It was the day for my “I do” lesson in kindergarten as part of my commitment to get to know our EL Education Skills curriculum better.
It was also the last day of school for who knew (who knows) how long.
We had gotten the call the night before that today would be our last day. Not only that, we were, by the end of this day, expected to be prepared for students to engage in remote learning in three days’ time.
What did that mean? Teachers were scrambling to send kids home with what they might need for learning: packets for some, devices for most, passwords and logins and practiced routines, just to name a few.
All the while, we still hadn’t heard how our kids would eat or be taken care of in the week between now and spring break. It meant frenzy and worry hidden behind smiles and assurances.
It also meant that I was still teaching my interactive writing lesson. Only instead of with and for one kindergarten teacher, I brought all 21 little learners into one space and released the teachers into the other room to do what they needed to get ready.
The kids greeted me with smiles from the carpet. They echoed my directions. They started the lesson with a fishing game: each one grabbed a picture from the “ponds” on the tables and tried to find their rhyming match. With no care about which class they were from, most were successful.
We held the onset in one hand and the rime in the other, clapped our hands together, and helped out those who needed it.
Then we turned our attention to the poem of the day: “Popcorn.” Who knew you might need a “mop” when the popcorn pops out over the “top”? I didn’t know, and I hadn’t written it down. So, mid-lesson, I looked to the two adults in the room, both with furrowed brows, as they tried to help me without giving it away. Finally, I had to look it up. Yes, who knew?
I kept them captivated through three rounds of skywriting words to make a rhyme for each pair of lines in our poem. We practiced stretching high for the tall letters, finding the middle for the short ones, dropping down low for the long letters.
It turns out, similar to last time, they knew this routine better than I did. So, when I sent them to their seats with the “Make a Match” sort, we all knew they’d be successful.
This is what I’m hoping when we relaunch virtual learning next week after a week of spring break. I am hoping that they know the routine better than we do, and that this will allow them to be successful learners at home. That they will see our faces in our lessons, hear our directions, and know just what to do.
That’s why interactive writing was the first lesson I recorded last week as I tried on our digital tools. Between SeeSaw, Google Slides, and Screencastify, I recorded a 12-minute lesson and created a “Make a Match” sort in SeeSaw that teachers can launch next week if they choose.
I wasn’t (and still am not) sure exactly what to do for students or for teachers right now, but this feels like a step in a direction at a time when everything’s been turned upside-down and backwards.
What started out as a commitment to learn what I can about teaching primary readers has left me with no doubt that our kids (and our teachers) are going to be more than just alright when this is all over. They (and we) will have learned so much more than we could have ever imagined.