In Kindergarten, CCSS W.K.1 is to use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to share an opinion. CCSS W.K.7 is to participate in shared research projects. I created my digital board Kids’ Lives Around the USA** to combine these two standards into one project that will teach kids about life outside of our small and sometimes isolated community. The board teaches about rural, urban, and island life and contains an embedded Discovery Education video as well as two outside links to Time for Kids and PBS Kids. This board is designed to be an introduction and facilitate a discussion about what life is like in different parts of The United States.
This board begins to teach students to use their respectful and ethical minds in the most basic sense. These minds work to “understand and work with those who are different” and to “work towards good citizenship” (Gardner, pp. 157-158) respectively. After each section, I talk with my students and publicly process their ideas about that area of the US. They have an opportunity to share with the class anything additional they may know about the region. At the end, the assignment has 3 parts. Part 1 is to talk with their buddy about where they would like to live. This also leads into practicing their respectful minds as they don’t have to agree with their buddy, but they need to listen to respect the other’s opinion. Second, they click on the link and take a one question survey telling where they’d like to live. Through iPads or through use of the teacher’s computer, all kids will take the survey. This will give us class data that will lead to further discussions. I added that we would talk about the results after we write our opinions because I didn’t want students to change their opinions after seeing that their choice was not as popular as another. The third task is to use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to state their opinion and provide support. After all kids have finished, we will go over the results of our survey and share some student created writing about each region. When teaching about opinion, we talk a lot about how you don’t have to agree with someone else’s opinion, but you must be willing to listen to it and think about this. This will provide practice in that and strengthen the ethical mind.
It is important that we start students building and strengthening their respectful and ethical minds at a young age. Just like with anything else, practice makes permanent, and the sooner we have kids thinking about their roles and how they relate to the local and global communities, the sooner it will become a habit of mind. In Kindergarten, we can start by learning about the diversity in our local community and in our nation. As kids progress though the grades, that view can be expanded more globally.
Of course, in Kindergarten, digital boards such as this are highly teacher created and teacher led, especially as I had a hard time finding grade- and age-level appropriate media. However, as students progress through the years, they will be able to create and utilize these types of boards independently or in collaborative groups (which would also promote the respectful mind.) At my school, the third grade classes create a wax museum where students research and become a famous person in history. During the museum, they become wax statues of the person they chose and come alive when a passerby taps a button on their hand. The fifth grade does state reports and holds a State Fair, teaching others about the chosen state. The addition of digital boards would increase engagement and encourage kids to work collaboratively when their historical persona or state project topics overlap. They would also provide more media options to teach others about their given topic.
I chose to use Discovery Education’s Board Builder because I wanted to learn to utilize more aspects of my Discovery Education account. It was easy to use, but lacked tools I like, including the ability to embed outside sources and to create hyperlinks. Glogster is another board building site that allows for more creativity and technology options. Thinglink also provides some good tools. I created a science board about trees using Thinglink that you can find here.
**Please note that a subscription to Discovery Education may be required to access this board.
Gardner, H. (2008). Five Minds for the Future. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press.