Mrs. Waxman's Kindergarten Learns to Learn Remotely
By: Morah Phyllis Waxman
If you asked me eight weeks ago if kindergartners could successfully learn virtually, I would have laughed heartily. I certainly didn't know enough and neither did my kids.
Looking back, I now can say, "We've got this!" We are all on board and are a well-oiled machine. We know how to ask the right questions and work as a team to get answers. My kinders continue to show a strong desire to learn and have gained a maturity and independence that is astonishing.
The Wonders reading program has a strong phonics and phonemic base that we have all been teaching daily. On Zoom we focus on the letter sounds being taught, segmenting and blending those sounds, and introducing the assigned sight words. Through my morning message, the new words are highlighted and already taught words reviewed. We exercise to the words, stretch to them and cheer their letters. The morning message is posted each morning, before our Zoom class. Everyone has an opportunity to read it with my recorded audio. During morning meeting, I share the screen with the message. My kids can identify underlined words, recognize patterns that I've written and share what information they can glean from the message. Since we have been doing this since the first day of school, everyone knows what to do. The message has become a welcomed "friend."
Sight words or high frequency words breed reading fluency. Along with Zoom, the kids have a set of popsicle sticks programmed with the sight words. Blank sticks (sent via mail periodically), enable families to add new words. Many games can be devised using these sticks for frequent review.
The kids also have a set of sight word books that continue to grow as we add new words. They are dated for our lessons and everyone is encouraged to read to an adult. Many of my families send videos of my kinders reading so that I can make comments and/or suggestions.
As if that's not enough, Seesaw provides us with a library of engaging reinforcement activities to follow up every lesson. For example, we recently learned about long /a/ and "magic e" (e.g. make). We've been able to sort words, spell words and dance about magic "e".
I would be remiss if I did not add that none of this could have been accomplished without the support from the staff of BT. To get to this point of confidence, I needed hand holding. BT has made teaching teachers a priority. Colleagues, administrators, and our fabulous tech department have nurtured each of us and helped us all breathe through our challenges. They have worked endlessly to get us "there." I also cannot forget about Mrs. Sheri Felsher and Mrs. Melissa Cohen, whose support with questions and mailings were so appreciated.
I'm so proud to be a part of this! Now please let us go back to school! I need my kiddos!