Little Things Are Really Big

One of the things I love about teaching young students is the palpable excitement both my students and I feel at the smallest thing. A child recognizes the word “the” for the first time. Someone is able to subitize (recognize at a glance) that there are five dots on the die without counting. Or the child who was afraid to walk to the office shows the new student how to get there. These are small moments and small steps, but they have big meaning in the child’s overall development as a learner.

Recently, I’ve been seeing lots of small moments that show my students’ really understand how and why we use the Internet to connect our classroom online.

Connecting with My Teacher

Tweets From My StudentsIt started when I told the students I would be away for a week while I was speaking in Malaysia. “But we’ll miss you”, they complained.

“I’ll miss you, too,” I replied.

“We could Skype with you!” several of them cried. After a short discussion about the time zone difference, their faces fell.

“We could talk to you on Twitter!” someone exclaimed. We all agreed this was the best way and used tweets for asynchronous communication while I was away. We were connected! A small thing, but an important step in learning about online communication.

Connecting with Other Classrooms

Turning Pheasant EggsFast forward a few weeks, and we had pheasant eggs sitting in an incubator in our classroom. I’ve done this for many years, but some years, the baby chicks just do not cooperate the way they are supposed to. This was one of those years. Although we had had nothing hatch, the students discovered that another school nearby had twelve fluffy little babies. One of my boy’s immediate reactions was, “let’s Skype them! I want to see the chicks.”

I had to explain that not everyone uses the tools we do in our classroom. I love that they assume everyone does. Another small step.

Sharing the News

Tweeting My TeacherThe next week, I was at another conference when this tweet popped up on my computer. At last we had chicks!

We had not discussed using Twitter this particular time, but this student felt it was important that I know and remembered how she could connect with me. She even remembered to check her tweet with the substitute teacher before she tweeted.

Keeping Myself Safe

Dressing Last week, our school was having a school spirit day around a western theme. One of my students came to school dressed in a cowboy hat with a hockey jersey. To me this seemed like the quintessential Canadian way to do a western theme. I asked him if I could tweet a picture of him. “Well, OK. But don’t use my name,” he replied. A small comment, but I knew he understood the big picture we have been talking and learning about all year.

It’s About Learning

Yesterday, we were reading comments together sent by a first grade classroom that had just begun to blog. The students are always quick to point out errors in spelling that a commenter has made. I actually encourage this if the commenter is an adult because it shows them that everyone makes mistakes and it helps them to realize that they do know how to spell correctly.

In this case, though, since the commenters were so young, I started to remind the students of this fact, when one of my grade two students piped up, “It’s OK if they’re making mistakes. It shows they’re learning.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. That teachable moment led to our looking back at the first posts of some of the students to show how far they had all come.

All small moments, but oh so big.

4 thoughts on “Little Things Are Really Big

  1. It is so amazing to see a real example of how to effectively use technology in elementary grades. I am studying elementary education and most of the time the only examples of technology in the classroom that I find are things like using an IPad or digital camera, not blogging and tweeting! I think that your post sums it up greatly. Little things ARE really big. Most of the time the greatest teaching moments come from little things or in your case, reinforcement that they are listening come from those little moments. This is especially true or younger grades. Your post is such a great inspiration and one that I hope to take with me into my own classroom one day.

  2. I love this, using real life examples of how global collaboration really works, and how excited students really are about it. The starting small and working your way up to a global scale. The way to sum up your students reactions is really interesting, it sounds like your student have a real grasp of the 21st century skills. Twitter is a great way to stay connect over a great distance. The last section was really great, how you are using this technology not only to show students about connecting globally but working on grammar.

  3. I love the pioneer spirit you have regarding technology in the classroom. And I am so excited to try some of your ideas in my own Kindergarten classroom. You mentioned the idea of having that “real audience” when using technology. I completely agree. For some of my slow learners and ELL having that immediate feedback and visual support is so important to their progress. And for me, as a teacher, I really appreciate having the use of technology in the classroom as a way to keep me connected with what others are doing in my grade level. Thanks for all the great ideas!

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