In the words of @Matt_Gomez, "Well Hello Kinder-friend!" I'll tell you there's not much more that brings you a wide smile than a friendly Texan greeting like that!
I've been asked a few times lately- "What all does #Kinderchat DO? What is it?" Well, it's a complicated question, actually! The simple answer is right there in that big Texan greeting.
First and foremost, #Kinderchat is a community of Early Childhood Educators. Our goals have been clearly stated from the beginning. I believe we have been true to those goals and I know it is specifically the fostering of community that has led to the innovative global neighborhood in which #Kinderchat now lives.
As we wrap up on our second school year and we each begin our time to reflect and refresh, I'll share what we did this year:
- The homebase of #Kinderchat, the ongoing dialogue serves as opportunity for those in Early Childhood Education to talk about their craft, meet and greet other educators from all over the place, including researchers and those at the forefront of education.
- Opportunities to moderate chats, share and grow your expertise with other educators, trade tools, laugh, play.
- We welcomed FAB-U-LOUS guests including:
- The "invisible" pieces are all of the classroom connections that take place among the #Kinderchat Network of teachers and students. Projects that have been created, launched and fostered through the Network include:
- Finishing up its second year, @happycampergirl's "KAW" or "Kindergarten Around the World" connects one classroom with another. Interactions between classrooms most often take place on twitter, and develop through other venues, including a beautifully engineered Skype call between @MauiMickey's classroom in BC, Canada and @tashacowdy's classroom in Japan. The deep and lasting friendships between the classrooms are amazing to watch grow throughout the year.
- Coming off a fantastically wild ride, @hechternacht's The Play Project united classrooms and teachers in the spirit of open ended exploration, tinkering, discovery, failure and success to learn the trials and errors of designing and launching projects. These included:
- Google Maps and Voicethread : Nikki Cingiser designed and created a maps project using photos to begin creating a children's World Atlas and worked to create a large scale project using Voicethread as a collaborative tool among classrooms.
- Twitter: most of the classroom teachers on #Kinderchat maintain a class twitter account which results in multiple daily or weekly spontaneous discussions. Ben Sheridan had all the classrooms on twitter playing new games through the movies his class made explaining the directions to various games.
- Google Docs: @tori1074 aka Patty Johnson created ongoing collaborative stories and writings through Google Docs.
- Real Time Exchange and G+: My own two projects failed to launch full scale! :( With all that was being juggled among the teachers and classrooms, it just felt too overwhelming to introduce either one on a large scale. After a year of learning and yearning, I am excited to have another chance again next year.
Professional DevelopmentSymbaloo Centers: A hero to overwhelmed teachers everywhere, @Matt_Gomez's Symbaloo webmixes of games, stories, phonics and math practice made it easy for all #Kinderchat classrooms to log on and have instant and easy access to hundreds of games.
Ha! The dreaded word appears! :D Although I think anyone engaged in any or all of these projects or chats would say they grew this year as an educator. I know I did!
- New for me this year: maintained a successful and regularly updated class blog, moved all of my classroom content and files online, made movies documenting learning and created a new "STEM Center" in my classroom.
- Please share your personal reflections on the comments options below or join us for tomorrow's #Kinderchat to share!
In addition to our own Professional Development, we also helped mentor students going through their University courses in Education, the teachers of #Kinderchat gave talks and presented their work to colleagues both within their districts and Internationally.
One of the huge highlights of the year was our mention in Forbes! (Yes, still excited!) :D We continue to grow our global connections and launched new venues including our newest, the Blog directory on Pinterest, the emerging, Me tube? No! YOUtube page, a presence on G+ and The Facebook Family Forum (yes! that was only back in September!) all while maintaining an ever- growing Library Wiki of Resources. (Did I mention also TAUGHT KINDERGARTEN?)
A Fab Four of us met up in Orlando in November at NAEYC and threw out a power pack of tweets, supporting and cheering for presenters and tweeting their talks @Mr_Fines @kassiaowedekind @bluskyz @katiedavisburps @ooeygooeylady and so many others! It changes a presentation to have your support team there and I think we accomplished that tremendously, dominating the hashtag for this National event.
Now we are off again, this time 10+ of us heading out to the lights of Las Vegas for #edcampKinder "Dessert in the Desert". I know it will be hot and our ice cream will melt and get sticky, but expect plenty of fireworks and fun and mostly the opportunity to sit down, talk in person, laugh, chat, reflect and continue to plan, learn and grow from each other.
Hold onto you hats! #Kinderchat is just getting started. Who knows what reflections we will have this time next year!
Lots of Love, Rest and Well Wishes for Summer,