By Eliana Belle
Kindergarten, Gervais Elementary School, Gervais Education Association
One of my biggest challenges with online learning is the age group I work with. The 5- and 6-year-old students I teach don't have very much experience on computers yet. It has been challenging trying to help them be successful online when I can't physically be there with them to show them how each step works.
To help students, I have been making lessons more auditory because my students can't read very much yet. I use Google Slides to organize my videos for the week all in one place. In the slides, I add audio buttons that look like speakers. When students click on these icons, they can hear my instructions walking them through how the slide works.
I try to end every video lesson with clear visual instructions for how to complete assignments. I also posted some tutorials of commonly used applications that I made for my students. Additionally, I found some tutorials on YouTube that show students things like how to turn in their work through Google Classroom. Of course, the biggest help comes from all the amazing parents and families helping their students! They have been imperative in teaching these young learners to use all this new technology, and I am so grateful for their partnership.
One struggle I have experienced so far has been with organization. As a school, we are all using Google Classroom as our online classroom platform for the rest of the year. This is the first time I have used Google Classroom and I've been learning a lot from my mistakes. At first, I posted each video lesson to Google Classroom followed by the activities and assignments for that day. This quickly become unsustainable. I had trouble figuring out where certain videos/assignments were in this long list of daily work. If I was struggling, then I knew parents and families would struggle, too.
The success from this failure came in the transition over to using Google Slides and designing a whole week of video lessons and assignments at one time. This means there is just one thing students and families need to click on for the week and only one place they need to go. I have received some good feedback on this change so I feel like I’m moving in the right direction!
I also started using Flipgrid so I could see my students’ faces again! This program allows students to record short video responses. I love this program but didn't realize that some families wouldn't feel comfortable having students record and post videos. Because of this, I learned to offer multiple options for students to complete their assignments. The more options I can provide for students and families to choose from, the more I am able to reach all families.
One piece of advice I have for both educators and families is to make sure you have lots of communication with one another. I know this is a stressful time for everyone, and if certain assignments aren't working well for your student -- or other problems arise -- we want to hear from you so we can work with you on creating a plan that works. Nothing is set in stone, we are flexible, and things can be changed to meet the needs of our students and their families.
Tools to Share
I have shared a screen shot of an example of the short videos I’ve recorded for students along with the link to their assignment. They can watch the video and listen to a short explanation of the assignment by clicking on the audio icons. This provides more support for young students not used to working in Google Classroom.