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
“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
Fast 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
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
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.