Once it finally comes out, the sun sometimes does a better job at grabbing my kindergarteners’ attention than I do. I can’t blame them. I’ve been teaching long enough to anticipate this particular challenge. I have tools up my sleeve that keep my students engaged and refreshed, and maintain their learning momentum throughout the school day. Here are a few tech tricks that snap them out of their longing for summer vacation.
A variety of videos. Since our school only has one recess, I use video to give my students a brain break. It’s tough for five-year-olds to sit still all afternoon. When I begin a lesson, I use video as a warm-up. When we practice math, for instance, I start a short video using number sense. Boclips for Teachers is a video platform that houses education video for all ages, so I can always find a relevant, age-appropriate video there.
My kids love to dance and sing, so I add animated sing-alongs to a collection on the platform and queue them up for each lesson. If we’re working on letters, I have an entire collection of different videos that sing the alphabet in creative ways. I try to reinforce the same concept with different videos so that they’re exposed to a topic in multiple ways. The variety of content is bound to appeal to each learning preference and stick.
Virtual field trips. Our school is two-and-a-half hours south of Atlanta. I have students who’ve never been there and will not have the opportunity to go soon. Skype Virtual Field Trips are huge for my students, and all it requires is a webcam. This year, we took one trip to California and another to the Statue of Liberty, and it was so fun to watch students react and soak in the outside world. Our trips like visiting an aquarium or the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum connect my students with social studies standards in an engaging way. These activities allow students to get questions answered in real time and are a free way for me to have people who are subject matter experts enrich our classroom learning.
Strategic screen time. My young students have no problem learning technology. It’s a matter of me using it in a meaningful way. I know they go home and are exposed to even more technology, so if I use it in class, I make sure I’m using products that bring value to the lesson.
My kids are required to use a computer program on an iPad for 30 minutes, twice a week. We use iStation to reinforce learning concepts, track student progress, differentiate based on each student’s needs, and as an intervention tool. I use apps that give students time to learn basic concepts that we practice all year, such as letter names and sounds, reading, counting, addition, and subtraction. The graphics and sounds provide some novelty for students as they work on skills that are essential to kindergarten learning.
With consistent implementation, it's been a really wonderful resource. Using apps as part of our centers rotations reinforce math and literacy concepts they’re learning like counting, addition, letter names or letter sounds. They meet the standards of our curriculum while keeping students engaged.
These tools are my favorite when it comes to keeping students minds on the classroom, no matter how brightly the sun is shining.
Victoria Mendoza is a kindergarten teacher in Georgia. She can be reached on Twitter at @learninginrm509. Mendoza uses Boclips for Teachers. Educators who sign up for the service by June 30, 2019, receive a free account for a full year.
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