Many teachers are trying remote learning for the first time with their students. I was in the middle of collecting a list of resources for Kodable teachers to use when I saw Kindergarten teacher, Debbie Cretella's tweet about how she was planning to start distance learning with her class.
Ms. Cretella graciously agreed to tell us a little more about her plan to work with her class of Kindergarten students from home.
Thanks so much for sharing your story with other Kodable teachers! To begin, please tell us about yourself:
I've been an early childhood educator for over 15 years. I've been teaching in kindergarten for 4 years. I teach at Holy Rosary in Staten Island, New York. We are a pre-k -8 school Catholic School in the Archdiocese of NY.
What was your initial reaction to teaching from home? Is this something you felt prepared for?
As a kindergarten teacher, I was concerned since these are our youngest learners. I felt somewhat prepared since we use online programs in class and as enrichment. We also use online tools for reteach intervention at home, so the kids and the parents were familiar with them.
Obviously, there are a lot of changes that need to be made when you go from a classroom to remote learning. Are you adjusting your lesson plans or are you proceeding with the same plans you had originally? If you are making changes, what are they?
There were definitely adjustments, since our class is hands-on and play-based. I can't assume students have materials at home nor would I ask parents to buy extra things. Normally, I use the tracking information from online programs to inform my small group instruction, which I can't do right now. I do like that the online programs are paced, under these circumstances. The kids are getting instruction at their level. I also like that the children can complete activities at a time that works best for them.
How are you sharing assignments and resources with your students?
I posted the assignments on the class webpage. Everyone has tasks to write in their notebook. These are tasks that would normally be whole group lessons. For example sight word work, phonics instruction, social studies, science.
For reading and math I differentiate, meaning the lessons are tailored to the student's specific level. Tailoring for each student is little harder to do with remote learning, but I'm navigating it. The program I use for reading was in place before school was closed, and shows me what skills need work so I can assign accordingly.
I'm also being creative about assignments. For example, a few students are struggling with sequence. I suggested those children do Kodable Beach Clean Up. We were at the end of our math unit so I assigned math book pages. I told families to log in to the online sites we already use. There, I individualized appropriate assignments for each student.
What tools are you using?
I am using Kodable, Learning A-Z, Zearn, and story time read alouds.
How is your administration supporting you and other teachers?
Our administration trusts in our professional ability to assign meaningful tasks. They only asked us to complete a Google doc outlining our planned assignments. In addition, they sent us online resources we could use and a model of a school that has gone to remote learning in the past.
My school felt it was best to allow every teacher to use resources currently in place since distance learning will look different in each grade. They also sent us a list of other resources they thought would be helpful. We were given two days notice, so we had time to send workbooks home. The school asked us to post assignments on our class pages as we always have. I created a separate module for distance learning work and optional activities.
How are you keeping parents informed?
Parents were instructed to check the class webpage. I also emailed all the parents. The school uses an IRIS alert system to disseminate school information.
What advice would you give to the other teachers who are adjusting to distance education?
Try to use programs that you and your class are familiar with. Many companies are offering free platforms, but don't overwhelm yourself. If you stick to 3 [platforms], that should be manageable.
Try to use programs that you and your class are familiar with...If you stick to 3 [platforms], that should be manageable.
Understand that children may not be able to complete assignments daily. Some will be going elsewhere for care, some students may have to share devices with siblings, so it would be best to post at the very least a few days worth of work. This will allow parents and students to see the work in advance and plan accordingly. Be flexible, we're all in uncharted territory.
Be flexible, we're all in uncharted territory.
Remember that our goal is always mastery of the standards, so assigning practice of a skill is more than ok. Try to add fun things like program arrow commands from your room to the kitchen (drawn on paper). Ask [your students] to choose their own books to read, and ask questions that would meet a standard you're working on. Remember, what they read is not important and we all don't have to read the same thing.
Follow Ms. Cretella on Twitter to follow her journey in distance learning and get more great tips!
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