How to Keep Kindergartners Engaged in Distance Learning | Edutopia

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Equity Sticks

When we began meeting virtually, my students were excited. Everyone wanted to participate, raising their hands enthusiastically. A couple of weeks in, that changed. Some kids were still participating wholly, but others were not.

In my classroom, I use equity sticks. I could pull out a stick to randomly choose the name of a student to call on. It occurred to me that I could use these sticks in Zoom, too. I purchased sticks from Amazon and created a stick for each student in about 10 minutes.

Pros

Cons

Personalized or Themed Lessons

As a team, we decided to present our lessons using Google Slides. Early on, we personalized these by using student names wherever we could (e.g., in a math story problem). Halfway through our time of virtual teaching, we began adding themes to our presentations (e.g., superheroes or summer food).

Pros

Cons

Mindfulness Brain Breaks

No matter what we did to liven up our presentations, which usually lasted about 20 minutes, some of the kids still got squirmy. From almost the beginning, we included some mindful breathing GIFs and video brain breaks. Typically, these videos ran three to five minutes and encouraged the students to move.

Pros

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Zoom Tools

At the start, we had the kids raise their hands or use their thumbs to respond to questions. As we became more comfortable with Zoom, we were able to use some of the tools that the program has to offer—in particular, the “raise hand” and “chat” tools.

In addition to using the raise hand tool when they knew an answer, I had them use the chat box. They could type T or F for true/false questions, or they could type the answer to a math problem—I made sure they were typing only to me, not to each other.

Pros

Cons

Emailed To-Do Lists

It was vital for parents to be a part of the virtual learning experience. Their children needed the help, and I needed a partner in getting the kids to do their assigned work. Early on, I sent the parents a blank weekly checklist they could print out and fill in. I also emailed parents and the kids daily. I shared a list of my expectations for the next day, along with links to assignments and our Zoom classes.

Pros

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It was recently announced that we will begin our upcoming school year online. I plan to use all of these strategies with minor adjustments. I have learned that I need to use the Zoom tools and video breaks sparingly. I know I’ll need to allow time for finding useful GIFs and videos.

These strategies were invaluable and helped keep my students engaged. I plan to brainstorm new strategies with my team this fall. If we all keep sharing our discoveries, we can keep these kids engaged in learning no matter where the learning takes place.