As media and student learning are changing at an ever quickening pace, educators must continually be striving for media fluency in their classrooms. In a district that is not well equipped technology wise it is difficult and takes a lot of imagination to succeed. In some ways teaching kindergarten gives me a few advantages. Crockett, Jukes & Churches (2011) stated, “essay writing is still important, but so is being able to communicate in a number of media collage forms, including narrated reports, digital stories, blended blogs, movies and PowerPoint presentations”. Being that kindergarten children are just learning to write and read, expressing their responses to reading and such are done more through pictures and drawing.
In the past couple of years I have used a variety of media collaboration tools in different ways to help my students, read, write and collaborate. I began with Skype. One of my team members moved from our school in Texas to North Dakota. We wanted to keep in touch and decided to have our students become “digital pen pals”. Each week we would Skype between Texas and North Dakota. We used the time to do different activities. We practiced sight words, read and discussed books together and other activities.
For a collaborative platform between myself, student and parents I use Raz-Kids, Happy Numbers, and Lyrics2Learn. All three of these I use for optional homework and I find my students log on at least three times a week and parents are frequently messaging me if progress beyond assigned level is ok. I try to go in once a week and monitor students and adjust for fluency. I can also have students who are challenged repeat certain sections if necessary.
The three platforms I have begun using just this year are by far my favorite. I have used VoiceThread with a colleague at another school in the district a few times for different activities. We started out by reading both of our classes the same book, then pose questions to be answered or acted out and our students would post them on voice thread and receive questions and comments on the answers. I have used Padlet as a collaborative way to discuss a topic such as the difference between night and day. I would have the poster divided into two columns and students have to find pictures of night and day online and put them on the correct side. Storybird is probably my favorite. At first I found it in order to use it as an online journal platform, but as I explored it didn’t work out that well (I moved to Penzu). As I was exploring I found Storybird and my kids love it. Students can write by themselves, or as a group through art. They can print them and make them into books or share them with friends. They can turn their writing into games and play them.
The last one I use in my classroom is SpellingCity. Students can use if for spelling, vocabulary, take quizzes. Students can log on as a group and play in teams or students can play individually. This can all be done at school or at home. All of these platform are great for students to learn and work together and as I said above, perfect for kindergarten students because they don’t need text. They also use the student’s creativity and imagination. Ohler (2015) stated, “Most of Gardner’s intelligences, from the linguistic and the musical to the kinesthetic and intrapersonal, are important in new media if we understand how to teach new media production effectively”.
Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st-century fluencies for
the digital age. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Ohler, J. 2015. (2015) Beyond words. Retrieved from