“Their engagement went from 0 to 100 and I was able to actually get some real teaching done.”
Guest Blogger: Beth Pittman
1st Grade Teacher, Early Ed Influencer, Blogger
Follow me: https://www.instagram.com/flexibleinfirst/
“Since this past March, we’ve been distance learning in our California school district. Just like everyone else, we were all scrambling to find things that worked with our students. At first, I was standing in front of my camera talking to my students over a computer. I learned quickly that I was not going to be able to hold my students’ attention. They needed some excitement, some spice, and something visually to get them engaged. I had recently implemented Letters alive in class and I knew my students loved it, so I gave it a shot virtually and WOW it was just what we all needed! Their engagement went from 0 to 100 and I was able to actually get some real teaching done.
With Letters alive, we’ve been able to review and master three key ELA skills:
1. Word Building with Phonics Patterns: Yes, even 1st graders need practice with letters and sounds; especially as letters are put together and the sounds change. The Word Builder in Letters alive is perfect for this! When I use the letter and word family cards, we are able to hear the individual sounds and the word as a whole. My students love directing me to use the different cards as we work our way through words. This has been a great review and practice for vowel teams and has given me their undivided attention as I teach them these concepts.
2. Sentence Building and Proper Punctuation: My students love putting words together and building sentences. But their biggest problem has always been capitalization and punctuation. When we build sentences in Letters alive using the sight word cards, not only do we get to see what all the 26 zoo animals can do in 3D, we also get to see the capitalization and punctuation get added on the fly! This has helped my kids so much and gives me a fun way to point it out and teach them the concept. When I build “The horse can run,” we see the “T” get capitalized, a period added at the end, AND, we see Henry Horse actually running! The sights, sounds, and actions have bridged the attention gap I was having with distance learning, and my students are actually learning and retaining the information.
3. Writing: One of the biggest problems with writing is finding things to write about. Letters alive has 26 animals in the Alive Studios Zoo. Each animal has a name, a rhyming story, a set of actions, a habitat, and other animal facts. This layer of animal science has ignited my students’ imaginations and they always have fun things to write about.
In addition to these ELA skills, I discovered a cool way to improve my students’ behavior while distance learning; I assign a “helper of the day.” My helper is able to verbally assist throughout each lesson. At the end of the lesson, I allow them to select one of the 26 animals for us to watch their habitat video so we can go on a virtual field trip. My kids LOVE this! They feel a sense of pride and accomplishment by playing an active role. Now all my students are at their best in hopes of being the helper for tomorrow!
I also have to let you know about the Zoo Crew Alphabet Show. Alive Studios took their “lockdown time” as a company and filmed 26 animal/letter lessons and shared them for FREE on YouTube. There’s over 6 hours of digital learning that you can share with your students and your parents. This also helps that disconnect created by remote learning for our little ones. I know my parents are loving it as we continue to figure out what is next for schools.”