Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
In this week’s #remotelearningdiaries, first grade teacher Natalie Alaniz explains how she maintains strong connections with young students virtually. Read more and get tips on how to recreate the lesson for your students!
One of my favorite things in the classroom are my read-alouds. I love reenacting my favorite scenes from the book and watching my first graders lean forward with smiling faces, waiting for that suspenseful climax.
Part of the thrill for my students during our read-aloud is that they get to share their views, connections, and snarky commentary as well. This is what brings life and substance to our readings.
With the way we had to end our school year utilizing online tools and creating countless teaching videos, I had to make sure not only that my instruction was accessible but also engaging and meaningful.
With Edpuzzle, I’ve been able to add a part of that back into my classroom and it has made such a difference!
I started out by listing what my focus would be for my lessons and how I would do them if I were in class. After jotting these ideas down, I started to visualize how I could still deliver content yet make sure that my students were watching and interacting.
I wanted to make sure that whatever I decided to use was going to be user-friendly and not have a separate login process for my first graders. Since my class was already set up with Google Classroom and we had already been using it all year long, my students knew how to login and go straight to the assignment.
I know that my first graders have short attention spans so I wanted to make sure the content I assigned them was engaging and short. I kept that in mind as I chose or created my videos.
I also wanted to follow some of the same classroom routines so that it felt familiar to my students. For example, I shared videos for morning meeting songs that students could watch whenever they wanted. With lessons, I made sure to go over our objectives, then model what we were learning, and finish with some type of activity.
For my first video, I decided that I would review Realistic Fiction. After trying out various videoing platforms I decided to stick to using Screencast-O-matic to create my videos. I chose this because it worked well on my laptop and was easy to use. Per the request of my students, I even took old photos of my classroom to add as a background. They loved this!
I needed somewhere to place all of my content and having used Google everything, Google Slides was my best bet. I set up my slides with the images and short text I wanted to display. Because my students are so young, I wanted to make sure not to bombard them with too many graphics.
I also wanted to make sure they could see me when I recorded myself over the slides. With Screencast-O-matic I could then record myself over my Google Slides.
One of my first slides had my content and language objectives because we usually go over this to start our lessons. I call it our “sneak peak,” so they know what’s coming. My next slide was an anchor chart of “realistic fiction” that I talked about when recording, and my last slide was a realistic character sort.
I took one of my center sorts and used my computer’s snapshot tool to break it apart into pieces I could move. During my lesson, I completed the sort and prompted my students as if we were in the classroom. Once the recording was done, that’s when I added the magic of Edpuzzle.
Once in Edpuzzle, I uploaded my video and went to the points in my slide where I asked a question verbally and inserted the same question that I had prompted my students with in my video recording.
You can also record your voice asking the questions (using audio notes) for those students that can’t read quite yet. This helped to make sure they were paying attention and involved.
I like that Edpuzzle has the option of not allowing students to skip ahead, but they can still go back if they don’t remember what was mentioned in the video. I am able to see if they viewed it, how many times, and if they viewed it all the way until the end.
I also created a quick video explaining how Edpuzzle assignments would work since I was “grading” them. I use that term loosely, since I allowed them to redo them if needed. This helped to circumvent most questions. I posted that video in Google Classroom and sent the link through our Remind app to parents. This way they had that resource to look back at.
The results are in, drumroll please...
It’s been a couple of months since we began teaching using these tools away from school and it’s proved to be a great way of connecting with my students!
I do daily Zoom chats with my kiddos, but some can’t always make it. Instead they leave me comments in our Google Classroom and often reference some of the videos in our discussions. They love Edpuzzle and mention how they watch certain morning songs over and over again.
Our morning meetings were always a great start to our day, and I continued parts of that by using YouTube videos of our favorite learning songs in Edpuzzle as well. Who doesn’t love Jack Hartman, right? Adding in questions for those videos has been great and the kids know many by heart.
I used a mix of multiple choice questions and open-ended questions in my videos. This turned out great since I could see students’ typed responses. I was able to see their phonetic spelling, how they explained their answers, and if an adult helped them (by way of their spelling).
While this first lesson wasn’t a book read-aloud, I have found it a great way to add picture book walks and read-alouds back into our life. Since I have many of my lessons recorded already, I plan on making these into Edpuzzles for this coming school year. That way, I can make sure they are watching and not just clicking away.
Tips for teaching little learners
Young kids need the emotional support of seeing their teachers in video. Using recorded videos with Edpuzzle gives me the ability to connect with them and know that they are watching. It also helps me feel that I’m not always talking to myself, when I see the view counts.
Even if you don’t use your own videos, you can still use almost any YouTube video and then record your voice as a narrator throughout a video. This is great with things like math calendar videos where you can use the “voice-over” as the video plays. It personalizes the lesson for students even though it’s content from somewhere else.
Since we have various center rotation times, I plan on using Edpuzzle as a center for spiraling lessons and sharing new content. The added bonus is that I can reuse many of my videos this coming year!
I recommend ending your video, especially if it’s a read-aloud, with an open-ended question. There you can have your students comment on their favorite part, a text-to-self connection or whatever popped into their minds while watching and listening to your story.
At the end of the day, yes good instruction is critical with remote learning, but making some kind of connection is of utmost importance right now. If you can achieve both of these then kudos!
Want more excellent teacher tips? Check out #remotelearningdiaries on Twitter for great Edpuzzle lesson plans!