Kindergarten Remote (and Hybrid!) Learning

It's week 2 of Christmas break - I hope everyone is relaxing and enjoying the much needed time off!
What a year it has been so far!  Right after Thanksgiving (back in October), our board switched to the hybrid learning model, meaning that classes were reorganized and students were able to choose from face-to-face learning or remote AND be a part of the same class.  In other words, I have been teaching both in person students and ones who are learning from home, so I have a Chromebook set up to project the lessons.
The first week and a half of December our school was closed due to a virus outbreak so I've already had lots of practice with remote teaching from home! LOL!

Coming up next week, our entire province will be reverting to remote learning.  Students will all be home and teachers will teach online from home.  I had several educators reach out to me about what and how remote learning works.  I hope to answer all of your questions!

Before I get into things, I want to share a few TIPS and TRICKS:
- start small (don't kill yourself!), do what works for you (read a story, have rich conversations about what students are interested in,  show them how to draw/write, play simple games)
- be prepared -> open whatever tabs/files you need before you go live, prepare materials (books, manipulatives, etc.)
- set up an area in your house you are comfortable in and create a simple classroom layout (see below for my basement classroom and the things I posted on the wall behind my computer)
- keep in mind that students (maybe even yourself!) don't have access to a wide variety of materials like at school so keep things simple and think about what everyone can use from around the house
- depending on the grade you teach, think about how you can assign follow up activities -> I don't like assigning everything on Google Slides and I always ask that students come prepared with scrap paper/pencil/crayons.  In our board, we are not to ask parents to print things either, so I find that offering "extras" on our Google Classroom could be things they can print at home (not mandatory) if parents ask.
- invest in a whiteboard (it doesn't have to be large) and extra monitor if you can (BEST.THING.EVER.)
- over plan -> sometimes lessons are too short and you may find there to be extra time the students have you online.  I like to plan a few extra things, like a book or game.  My students love these digital scavenger hunts that I can quickly pop onto my screen.  They run around their house looking for things to share!
You can find these here if you are interested:

If you haven't taught any remote learning up until this point, I strongly suggest that you go over some simple rules and tech tips with your students (forget the lesson for today - this is it!).  Teach them to turn on and off their microphones, how to raise their hand or push the button if they want a turn to talk/share, how to navigate activities/links on your Google Classroom, etc.  
Trust me - you will thank me later on!

I don't believe in changing my day/week plan because of the switch to fully remote.  I want to keep our "normal" school schedule as much as possible.  
Below is our weekly schedule.  Our board requires 180 minutes of synchronous learning (live Google Meet) per day for kindergarten.  Our itinerant teacher, Mrs. Benjamin, is responsible for gym/health/drama/dance/DPA and teaches live (40 min. x 3 blocks per week).  The rest of her spots on the timetable she assigns asynchronous activities.

I put together some simple slides that I project on my Google Meets while I wait for all students to join.  I usually open the meet 5-7 minutes before so that everyone can join.  I made a variety so you can use the ones that best suit your needs.

My colleague, Ms. Angelucci (grade 3 teacher) created the amazing schedule slides you may see in the background of my pictures.  I post these to my Google Classroom daily so that parents/students know what's happening.  Most of the days are the same but sometimes we may do something special (i.e. We did Christmas craft day a few weeks back, virtual assembly, etc.).  These are posted daily even if we are back in the classroom and I am teaching remote.  
She has graciously made them available for you to modify for your own classroom!  
All text is editable (just add your own clipart at the bottom).

Here's a more detailed look at the week...if you read my last blog post you will see it's not too different from what we do in class!

 MONDAY -> I start by introducing a new poem of the week.  I project it on my whiteboard (in class) or in present mode if teaching remote.  We look for letters/sounds/sight words/rhyming words and discuss any new vocabulary.  I use the poems from my monthly digital poem pack this year, as the entire poem can be projected and then I can assign activities as a follow up on Thursday when we review poem.
Here's an idea of how I taught the poem remotely from the first week of December:

I also like to post the poem on a pocket chart so I quickly typed it up and cut it out.  I can refer back to it during small group learning time.
We also have a quick discussion about what we did over the weekend because, let's face it, all kids want to do is share!!! And show you things from their home! LOL!  I assign them to work on a journal for the morning - they can draw and write about anything - on a simple piece of scrap paper (I don't worry about sending home booklets)!  I usually draw something simple that I did and show them how I stretch out words and write what I hear.
You can find the poems I use for the poem of the week (digital) by clicking the picture below.

TUESDAY -> To make life a little easier for all of us this year, I brought back "Letter of the Week".  Each Tuesday, we read an AlphaTales letter book (lots on You Tube!) or watch a Jack Hartmann video about that letter, and then I show students how to print it.  We brainstorm things that begin with that letter.  Students are then assigned this Google Slides activity - packed with fun activities to do for that letter!  I ask them to also practice printing the letter on scrap paper and drawing/labelling at least 4 things that start with that letter (if your lesson is short you can do this part together).
You can find these alphabet digital files here (each file also comes with a PDF copy if you need a printable copy for face-to-face learners):

WEDNESDAY -> It's time for Writer's Workshop!  I love this writing lesson - I've been working on a complete writing pack that I hope to have done at some point soon in the new year.  Each Wednesday morning, I show students how to add writing to our work!  Here's an idea we used the first week of December during our remote learning time:  I had each student bring a grocery flyer (I told them the day before) and we created a grocery list!  They could work on their own during independent learning time on a scrap paper.
Other ideas include reading a story and drawing a response, brainstorming vocabulary based on the season and writing about it, spelling CVC words (I have FREE cards you can download HERE), etc.
Another thing we work on each week is various writing skills the students need to know (i.e. compound words, matching uppercase/lowercase letters, etc.).  My huge Literacy Bundle #1 has lots of Google Slides activities that are perfect to use as follow-up work.

THURSDAY -> We review the poem of the week by saying it in different voices.  My students think this is the BEST lesson ever and have so much fun with it!  In class I usually have a student come up and choose a card from the tin can.  Online I choose the cards and we read it together in our silly voices.  Depending on the time, we usually get through about 6-7 cards!  The students keep asking to do more! 
You can find these Fluency Cards for Choral Reading by clicking the picture below if you are interested:

I then assign them a digital poem activity for them to complete.  I take a few minutes to pull it up on the screen and walk the students through so they know what they have to do.

The digital poems can be found in my Digital Poetry Bundle.

FRIDAY -> We do a fun activity called "Child of the Day".  I set this up on my pocket chart and angle my computer so everyone can see.  It's still the same format as in class (I write simple sentences on chart paper) but the only difference is that the Child of the Day doesn't get to take home the paper - the students all write out one sentence on scrap paper and draw a picture of their special friend.  I make sure to aim my camera at my whiteboard so students can see what I am writing and can easily copy.  If they don't finish before the itinerant teacher comes on the Meet, they can finish afterwards.

My math lessons and activities change weekly, depending on the strand we are teaching.  I simply follow along with the 1-week or 2-week lesson plans that are in my Kindergarten Math Centres pack.

You can check these math packs out by clicking the picture below if you are interested:

The first week of December when we were remote, for example, we were learning all about 2D shapes.
Here are a few activities that I did with the students:
I love reading books!  If you don't have any at home, check You Tube for lots of read alouds you can present on your screen.

We used loose parts to build different shapes!  At home students were encouraged to use pasta, beans, Lego, etc.

Sometimes there were follow up digital (Google Slides) activities such as this one from my 

I love using the whiteboard at home to interact with the students online.

Another simple trick is to use a piece of black felt or construction paper.  Angle your computer so the camera is facing it and then your hands are free to move materials around and explain.

The activities and lessons in my math bundle are great for face-to-face learners so when I teach the remote students, or we are all full remote, I assign Google Slides activities that focus on the task at hand.  For instance, looking ahead, we will be revisiting graphing and patterning.  These Google Slides activities are quick and easy to assign on Google Classroom and students can complete them independently on their device - even an iPad (show them how to touch the image they want to move, wait for the blue box to appear, then drag it).
This Math Bundle #1 is great because it has all of the strands we focus on for the entire year!

On Friday afternoons, our Teacher-Librarian (Mr. C.) joins us for coding activities.  Students can even practice coding activities on their own at home!  
I love Kodable - it's a free program online - just sign up your class!

There are chunks throughout our day that students can finish their assigned work based on our lesson or explore the virtual literacy/math centres.

My teaching partner, Ms. de Sousa, created these for our team.  Students can click around and listen to a story, complete a digital activity or visit a website and play fun games.
She has them for sale in her TpT store -> Little Inquirers - if you are interested.

I have a section on my Google Classroom called "What Can We Do at Home?"  I encourage students to read books at home, build with materials found around their house, draw or create works of art, visit different website, read their assigned book from Raz-Kids, go outside and record seasonal changes or things you notice, etc.  There's lots to do!
Students are welcome to share their work before lunch (whole group sharing time) or take pictures and send to me.

Every day at 10:05 am I have a small group of students (ability based) come onto the Google Meet for a mini lesson.  The students know which day they are to come on - everyone gets 1 small group mini lesson per week (I only have a group of 15 students this year so I meet 3-4 students per day).  I leave Mondays open for me to review their recordings they have made on Raz Kids.  
We are using Raz Kids (online) for guided reading this year as books are not travelling from school to home.  Each week I assign the students a book to read.
This is an example of what I post on my Google Classroom (I took out names for privacy).

Here are a few activities you can do with your students who are working on beginning sounds/syllables:

The above activities are all from my Circle Time Songs pack.

I also have these alphabet cards printed - I choose a card and call upon a student to help me place it on my pocket chart by beginning sound.

Here are a few things you can do with your students who are working on spelling simple words/comprehension:
Hold up a CVC card - have your students write the sounds they hear on a scrap paper and show it to you.

Slowly slide the word out of the envelope, showing one letter at a time, and have your students say the sounds.  Then show the picture and see if they got it right!

Discuss the guided reading book assigned to that group of students.  Use these cards to help with questions.

The above activities are all from my Guided Reading pack:

For students working on sight words I like to play the fun game "Crash!"
If you are playing remotely, you can call one student to have a turn.  You reach in and choose a card, have the student read the word.  If you get the "CRASH" card you put back all of the cards.  See how many points you can accumulate together as a small group!

I have students come back onto the Meet from 11-11:25 am for whole group sharing time.  I choose a few students to share their activity from the morning (journal, picture, etc.) and I usually read a book with them also.

From 2:40-3:00 pm is our end of day meeting - and it's the BEST PART OF THE DAY!
We always play some kind of game together...even remotely!
Here are some ideas you can play with your students (these even work well for small group mini lessons):
This is our Bingo game - I made each card personalized and added the sight words that we focus on at our school.  I posted the cards to our Google Classroom and had parents either download and print (not mandatory) or pull up on the screen and use sticky notes to cover the words.  I am the bingo caller.  This is a class fav and we usually play 2-3 times per week!
You can make your own personalized Bingo cards easily (and add any words/numbers/etc.) in this file:

We also love to play Roll-Say-Keep.  You can use the sight word cards from the FREE download above.  Just make a large mat.
Ask your students to bring a die with them to the Meet.  Taking turns, they can roll their die and say the word found in that space.  Replace it with another word.  See how many words everyone can read!

I made this Sight Word Game years ago.  I used library pocket cards and numbered them.  Make 2 sets of sight words.  Have a student choose 2 numbers, read the words and see if they match.

There are 2 times I make myself available for students - once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  If you scroll up and see my schedule you will notice that students have a chunk of time both in the am and pm for virtual literacy/math centres and also time to complete any assigned work or reading (Raz Kids).  I am usually planning on the computer anyways at those times so I leave my camera off but my sound on.  I tell the students that if they have any questions or need assistance with something I am here, they can just turn on their microphone and ask.

I started the year with 20 students and working with an ECE.  However, after the Thanksgiving break in October we were shuffled around and now I have only 15 students and no ECE.  That being said, the 2 other FDK classes at my school have both a teacher and ECE.  They share online responsibilities just as they do in class.  When we worked as a team last spring during remote learning, we all met together and discussed our strengths.  Some of us like to read books live, others like to make things digitally, and some preferred to think of simple activities students can do at home.  Work with your teaching partner and come up with a schedule of what each of you can do.  Perhaps running the end of day game, reading a story before lunch or working with small groups could be a great place to start!  This year I work with a fabulous EA for one of my students.  She joins our Meets 3 times per week and I have her and the student join a breakout room.  When she works with this student, she is usually playing games similar to the ones I posted above, based on his level.  She may also assist him in writing a simple sentence to accompany his drawing. Think about what you have assigned your students and go from there.

If you are interested in making your own interactive slides, there are lots of great tutorials that walk you through the process on You Tube.  I like to make everything (that does NOT need to be moved around by students) on PowerPoint.  Then I save each slide as a JPG (picture) before inserting them as background images on Google Slides.  Be sure that you purchase moveable clipart (and read the clipart artists TOU before using).

I teach kindergarten and I don't expect these youngsters to be in front of the computer screen for long periods of time.  My time blocks are anywhere from 20-40 minutes before breaking.  Even if they itinerant phys. ed. teacher comes on, she is having the students get up and dance/move around.
The lessons I teach for 20-40 minutes do not need parents assistance.  I try and make them interactive by either choosing students to help me write/play game, having students complete an activity using materials I told them to bring prior (paper, pencil, etc.), or listening to me read a story.  If parents would like to sit in our lessons (many do!) I welcome that!  I think it's important for parents to know what's going on at school.  I often tell my students that it's important for them to try their best, not their parents (LOL).  I want to hear their answers!  That's also why it's important to take the first day or so and review how to click the microphone button, join/leave the Meet, navigate Google Classroom, etc. so students can do this as independently as possible.  I do ask parents set up their children each morning with the tab already opened so they are ready for the day.

I've really turned to digital products this year - I use them for lessons (both in class and online) and I can easily assign students fun Google Slides activities to be done at home.  You can scroll through and see the ones I use on a regular basis - poetry, alphabet, scavenger hunt, numbers, all the units from my kindergarten math bundle (most of them come complete with full 1-week or 2-week plans) and more!  You Tube is definitely my go-to for read alouds, especially if there is a last minute move to remote (i.e. snow day).  
I also love having these digital resources on hand - students love to complete fun Google Slides activities and these are simple enough that they can do them independently.

I plan on keeping things simple.  I'm sure the students will be excited to be back online with their peers and will have lots of stories to share about the break!
The first week back, I want to introduce our new poem of the week, New Year's Here, have students draw and write about something they did during the break (journal), continue with our letter of the week, and we will be focusing on printing numerals (Number Tales book are my fav!) for math -> students will print on paper as part of lesson, then I will assign them digital number activities (Google Slides).

I teach in a Catholic school and we will be discussing the Epiphany (January 6) as well as reflecting on the virtue of Unity.  I created this pack if you'd like to see more (click the picture below)!

I just created this week at a glance that you are welcome to download for free (click below).  I've had a number of requests to explain in more detail exactly what I have planned for the week.  This is my Week-at-a-Glance schedule that I have been using for years (usually I just pencil in the plans but decided to type them up for all of you to see).

WEEK 1 -> January 4-8, 2021

Since we will be continuing with remote learning for another 2 weeks, I had lots of people request to see my plans.  Here are the weekly plans for the next few weeks:

WEEK 2 -> January 11-15, 2021

WEEK 3 -> January 18-22, 2021
We will be using most of the morning to work in small groups, researching our winter backyard animal.

Last week our students wrote about things they like to do in the winter.  I asked parents to take a picture of their work and add it to our class winter book on Google Slides.
Every student has a page (I typed in their names for them) so parents had to find their child's name and insert the photo.  Once all of the pages are done we are going to invite our principal to our Google Meet and I'll have each student read their page!

You can download this book (and edit it with your name/class) for FREE - click the picture below:

- if you are using Google Classroom, upload this as an assignment, be sure to change it to "students can edit" because you want them all working from this one document (you may want to write please don't delete anyone else's pages)
- direct parents to insert photo on their child's page
- when reading it to principal, I will be clicking the PRESENT button on top right so it makes the screen large

WEEK 4 -> January 25-29, 2021
We are wrapping up our Winter Backyard Animals Inquiry.  We are going to brainstorm ways we can take care of animals in winter and students have a project - make a birdfeeder at home!
We are also starting patterning (a review as we did patterning earlier in the year).  Students will be bringing "loose parts" with them to our lessons daily (i.e. pasta, cereal, beans, buttons, small toys, etc.)

Many of you have also been using my Backyard Winter Animals VIRTUAL field trip with your class and have asked that I made a Google Slides book for your students to post their research.
That's a great idea!  I will be asking my students to also take a picture of their work and insert on their page.
Click below to make a copy and download for FREE!

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