Primary Preoccupation

A grade one teacher inviting the world into her classroom

Primary Preoccupation - A grade one teacher inviting the world into  her classroom

My First Year of One to One: A Reflection

Best Buy CardA little over a year ago, I won a contest from Best Buy Canada. The contest asked applicants to write about what they would purchase at Best Buy if they had any amount up to $20 000 to spend. Since it had long been my dream to be a one to one classroom, and I was intrigued by the possibilities that iPads held for young children, I chose to say that I would purchase a class set of iPads.  Much to my delight, I was chosen as a winner, and I had the opportunity to go on the shopping trip of a lifetime! (This contest now appears to have disappeared.)

While the initial and on-going management of 30 iPads is no mean feat, I have loved having this opportunity for my students. Some day I may blog about specific apps or ways of using them that work particularly well for me, but this summer has given me an opportunity to reflect on some of the overall changes that have happened in my classroom.

Collaboration

One of my fears when I was able to put a device into the hands of every student was that the students might focus on the screen, the way many children do with a television or a computer. Those children become absorbed by the device, ignoring all that is going on around them.

Happily, this has not at all proved to be the case for us. The students did not want to just use the iPads; they wanted to share them.  The hum of voices excitedly talking to their peers about what they were doing was just the same as it had always been. They just had different things to share.

Children Using iPadsOddly, this showed up in an interesting way in my classroom. The couch was a popular place to work, but once that was full, some students would pull chairs next to the couch forming a line of learners sitting side by side. This happened over and over. When that line was “full”, the next students would make a line in front of the couch. The only logical reason I could see for this was their ease in sharing what was on their screen. And share they did. There was a constant chorus of “how did you do that?” and “look what I did” going on in my classroom.

Sharing Their Learning

Over many years, I have been moving from a teacher-centered classroom to a student-centered one.  One of the things I have come to value most highly is choice.  I have offered my students as much choice in how they learn and in how they demonstrate their learning as I can. The iPads have given my students so many more opportunities for choice.

Taking a Pictures with an iPadFor example, at the end of a unit of inquiry, I ask the students to share their learning with me through an artifact that they create.  There were always a few digital choices available in my classroom, but the iPads have given us a rich variety of options that were just not available before. The students can now choose to use photos, podcasts, screencasts, videointer-active books…well, you get the idea. My only criteria is that whatever they produce, they must have some kind of digital product that can be archived on their digital portfolio.

Interestingly, the run away favourite way to sum up what they knew was to draw pictures with markers, to post these pictures on a large sheet of construction paper and to make a video of themselves talking about the images they had drawn.  The iPads offered a variety of ways to do this.

Engagement

Using iPads on the CouchKeeping students engaged is never really an issue in grade one. Six year olds are interested in most anything.  If I told them we were going to do some rote practice of math facts with enough enthusiasm, they would probably cheer about it.  Having said that, they were indeed engaged!  The opportunity for them to have access to a device with a variety of apps that could allow them to explore and create was something they loved. My children were not using their iPads in every spare moment—they still liked other classroom tools such as Lego, dominos and drawing paper—but the iPads were a popular choice, even at lunch hour or recess when the weather was too cold to go outside.

Independent Learning

Having iPads gave my students a new way to learn things that were not part of our curriculum. I put some apps on our iPads just because I thought they looked interesting, and not because I had a direct plan for them. One of the apps that I put on the iPads was GarageBand. I had never used it, but I knew that other teachers had used it in interesting ways, so I added it.  I didn’t get around to figuring out how to use it, but my students did. They taught themselves and then taught me as well. We were able to save some of their music and to use it for our classroom videos. The same was true of a clay molding app called 123D Sculpt. Again, the students taught themselves how to use it. We never did post any of these clay creations anywhere, but the students loved to use it.

This past year, my students were fascinated by what you could do with dominos—both with setting them on their ends and watching them fall and with seeing how high they could be stacked. They tried various ways to stack and as they got better at this, one student or another would document this learning as it was happening. They did this independently, without any prompting from me. It was just something that they wanted to do.

Differentiation

I strive to help my students to understand themselves as learners. I want them to choose ways to help themselves learn that work for them, not necessarily for me.  For some skills, such as reading, spelling and counting, there is just no substitute for practice. The iPads gave my students additional ways to practice each of these skills, finding a way that best helped them to learn. I would sometimes suggest a way to practice that I thought would work well, but I generally trusted them to make the decisions they needed to make for what worked for them.

Reading on iPad and BookTo practice each of these skills, my students sometimes chose digital and sometimes non-digital means. For example, I put many eBooks on the Kindle app on our iPads as an option for our independent reading time. The students could also read blog posts by the teachers or students in other classrooms. They could read our Twitter feed. Or they could read books. Some students preferred digital and some preferred non-digital, but most moved seamlessly back and forth between the two.

Ownership

Reading on an iPadThere was something very special for my students in having their own device. They never had to wait their turn. Whenever they needed it for learning, it as available to them. All of the photos, videos and other artifacts on the iPad were theirs. No one was deleting things that were important to them. They looked after the charging and care of their iPad. If they forgot to charge their battery, they had to stand by the charging shelf as they worked. I don’t think anyone had to do that twice.

I realize that money is a huge factor in the one to one issue. There are presently very few models that allow this choice for everyone.  No other classrooms in my school have this option.  Having seen the results for myself though, I think we need to do some outside of the box thinking about how we can make this happen.  I know one teacher who held weekly pizza sales at lunch to make it work in her classroom. Do you have other ideas? I’d like to hear them. This kind of learning needs to be spread around.

The Journey to “Connected From the Start”

Eight years ago, I started out on a journey to open up my classroom and to connect it with the world.

Today is a big day in that journey. My book, Connected From the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades is being released as an eBook.  The thinking, the writing, the editing and the reediting this book has required have been an interesting part of my journey. I’ve had to reflect in a way that I never have before. As this day has FINALLY arrived, I’m feeling a lot of different emotions: trepidation, excitement, satisfaction and hope.

Trepidation Every time I publish something on this blog, I wonder. I wonder what the readers will be thinking as they read it. I wonder how they will respond. I wonder if others will see the potential that I do. A book is a lot of blog posts worth of wonders.

Excitement I’m thrilled that there is now a resource available to help teachers who want to begin connecting their classroom.  I often get emails from teachers who want to start their own journey in connecting their classroom, but aren’t sure where to start.  I’m happy to reply, but you can only say so much in an email. I have always wished that a resource existed that I could point those teachers to. Now there is.

Page from Connected From the StartSatisfaction I’m satisfied that after a year and a half of hard work, there is a user-friendly resource for curious teachers—one full of colour, hyperlinks, pictures and video from my classroom.

Hope is by far the most powerful of the emotions I am feeling. I want those who read my book to understand the tremendous potential that there is in a connected classroom. I hope that I have written a book that will be helpful to those teachers in choosing tools that work well for any grade level, but especially for primary classrooms where our emphasis is on literacy.

I hope that teachers will use this resource to become connected and to realize the powerful potential of social media to transform their classroom from a closed community into a learning space open to the world and with a worldview.

I hope that because of this book, other teachers and classrooms are transformed the way that mine has been.  I hope that other primary teachers can find ways to use tools such as blogs, Skype, and Twitter to open their classroom to the world.

I hope what I have written helps your classroom to be a connected place.  If you want to go on this journey with me, you can find the book here.

My own journey with my classroom continues. I can’t wait to see where it takes us!

Whose Conference Is It Anyhow?

A few weeks ago, some of my students and I made this short video to show how they feel about blogging. It’s also in my soon-to-be-released book. (End of commercial, I promise.)

What does a blog have to do with student conferences? As one of the children mentions in the video, my students use their blog as an online portfolio. That is, a digital record of what they have been learning and doing in our classroom. That portfolio is the focal point of our student-led conference.

The Portfolio Belongs to the Students

I’ve blogged before about why my students have digital portfolios. The writing, videos, images and podcasts that are part of each student’s portfolio are at first likely to be selected by myself, but as the year progresses, the students take more and more of a role in this choice. Sometimes I ask everyone to post about a certain outcome on their blog. If that is the case, the students usually have choice as to the medium they chose to use. For example, we recently posted about what we had been learning in math and, with several apps to choose from, some students chose to use Educreations while others chose Draw and Tell.  Other times, the students themselves choose what they want to post. During the spate of indoor recesses we had this winter, many of the students took pictures of their recess “creations”, whether falling dominos, Lego creations or villages with 3D blocks and posted these on their blogs. If we have all completed a paper artifact of some kind, I will remind them saying, “if you’d like to post this on your blog, go ahead”. Some do and some don’t. When we were using pastels and practicing perspective, I offered this option. About half of the students chose to post their drawing.  It is their portfolio, so I want them to have some choice about what it contains.

The Conference Belongs to the Students

Twice each year, my school division holds student-led conferences. I ask my students to choose three things that they think they have done well to share at this meeting. Before the conference, I meet briefly with each student to find out what he or she has chosen to share. I do sometimes have criteria. For example, at the conferences we just held, I asked that one of the posts they shared contain writing so that we could discuss that.

When it is time for the conference, the students, with varying amounts of support from me, talk about each of the artifacts that they have chosen, focusing on what they have done well and what they would like to get better at.

I am so proud of the growth in skills and confidence that my students displayed during their conferences. One of my students, who spent our conference last fall huddled on her mother’s knee, answering with only nods, head shakes and occasional words, confidently stood up in front of her parents and with only a little prompting from me, shared aloud what her learning had been for each of the artifacts she had chosen. I felt like I would burst with pride.

Another of my students’ mother could not be present during the conference, so her father made a video of “her presentation” to take home to share. The students know what they need to learn. Our conference is a chance for them to share their progress toward that target.

The Goals Belong to the Students

Another of the objectives of the student-led conference is for the students, with input from myself and from their parents, to set a goal for the next term. Our report cards have a section for goal setting that includes student strengths, goals and steps the student, their parents and I will each take to help meet those goals.  I am always prepared with some options for this, because although the student is not familiar with our curriculum, I do want the student to have some choice. Because I usually teach grade one, the goal we choose is often a reading goal, but if the child is doing well in this area, I will sometimes have some suggestions in other areas as well.  Once the child has chosen the goal, we discuss what the student, their parents and I will each do to help in reaching that goal. The student feels ownership because he or she has been involved in choosing it and in deciding how it will be met.

Like my students, I too am on a learning journey. I get choice in my learning goals. This blog is my space and I get to choose what I post and when. As much as I can, I want to provide those same opportunities for my students. It is their conference. They should have some of the choices that ownership implies.

 

Salamanders, Toads and the Power of Connecting

I am so sold on the power of connected learning.

Earlier this month, Discovery Education had a special live broadcast about amphibians.  I knew my students would be interested and Karen Lirenman, who teaches grade one in Vancouver, knew hers would be as well. Why not watch together, we thought, and compare our learning? Because of the time zone thing my class didn’t actually get to watch it live, and the plethora of special events in classrooms in December meant it was actually a week later before our classes got to connect to talk about the learning.

It was Karen’s brilliant idea to have the students take notes on whiteboards as they watched to help them to remember what they learned. Despite the fact that much of the writing was only readable if you were the writer or a grade one teacher, it did in fact help the students to listen and remember, and made them feel very grown up.

Later, we chatted with Karen’s class via Skype to compare our learning. What did you learn? Naturally, there were things both classes remembered, and things that only one did. There were also the “wasn’t it cool that…” moments as we talked about some of the things we had learned, like the fact that some amphibians freeze in the winter and then revive in the spring.  Before the call, one of my students had said, “I have an I wonder for them”.  (“Wondering” is  one of the things we are learning to do in our classroom.)We had seen on Twitter that they were missing their gingerbread characters, and she wondered if they had been found. So at the end of the call, after we had exhausted the subject of amphibians, we also talked briefly about the disappearing gingerbread people from Karen’s classroom. The students were engaged in asking questions and in sharing their joint learning.

For me, though, the best part was right after we said “good by” to the other class.  I asked my students if they had learned anything from the conversation.  “Yes!” Would they like to learn this way again? “Yes!”  “Why?” There were lots of answers, including “I can see what the kids look like” and “We can hear about stuff they learned.” My favourite answer, though, was from a student who looked at me as if I had asked a silly question and replied “’Cause you can learn more stuff.”

Learning through connecting with other classes just seems obvious to my students. And that feels right to me.

 

Writing Back to School Letters

Everyone Likes Letters!

Last year I mentioned on Twitter that I had just finished writing letters to my students-to-be. Someone asked me to share the letter, which I did.  I was surprised at how many people were interested in that letter, so this year I decided to share it without being asked.

Communicating is what we do all day long as teachers. Doing it well is important to the success of our students and to gaining the understanding and support of their parents. I like to start that communication off well, so every August, I send a letter to my new grade one students.  I write to the students because

  1. It gives us a connection before the school year begins. “I got a letter from you!” is a common remark on the first day of school.
  2. Our first contact is positive. It sets the tone for the year.
  3. It creates anticipation.
  4. My pre-readers learn more about communication through the written word.
  5. It gives me a chance to remind them about school supplies which, as you will see by the letters below, is a perennial issue.
  6. Everyone likes to get a letter!

It’s a bit early for this letter to go home, but I have some commitments later this month, so I’ve written out and stuffed the envelopes so they will be ready to go when I want to mail them. The letter has morphed and changed a bit every year, but here is this year’s version.

New Student Letters

Dear Payton,

I’m glad I get to be your teacher this year!

I hope you have been having lots of fun this summer.  Did you buy your school supplies yet?  Don’t forget to bring them all with you on the first day of school.  I’ll put everyone’s supplies together and we’ll share them.

We are going to have an exciting year.  You will get your own iPad to use in our classroom and we will get to learn with other classrooms from all over the world. The best thing about grade one, though, is that you learn to read!

I want you to think about what else you would like to learn this year.  Then, ask your mom or dad to email me and tell me about it.

On the first day of school, I will meet you in our classroom
(Room 2) at 8:55.  Look for the door with pictures of iPads on it.

I’ll see you soon.

Your Grade 1 Teacher,
Mrs. Cassidy

Returning Student Letter

This year I will have a one/two split classroom. Eight grade twos and I will be looping, so they needed their own letter.

Dear Leighton,

I’m so excited that you are going to be in my classroom again this year! I loved watching you learn in grade one and now we can learn even more things together.

You might see some new things in our classroom when you come back in September. You’ll have to wait to see!

I went to some garage sales this summer, and I bought some new books for our classroom library. I’ll put a couple of them that I think you will like into your reading bin to start the school year.

I also bought some new apps for our iPads that I think you will enjoy and will help you to learn. All of the pictures that you took in grade one are still on your iPad and waiting for you.

Don’t forget to bring all of your school supplies with you on the first day of school. We’ll share them again, but be sure to put your name on your scissors and on your headphones or earbuds.

I’ll see you on September the fourth.

Your grade two teacher,

Mrs. Cassidy

Letter to New Parents 

Last year, I decided to also write to the parents of my students.  I included their letter in the child’s envelope.  Here is this year’s version of that parent letter:

Dear Parents,

I’m looking forward to this year and to getting to know your child.  You can help me with this.

Before school starts, would you please take the time to email me (cassidy.kathy@prairiesouth.ca) and tell me anything you would like me to know about him or her?  With your help, I can better help your child to be successful and happy this year.

Your child may also have ideas about what I should know. I would appreciate it if you would also tell me some things that your child is interested in or passionate about.  Sometimes this is dinosaurs, or snakes or Lego or horses…each child is different. This will help me to tap into your child’s interests as he learns to read.

By emailing me, you will also be sharing your email address with me, and I can use that to help keep you up to date about things in our classroom.  If you do not have an email address that you use regularly, or would prefer paper copies during the school year, just mail me a letter with the information instead.  The address at the school is 1100 Currie Crescent, Moose Jaw S6H 5M8

Watch for information from me very early in the school year about a parent information night.

It is not necessary to put your child’s name on all of his supplies as we will be sharing them. Please do put his/her name on the headphones or earbuds and on the scissors.

I’m anticipating a wonderful year of learning together! Please don’t hesitate to email me with any questions you may have.

Kathy Cassidy

Letter to Parents of Loopers

I decided to also include a letter for the parents of my returning students.

Dear Parent,

I’m very excited to be teaching your child again this year. It has long been a dream of mine to have students for two years in a row as it eliminates all the “getting to know you” phase at the beginning of the year and helps students to quickly feel comfortable and ready to learn.  I know your child’s interests and strengths and we can just pick up where we left off at the end of last year. Students also feel more comfortable with someone that they already know. It’s going to be a great year of learning!

Your child will have an iPad to use throughout our school day just as he or she did at the end of last year.  I’m looking forward to finding more ways that these devices can enhance learning in our classroom.

It is not necessary to put your child’s name on all of his supplies as we will be sharing them. Please do put his/her name on the headphones or earbuds and on the scissors. that will save us some time on the first day of school

Please don’t hesitate to email me with any questions you may have. Also, if there is anything about your child that you think I do not yet know but should, please contact me about that as well.  My email address is still cassidy.kathy@prairiesouth.ca

I’m anticipating a wonderful year of learning together!

Kathy Cassidy

I’m sharing these not because I think they are perfect (the’re not!) but because they may be helpful to someone. I’d love to see letters that other teachers write to their students or parents. Are you willing to share?

Kids Teaching Kids

For a long time, I’ve known that kids learn best from other kids, and I’ve tried to incorporate this into what we do in my classroom.

Last year, I taught what I thought were some great lessons about the difference between needs and wants.  At the end of the unit, I asked the students to use a Common Craft-style video to show the difference between the two. They all got to work and took turns video-taping each other.

When I reviewed the videos, it was clear to me that despite my brilliant teaching, three of my students obviously did not yet understand the concept. Instead of re-teaching the needs and wants unit, I instead chose to show these three students some of the completed videos from the students who HAD understood the concept.

It was like the lights came on.

In no time, those three students were able to create a new video that showed me that they, too, understood what the difference was between the two ideas.  Just by seeing and hearing their peers explain it.

Teaching in Flu Season

Last week flu season hit my classroom in a big way. That, combined with extreme windchills  of -43C  (-45F) meant very few children at school.  One day I had only eight students in the morning and sent two of those home ill through the day. Starting anything new seemed ridiculous, so among other things, we spent some time reviewing silent e at the end of a word.

I asked those students who were present to be the teachers for those who couldn’t be there. Each of my students made a video (again using a Common Craft style—it works SO well for young children) to show how a silent e changes a word.

The students were all motivated by the idea of being the instructors.  They worked hard on their “props” and even harder to get their images in the right place for the video. (We finally had to put strips of masking tape on the tabletop to indicate where the camera would be recording.)

Hopefully, most of my students will be back next week. Their peers are eager to let their videos help to teach. And kids can once again learn from other kids. I know it works.

BYOD For Six-Year-Olds

I have long been fascinated with the idea of “bring your own device” (BYOD). Most schools cannot afford to provide laptops, iPads or any other device for every student. Allowing students to bring whatever they have–whether laptop, cellphone or whatever–to school to add to the “connectedness” in the classroom is something I’ve supported.  I’ve just never done it in my grade one classroom.

My students do not have laptops. They don’t have cell phones or iPads. But they do have Nintendo DS (well, most of them do).  I have toyed with the idea of having a BYOD day. Last year I even contacted the parents to say “would this be possible”?  No one responded, so I took this to mean they said “no”.

Bringing Our Games to School

In hindsight, I’m not sure that it did mean “no”. This year, as we began our relationships, rules and responsibilities unit using gaming, I decided to give it another try.  I really wanted the students to be able to share the games they loved so well with their classmates. This time, I first talked to the students. Would they like to bring their DS to school? Yes! (Using their games is something they are passionate about.) What were some rules we should make to ensure that their DS were safe? The students came up with the rules, the chief of which was that they would keep their DS in their backpack while on the bus, while on the playground and while in the classroom until the appropriate time.

I emailed the parents to ask them to send the Nintendo DS with the student’s favourite game to school for “sharing” time.  If the students did not have a DS, I asked them to send any other game that the students enjoyed playing. Those who could not bring a game to show us could simply tell us about a game they liked to play.

About half of the students brought a DS to school on the appointed day. A couple of students forgot and one parent did not want the DS to come to school. Two students brought a different game to show us.

We used the document camera to show the games as the students explained how to play. I was thrilled with the oral language that came from this sharing. Students who are normally very reticent to talk were eloquent in describing their game, whether a DS game or otherwise.

Using PictoChat

One of the interesting features of the DS and the DSi is called PictoChat. PictoChat allows you to chat with other Nintendo DS machines through its own wireless connection. I have a few DS at school, so the students all shared machines, and began sending messages to each other. We have used this feature many times in the past with the DS we have at school, but never before had we had so many devices sending messages at once. There were squeals of delight!

At first, they sent pictures or word messages. Then we practiced spelling some sight words we had been working. We’ve been working on telling and writing math number stories, so later I told some math stories and asked them to write the number story to go with it. The students liked that they could “see everybody’s answer to see if we’re right”. Fun, fun, fun.

Passion and purpose worked hand-in-hand. An unqualified success. And, yes, we’ll do it again.

On Being Learners and Being Teachers

One afternoon last week, my students were the teachers. They were the ones who “knew” and they shared what they knew with people who “didn’t know”.  It was a moment when the roles were switched.   It was a moment when I knew that the things we had been talking about all year– about all of us being learners together and about learning from each other–had finally been internalized. It was the moment when I knew that they understood.

Last week, my students talked via Skype with the teaching staff of an elementary school in Colorado.  Jill Fisch, who coordinated the call, asked my students to help her show Skype to her staff.  Jill gave us the two excellent questions in advance:

1.  Why do you Skype with other people/classes?

2.  What are some cool things you have learned when you have Skyped others?

When we discussed the questions prior to the call, it was my students’ answers to the first question about why we use Skype that blew me away.  Four separate students gave me these reasons:

  • Because we learn.
  • Because we get to meet new people.
  • Because we help other people to learn.
  • Because we don’t have to go to their town to talk to people.
I can’t think of better reasons to use Skype.  This particular Skype call was one of those events in which they helped others to learn. My kids WERE the teachers and they knew it.
Out of the mouths of (almost) babes.

It’s Your Choice…You Choose

 I have been thinking a lot about the importance of choice lately.  Recently, I ran into the parent of a child I previously taught, and it reminded me of a moment when I gave an answer to her child that I now regret.

Last spring, at the end of a unit of study about plants, I asked my students, as a culminating project,  to make an artifact of some kind to show their learning.  We wanted to put this artifact on our blog, so we talked about several tools that they could use to show their learning. I no longer remember all of the options, but I know they included writing an article for their blog, drawing a picture to post on their blog, making a book using Storybird and making a video using Sketchcast.  I wanted them to have a choice of what was best for them to use.

One boy came up to me to ask if he could use Vocaroo, the voice recording tool we were using that year.  To my shame, I said “no”.  I think my reasoning was that I wanted him to have the opportunity to practice using text, and all of the other options could have included written words.

What you need to know about this child is that although he is verbally bright, he has a severe text disability, so severe that he could recognize only about 20 words by the end of grade one.  Obviously, anything involving text brings him great frustration.

Fortunately, it did not take long for me to come to my senses and assure this child that using a voice recording of his learning was indeed an option for him, but my shame in my moment of realization made a deep impact on me.

I will never forget our short conversation because of my emotional response and because it made me stop and re-evaluate what I was doing as a teacher who says she values choice.  All of us have strengths and weaknesses, and while it is important for us (and our students) to work on those things that we are not good at, it is also important for us to have a chance to show our learning using a medium that can help us to best capture that knowledge.

If the choices don’t include all students in a way that is relevant to them, is it really choice?

Can We Make it Work?

Over the past couple of years,  I’ve been involved with several cohorts of Powerful Learning Practice, a learning community set up by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson.  I have participated as an “experienced voice” whose job it is to share ways that I have used technology to transform my classroom.  I have  always appreciated the ways that my participation in these communities has pushed my thinking.

This year I am involved in PLP as a participant.  While I am already using technology tools to connect my class with others and have gone a long way to change the way I do things in my classroom, I am once again being pushed in my thinking.

Part of the PLP process is participation in an action research project.  I am doing this research project with four other team members from my city.  Among the five of us, we teach eight grades between grade one and ten, so we had a bit of a challenge coming up with a research project that woud apply to all of those grade levels.

In our discussions, we discovered that we were all interested in developing new ways of student assessment, and in the use of video in our classroom.  With the help of Dean Shareski, who is our “cognitive coach” in this process, we decided to focus on this question:

  • How do we develop sustainable work flow for using video to capture learning in the classroom?

Obviously, this will be a different process for each of us.

In my classroom, I have a flip video camera, and have used video as an assessment tool for a couple of years, but my use of it has been somewhat sporadic.  It has also been very teacher centered.  Even though the students take much of the video, I always uploaded any of it that I wanted to have online myself.

What I am wondering is–is it possible with six year olds to develop a work flow in which the students do the work–that is, the students do the video taping as they demonstrate their learning, upload it to the video server (my school division has its own server) and use the embed code to post it on their blogs?  Since I have made a commitment to the parents of my students to not match student pictures with names, this also means that if the video is to be posted on their blogs, the student’s faces cannot be in the video.

I have done an initial trial of this, and here are a couple of things that worked well.

1.  We used a common craft-like format to explain what we knew about needs and wants.  This meant that the students’ ideas and their voices were represented, but not their faces. You can watch an example here. (This was inspired by a video Maria Knee made with her Kinderkids last year).

2. When we uploaded, we used the students’ names as a tag so that they could find the video on the server.  This worked well, but I think we’ll have to change the tag a bit in case other teachers begin to do the same and there are duplicates of names.

3. Since most of the students could already copy and paste, putting the videos onto the blogs went fairly smoothly.

Not everything went well.  The uploading to the server was tedious and not at all interesting to many of the students. After only a few, I sent the class off to do something else and began training a “classroom expert” for this part the next time.  I’m wondering if that will work the best?  Maybe I’ll train several experts.

Have you tried this before with six year olds?  Or older students? I’d love to have your advice. I’m looking forward to having more video for assessment purposes, and want to find a way to make the process work in my classroom.

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