Toddlers and Tweets? One Story of a Remarkable Educator

This post is part of a promotion of Alter Your World, an Alt Summit project aimed at celebrating actions, big or small, that focus on good in the community.

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We live in a world that reminds us of technology’s presence every day. We find ourselves continually wading through screens full of texts, tweets, emails, and moving pictures. At times overwhelming, it can be easy start to wonder if we should eject ourselves and our children from technology altogether.

I am more prone to wonder: 

What if we pull back from the debate about “whether or not” to expose children to media, and alternatively investigate “how” we can incorporate technology into meaningful learning experiences?

Danielle Charron is an extraordinary teacher who embraces this question in big ways. She is working on earning her Masters Degree and Early Childhood Teaching License through the Boulder Journey School Teacher Education Program. As part of this year-long program, Masters candidates spend a week studying world-renowned educational practices in Reggio Emilia, Italy. As Danielle prepared for this trip in March of 2015, she began to consider ways to stay connected to her class of toddlers. 

A child offered one way: 

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This child reminded Danielle of the natural empathy and keen awareness young children possess. Since the children were interested in her journey, Danielle wondered if she could use Twitter to invite them along and continue to engage as their teacher.

What she did next was simple, yet remarkable: 


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Danielle invited her class to follow her journey on Twitter, which offered: 

  • A way for Danielle to bring the classroom with her. 
  • A way for parents and children to share excitement and curiosity about their teacher’s adventure. 
  • A way for the children to engage with technology as a tool. 

Last but not least:

  • A way for the children, families, and co-teachers to travel along, asking new questions, engaging in new conversations, learning new things, and building deeper relationships along the way!

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T’s Mom shared: “T loved this and was excited to have me read your notes and talk about how they corresponded to the pictures. He especially loved seeing Crocodile (his imaginary friend). There was also one photo that showed a window shot of another building. This started a conversation about what we see out of windows and what you were seeing out the window on your trip. Thanks for allowing us all to follow along!”

When M gave Danielle the rock that sparked this story, he told her it was “for your trip”. When she returned to her physical classroom to share her stories in person, she showed M that his gift was still with her. 

“It went to Italy and all the way back here!”

Indeed, didn’t they all? I am in awe of Danielle for her willingness to embrace the possibilities that technology and social media offer!

When we spend time debating “whether or not” to accept technology into our lives with young children, we might just miss extraordinary learning opportunities like this.

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Should Everyone Learn to Code?

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Should everyone learn to code? Maybe, maybe not…but that is not exactly what I aim to debate on this blog (although I welcome the debate if it happens!)

I do, however, believe that every child should have a shot at understanding and learning about coding. Because of that, I’ve come to believe that in the not-too-distant future, teachers will need to know something about computer programming. We should know what code is, know how to write some of it, and know about the types of thinking it takes to successfully write code.

Why?

Because it will make us better teachers!  As our world becomes more and more computer-driven, there will be more and more conversations about computer programming.  More and more children will want to explore and learn coding. Should all those children be encouraged to become professional computer programmers?  Not necessarily, but their natural interests and curiosities around coding and computer programming should be encouraged and supported as they figure out whether or not programming is something they’d like to pursue.

Further, How can teachers support the interests and curiosities if they themselves have no idea what coding is or how it can be used?  We can sit children in front of computers with Hour of Code, or a Scratch tutorial, but if we ourselves don’t know what they are doing, how can we help and support them?  Are we really being good teachers?

I think much of the debate around “should everyone learn to code?” largely misses the point.   Continue reading

Full Disclosure

Ok, so I’m a teacher learning to code, but why should you care? I’ll try to paint a picture of who I am so you can decide if you do or not! What comes to mind when you think of a teacher? I’d guess your brain conjures an image of someone like this: (These are the first 3 images that come up when you do a Google Image search for “teacher”)

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Well…I’m not that kind of teacher! (I’m actually not sure these people exist.)  I’ve never written on a chalkboard in front of students, I never rely on curriculums published in books (though I frequently incorporate books into curriculum), and I believe that chalk is best suited for creative use on the sidewalk.

This is me:

Continue reading