Friday, June 29, 2012

#Kinderblog2012: Question numero un!

Ok, so it's not quite as "bright and early" as I intended this post to go up, but... it's summer. 'Nuff said.

To get this challenge rolling, let's start with a question that is probably percolating in most of our brains right now, anyway:

What did you learn this past (or, for our southern hemisphere friends, what ARE you learning this current) school year that you couldn't have learned any other year, from any other students or colleagues or administrators or parents? What lessons did this particular year, this particular setting, these particular children bring into your life?

Remember to tweet the link to your response, using the #kinderblog2012 hashtag. You are welcome to post the link in the comments here, too.

Ready, set.....      GO!

Smiles & Sunshine;

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's ON! Welcome to #Kinderblog2012!

Hello folks!
Amy here, blogging live from The Canada where it is FINALLY summer time. Even the most die-hard of school districts will be done for the year within 24 hours, and now that we all have gobs of time on our hands, it is time for the return of...


You didn't even KNOW you should be excited about this, did you?

The first #kinderchat summer blog challenge happened last year, and it was super-fun to read everyone's stories and get to know one another beyond 140 characters. It may have even inspired some folks to start blogs, and that can only be good news. We keep it simple and casual and low-commitment (it is SUMMER, after all), and encourage you to participate as much as you can. It is open to EVERYONE: kindergarten teachers, other-grade-level-teachers, administrators, student-teachers, you name it. If you are willing to play, we are happy to have you! Details:

  • The challenge will last for 6 weeks, beginning this week. 
  • Every Friday, I will post a new question or topic. I'll probably tweet it, too, so make sure you are following me (@happycampergirl) as well as the kinderchat account (@kinderchat123).
  • Ideally, we will all do all the questions, but if you miss a week, or a topic doesn't inspire you, or you want to join partway along, no worries. If you join late, you can start at the first question, or just jump into the middle. (See? Simple.)
  • When your post is ready, tweet the link and tell us, using the #kinderblog2012 hashtag.
  • When you read someone else's post, COMMENT on it. Seriously, getting a comment on a blog is like getting a gold star on a math test. 

So, if you're in, let me know in the comments. Include the link to your blog, and I will be sure to add you  to the blogroll on this page. (That list over there to the right? That's the blogroll.) If you have topic suggestions, add those to your comment, too. Ideally, our topics will be reflective and thought-provoking, with a balance of fun and serious.

The first question will be up bright and early tomorrow morning, so get those typing fingers ready!

Smiles and sunshine;

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Reflections on #Kinderchat: Year Two

Heidi here! Time to share some reflections on the second full year of school for #Kinderchat:

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:

Weekly Chats:

  • 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:
Community Connections
  • 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:
  • SkypePlay: designed and created by Mardelle Sauerborn aka @learningmurd. A fabulous success, this project skyrocketed to the top of the #Kindercharts :D and inspired "plug-in projects" of bean sprout measuring and the famous "Eggsperiment" designed by Sarah Jane aka @soltauheller
  • 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.  
  • 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.    
Symbaloo 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. 
Professional Development 
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,

Monday, June 11, 2012

Welcome RAFFI

Wow! Who knew we'd be rounding out the year with RAFFI! Its truly beyond our wildest dreams to ever have such an amazing person as our honored guest! There simply can be no better fireworks ending to a fabulous #Kinderchat school year than RAFFI!

More than a super awesome children's singer, "Raffi’s pioneering commitment to honouring his young fans changed the way we came to view music made for children", Raffi has now dedicated his life and work to his organization, The Centre for Child Honouring. His book makes a plea to honour children, families and the earth and lays out a plan on How to Turn This World Around.

Respectful Love
Caring Community
Conscious Parenting
Emotional Intelligence
Safe Environments
Ethical Commerce

Here is his most recent TED talk outlining the Child Honouring vision

Ok, if you are not already on the ceiling with me, here are some of Raffi's motivational songs to help PUMP YOU UP!

"On Hockey Days" highlights good sportsmanship (did we mention Raffi is from The Canada? :D)

And for the twitterverse, "Tweet Me Right" on the role twitter played in the uprising in his native Egypt.

Truly we can't gush enough about this amazing, amazing man of Peace, Song and Leadership. Those of us who work with Young Children know the joy, honesty, warmth and love shared by children each day. Now it's our job as grown-ups to put the same amount of joy, honesty, warmth and love into the world and work to make it a better place.

Leaders of the World continuously look to Raffi to remind them of the seeds of innocence they once sprouted from. From his bio:

Once called “the most popular children’s singer in the English-speaking world” (Washington Post) and “Canada’s all time children’s champion” (Toronto Star), Raffi is a recipient of the Order of Canada and the United Nations’ Earth Achievement Award. 
He has received three honorary degrees: Dr. of Music from the University of Victoria, Dr. of Letters from the University of British Columbia, and Dr. of Letters from Wilfrid Laurier University. He is associated with many NGOs, including the Council of Human Development, the Darwin Project Council, the Center for Partnership Studies, the Center for Children’s Health and the Environment, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He is a member of the Club of Budapest.

You can make sure to keep all this goodness in your heart and feet by making sure you have a RAFFI CD or an itune in your music collection. Proceeds help support and advance the @childhonouring vision.

Raffi, the #Kinderchat can never fully express how honored we are to have you with us tonight and be assured you can count on our friendship.

Lets do this, people! Join us tonight, June 11, 2012 at 9PM EST to help us honor this great man! We need U!

With Much Love,
The #Kinderchat