PLNs begin in Kindergarten!

Cross posted from KC class blog

In free inquiry time some children wanted to go to the KC blog to look at the videos and photographs documenting their learning journey. After they had looked at recent posts on the KC blog, Kieran and Jaiden went the KP blog to see what the KP children were up to.

The latest post on the KP blog explained how Ruby, Scarlett and their mum were doing some internet research and found an alphabet song on YouTube. Ruby thought that the other children in her class might like to watch the video so her mum emailed the links to Zoe. The children in KP asked Zoe to put the videos on the blog so they could share this learning resource with others.

Kieran and Jaiden liked the videos and thought that they would be useful for the rest of the children in KC since we are also learning about letter sounds. They shared the post with everyone in KC. The children in KC asked if I could post the video on the KC blog as well, so their parents could learn the song.

The KC children liked the alphabet video so much that they asked me to tweet the link in case other children were learning about letters. Another Kindergarten class on the other side of the world tweeted back to say that they really liked the video because that’s just what they were learning about! The KC children tweeted back to ask them if they had any other good ideas for learning letters. We are waiting for their reply.

This is a delightful example, initiated and followed up by students, of how class learning networks can support learning.

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Global Connections in Kindergarten

Guest Post by Tasha Cowdy.

Cross-posted from KC class blog

Click on Kindergarten Around the World category on the right hand side bar on the KC blog to see how the collaboration had developed throughout the year.

Through-out the year the children in KC have communicated and collaborated with KinderPals on the other side of the world. This relationship has provided an authentic purpose and audience for both classes to inquire, create and construct understanding. The children have communicated through blog comments, twitter, postal mail, Google docs and Skype.

The partnership has been an important part of the children’s learning and has woven through all curriculum areas:

  • the children have developed important literacy skills through shared reading and writing engagements for a real purpose and audience
  • they have conducted inquiries into each other’s significant cultural events
  • they have shared and compared mathematical understandings
  • they have begun to explore the concept of digital citizenship and the role of web-based tools – something that many of us adults are struggling to come to terms with, but which will undoubtedly play an increasing role in the education and future of this “web generation’ of children.

As we reflected on our group learning journey in Kindergarten, several of the children mentioned KinderPals.

Olivia summed up the feelings of many children when she said “I’m excited about going to Grade 1, but I think it’s a shame that we won’t be able to tweet with KinderPals anymore because we are all going to different classes”.

On the other side of the world, KinderPals were also reflecting on the shared learning journey. They sent us this goodbye on video!

A Whole Earth Inquiry

Cross posted from KC class blog

In our classroom area we have several different globes, a large world map and a big book atlas. We refer to these regularly during day to day discussions about story settings, current affairs, absent family and friends and, increasingly, our class on-line learning network.

Recently I have observed groups of children crowded around the globe, looking for countries to which they have a personal connection. Trenton tells a group of children that he was born in Seattle and reminds them that Ryan was moving to Seattle before he moved to Ireland. Walter moved from Denmark. Hal has visited Hawaii. So has Leander. Maya’s grandparents visited from Canada. That’s where our KinderPals are from. Daan is trying to find where his last school was, but he can’t remember the name (Qatar). Soon he is moving again to India. The children are interested in finding India to see how close it is to the equator. Nikhil is worried that Daan will be too hot. The conversation goes on and on, carrying over days.

I introduced the children to Google Earth earlier in the year as a tool for finding out more about our KinderPals in Canada. At the time we were conducting a class inquiry into how we share the limited resource of space. Through Google Earth the children were able to see how much more densely populated our school neighborhood in Yokohama, Japan is compared to KinderPals in BC, Canada. Since then the children haven’t shown a particular interest in exploring Google Earth further. However, as I listen to the reoccurring conversations over the last few weeks, it occurs to me that the app might help support and extend the children’s current, unplanned inquiry into where on the earth they are.

I wonder what provocation I can offer the children. Earlier in the year we read a book called Lulie the Iceberg written by Princess Hisako Takamodo of Japan and illustrated by Warabe Aska. The story tells of the adventures of a young iceberg that breaks off the Greenland ice sheet and follows the oceans’ currents across the equator all the way to the antarctic. (Hence Nikhil’s concern about India’s proximity to the equator.) The children were enchanted by the story which I read aloud in daily installments over two weeks. We could have finished the story more quickly but the children were fascinated by the characters and plot and had many text-to-text, text-to-self and text-to-world connections they wanted to share as the story unfolded.

It occurs to me that this perhaps this book, to which the children have made such strong connections, might provide a structure to the children’s spontaneous inquiry. I invite the children to see if they can find the poles on Google Earth and then trace Lulie’s journey. I hope that the poles will provide an easy reference point as the children experiment with the orientation and zoom features on the the Google Earth app. I expect that not all children will want to conduct their inquiry using the iPads and I provide a selection of globes, atlases and a large world map. Then I sit back and watch, ready to support if needed, but otherwise letting the children explore and find out by themselves.

Some children are absorbed in the landscape of our planet, noting the frozen poles, commenting on the amount of water and discovering mountainous areas.

Others are more interested in finding countries that have a personal significance. Someone discovers the street view function and the children marvel at the detail.

Yet others are absorbed in looking at an atlas.

A few children decide to record their ideas on paper. I am fascinated by their careful, intricate drawings.

The children collaborate and work together, switching between the iPad app, globes, map and atlas. They share findings, dispute ideas, test theories and co-construct their understandings, revising their schemas in the light of new information.

It’s time to pack up. As the children tidy, a snippet of conversation floats over to me:

  • Trenton We did a whole earth inquiry!
  • Hal Now we know everything about the earth!
  • Nikhil But we can still learn more.
  • Daan Yeah, we can always learn more.