With this new way of teaching, whether you are in-person or on a computer, you may be wondering how to make sure we are supporting students where they are with their literacy development. I am here to help!
I wrote in my last blog post tricks for using zoom to support student learning. When supporting our youngest students with literacy development remotely, the more interactive we can make the activities, the better. Using zoom, we can sharing our screen with different online activities, annotate the screen, and even let our students have remote control over the activities. Whenever we are doing an activity (in person or on the computer) where one student is modeling for others, we need to think about what the other children are doing. We want all our students to be doing the work, instead of sitting back and passively watching. So, think about what would work for your students. Could they be writing on a whiteboard? Could they use their fingers and “write” on their palms or knees or arms?
Seesaw literacy interventions
One fantastic tool we can use for distance teaching is Seesaw. There is a free version for educators or a paid version. My district bought the paid version for all educators during this time of distance learning. The main difference is the ability to schedule activities ahead of time. I created 74 different interactive Seesaw activities to target five different literacy areas: phonemic awareness, letter ID, letter-sound correspondence, phoneme segmentations, and high frequency words. What I love about these activities is that students can record themselves as they say the letter sounds and complete the work. We can really hear how they are developing their literacy skills. If you want to make your own interactive Seesaw activities, check this blog post out!
I find that literacy skills are best not taught in isolation, so I try to bring in the different skills all throughout the day and all year long. I love to use my phonics powerpoints whenever I have a few minutes to spare. The children are so engaged and love using them to practice their phonics skills. Additionally, I love to use my reading powerpoints to make my reading lessons more interactive. During distance teaching, they really help with modeling and practicing reading skills. If you want to make your own interactive Google Slides, check out this blog post.
Something new I created which was so helpful for distance learning are these 7 different phonics boards. I love that students can manipulate the pieces or I can manipulate them while the students identify the sounds.
There are some awesome online tools for working on literacy with students remotely, or in the classroom (with an interactive whiteboard or on iPads with small groups!). Here are some of my favorites:
Looking to share a text on your screen with your students? I love to use Raz-Kids and Literacy Footprints (although these are paid resource). For free texts, you should check out Epic (which is free for educators) and Unite for Literacy. Epic has a wide range of texts and levels, whereas Unit for Literacy has amazing, mostly non-fiction, texts for emergent readers.
Online moveable letters:
Toytheater.com has fantastic online tools for teachers, including magnetic letters, alphabet tiles, and elkonin boxes. However, my favorite online moveable letters are from reallygreatreading.com (as seen above). You can choose touch input or mouse input to move the letters. I appreciate how you can use color tiles, letters, chunks, and different colored vowels if you want them. It is a blank slate to use and move around the letters with your students. You can also write on the screen!
In classroom literacy interventions
You can read more about how I teach phonics and the alphabet here! I love to use these new literacy interventions with my students throughout the year in small groups or with the whole class. I love that they are the same games and activities, just with new literacy skills to practice. Another fantastic resource I use in my classroom to support literacy development are my wordless books, which you can read about here.
Whether you are online or in-person, assessment will play a large role in supporting students with their literacy development. Consistent check-ins with students will help see their progress and help you target their instruction for the skills they need to practice next. I like my assessment bundle to help track these skills and my students’ progress.
While teaching online is a big shift, we don’t have to completely change the way we support our students with their literacy development. Using new and interactive online tools, we can engage our learners and watch them grow as readers and writers!