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!

Leadership Lean-In August 2017

Our schools are like our photo galleries on our phone . . . there are a million different snapshots that all tell a specific story, but when you look at the entire gallery, the snapshots together create a tapestry that tells a lot about who were are.  There are so many different ways we can look at our school – an achievement data dashboard, a faculty roster, a student engagement report, a community partner list – and the list goes on.  None of these tell the whole story by itself, but together, they paint a picture of what each school is.

One snapshot that can and should be a part of that gallery is where our school, our classrooms, and our lessons are in student and teacher use of technology – our “eCLASS snapshot.”  And one photo template that can help school leaders to take that snapshot is the eCLASS inverted pyramid of transformation.

eCLASS Vision Triangle

The pyramid reminds you of the tools that are available in your arsenal to capture the moment – knowing where you are now – and to then move the school, the classrooms, the teachers, the lessons “to the right” for eCLASS transformation.  The Matrix of eCLASS Implementation outlines the six indicators that we as school leaders need to leverage in order to increase our effective use of technology for instruction.  Have you identified where you are as a school on each indicator, and then looked to the right to determine your next steps?

The eCLASS Transformed Classroom document gives concrete examples of how teachers should use technology (and our eCLASS C&I Tool) with their students to move from one level of transformation to the next.  The new Teacher Profile instrument gives a quick way for teachers to self-assess their level on the Transformed document.  Have your teachers reviewed the levels to get a picture of what their classroom looks like now, and to set goals for what they can do this year to further engage students with technology?

The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) is a great resource for each teacher to see video examples of instructional practices with technology at each level of transformation.  Have your teachers watched the videos of lessons at that “next level” of transformation to help them with their “journey to the right?”

What does your school’s snapshot include this year?  Use these resources to capture that picture. . . and then help teachers continue to improve their own practices, as supported by school level goals and action.  That snapshot then becomes a part of the tapestry to achieve your school’s goals, including the ultimate vision of eCLASS – engaging our students and increasing their learning.

Getting Started with Technology in Your Classroom

Written by: Laura Girard & Stacy McKibben

As we begin the school year, you are probably thinking about ways to make the use of technology in the classroom smoothly, easily, and stress-free. You already know the importance of teaching students the rules and routines in the first few weeks of school. Why not incorporate the rules, routines, and procedures associated with technology use into the other classroom routines you are teaching?

Here you will find tips on how to organize yourself and prepare your students to be independent with technology throughout the day. We start our tips on Day 1, but your Day 1 doesn’t have to be the first day of school! However, we do encourage you to start these routines as soon as possible. Making sure your students have a solid understanding of the procedures is essential to transforming your classroom throughout the school year.

tablet (1)


Helpful Tips for Teachers:

  • Place login information for students on a laminated index card and keep it near the computers on a ring for students to easily find and use as needed.
  • Print directions for assignments that students should complete and place them in a designated spot (near the laptops or in another chosen spot) so students can always easily find their assignment without disturbing the class. A frame or page protector on the wall or table is great for this!
  • Establish a plan for storing, charging, and connecting to the Ethernet.
  • Designate an area for laptops, power cords, headphones, etc., and teach your students where they are and how to put things away.
  • Consider designating a student job for organizing and assisting with technology.
  • Establish and post procedures as you see fit for your class. Review procedures often!
  • Model, model, model!!! If you expect your students to do something, especially with technology, you must model it yourself so they can see what it should look like.

H5P

Being able to repeatedly engage content can positively affect student achievement.  There is now a tool that assists with this: H5P.  Teachers across the county have been exploring this free tool, which can be used to create and share various interactive activities, such as remediation and enrichment opportunities.  These activities can then be embedded onto their eCLASS course pages.

Explore the popular features below to see examples of ways teachers are using H5P.*

 H5P elevates teaching to the next level by enabling teachers to create media-rich content that previously would have been inaccessible without coding knowledge.  The program is user-friendly, easily accessible, and worth it to use with your students.  Wendy McDonald, a Local School Technology Coordinator (LSTC) at Jordan Middle School, agrees wholeheartedly: “At first, it is a little cumbersome to use. When you figure it out, you unlock a magical program!”  

 Which H5P features will you begin exploring with your students?    

 * “Examples & Downloads.” H5p.org. N. p., 2017. Web. 1 Aug. 2017.

GCPS World Class Schools