Listen to Your Brain!

I thought about it in my brain, my brain gave me the answer and I liked the answer my brain gave me.-Isabelle, Age 6

If you ever need good quotes, just step into a kindergarten class.  I’m repeatedly told I need to write a book of their sayings.  It’s never a dull moment around here!

My students have choices about demonstrating their learning.  We recently finished a pond life unit and the work they had done during the unit was pretty extensive.  I felt pretty confident in what they knew and what they had learned.  As we were wrapping it up, a student asked why they hadn’t done any projects to show me what they had learned.  I explained that they had done several projects over the last 2 weeks and they had done a really good job on those.  Their puzzled faces indicated that they didn’t realize they had demonstrated their learning.  I pulled out some of their work samples they had uploaded to Showbie.  I put them on the Smart Board and we talked about several of them.


We talked about this example and what animals were chosen and how they were chosen.  I asked what else they learned and was told, “We learned how to find pictures on the web in Pic Collage without going into Safari and we learned how to cut around them.”  popplet

We looked at this work sample created in Popplet Lite and we talked about how they didn’t know about water striders and how they walked on top of the water.  (Living where we live, it is not unusual for alligators to live in ponds.)  I asked what else we learned in this work sample and someone said they learned they wanted to go to that child’s house to see the alligator!

I reminded them that both of these projects show me what they know and what they have learned.  Someone piped up that he didn’t know that he was learning AND having fun at the same time.  (Ah yes…my work here is done!)

So, how did we get to this place…this place where learning and fun co-habitate, where children don’t even realize they are “doing work”?  It started back on day 1 in August.  It starts with children having voice and choice in their activities and moving on when they are ready… not when a worksheet, a basal reader, or a workbook page, or even a teacher tells them they are.  The work samples above were taken on the same day.  One student chose Pic Collage, another chose Popplet and yet another chose Book Creator.

It also means including the students in the information gathering process.  We made this anchor chart together and refer to it often when we are working on new learning.



My students know that “an expert” can be an adult or another student in our classroom.  They know to ask for help when looking on the internet for answers and they also know where to find resource books in our classroom to reference.  We work hard all year to instill confidence in our students’ abilities to think for themselves….to “listen to their brains” and think about what their brain is “telling them.”

It is an ongoing process that gets refined all year long.  I want my students to go to first grade ready…ready to learn, ready to think and reason, and ready to have fun!

Today we will learn exciting new things.  Let’s get to it!

10 thoughts on “Listen to Your Brain!

  1. Do you send the images of your anchor charts to your students through Showbie? How do they save the images to their iPads for future reference?

  2. Kristi,
    I visited your class last year with one of my Kindergarten teachers. I will be moving to a new school next year as the Media Specialist. Our district is moving to a learning commons model for the media center. I would love to bring some teachers from my new school (k-2) to see your class in action or at least my TIS so we can brainstorm how to support such student driven instruction in the Learning Commons. I would also love to use your signature line as my “quote above the door of the LC” . ” Today we will do exciting things. Let’s get to it.” Would you mind if I use that and place your name as the author? We hope to change the culture of the school into a creative self directed literacy culture with MakerSpaces, self-directed activities and technology.

      • Thanks! I think that will set the tone for the culture and community we hope to develop in the Learning Commons. I would love to come this year to give my TIS a taste of the possiblities with K students. Our district’s 1-1 initiative is supposed to flow down to elementary next year (fingers crossed) and I would love for us to lead the way to using the iPads instructionally. My position won’t be official till next Tuesday when the board meets. Then I can begin to make some plans. When is your spring break? Ours is 14-18. After that I have testing for the next 3 weeks in my current position. Maybe the week of May 12? I will check with my TIS and see what dates we can come up with and contact you. Thanks again for leading the way!

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