Digital is not an enemy – it’s a new possibility.”
I try to spend most of my life living in a space of thinking about what’s possible. And sometimes that’s hard. Really hard. Lately, it’s been an ongoing challenge. I never thought I would be considering ways to teach four and five year olds remotely. And yet, here we are. When Carla Rinaldi suggested that digital is a “new possibility”, it opened my eyes to viewing distance learning in a new light. As I reflect back on four months of distance learning with kindergarteners, I realize that we had several successful routines and learning adventures, as I’m sure you all had, as well. It’s important for me to share them and to invite you to share yours, as this is the way we can grow and learn together – making our journey into distance learning the best it can be. And remembering that this is temporary.
Our job is too difficult and too beautiful to do alone.”
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve heard me write about my firm belief that we teach children first and foremost – not standards, curriculum or programs. I think we really need to remember that as we move to virtual teaching in the foreseeable future. At a wonderful webinar by Mike Flynn, he said, “good online teaching is good teaching – don’t let the ed-tech get in the way.” We need to focus on our students first, then what good in-person teaching would look like and then choose a tech tool that matches. We can’t focus first on the fancy technology that might be flashy and look cool, but may not be what our students need.
I used Google Meet because it was one of the approved platforms in my district. You can do these things on Zoom or Microsoft Teams and I’m sure other platforms that I’m not familiar with. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra will present more challenges, because of the inability to see more than 5 people at a time on the screen, but it’s still possible to adapt for your online platform if that’s what you have to use. I’d like to continue this blog series with a look into a few things that worked for us in math and literacy learning in whole group. You can find my previous post here.
I continued the number talks and math routines that we were used to doing in the classroom and adapted them for a virtual setting. Here are a few of the ones that worked well, with links to explain them further.
Literacy continued to be woven throughout our virtual classes, just as it was in the classroom. Here are a few things we did routinely in virtual learning.
I want to be back in our classroom more than anything in the world right now. I want to experience the togetherness and pure joy that a classroom full of children brings. I want to hug children, paint with children, hear the joyous roar of children at play and share a book with tiny, squiggling humans on our rug. It physically hurts to know that won’t happen anytime soon. However, we can make distance learning the best it can be right now, at the same time we long to be back in our classrooms full of hugs, love, joy and children’s laughter. Maybe we can even create virtual classrooms that have all of that in a way that’s never happened before – it’s certainly a possibility. Loris Malaguzzi said, “nothing without joy”. How can we create virtual learning spaces that are full of joy?
What has worked well for you? Please share. We are all on this journey together.