Friday, February 14, 2014

Tech in the Kinder Classroom

This week I have another guest poster.  Wes Pokorny is a kindergarten teacher at Clarkson Public Schools in Clarkson, NE.   Wes integrates technology into his classroom as often as he can as a supplement to regular instruction.

When Otis asked me to be a guest blogger I was very excited!  When I told my kids they laughed at me because I do not even own a cell phone!  I may not have a cell phone but I have embraced technology in my classroom.  Those of you who do not know me, my name is Wes Pokorny and I teach kindergarten in Clarkson, Nebraska.  I have been at it for 19 years.  When I started out my computers had “floppy” discs and weighed 25 pounds.  Here is a little view how I am using technology in the classroom.

I am not doing anything cutting edge but I do try to get technology into the student’s hands daily.  From day one the kids are using in their small group reading stations.  It is free to public schools and is an outstanding way for kids to reinforce their reading and math skills.  I am able to format lessons for each student and monitor what they are working on.  We are lucky to have a MacBook Pro cart right down the hall and I can get 6 computers with ease.  I also use during our small group time. is one of the best sights I have come across in my time teaching. 

Students also have access to iPads , which we use for reinforcement and practice.  We have all the apps that have been recommended by different folks on Twitter, Matt Gomez and some of his #kinderchat friends.  I am always looking for apps that force kids to use higher order thinking skills.  One such app is Kodable.  It is an app that introduces early elements of computer coding.  Cargo-Bot also does the same but is a little tougher for 5 and 6 year olds.

I personally use the iPad and an app called Splashtop Streamer as a remote control for my desktop.  It allows me to roam the room as I run our morning meeting or teaching various lessons.  If I want the kids to do some yoga I will use an application on my desktop called Reflector.   Reflector works with my iPad to put the app on my SMART Board so it is on a big screen.  I also use Reflector to show what the students are doing at their seats to the whole group.

I can’t even think of teaching without my SMART Board.  It allows me to be quite entertaining at times.  Yes, as teachers we must be entertaining in order to hold the students attention.  YouTube has so many interesting things to enrich our lessons.

This year I started preparing my lesson plans on Notability.  I like it because it also recognizes speech and turns it into type.  After I have the lessons I send them to Evernote.  Evernote is one sweet app.  I really like the ability to clip articles and save them.

We have used our Polycom cart to hook up with Santa and another class in Michigan.  This is something that I would like to do more of in the future.

Here is what is on the horizon for my students.  I am showing them how to use Explain Everything.  I am showing them how to take a photo and record their voice.  I then want to put their reading on YouTube so parents can listen to their progress. 

Like I said earlier I do not have a cell phone but I do have a Twitter account.  It has helped my professional development in many ways.  I try to look at technology with a “hybrid” mind a  little old school and some cutting edge. There will always be something new next week.  You have got to find a balance in your life.  How much time do you want to spend? Have you taken your students outside lately? Please make sure that your technology is not just babysitting your students. 

If you ever want to stop in and see what is happening in Clarkson feel free to give us a call and pop in!

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