Sunday, February 22, 2009

You Have Died of Dysentery

It amazes me that in my lifetime children have gone from playing The Oregon Trail on their computer, if they even had one, to preschool children doing this:

If this is what children are capable of doing when they are only four years old, how can I tailor my instruction in my Kindergarten classroom to teach the 21st Century Learner?

There is an important place for computers in the classroom and home. Many websites specifically target young children and their parents such as PBS Kids (, Nick Jr. (, and Scholastic ( with games, stories, music, and activities. Children are learning new literacies and taking part in new literacy experiences on these websites through the brightly colored text, animation, words, games, songs, etc. These new literacies build upon a child's book literacy, are fun and interactive, as well as something a child and parent can participate in together.

However, not all children have access to computers or the internet prior to entering school creating a divide in early literacy learning. In my classroom I need to recognize and respect my student's experiences before school and recognize that these experiences are quickly changing due to the advancements in technology. As a result, I must find ways to integrate technology in my literacy instruction.

I'd love to hear how others are using technology in their classrooms...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Merry Valentime's Day

This week my dramatic play center is a post office and while observing my students during center time I over heard the following conversation:

S: How do you spell 'happy?'

T: I don't know.

S: /h/ /h/ /h/ /a/ /a/ /p/ /p/ /e/

T: Why can't you just use a different word?

S: I want to write my mom a Valentime (yes, this is how she said it) card and inside I was going to write 'Happy Valentime's Mom!'

T: Do you know how to spell merry?

S: Why?

T: Just wish her a Merry Valentine's Day instead.

Later that day, in the same center, J. created a Valentine for me. She gave it to me after center time and when I opened it this is what it said:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
You have pretty eyes
Because they are blue

This was so sweet but the only problem is, my eyes are brown. When she noticed this she said, "Oh! You're eyes aren't blue! Whatever, just take it. It rhymes."

I couldn't help but giggle at my students in both of these incidences. These students are developing foundational literacy skills. One child is listening to the different phonemes in a word and trying to write that word. One child is recognizing that poets use rhyming words when they write. Regardless, these students and all my students challenge me daily. It is hard to meet each child's academic needs, especially in the area of literacy. So much of a child's readiness to read and write is dependent on their prior experiences and exposure to literacy.

That being said, it disappoints me to read an article (N Is for Nonsensical) by Susan Neuman, where she states that a child's lack of exposures/experiences and a low socioeconomic status will set that child up to not, "fare well in our society." I agree that students who enter into school without previously attending a high quality preschool need more support than those students who did however, isn't that the job of a Kindergarten teacher?

Even though I have students in my classroom with varying socioeconomic status, I try to connect to each child and create an environment where they are set up to learn, much like S. and J. were in learning centers this week.