During the Covid pandemic of 2020, every kindergarten teacher had to pivot and quickly figure out how to teach remotely. Teachers spent hours trying to educate themselves about how you can teach kindergarteners to read using digital resources. Now, as we can finally see the light at the end of the long Covid tunnel we find ourselves asking “Will there be a place for digital once we are back in the classroom?”
The short answer is YES. There has always been a place for digital in our kindergarten classrooms. For years teachers have been using Google Classroom and Boom Cards to supplement reading groups and to fill in as literacy and math centers.
The big difference between before 2020 and after is that now every single kindergarten student has a working knowledge of digital devices. Chances are if you teach in a typical US school and you teach kindergarten, you had limited access to digital devices. Often the kindergarten students received the “hand me down” devices from the upper grades. Often they were broken, had lost charging cords, and each teacher was given a very small supply and absolutely no training.
However, long before remote teaching was ever a term we even thought about there was a small but growing group of teachers who were using Google Classroom and Boom Learning in their kindergarten classes. I was one of them!
After this tumultuous year, it will be easier than ever to find the right spot in our kindergarten classes for digital lessons.
Top Tips for actually using digital lessons in your kindergarten class
#1 During Guided Reading Groups.
Digital resources are terrific for extended practice. I take a reading group and I introduce a skill. Next, I get my students on the Chrome books to have a little extended practice. This allows me time to wander around the class making sure the rest of the kids are actually doing what they are supposed to do. Reading groups take a lot of time and I have a rule that the kids can not come up to me while I’m at the reading table ( I wear a lei to signal I’m on vacation so they can’t interrupt me.) Shop reading group resources
However, it’s a long time for my kindergarten students to stay engaged without me interacting with them. So I take a group, teach a skill, practice reading, then set them up on Google Classroom or Boom Cards for extra practice. During this time they are independent so I can move around and touch base with the others. Once the kids are done they move back to the class and I take another group. My goal is always to get to 3 groups a day. Sometimes I meet my goals sometimes I don’t. But that’s the plan.
#2 During Centers
This is probably the easiest time to get my kids on Google or Boom. I always have seasonal centers or centers that extend on our topic of study. I have some centers that are always “open” blocks, legos, and laptops are always “open”. I make sure I have the kids’ driver’s license in a bag with their headphones. That way they are able to log in and complete any assignment they like. Grab a free driver’s license.
My favorite way to bring digital into my centers is with a center card. I use these cards for my math and word work centers. You can get a free copy of my cards here and watch my video on how I use them here.
#3 Morning Work
If your students come in at staggered times those few moments before school actually starts are a great time to bring in Google Classroom and Boom Learning. You most likely won’t have a full class yet, so now is a great time to provide little extra learning. By squeezing in a few extra minutes before school our students receive that double-dip that so many can benefit from.
Full disclosure, I am not a fan of homework in kindergarten. I think our students need downtime and they should be outside playing. I want homework to be time spent reading or hearing their parents read to them. The best strategy for increasing our students’ academic success is having conversations with their parents about almost anything. Just having a chat with students can increase comprehension and build vocabulary, not to mention it helps build those critical relationships. That being said, my district has mandated the number of minutes kindergarten students spend on homework so I have to comply. I send home a worksheet that helps parents log in to their accounts from home and encourage the kids to complete activities digitally. Grab my homework sheet here.
#5 Intervention Groups
Digital is the perfect solution for intervention groups. Whether you have students with special needs, ELL students, or students who are in fear of not reaching benchmarks, digital is a great way to provide that extra support. Technology has scaffolding we just can’t provide a 100% of the time. The use of sound files, video, and immediate feedback is all-powerful interventions for our most at-risk students.
Whole group activities are the perfect platform for digital learning. If you have a smartboard you can play some fun games using Boom Cards. Have all your students get up and get moving. I make a “conga line”. The Boom deck is projected onto the screen and the kids come up in the conga line and click the answer. It’s a perfect way to fill a few minutes as you wait for a special or any other transition. You don’t have to be 1:1 to use digital in fact I would argue that it doesn’t really make sense for everyone in your classroom to be on a Chromebook at the same time. The best kindergartens should have kids moving around all engaging in different learning activities. Projecting your Boom cards onto a smartboard makes learning even more fun because the students can get up and stretch!
#7 Parent volunteers
We all love our parents! We couldn’t do our job without them. If you are lucky to have parents volunteering in your class you want to make the most of them. Giving a parent the opportunity to monitor students on an iPad or Chromebook makes it so easy for you and them. Parents are usually happy to help and the ease of using digital makes them feel confident and useful in our classrooms.
#7 Fast Finishers or Zoomers
We all have them, those students who always finish first, who seem to already know everything we are teaching. These are the students we rely on when we are having an observation. You just know they will make us look good with their knowledge of the content. However, sometimes these zoomers are the most challenging. We want to make sure we are reaching every child every day but these zoomers are way ahead of the rest of the class. They need a little extra support as well. Otherwise, they become bored and disengaged. So by bringing in digital resources like escape rooms, mystery pictures, and color by code we can help to keep these zoomers engaged.
There are so many ways to use Google Classroom and Boom Learning in our kindergarten classrooms. As technology becomes more and more kindergarten friendly we have so many more options to reach every child. Shop Google Classroom