Arianna Doniger is an ESL Kindergarten teacher, Campus Innovation Connector, and Device Manager at Allison Elementary
This year has been the year of thinking outside the physical classroom. I have had to rethink how to present information to my Kinder students, how to get them to practice what I am teaching, and also to make sure they fully understand what was taught. It has been almost a year since we had to convert to virtual learning and every day I learn something new. This year teaching through zoom and face to face has been challenging, eye-opening, and thought provoking. This combination of teaching has changed how I teach my students.
We mostly use manipulatives and hands on experiences for my kinder students to be engaged in their learning and to interact with the world around them. This has been the biggest struggle for me while trying to teach my virtual students especially in math. Since we are using iPads in Kindergarten it has become easier to get students to use Dreambox and practice their number fluency skills. Dreambox uses the rekenrek boards and I noticed that my students were struggling with this concept. This experience was eye opening because the virtual rekenrek boards worked for some students but did not for the others. I knew I needed a way to get something into the hands of my students so that those who were struggling had a way to be able to succeed. So I made personal rekenrek boards using red and white beads and pipe cleaners for my students. I provided one for every student in my class just in case the whole class went virtual and I needed to continue teaching. I also made a class set so those who are face to face to use in the classroom. After using it with the kids, they were making lots of progress on Dreambox and those who are still struggling have this tool to use to help them.
Not everything has been as successful as the rekenrek boards and I know there will be more ups and downs the rest of this year. I just hope that my students are able to learn all they need this year with all the new challenges that we have to face.