Today’s Contributor: Mary Tijerina
Mary is a National Board Certified teacher and the Campus Innovation Coach at Menchaca Elementary. She uses Blend and Seesaw with her Pre-Kindergarten students.
I love learning new things and am not afraid to jump right in! A year ago, I embarked on a journey discovering the depth of what it means to utilize transformative technology in a PreKindergarten classroom.
Transformative Technology in PreKindergarten? YES! If I can do it, you can, too! What started as a spark of interest a year ago has turned into a burning quest for more student-driven activities and resources! As a teacher, isn’t that what we all want?
It all began at a training that included a 30 minute introduction into Seesaw, a student-driven digital portfolio that allows children to take pictures and videos of their learning and record their thoughts. Considering my students need support expressing their needs and sharing what they know, this tool would be invaluable! I immediately knew I wanted to use it. When our district offered professional development on transformative technology, I immediately jumped on board thinking I would learn more about Seesaw. To my surprise, it was more!
My learning path went beyond my expectations. There was so much I didn’t even know was possible in a PreK classroom. During my training, I was encouraged to create a blended course for my PreKindergarten students. My original approach to starting a blended course was creating the framework to hold educational applications that I was familiar with. As I became more comfortable with creating a module, I adapted activities to my classroom content. By the end of the year, I had created a blended course, built a digital reading wall and became an ambassador for Seesaw!
So, how did I get there? I reached out! I had to overcome quite a few obstacles to even launch! Most of my four year olds were unable to identify letters. How would they be able to log on if their username required a series of letters and numbers? With only 2 iPads, how would I ensure equitable access? I definitely couldn’t solve this myself. I reached out to everyone- my principal, Eliza Loyola, my students’ families and community, my technology design coach, Vanessa Jones. With their support, along with being awarded an iPad from donorschoose.org I was able to triple the amount of iPads in my classroom! Through collaborative efforts, my tech design coach was able to help provide QR codes for log on support for Pre-Kindergarten students and help me think through how I was going to begin this process (want to know who your AISD Tech Design Coach is so they can help you do the same? Click here).
I remapped my whole classroom and thought of technology through a new lens. I began to question how technology might provide students’ voice and choice to support a more intentional learning. I created Digital Reading Walls with QR codes to increase use and engagement where students could share their favorite books with each other.
As I built my module, I reflected on how I wanted my students to use it. I wanted to provide them a way to share their learning with me and peers and help them become critical thinkers. When completed, my blended course offered face to face and online learning interactions and experiences. Some activities were a follow-up to what we were learning and some were open-ended, such as sharing a story you are reading or design/code with our class robotic mouse and share your coding with a peer and/or class through Seesaw. They especially loved opportunities to use our makerspace to create and share their creations! Their excitement in owning their learning motivated other students to use it! It allowed me to have a virtual teacher that asked high level questions and provided a way for students to record their learning. It also provided a resource so my students may revisit pre-planned websites and activities that supported my class lessons. Integrating Seesaw allowed me to capture authentic learning and created a platform to share real-time learning with parents, building a community and partnership in their child’s education.
To this day, my classroom continues to transform and evolve. It’s a journey that never ends!