Now more than ever, one of my favorite things about being on Instagram is connecting with fellow teachers – seasoned teachers, first year teachers, student teachers… all who’ve been thrown into a chaotic new virtual, hybrid, or masked-CDC-regulated teaching world. My heart goes out to everyone trying to balance what life has thrown our way. I see so much value in sharing ideas, thoughts, tips, resources – and most of all – kindness in our journey in this field.
I am a Kindergarten teacher, and am going into year 13 in my teaching career, month 4 of virtual teaching. This post will be related to kindergarten/primary grade levels and will share my tips and top resource picks to start the school year virtually as we all head back to school over the next month.
Last year I did a post on my top teacher picks for the primary classroom (see that post here). And, my 2018 back to school post gave classroom tips, ways to feel prepared for open house, and how to head into a successful school year. Read that post by clicking here.
Meet the Teacher
For our “Meet the Teacher” Open House, teachers were asked to create a video introducing themselves and sharing some basic classroom information and week one expectations. One of my friends utilized Google Slides, and after seeing how easy it was for her to upload as much information she wanted in a fun, creative way, I decided to go that route, too.
Here’s what I included in my slide show:
- Welcome video giving a big smile, how long I’ve been at my current school, what I love about our school, what I enjoy about kindergarten, and some of my favorite things.
- My bio sharing my background like where I grew up and where I went to college, years teaching and in what areas of the educational field, and my hobbies I enjoy outside of the classroom.
- Our schedule for week one which was modified into half days to accommodate beginning of year assessment appointments
- A link to a Sign up Genius where parents could sign their child up for our district-mandated one-on-one 30 minute assessments.
- Our regular schedule (so parents could plan from week 2 going forward)
- Tips and Tricks for logging on to google classroom, joining specials teacher’s google classrooms, logging into district platforms and more.
- Classroom “Essentials” I made last year and used again this year that parents could go over with their child before getting on our “virtual classroom” the first day.
- Our Zoom link and password
- Week 1 spirit week information so parents could help children be prepared for day 1 (pictured below)
Resources I used to create my slide show:
- I used Zoom to record my welcome video because it is very user-friendly and I needed to create a video with limited time to learn a different recording program. I just started a private meeting in Zoom (with no attendees), and hit record. Once it was finished, I downloaded it to my desktop and saved it in my google drive.
- I created a virtual Bitmoji classroom by first adding the Bitmoji extension to Chrome and creating my Bitmoji here, and grabbing this Bitmoji classroom template off of TPT.
I knew right away I wanted to make the first week of school a themed week. This helps little ones feel excited to get ready in the morning, and is an easy way to get them involved during the day. I thought about doing book character week, but figured that would be a fun one for later in the year. So I decided to go with colors! It is so easy to round up some online activities, colorful clothes, and things from around students’ houses to enjoy a week full of color fun!
Here is what my Week 1 in Kindergarten looked like:
Everyday, I used a color word sight word read aloud I made for the color of the day! It went in an ELA cross-curricular 45 minute block. We did a picture walk and went over sight words from the online read aloud, read it together, did a color picture hunt (included!), and then practiced writing and journaling together. See more activities we did each day below:
- All About Me bag activity
- Behavior Expectations and Visuals
- Practicing Mute/Unmute with “Hello, my name is _____.”
- Go over Rules (the Classroom Essentials I made and used last year, too!) that students can expect to follow every day.
- Color Word Sight Word Read aloud for yellow and journaling.
- Color of the day: Red
- Continue with more Behavior Expectations and Visuals
- Practicing Mute/Unmute with “Hello, my name is ____ and I like __(favorite food)__.”
- Directed drawing of a red crab (I led this off of his steps, but you could play it/share your screen. I had a number of parents write in about how fun this was for their child!)
- Color Word Sight Word Read aloud for red and journaling.
- Color of the day: Blue
- Create “Essential Agreements” together (Come up with 3 agreed upon rules. What is important for our online learning day so we can all be successful learners?)
- Four square drawing (Make a 4-square foldable. Draw: something blue in your room, something blue outside, a blue toy, and your favorite blue thing.)
- Number 1 Rule in Kindergarten: “Never hurt any 1 on the inside or the outside.”
- “Wrinkled Heart” activity: “Before you speak, think and be smart – it’s hard to fix a wrinkled heart.” Cut out a large red heart. Show the perfect red heart to all of the students – have them describe it. Point out that it’s is smooth and “perfect.” This heart is showing how we feel when we are happy! What happens when someone hurts our feelings? (Tear part of the heart.) Uh oh! What are some other things that might make us sad or hurt our heart? (Students give examples such as push, say something mean, laugh at someone’s answer, cut in line, etc., and each time, tear part of the heart or crinkle part of it after each example.) Now, it’s time to fix this sad heart! How is the heart looking now? (Have students describe it.) How do we fix a wrinkled, torn heart? (Students can give ideas like say I’m sorry, give a hug, write a note, etc. and with each example, tape up the heart or smooth out a wrinkle.) When the heart is all “fixed” back up, show it to the students. Ask them if it looks like it did before. In closing: Explain how even though we may say things to help friends feel better (like I’m sorry, etc.), their heart still might feel hurt. The hurt from people’s words and actions never go away even when we try to fix it. SO – “Before you speak, think and be smart – REMEMBER – it’s hard to fix a wrinkled heart.” I keep this heart hung up in the front of my classroom all year as a reminder for kind words and actions.
- Color Word Sight Word Read aloud for blue and journaling.
- Color of the day: Green
- Review our created Essential Agreements
- Practicing Mute/Unmute with “Hello, my name is ____ and my favorite toy is _____.”
- Color Word Sight Word Read aloud for green and journaling.
- Color of the day: Orange
- Review Behavior Expectations with Visuals
- Practicing Mute/Unmute with “Hello, my name is ____ and my favorite animal is a_____.”
- Orange drawing game: I’m thinking of something…. (Pick something orange and describe it – do 4 different orange things.) Students draw their guesses/responses.
- Color Word Sight Word Read aloud for orange and journaling.
During week 2, we went into our full schedule and began integrating all of our curriculum. We sent out information for parents such as the full day schedule, small group assignments, and a troubleshooting video for those who were having difficulties getting onto a google classroom or submitting assignments in google classroom. (I created it in Screencastify.)
Small Group Resources
Doing small groups virtually is not for the weak of heart. After administering the 20-30 minute one-on-one assessments the first week of school, I did a data dive and split students into small groups. I ended up with 5 groups, and am seeing them twice a week. Here’s our schedule so you can get an idea of what it’s like:
Resources I use for Guided Reading or Activities during Small Groups:
Center-type of Activities assigned to students via a weekly choice board:
- Nearpod Lessons
- Read aloud and response activity (bookflix or storylineonline)
- Handwriting activity
- 2-3 Math activities (that coincide with current math unit)
- Science (Mystery Science is amazing!)
- Sight Words (Used this blog for wonderful ideas!)
- Letter/Word Work, and Math Games (abcya games)
- Reading practice (Teach Your Monster to Read)
Curriculum Pick-up: What we Sent Home
- ELA Curriculum workbooks
- Primary lined page in a sheet protector
- “See think wonder“ page in sheet protector to go with lessons
- Skinny expo markers (to write on their sheet protectors/laminated sheets)
- 10 Thinking Maps: circle and bubble (for assignments)
- Play-doh for learning activities
- Math workbooks
- Laminated 10 Frame
- Daily Journal
I hope this post was helpful as you get ready for the first week or two of school and all of the Back to School events that might look different with virtual or hybrid schedules! If you think of other things I could share or give ideas on related to teaching, please let me know in the comments section, or message me on Instagram!
Thanks for stopping by to read! XO