After 16 wonderful years in 6th grade, I decided to go back to my first love, kindergarten. Regardless of the age I am teaching, technology plays a major role in my classroom. It may look different from 6th grade to kindergarten, although I was surprised to find how many aspects stay the same. Both grade levels need clear expectations of when and how to use technology.
We are a 1:1 iPad school and technology is part of our daily lives, but I am amazed at the fact that I use the iPads in kindergarten just as much as I did in 6th grade. Even when the district did the iPad refresh and made my classroom 2:1, I still found meaningful iPad usage as a must!
One of the outstanding apps that I found crossed over well when I made my move was Seesaw. In 6th grade, we used it as an online portfolio and a way to share work with parents, but over the years I have found there is so much more! When my son`s school began using Seesaw, I realized how much I enjoyed seeing into his classroom. Seesaw provides parents with a window into their child`s classroom. Parents see on a daily basis what we are working on. I take pictures, send videos, and messages. Students post their own work by taking pictures, drawing, or recording themselves. As a teacher, I can assess their work and comment. Parents can also make comments. I can also upload items for the students to work off of and can make activities for them to complete and access through Seesaw. It is so easy to use and such a fantastic tool. My kindergartners use it daily!
Amidst Remote Learning right now, the tool is even more important than before. I send daily photos and videos to help stay connected. The students in turn, send me photos, videos, and share all their work through Seesaw. I am staying connected with parents through the app as well. Sending them daily announcements, which help with reminders or even videos to help with instruction. I can provide them links and they can ask questions. In truth, I don’t know where I would be without Seesaw at this point!
As a Seesaw Ambassador, I have been able to help spread my love of Seesaw.
Thank you Seesaw for helping me to stay connected with my families!
During the technology class that I am taking, I need to come up with two artifacts of items that I have created to share and reflect on them. I have chosen to reflect on my use of videos and audios that I use through Seesaw.
During this time, when we are not in schools it is even more important to stay connected with our students and families. I am able to do this through the use of Seesaw. I have also been stepping outside of my comfort zone and sharing pictures, videos, and audios of myself to help my students feel more connected.
The first artifact is simply, my first day of “Home Learning” video for the students and their families. It took several takes to get across what I wanted to say and when I was finished, I didn’t think it was anything special. My hope is that it would provide some comfort for my kinders, being able to see my face and hear my voice. And that’s what ended up making it special in the end. I found out it did have a positive impact and my principal asked me to share the video with her because she had heard about it when the families went to school to pick up their materials. I learned that a simple video had more than an impact that I could have imagined. This has motivated me to continue to send a daily video, even if it is brief. I have also used curriculum videos to create Seesaw activities. This has also helped the students stay connected with the curriculum.
The second artifact is using audio to do a recording of a story. This provided a wonderful opportunity to have my students practice visualizing. Since our ELA and science curriculum tie so well together, I chose The Great Blizzard from our reading series because we are discussing weather in science. I made a Seesaw activity and asked the students to draw what they visualized after listening to my reading of the story. It was amazing to see all the different work! Some of the pictures were so detailed. During the process, I learned to be clear with giving the directions. I changed the directions several times and I was happy with the simpler directions, because it truly let me see what the students’ visualized. I have been sending my students daily read alouds read by me, but I learned that it is harder to read when you are not showing the pictures. When I did this activity, I was very careful to enunciate and emphasize parts of the story to give a clear picture. Then one of my students took it even further and found another story about the Blizzard of 1888. He read that story and wrote about it, what a great connection! Again, something that seemed to be a simple assignment, turned out to be something really special!
My name is Janice Conboy and I was fortunate enough to have the wonderful opportunity to co-author a book for the NOW Classroom Series which is intended to help enhance teaching and learning through the use of technology. It has been a while since I have posted a blog on this site and since I am taking a multimedia graduate class in which I will be blogging about technology, it just makes sense to return to blogging here. Now for a little more about myself…
I am a kindergarten teacher at Indian Trail School in Downers Grove School District 58. I started my career as a 6th grade teacher at Indian Trail and I taught 6th grade for 16 amazing years. As much as I loved 6th grade, when the opportunity came up to move to kindergarten within my building, I jumped at the opportunity as it was a dream of mine. I am now in my third year of teaching kindergarten.
I am a life-long learner with my Bachelor’s Degree from Illinois State and a Master’s Degree from National Louis University along with an additional 60 plus graduate hours from various universities. I am passionate about making lessons meaningful and using technology in meaningful ways.
My journey with technology began early on when I piloted 1:1 iBooks for the district. The district then transitioned to iPads and I also piloted 1:1 iPads. I had the luxury of having 1:1 iPads, until the district did a refresh last year and it was decided that kindergarten would be 2:1. It was a difficult transition for me, because the students have lost some of the voice and choice that they used to have when they each had their own iPad. However, even with the challenges of being 2:1, I do not let that slow down having meaningful lessons incorporating technology. Since the change, I was asked to be on the technology committee for the district and I continue to advocate for 1:1 iPads for kindergarten.
I also enjoy working with teachers. I have offered a variety of district-level classes, led new teacher trainings, and have presented at district institute days, as well as state, and national conferences. I have also had the privilege to attend the Apple Distinguished Educator Conference.
Most importantly, I am a wife and a mom. My wonderful husband, Eric and I have been married for 16 years. Our son, Tyler is now 10 years old. We love to travel and enjoy spending time with family and friends. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their love and support on my educational journey.
I look forward to sharing more with you in future blogs!