Today was a real treat. My 9 year old daughter and I spent most of the day at Deerfield Community School, in Deerfield, New Hampshire. While Sarah was hosted by a wonderful Deerfield student and enjoyed learning about their upcoming science fair projects (as well as other topics) I met with teachers in several grade levels and was amazed to learn about some of the wonderful digital learning and collaborating they are doing together with students. It will take SEVERAL posts, I’m sure, to adequately reflect on all the learning of the day, but for now I’d like to share and reflect on what an absolute JOY it was to spend time in Maria Knee‘s kindergarten classroom. Maria secured permission for me to take photos during my visit, and these are several I took with Pano.
I have a vast amount of respect for every teacher, but am particularly in awe of kindergarten teachers who are able to masterfully facilitate student learning as Maria does. When I visited this afternoon, students were engaged in a variety of center-based activities which involved reading, writing, creating art, solving problems, building structures, and interacting with peers as well as adult classroom assistants. Notice how the students in the photos below are scattered all over the room, and are busily at work at different learning tasks. You’ll notice in the first photo below, Maria actually appears twice! That’s because she was moving around the room checking with students and helping as needed! The iPhone Pano program stitched together about seven different images to make this composite panoramic image.
There was a lot of WRITING going on in class today. The student on the left in the above photo was writing about a picture he’d drawn, using Google Documents. In the photo below, the student on the left is writing on Maria’s classroom blog, hosted for free by David Warlick on Class Blogmeister.
The six netbooks in Maria’s classroom really got a workout this afternoon. Netbooks are perfect because of their size and (in the case of these eePCs) their long battery life for a kindergarten classroom. In this photo, a student and an adult were reading together on the screen.
Students were not only doing lots of READING and WRITING during center time, they were also sharing and speaking. These two boys were working cooperatively to record an audio overview of a picture one of them had drawn. Once the student with the recorder was ready, he rang a bell to let others in the classroom know it was “recording time.” He announced, “Recording!” and then his partner told about his illustration.
When you see clocks like those below in a kindergarten classroom, you know some very unique learning must be going on. Maria’s students have partner classrooms in both Canada and Australia, and they keep clocks set to the local times in those classrooms so they’ll know if the time is right for a Skype call collaboration.
Maria’s students have been learning about how maple syrup is made in New Hampshire. This was a concept map they have been working on.
It’s amazing it takes 40 quarts of maple sap to make 1 quart of maple syrup! This syrup was made by Maria’s husband, and she shared photos of the entire process.
Maria uses a customized kindergarten learning portal on WikiSpaces she created just for her students. She patterned this after the classroom learning portal Rachel Boyd made for her 6 and 7 year old students in Nelson, New Zealand. (If you haven’t seen Rachel’s keynote for K12Online09 yet, check it out– it’s a “must see” especially for primary-grade teachers.) In the photo below, one of Maria’s students is coaching other kids to effectively navigate the game “Seed Ball,” which is part of TumbleTown. It’s a free resource from the Utah Education Network. Students work on coordinate geometry skills, logical thinking and problem solving, while they create “Rube Goldberg” style seed machines.
These students were taking care of their group’s dogs on Nintindo DSi’s, playing the game Nintendogs. Students share the pets and have to work together to decide how to spend their “virtual money” on their pet. Lots of great conversations and discussions ensue about economics, pet care priorities, etc.
I’ll close with this photo of Maria’s class rules.
In case you can’t view the Flickr image, I’ll type these out. The rules are very simple but powerful:
- Take care of yourself.
- Take care of your friends.
- Take care of everything.
- Do your best work.
If we all followed those simple rules every day, wouldn’t the world be a much better place? In the safety and security of a caring classroom like Maria’s, somehow the world seems to make a great deal of sense. Her students are extremely blessed to have her and the other teachers as well as parent volunteers helping them learn at Deerfield.
Many, many thanks to all the educators and learners at Deerfield for a wonderful day today! We call can learn a great deal about learning, teaching, and leading from an exemplary teacher like Maria Knee.
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On this day..
- WordPressOKC Meetup Notes: 31 March 2014 - 2014
- Why Are Thousands of Oklahoma Teachers Protesting Today at the Capitol? - 2014
- Podcast401: Why Club Penguin Is Awesome - 2013
- Fear not: The digital age is a great season for reading - 2010
- Podcast310: All a Twitter about Twitter: Micro-Blogging as a Professional Networking Tool by Beth Knittle (MASSCUE 2008) - 2009
- Join the live conversation today: Opportunities and Challenges for Web 2.0 in Schools - 2009
- Visualizing evidence for dark matter - 2008
- iPhone Web App explorations begin - 2008
- We all need more sleep - 2006