SCHOOLS | February 26, 2021
From the moment they arrive at their cubbies, pre-k students at Kozminski Community Academy are eager to learn and excited to be back in the classroom. Their masks are on; their desk shields are in place; and they know the importance of social distancing and using hand sanitizer.
Ms. Emily Drennan’s full day pre-k class is a combination of in-person and remote students. In-person students spend part of their school day engaging directly with their remote peers and part of the day learning independently or through one-on-one guidance from Ms. Drennan and Ms. Andriette Randell, the teacher assistant.
Before the remote students joined the classroom for the day, students journaled to kick off their learning. The current theme they are studying is pets, so students were encouraged to draw a picture of a dog and write and draw a word that rhymes with dog.
And they aren’t the only pre-k students hard at work! Across the hall, pre-k teacher Ms. Hannah Ferguson, special education teacher Ms. Geraldine Moody, and special education classroom assistant Ms. Sarah Turner are working with their half-day and fully remote blended pre-k class, which includes both general education students and diverse learners.
They are also using animals to help students learn letters and words. Today, students were encouraged to stomp like an elephant when Ms. Ferguson held up the letter that their first name started with.
Social-emotional learning is a big part of being a pre-k student at Kozminski, so when the remote learners join Ms. Drennan’s class for the day, the first thing she does is to ask each student how they are feeling.
It was important for Principal Bernadette Glover that the remote pre-k students were able to see directly into the classroom, and the simultaneous learning setup reflects this. One camera is on Ms. Drennan, and one is on the in-person students. The entire Google Meet is then projected so the in-person students can easily see their remote peers without needing to be on a device.
February is Black History Month, and students in Ms. Drennan’s class celebrated by talking about influential Black leaders and reading a short poem that outlined Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision. Take a look at how the school used colorful tape to ensure students remain socially distanced.
Ms. Ferguson and Ms. Moody also incorporated Black History Month into their lesson for the day. The class talked specifically about Ruby Bridges—one of the first Black students to desegregate an all-White school. They even used Ruby as an example for one of their math problems later in the day!
Activities that give all students a chance to learn together are a key piece of pre-k instruction at Kozminski. In Ms. Drennan’s class, both in-person and remote students continued their study of pets by playing Pet Jeopardy! Each in-person and remote student had an opportunity to earn points by answering a riddle like the following correctly:
I am a small furry pet. I live in a cage. I like to drink from a bottle and spin on my wheel. What am I?
Across the hall, students worked on their sight words: in, she, and to. Each student used a whiteboard to help learn these three words and was also given an opportunity to share a sentence using them with the class. Some remote students participated on their own, while others had a parent sitting next to them to provide assistance and support.
Giving students an opportunity to learn independently is also an important part of any school day for a pre-k student. In Ms. Drennan’s class, students are able to choose between different stations, from learning on the whiteboard to using manipulatives and blocks. Her class even has a “dramatic play center” where students can learn more about pets by pretending to work at an animal shelter.
Of course, all materials are thoroughly sanitized after they are used. The classroom has a plastic bin by each station where students can easily drop off the toys or other materials they were learning with.
Pre-k wouldn’t be pre-k without plenty of opportunities to move around. In the classroom, students take frequent movement breaks to help them stay active. They also have an entire section of their day specifically designated for gross motor development. Even during this part of the day, students know the importance of keeping their masks on and social distancing.
And it wouldn’t be a complete day of learning for pre-k students at Kozminski without a story time. Ms. Ferguson read The Skin You Live In to her students to encourage them to find confidence in being who they are.
In Ms. Drennan’s classroom, story time is a reflection of all the ways she has made her class as inclusive as possible for both in-person and remote students. The book—today, The Story of Ferdinand—is displayed on the screen so everyone can see it. Ms. Drennan reads the story slowly and asks questions to both in-person and remote students to make sure everyone is following along.
While this school year is still one of the most challenging ever, schools like Kozminski have gone above and beyond to ensure all students are safe and supported whether they are learning at school or at home. Thank you for following along as we showed what a day in the life looks like for a pre-k student!
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