The Problem

Although I have taught English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) for several years, I only began to teach very young children two years ago. You may have read in one of my earlier posts how my initial experience was quite unsuccessful with children climbing  on the wall, literally! However, I am not one who gives up so easily! I have learned quite a bit since then and have employed various methodologies and instructional methods, such as cooperative learning. However, this year my goal was to integrate technology effectively in the classroom. With children as young as four years-old this can be quite  a challenge!

Why?

The children are less of a challenge as the barriers teachers face daily when pursuing such a hefty ambition. These barriers include providing answers to the following questions:

  • Which is the right technology to support learning goals?
  • How do I get this technology?
  • How do I create an effective lesson plan using technology?
  • How do I get my administration on board?
  • How do I get parents on board?

PLN at Work!

My philosophy, as you may know from reading this blog, is that Twitter leads to great collaboration! One of my favorite collaborative projects came in the form of a VoiceThread with like minded teachers Ozge Karaoglu and Marama Stewart. These two educators have accomplished amazing feats with their very young students, which you can view when looking at their class wikis and blogs. Originally, the idea was proposed by Marama who teaches in New Zealand. We met through the Classroom 2.0 Ning I joined soon after hearing about the site from Twitter!

The idea was to find a way to encourage my German students to use the English they learned. I had the children do drawings of their favorite animals. The parents were assigned the task of having the children practice the English at home. Although only two parents allowed their children to participate, in September more will allow their children to participate after viewing the VoiceThread below. Ozge, who I met through Twitter, joined the project with her kindergartners’ Elephant story. Already, the story has inspired Marama and I to add more to the project.

Why I Love the VoiceThread Project!

This collaborative effort has been very successful for several reasons, including:

  • The children’s identities are hidden!
  • The children’s work and use of English is the focus!
  • The children are encouraged to share stories globally!
  • The children learn about other cultures and see how technology works to create these connections!
  • The parents get to see the amazing advantages of using technology in the classroom!
  • The project continues to grow and add momentum.
  • Other students across the world can connect with our students.
  • The technology is easy to use, especially for very young students!

All our collaboration was performed through e-mail, Twitter, ning, and VoiceThread! If you want to learn more about our work with very young students, please visit the following links:

Challenge:

Ask yourself, “Who from your PLN can you collaborate with for meaningful projects?” Set a goal to collaborate with this teacher to promote change in your school community.

Would you like to share your collaboration anecdote? Please contact me for an interview or to connect your students to our VoiceThread project!