February is all about family in Kindergarten Hebrew class. We are learning the names of our family members in Hebrew ( אֲנִי אבּא אִמָּא אָח אָחוֹת תִּינוֹק תִּינֹקֶת קָטָן קְטַנָּה גָּדוֹל גְּדוֹלָה סבּא סָבְתָא חַיַּת מַחְמַד כֶּלֶב חָתוּל דָּג אוֹגֵר), singing, speaking, writing in Hebrew, drawing and even sculpting our families from Plasticine.
Moreover, our designated documentarians are the ones who are capturing this learning, and their pictures and videos are the ones featured in this blog post!
Why are we doing this in Kindergarten Hebrew class? We are encouraging the students to follow our North Stars and own their own learning! To build skills for tools that they use to enhance their learning, and most importantly, to become more meta-cognitive (aware of their own learning and thinking). By documenting what they are learning, they are making their learning visible. We can see when new skills are acquired, what needs to be practiced, and where they are excelling.
How did this transformation take place? How did Kindergarten students, (5 year olds) become so masterful at documenting learning in the classroom?
First, during circle, we went over how to turn on the iPad and find the camera (most of them already knew how to do this). Next we spoke about how to take a quality picture, hold the iPad still, don’t take too many photos, just a few good ones.
Then they practiced…students eagerly begin class by asking who’s turn it is to document. They are building skills and helping each other. It is amazing!
The next natural step was to capture learning through video.
A first attempt:
This video was then shown to the class and we spoke about how we can learn to improve our skills by looking at the good parts and the parts that could be improved. This feedback is so that we can learn, Everyone is always learning and improving, even teachers and parents.
The students identified that they liked how there was more than one instance of learning captured and they liked the way the documentarian asked questions. They thought the video could be improved by holding the iPad steadier, keeping fingers out of the frame, and showing more of the work being done.
So we discussed how to do this. I showed the students the stand on the iPads. We discussed how you should see who or what you want to film in the window of the iPad while filming. Shorter videos are better than long ones, you can always put them together if you want to. Stop and start the video when you move around or walk/turn very slowly so that the audience doesn’t get dizzy.
After the discussion:
The documentarian demonstrated that he put into practice many of the items we discussed. He used the stand so that the picture would be clear. He asked questions to highlight what was happening, and he made sure that the work spoken about was in the frame.
Next step for me is to make sure that the students are using Hebrew language while documenting their work with each other. See, I am learning too…it should have been part of the instructions.
Every time I hand the iPads over to the students, I ask them, “Why are we doing this? What are you looking for?” and they respond, “Learning!”
This is the goal…to make their learning visible! The Hebrew language is emerging in the documentation, as is the students awareness of what they know and what they haven’t yet committed to memory.
The implications of this work are huge. Not only are we building evidence of what is being learned now in the classroom, we are also curating information for our school and beginning to build the institutional memory of our students growth through the years here at the OJCS.
I can’t wait to see what they will capture next week.
As I hand the documentation over to the students and stand back to see how quickly and eagerly they are embracing these NOW literacies, I am even more aware of how important they are. I am truly blown away by the quality of work the students are producing and how quickly they integrate new skills. It is a reminder to never underestimate how much can be learned no matter the student’s age. I am motivated to continue to challenge them with new tools, teach them new skills…just imagine how far they will get by the end of the year!