BLEND (Canvas LMS) in a Bilingual Kindergarten classroom? …..cue in the horror movie music!

Today’s Contributor: My name is Ana Gonzalez. I have worked in Austin ISD for about 10 years now. I am the bilingual teacher at Kocurek Elementary. One of my technological accomplishments is having my kinder kids log in to Istation and Dream Box through their AISD portal. I enjoy doing crafts on my time off like crocheting. I am a beginner so I can only do winter caps. I am currently working on making winter caps for my future kindergartners.

Every time someone would mention BLEND, it gave me an uncomfortable feeling.  Tackling BLEND felt like a challenge with my mixed classroom (English and Spanish) of young learners. Although I was able to do my class homepage in BLEND, it was about as far as I could go. I didn’t feel that BLEND was user friendly and it was complicated to use. I had already been able to successfully implement my students using their Chromebooks with a QR code to log into the AISD student portal and I felt so accomplished. If only I could multiply myself, my students could get more of a personalized education.  

I decided I would take it one small step at a time. I knew my English students needed to review sight words and thought, “Well that’s easy! I could put some of the YouTube videos onto a BLEND page so the students can practice on their own during small group time.” I contacted my Tech Design Coach, Diane Wells, and had her give me more information about how to do this on BLEND. After she left, I felt confident and full of information. Placing the videos in groups on different BLEND pages was the easy part, but later I realized that what I considered the easy part had another step to it. I had to have my YouTube videos set as “approved for AISD student viewing” by my TDC, Diane Wells. Since I was using videos that all came from the same YouTube channel, my TDC was able to set the whole channel as “approved” which now means my students will have viewability of any content from this channel that I put in BLEND. After getting all the YouTube links on my page, I had to play around with how the videos appeared on the screen for the students. At first when the students logged on, the title of the video was the only thing they could see and not the video’s thumbnail so I was able to switch how each appeared on the page. This made it much more user friendly for my early readers to navigate. Here is the final result of what the BLEND page looked like for English students:

Once I worked out all the kinks with the English section, I had to tackle the Spanish section. I did a similar BLEND page for my Spanish speakers by making a collection of their morning songs (sonidos estrellita and abecedario).  I compiled a couple of the YouTube videos with silabas they would be using during the week. I found that making my Spanish BLEND page went very smoothly since I had already done the English page. Here is the final result:

In the end, I was surprised at how well both sections work. My students had a little bit of difficulty finding the right BLEND tile to click on the first few times but once they are in they know what videos to use. They even get the spelling boards they need on their own without asking and put them away also. I feel they are progressing well, and I am making note of things I would like to change for next year.

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