All posts by Marilyn

An Open Letter to Kindergarten Teachers

Dear Kindergarten Teacher,

How many times have you caught yourself saying, “My students are too young for technology” or “My students don’t know how to log in. They’re kindergarteners” or “It takes too long for my students to login to the computer and then login to eCLASS C&I”? I know many of us are guilty of using these words. I know I’ve used them in my own classroom until one day I had a student prove me wrong. He logged on and used that computer faster than I did! That day, I realized that I was not giving my students an opportunity to even try using the technology. I was telling them they can’t do something and that went against every teaching philosophy in which I’ve ever believed! So, I’m here to tell you that kindergarten students can! They can log into a computer as early as the first month of school. They can do more than play games on the computer. They can post to discussion boards. They can create using technology. They can do these things and so much more!

So, how can you get younger students started using technology as early as the first month of school? The first thing you can to do is teach your students how to log in to the computer and to eCLASS C&I (or your LMS). In Gwinnett County, our students log in using a 9 digit code that is unique for each student with a unique password as well.. Kindergarten teachers often print out labels that have their students’ names, numbers, and passwords on them. Sometimes, the font is pretty small and hard for little eyes to read. Make it easier on your students and yourself by using a larger font. Then, take it one step further by chunking the 9 digit number into smaller sections. For example, after every three numbers, put a space to separate them. Then, change the color of each set of three numbers. Take a look at the example below. Which one do you think is easier for kindergarten eyes to read?

901632872
901   632   872

Rachel Storey, a Technology Specials teacher at Knight Elementary School, created a fun song to help her students learn their numbers, their passwords, the Tab key, and the Enter key. Once the song is completed, students have logged into the computer or eCLASS C&I. The song is to the tune of “Jingle Bells” and is different for each student based on their number and their password. Here is an example:

901, 632, 872, press Tab
123, 456, press Enter then you’re done
Yay!

Practice this at least once a week and your students will be logging in faster than you’ve ever seen!

Now that your students are logging in to eCLASS C&I, what can they do to show their learning? Take a look at this lesson that was planned in collaboration with a kindergarten teacher. Instruction starts in a small group of six students.

Today, we are going to practice reading color words. Then, we are going to type a sentence about our favorite color. Do you know what typing is? That means we are going to write, but on the computer!

I LikeAs students voice their excitement about typing, the teacher hands each student a sentence strip. “This says, “I like”. Let’s read it together. “I like”. Good! Now, you read it when I point to you.” Each student takes a turn reading their sentence strip.

Great reading! Now, I’m going to add a word to my sentence. See, I’m oct2putting my card on the line. Now it says, “I like blue”. I’m going to give you a color and when I point to you, I want you to read your sentence to me.” The teacher passes out an index card to each student. Students read their new sentence when the teacher points to them.

You guys are wonderful readers. Let’s try it one more time. Hand me your cards and I’ll give you a new one.” The teachers and students repeat the process together.

Wow, you guys are reading rockstars! I think we are ready to write about our favorite color! When I point to you, tell me what your favorite color is.” As the students tell the teacher their favorite color, the teacher removes the previous index card and hands the students an index card with their favorite color written on it.

Before we can write our favorite color, we have to read the sentence. When I point to you, it’s your turn to read.” All students read their sentence one last time. This entire process lasts less than 5 minutes.

oct3Now that students are prepared, it’s time to bring out the technology! In pairs, students are prompted to login to eCLASS C&I. Working in pairs allows for collaboration, learning how to share, and learning how to help a friend without telling them the answer. It is also more manageable for the teacher because there are fewer devices! After logging in, students are directed to their teacher’s course page where they click on an image in the News (Announcements) widget.

Student 1 posts by typing their name in the subject line and their sentence in the body of their post. After posting, student 2 creates another post in the same way. Students learn how to take turns and help their partner by pointing to the letter on the keyboard or to the sentence strip for reference. Students are provided with resources such as their sentence strip and their name tag to help them with writing. Remember, it’s still early in the year and this is how we support them when they are writing on paper!

oct4A few students will spell some of the words wrong or mix up the letters. It’s totally appropriate for them to do that! We don’t expect their writing on paper to be perfect. At this point in the year, they are stringing together letters to represent words or writing beginning sounds. They can do this on a discussion board, too! It’s simply a different format.

oct5To help students along in the process, the teacher provides each pair with a directions booklet. Instead of using words, each page shows a picture of what the students should click on next. One partner is able to reference the directions while the other student looks for the picture on the computer/tablet.

Students in this classroom repeat this activity using different cards for 3 weeks. They write about their favorite animals and their favorite foods! By the third week, they are much more proficient at following the directions book, working together, and using the technology. This station could easily continue as an independent station throughout the school year. Imagine where these students will be at the end of Kindergarten! They won’t need the sentence strip for support any longer. Instead, they will be composing their writing themselves and using the technology independently.

oct6

Kindergarten teachers, your students can do it! Let’s be the teachers who help our students rise to the occasion and show them what they are capable of achieving! Let’s be the ones who embrace the time in which they were born!