Tips for Using Google Classroom for Kindergarten Remote Learning

April 15, 2020

3 Tips for using Google Classroom in Kindergarten During Remote Learning So many teachers and students have been thrust into using Google Classroom during school closures. If this is the first time your kindergarten students have used Google Classroom I have some tips to make the transition from classroom learning to remote learning a little easier on everyone. Be kind to yourself First of all, be kind to yourself, we are all trying our best, and there will be good days and bad days. No one could have prepared for this and we all need to give ourselves just a little bit of grace.  Here are my top tips for using Google Classroom for the first time. #1 Use content they know. There is a steep learning curve for you, your students, and your parents. Learning a new platform can be difficult.  Start with content you know they are comfortable with. Even though your kids may have mastered the content – they are learning how to log in, access the lessons, and submitting lessons. Make sure the content is easy. This really is about the process not the product. Matching upper and lower case letters is a great place...

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Remote Learning in Kindergarten

March 14, 2020

  This week has been surreal.  The implications for schools are unprecedented. Teachers have been asked to prepare for remote learning with only a couple of days notice, and in some cases hours. So many teachers are finding themselves faced with the challenge of getting up to speed with digital within a day or two. Take a deep breath, there is support for you. If your school and your students have been affected by closures here is a list of resources that may help. One of the major challenges that low income families face during closure is the lack on internet connection. Here is some information from Comcast   and Verizon  on providing free internet or discounted prices to low income families. Here are 2 free courses that will help get you ready to use digital Google Classroom is free and readily available to teachers and schools. You can set up a class in a matter of minutes. All you need is your school created email and password. The course will show you step by step how to add students, assign lessons, and a few tips for getting your students logged in. Google Classroom Course Boom Cards are self-checking digital...

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A Playful Kindergarten in a Digital World

Playful kindergaten

Yes, you CAN have a playful kindergarten in a digital world. A playful kindergarten AND a digital word may sound like two ideas that do not go together sort of like suger-less candy. However, a playful classroom and a digital world are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it is actually easier to create a playful kindergarten in a digital world. We all can agree that in the last few years kindergarten has become more and more like first grade. The demands on both the students and the teachers have increased.  So has the stress. We are expected to get our kindergarten students to an ever-increasing benchmark and it feels like play and playfulness are being squeezed out. Decreased recess time, the elimination of dramatic play,  blocks, and play, add to an increase in disruptions. It doesn’t have to be that way. Many teachers report  seeing an increase in challenging behaviors and we are seeing more and more information about managing our student’s stress level. Most schools are trying deperately to adopt PBIS strategies to adapt to the ever increasing social emotional needs of our kids.  Hmm. it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to imagine that maybe just maybe we are seeing...

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How to Use Google Classroom in the Primary Grades

  Google Classroom really CAN work in Kindergarten It wasn’t so long ago that teachers actually thought young students couldn’t use Google Classroom. I feel like I spent much of my time convincing people seriously – Google Classroom really can work for kinders. So now most teachers and admins realize that using digital tools like Chromebooks in kindergarten is an option. But the question then becomes how…. How do we bring Google Classroom into our day? I have a google classroom, now what? So,  you have a few Chromebooks and you set up your google classroom but you find yourself saying now what? This is for you.  Need a little help getting started? click here. If you are like most teachers you want the very best for your students. You stay up at night worrying that you are not meeting their needs, not seeing results fast enough. We all want that magic pill that will reach every single student. We want that class where every child is confidently making benchmarks. Well, after over 30 years, I have still yet to have that class. In reality, we have students come to us so far behind that before we even start we are...

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Using BeeBots in the Classroom

February 16, 2020

Ignite learning for your youngest students with Bee Bots.   Using BeeBot robots to engage your students is easier than you might think. I have seen first hand how using a BeeBot in my class can engage my students. When I bring out a BeeBot my students are fully “in”. Year after year my students consistently love using coding to make their BeeBot move. Robots and coding are magical. A BeeBot is a small programmable robot that will engage your young learners in a way that will amaze you. I have been using BeeBots with my kindergarten students for about 10 years. What I have learned is that robots and coding are magical. Allowing kids to use their hands and their minds at the same time is both a pleasure and an honor to watch.  When you program a BeeBot your students will need to use critical thinking skills. When students code they need to think about how what they do next will impact the step after that and the step after that. This kind of complex thinking of holding one idea in their head while simultaneously thinking about the next step doesn’t happen all the time. The skills...

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10 Items You Need to Bring STEM into your classroom

January 28, 2020

Using STEM challenges in your class is an amazing way to engage and excite your students. There is something about having the freedom to create that can tap into the imagination and let you feel free. Here is a list of 10 items you can use in your class tomorrow to create STEM Challenges. #1 Blocks: You probably already have blocks in your classroom, but blocks are amazing and if you are willing to break out of the block area you can literally see the wheel turning. If you can only afford one thing – get blocks.  I love using small math blocks. They often come in big math curriculum kits. These small blocks are perfect for table-top STEM activities #2 Straws I know, I know, we all want to protect the turtles and keep straws out of landfills. However you can re-use straws over and over. I get a big box at the beginning of the year and it lasts until June.  The kids can create countless solutions to problems with straws. I recommend the flexible straws because the kids can really be creative. #3 Tape Plain old masking tape can be amazing. I often give my kids a...

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What To Do When Your Students Don’t Know The Alphabet

November 8, 2019

How do we help teach the alphabet to students who are already behind their peers? It’s the goal of kindergarten to teach our students to read. The very first step is learning the alphabet. Many students come to kindergarten already reading. Most of our students will know many letters. But what about the kids who don’t have any letter naming skills? How do we help teach the alphabet to students who are already behind their peers? You may have some catching up to do. Read read read. The students who come to us reading have had a rich experience with books. If our students haven’t had that experience we have some catching up to do. It starts with books. Read to them every chance you get. Exposing them to rich picture books that are engaging, and entertain, are the best. If your students are struggling with their letter names then read alphabet books.  Here are some of my favorites alphabet books. What’s your name? Start with their name. Often the very first letter students learn is the first letter in their name. You can make name puzzles for each child.  Use your pocket chart to sort names, count the letters...

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Best Alphabet Books

Alphabet books are a great tool for beginning readers.     One of the best ways to get your students fluent with alphabet skills is to read, read, read. Alphabet books are a great way for your students to have exposure and experience with the letters. Read my top tips for helping struggling learners.  Here are some of my favorite books. Alphabet Adventure by Audrey Wood Alphabet Adventure by Audrey Wood you know Audrey wood she’s the amazing artist/author from The Napping House. This book does not disappoint it’s a great way to look closely at letters. No list would be complete without Chicka Chicka Boom Boom   by Bill Martin Jr. Who doesn’t love all that rhyming. You can extend the book by having your kids make trees out of toilet paper rolls. Place some tongue depressors on top and see if you can balance some magnetic letters. AlphaOops the Day Z Went First by Althea Contis If you have a Zahra or a Zayden in your class they will flip over this story. It’s time Z gets a chance to be first! LMNO Peas  by Keith Baker there is something about the colors in this book that I just love. ...

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The BEST way to teach sight words.

November 4, 2019

Whether you call them sight words, trick words or high-frequency words, if you want your kids to be fluent readers they need to know the words that don’t follow the rules. It’s crucial that our students have a library of words they know. If you look closely at the leveled texts that our primary students are reading, you will see the same sight words show up over and over and over. The goal is to have our students know these words so they can read with automaticity. If they stop and struggle at sight words they start to lose fluency and comprehension.  It’s crucial that they have a library of words they know. So how do we teach sight words to beginning readers? When you are thinking about teaching sight words it’s helpful to think like you would with any other word. Use graphophonemic analysis so what does that even mean?   Graphophonemic Knowledge is the recognition of letters and the understanding of sound-symbol relationships and spelling patterns. In simple terms think of it as phonics. We often think that we need to teach sight words in isolation. That they make no sense at all and we just need our students...

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November STEM Challenges

October 29, 2019

My focus has been on creating STEM challenges for primary students. Here comes Thanksgiving. As soon as Halloween is over my mind shifts to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. No gifts, no stress, just a great meal with family and friends. It’s fun to celebrate Thanksgiving at school as well. My focus has been on creating STEM challenges that work for my primary students. I have fallen in love with STEM challenges. I love watching my students design and build new solutions to problems. STEM is still new to my students so it gives me the opportunity to focus on the process – not the product. The Engineering Design Process creates an environment for exploration and creativity. It also constantly reminds the students that re-design is part of the process. The goal is to look at what worked, what didn’t work, and make it better next time. It’s a terrific life lesson. Tie your STEM Challenges to literacy to increase interest. I love tying my STEM challenges to literacy. It allows me to have an easy way to create critical background knowledge that my students so desperately need. This November we will be thinking about how to add STEAM challenge. Most...

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