Classroom Teacher, The Brilliance School
Mary is a founding teacher at an urban charter school in Youngstown, Ohio. She teaches 4th and 5th grade ELA and Math.
Teacher Mary Fultz shares how she adjusted a blended learning model (lab rotation) for remote learning with Kiddom, and how she plans to continue using it now that she's back in the classroom. This is the second blog in a series of two parts. Read the first one, "Is Blended Learning Here to Stay? (Survey Results)" here.
There is no question that this school year has been challenging. For me, switching from in-person, to remote learning, back to in-person was the greatest challenge. Those transitions came with new duties, different expectations, and more preparations than a typical year.
Two of my biggest concerns going into remote learning were not being able to meet the needs of all of my scholars while being remote, and how in the world was I going to be able to get all of my worksheets into an online format. One thing that held constant, and was an extreme asset during all these transitions and challenges, was how I used Blended Learning in my classroom. A support that helped immensely with this was Kiddom.
A Little Background
I currently teach 4th and 5th grade ELA and Math at an urban charter school in Youngstown, Ohio. It was not a shock when our principal announced that we were going remote. The cases in the city had been on the rise for weeks. The shock was the amount of time we had to get technology and supplies out to families, all while getting our lessons ready to deliver online.
We had meeting after meeting about how the school planned to get technology out, expectations for how teachers would deliver lessons, and the concerns we all had. During one of the meetings, our principal reminded us that we had Kiddom as a resource which would support our teaching while remote. Instantly, I started to think of ways that I could use Kiddom in my remote classroom and how it could support the form of Blended Learning that I was already using (Lab Rotation).
How We Do In-Class Lab Rotation
Before remote learning, and now that we are back in-person, I use the Lab Rotation model of Blended Learning to support and supplement the content I teach in class. My fourth graders start their day in the lab and then rotate to my classroom for their face-to-face instruction. My fifth graders do the opposite. They start with face-to-face instruction then rotate to the lab for their online component.
In-School Lab Content – Students work at their own pace.
Each week, my co-teacher and I look at the content we'll be teaching, and then assign lessons on iReady that correspond with this content. The scholars are able to go at their own pace for these teacher-assigned lessons. As teachers, we are able to quickly see if the lessons are helping and supporting the content or if they need to be adjusted to better meet the scholar’s learning needs.
Face-to-face Instruction – Students work with an instructor.
Here, rather than work at their own pace, students work with an instructor.
How We Adjusted Our Lab Rotation for Remote Learning
When we got word of going remote, I knew my version of Lab Rotation had to be changed a bit. My expectations of what my scholars could do completely on their own had to be slightly altered. The lessons that my co-teacher and I assigned became more intentional.
Yes, we had always been assigning lessons that supported our instruction, but we looked deeper at what iReady had to offer and how we could use it and receive the most benefit. We also took a look at Kiddom and how we could implement it into our instruction, both, in the classroom and in the lab.
Remote Class Instruction – Students work with an instructor.
We discovered that Kiddom was a fantastic resource for remote learning. It took away the guesswork of, “how am I going to be able to have my scholars do this worksheet or assessment while online?” For us, it was more beneficial to use Kiddom during our class instruction time.
At-Home Lab Content – Students work at their own pace.
We were able to use the activities in Kiddom from our curriculum to help drive what we were assigning for our scholars to do during the lab part of their rotation as well.
While remote, I used Kiddom almost daily in my Google Meet lessons. I created a student account for myself so I was able to see exactly what my scholars were seeing.
Student view of various blended learning activities assigned within Kiddom for Lab Content.
Because of this, I was able to model concepts and do "think-alouds" for my scholars. For those who may be unfamiliar, a think-aloud is where the teacher verbalizes what he or she is doing to find the answer to a question or a solution to a problem. It takes modeling the content one step further.
Example of a student group chat doing a "think aloud" session within Kiddom.
The first day we used Kiddom, I was completely up front with them. I told my scholars that it was my first time using Kiddom as well, so it might not go as planned. They were gracious and patient which helped the lesson go off without a hitch. Every day, I am impressed with my scholars’ abilities to adapt to the ever-changing situations that they have been put through over the last year.
Kiddom helped keep my scholars engaged and allowed me to track their progress. For example, I was able to monitor if my scholars were working and following along, if they were away from their screen, or having trouble.
Additionally, I was able to use Kiddom as a form of formative assessment. After I modeled part of the activity, I would have my scholars finish on their own (see appendix below for an example of this). Since I could see in real time what they were typing, I could clear up any misconceptions or encourage them that they were on the right track.
Looking Forward: Blended Learning in a Post-Pandemic World
In a post-covid world, I plan to still use Blended Learning within my classroom. I am eager to learn new ways of implementation of the different models within Blended Learning and ways to improve how I am already using it.
In the future, I would love to make 90% of my activities (note-catchers, worksheets, homework) be done using Kiddom. I do believe that some activities in elementary school, like writing, are better done in paper/pencil, but using technology to do worksheets and homework adds engagement to the lesson. By moving to this more tech-based approach, the result is Kiddom becoming the center of my face-to-face portion of my Lab Rotation.
Currently, our class period for ELA is 90 minutes so it is already structured differently than a 45 minute class period. However, in a post-pandemic world, I will be adding in small group reading time:
Small Group Reading Instruction – Students work together in the classroom.
Right now we can't really have scholars do too much small group work because of social distancing, but I would love to implement daily small group reading time to help our scholars practice fluency and comprehension in their reading. The "mentor text" from class time would be used during the small group reading time, giving scholars a chance to get a second or third look at the text.
Face-to-face Instruction – Students work with an instructor.
Using technology to do worksheets and homework adds engagement to the lesson. By moving to this more tech-based approach, the result is Kiddom becoming the center of my face-to-face portion of my Lab Rotation.
In-School Lab Content – Students work at their own pace.
Kiddom can be accessed through the lab as well as in the classroom.
The advice that I have for other teachers is to take the time to fully understand how Kiddom works and how it can be beneficial in the classroom. I would encourage them to practice assigning things on the platform. I would also encourage all teachers to make a student account. This was the most beneficial thing for me, because I was able to see what my scholars were seeing. The teacher view looks extremely different than the student view. It was also extremely beneficial for me to take the time the first day and walk my scholars through the process of how to use Kiddom and the different tools on the platform.
Without Kiddom, my Blended Learning, and overall instruction while remote would have been lacking. My scholars would not have been as engaged and honestly, they might have even been bored. Kiddom continues to help me instructionally and it helps keep my scholars engaged during this ever-changing time.
Understanding Blended Learning Models
Appendix: A Blended Learning Example Using Digital Curriculum in Kiddom
My fifth grade class was reading through Esperanza Rising. Part of the curriculum we access through Kiddom (EL Education curriculum by Open Up Resources) has the scholars analyze different character reactions when placed in different situations. There are many situations throughout the book that are analyzed. Each situation has a corresponding "note-catcher" that tells the scholars what characters’ reactions they are analyzing.
The EL Education digital curriculum in Kiddom comes with built-in interactives in each lesson, like these Note Catcher and reflection homework activities shown here.
For these activities, I would assign the note-catcher to my scholars on Kiddom. During class time, I would share my screen with my student account so that they would be seeing exactly what their note-catcher would look like.
I would then model how I knew that a character reacted a certain way, and I would fill out the note-catcher. Then, we would do the next one together. Finally, I would release the scholars to the lab to do the rest of the note-catcher on their own, following the I Do, We Do, You Do model.
An example of a Note Catcher assignment from the EL Education curriculum which teachers can edit and assign through Kiddom.
Their work done in the lab allowed me to see if the scholars were mastering the content or if they needed more support. These activities helped drive my instruction in face-to-face lessons, as well as what I was assigning for my scholars’ next lab component.
When introducing activities such as these, I found that my scholars were able to navigate Kiddom with ease. After the initial showing of how the platform worked, they didn't have any trouble navigating or completing assignments. I was extremely impressed with their willingness to try new things.
One big takeaway from this experience has been to embrace trying new things. Kiddom and Blended Learning were both new things at the beginning of the year, but now I do not know what I would do without them.
Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.
For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.
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Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.
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