And in the 21st Century, communicating in all forms will be an important skill to possess.

21st Century Learning- Our Changing World

I think we can all agree the world is not the same as it was when we were younger. I know it is definitely not the same as it was when I was younger. In order for our children to have the best education, there must be changes in the classroom as well.

Our Premier, Wade MacLauchlan (Prince Edward Island), has promised us that wifi will be in every school by the end of the year (my principal just e-mailed us today that it looks like October/November for my school). Today’s technology is open to us, and in order for our children to compete in the global marketplace when they are older, it is necessary for us to utilize this tool we have been given, and to model appropriate digital citizenship.

In what has come to be called “21st Century Learning”, educators have identified “4 C’s” of learning. These are skills our students will need in order to be productive members of the 21st Century: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Innovation.

Are these skills “new”? No, not really. Responsible educators have been focusing on these skills for many years. But in the 21st Century, it’s so important to truly focus on these things. How does that affect us? How does the internet help us reach these goals? What about our outcomes? What about reading, and writing? What about math?

In the past we might learn to write a letter, we might do a class presentation. In the 21st Century we also need to consider social media as a way to communicate. From Twitter, to blog posts, to Padlet, among others, we are finding there are ways to reach out to the world around us, not just the world in our own backyard.

What is Social Media?
Usually when we hear these words many automatically think of Facebook and Twitter. The internet has opened a whole new world of democracy to us. We are able to write and share, critique and edit, from around the world. There has been reports on how Barack Obama’s first presidential election was fueled by Facebook. Dictators are overthrown, and in minutes and hours the rest of the world finds out about it. Social Media are a powerful force in the world, and they will only become more important as time goes on.

Why Social Media?

Social media has been an important part of our culture for the past ten years or more. It has connected people from across the globe, both friends and strangers. It has evolved from sites that connected friends who haven’t seen each other in years, to places that connect those of like minds and interests. Are you interested in books? Twitter is a place where you may find many authors tweeting. Are you looking for others who share your beliefs and philosophy? Facebook has pages and pages for that. What about movies? Tumblr has it’s own “fandoms”. Social media has become an intricate part of western culture. Students create Facebook “chat” groups to discuss assignments, fans of certain movies or books “congregate” on Tumblr to discuss the newest releases. Twitter allows us to share ideas, all within a 140 character limit. But it is more than that.

Social Media has become an important factor in the everyday lives of most teenagers and young adults. It’s a place where they go to fit in with others like them, they get their news from social media, social media helps inform their decisions when it comes to politics and ideas. In some way it’s like the coffee shops and pubs of before. Social media is a place for some where, “everybody knows their name”. 

What does this have to do with a kindergarten classroom though? Aren’t they too young for social media? Social media are a powerful force in the world, and they are only going to become more influential.

To answer the age question though, I would say both yes and no. Are they too young to be on certain sites unsupervised? Yes. Are they too young to learn about digital citizenship? No. As Beth Holland states in her Edutopia blog post (2013), “Do I really feel that toddlers should Tweet? Probably not. However, what's important is that we introduce all children to social media in appropriate and meaningful ways, regardless of their age, such that they can connect to a global audience and develop as empowered, networked learners.”

The National Association for the Education of Young Children has come up with a policy statement regarding social media: “Adults have a responsibility to expose children to, and to model, developmentally appropriate and active uses of digital tools, media, and methods of communication and learning in safe, healthy, acceptable, responsible, and socially positive ways.”(NAEYC position statement on internet usage with young children, p. 10).

In her paper, It’s Never Too Soon To Teach Digital Citizenship (Learning and Leading With Technology, Dec/Jan 2013-14), Sharon Davidson states, “If we want our students to use powerful learning tools in a responsible way, I believe it’s best to introduce technology early, teach students how to be good digital citizens, and bring parents along on the journey.”

Social media is not a passing trend. People buy homes over Facebook, people get jobs from Twitter. It is an important form of communication, and one that should be introduced to students before they begin to “log on” themselves. When we model appropriate digital citizenship, we teach children the power of this tool. When we do this from the classroom, we are able to control the messages that are sent out.

How We Can Meet the Challenge

In the book Flat Stanley, a young boy goes to sleep and wakes up the next morning, flattened by a bulletin board. In the past, students might have read this story, created their own version of Flat Stanley, then sent it out to relatives and friends for Stanley to have an “adventure”. This is an excellent way for young students to learn about the world around them, learn to communicate with others, and increase their literacy (for more information, check out https://www.flatstanley.com/ and you’ll see how far “Flat Stanley” has travelled, and you’ll see some new and exciting additions,like a Flat Stanley app even- talk about on-line learning fun!).

With social media, we can become our own “Flat Stanley’s”. With Social Media we can “travel” from our classroom to locations across town and across the world. Through Twitter, Skype, Padlet, a class blog, we can interact with our families, our school, and other kindergarten classes from just about anywhere. We will see how the Four C’s of 21st Century Learning fit into the kindergarten classroom, and how various forms of social media can accentuate the learning.

“If we honestly think about it, we were all taught the "social media" of our time in early elementary school. Remember the friendly letter? How about thank you notes? Telephone etiquette? In early grades, none of us were expected to master these skills independently, but they were integrated into our curriculum so that effective social behavior could be modeled at a young age.” (Holland, 2013)

In Kindergarten we are exposed to new ideas and concepts. We learn about the world around us, and how we can fit into that world, how we can be contributors to our culture. Kindergarten is an adventure, and like Flat Stanley, this is our chance to discover!

Introduction- Flat Stanley and Social Media

Once upon a time there was a boy, and a bulletin board, and an accident. The boy woke up one morning and discovered he was flat. Flat as a pancake. His bulletin board fell on him in the night. He wasn't hurt, but his family didn't know what to do. Should they try to blow him back up? Should they just leave him? They took him to the doctor, but the doctor couldn't help.

Stanley found he didn't mind being flat. He could do all kinds of things he couldn't do before. He could slide under doors, he could go down sewer grates, become a kite,  have adventures three dimensional Stanley never could have dreamed of.

One day he got a letter from a friend inviting him to go to California for a visit. Plane and train tickets cost too much money. But, because Stanley was flat, they were able to mail him to California, with room left over for a few flat sandwiches, milk, and a toothbrush.

When the museum was the target of thieves, Stanley had the idea to help. He could hang on the wall, like one of the portraits and help catch the thieves. He was a hero.

Finally though, Stanley was tired of being flat. His adventures were no longer as fun and the other children at school would make fun of him. His brother had an idea to help him, he used a tire pump and pumped him up. Now Stanley was no longer flat!

Flat Stanley is a story of what a boy can do, especially a boy who is flat. Students around the US and Canada read Flat Stanley every year and create their own "Stanley's" to send on their own adventures. It's a project that allows students to "travel the world" without ever leaving their classroom. They learn literacy skills, math skills, social studies outcomes are met. It's a wonderful project.
It also meets what educators have identified as the "4 C's" of 21st Century Learning: Critical thinking and problem solving, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity and innovation.

Education is changing. Just as the industrial age machines are being revamped for a new purpose, education is as well. It just isn't the same world it was even ten years ago, let alone twenty or more. When I went away to university, there was a pay phone in the middle of the hall on my floor of the dorm. If I wanted to speak to my parents, or others, I needed to use that phone. There were no phone jacks in the dorm rooms.

Today, the majority of students, and their parents, carry cell phones. They can be reached at any time. Today, when i want to speak to my children, I can use Skype, or the Facebook chat group our family has set up. I speak to all three of my children on a daily basis, and two of them live in Illinois, while the third goes to school in Maine. I know what is happening in my children's lives in ways my parents never knew about me.

What does this have to do with Flat Stanley? What does this have to do with the Four C's of 21st Century Learning? What does it have to do with social media? Through a series of blog posts, I hope to connect all of these together, to demonstrate how the use of social media in the classroom can become the "Flat Stanley" of the 21st Century. Just like Flat Stanley could do all kinds of things the Three Dimensional Stanley couldn't. students in the 21st Century are able to do things previous generations couldn't. Instead of merely creating our own Stanley's and mailing them across the world, we can use social media sites such as Twitter, blogs, padlet, among others to discover the world around us, connect with our parents, and connect with others.

It's a new world we are living in, and it is important that we expose even our kindergarten students to this. Flat Stanley is a story of a boy that had many adventures. Through a variety of activities, we in the 21st Century can have our own adventures, even from within the confines of our own classrooms.

Come with me on this journey...

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I Love My Beach

I love my beach

My beach isn't "sexy'. You don't come here to "see and be seen". You probably won't find a celebrity hiding out here, like you might on some of the other beaches on this island. Every year on Canada Day the community comes together to celebrate. There are games and concerts, hot dogs and freezies. There's a concession stand run by local teens earning a few extra dollars in the summer. My beach is out of the way, it's local, it's community.

You'll find families with young children here, because the surf isn't too high, and the tide is just right. You'll find cottagers who have been coming her for years, just like their parents before them. You'll find locals, like me, who always have a blanket, a towel, and a chair in the car, ready to go to the beach at a moments notice. 

There is a group of ladies who meet here every day in the afternoon. They're probably in their 60s now, but you know they've been coming here since they were teenagers. As they got older and married, they would have brought their children here with them. Now it's back to just them again, and they sit and gossip, and enjoy the few days of summer the weather gods afford them.

My beach is large and vast at low tide. You can sit where all of the "action" is. Or, like me, you can take your things and go as far away from the crowds as you can walk. At high tide though, you're forced to perch on the rocks or lay up in the grass that's on the cliffs surrounding the cove.

Hipsters come here, on a vacation that's out of the ordinary in it's ordinariness. My beach has starfish, jelly fish, hermit crabs. My beach has seaweed that smells sometimes, and rocks that can cut your feet. I used to bring my own kids here, but they've grown up and moved away. I still come here though, every day in the summer for a few hours. I come here to re-charge. To remember who I am. To find the rhythm of the ocean. Then I go home and go about my day. 

I love my beach in its plainness. Because of it's normal-ness. I love my beach because of what it isn't. And because of what it is. 

In the winter, my beach is hardly accessible. Only to those who are willing to tromp through feet of snow to get to it. But once you get there, you are held in awe. My beach is beautiful.