Elementary Class Time is the Best Time

If you’ve never been in an online elementary classroom before, it may be hard to picture what it looks like.

Today I’m going to share all about Class Time with FLVS Flex Elementary!

What is Class Time?

“Class Time” is what we call our live lessons with our students. I meet with my students twice a week in our virtual classroom for two hours. Language Arts and Social Studies are followed by Math, Science, and Technology (with a 15-minute break in between classes). Our students log into our classroom and can see me, a list of friends that are in class with them, the content I’m teaching, and a chat box. We use Blackboard Collaborate for our virtual classroom platform. The students follow a link to get to my classroom and sign in with their name (this is how I can see who is in class with me). Here is what our classroom looks like:

We make our slides for Class Time in PowerPoint. We combine subjects in our PowerPoint lessons; each Class Time day we have one PowerPoint for Language Arts and Social Studies and then another one for Math, Science, and Technology. We then load the PowerPoint into Blackboard Collaborate and voila – lesson time!

How do students participate?

During Class Time, the students have the opportunity to turn on their microphone and camera and share their thinking, show their work, or boast their dance moves during brain breaks. They also have access to a toolbar (which I turn on and off as needed). Their tools consist of stamping, drawing, typing, line drawing, and movable objects on the board. The students have access to some items all the time, like the ability to vote or give me a green check/red X, smiley faces, and the ability to raise their hand, to name a few. There is also a chat box in our virtual classroom that is open all the time. In Kindergarten, it is mostly parents communicating for them in the chat box or asking me questions.

Keeping a 5-year-old engaged is a challenging task regardless of your setting! In the virtual setting, it can be even more challenging because you can’t see them unless their camera is on.

I keep this in mind when planning lessons and try to make them as appealing as possible. Lots of interaction with the material can really help. The more the students are able to do (just like in a brick-and-mortar classroom), the more they will be engaged with the material. We also always take a brain break about halfway through each class so the students have the chance to stand up, get their wiggles out, and have some fun. And, as you may know, I love to use props. Hats, glasses, headbands (my personal favorite), and any other prop I can incorporate can help to keep my young learners focused on me.

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We do everything you’d see in a brick-and-mortar classroom. We read, write, do science experiments, dance, sing, do centers…you name it. The only difference is we are not physically together.

Are there any challenges?

The biggest challenges in the virtual Kindergarten classroom have to do with taking turns. When we are doing a whole-group activity, every student wants to do it and they sometimes have a hard time waiting for their turn at this age. But with practice, and activities like centers, they get better throughout the year with this. Also, there are some limitations in Blackboard that make turn-taking a challenge. For example, only six cameras can be on at one time. So, during a brain break, only six kids can show off their dance moves and that’s it. Something else that can be challenging at the Kindergarten level is the students need a lot of support in operating the tools and being successful in the virtual classroom. Most have their home educator sitting with them to assist during Class Time, but there are times when the home educator must step away. In this event, it is hard for the student to navigate the lessons alone, especially in the beginning of the year. Even though my students are 5 and 6, they do pick it up quickly and some can participate in Class Time independently by the end of the year.

When I made the change from a brick-and-mortar classroom to my virtual classroom, I wasn’t really sure what this would look like. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that the only big difference is the platform: we are in a virtual room on the computer. But the kids, the teaching, the fun – that’s all the same.

How do I help my student succeed?

Class Time is a great opportunity to give elementary students (and parents!) the support they need to succeed. Being a home educator is a lot of work, but Class Time is a great way for students to connect and feel motivated.

Check out the video below to see Class Time in action for yourself:

Have any questions? Drop them below!

Cover Image Credit: Charlotte, FLVS Elementary School Student


Cara PiperCara Piper loves teaching Kindergarten students online with FLVS Flex Elementary! She is a teacher mama, grammar aficionado, blogger, and collector of creative headbands to keep her students engaged during Class Time. Follow her on Instagram @virtualelementaryteachers.



12 comments on “Elementary Class Time is the Best Time

  1. Georgette

    I love this site, so much great information! With online learning a very real possibility for the start of this coming school year, I am trying to do a lot of research. I teach K as well and overall my class did well online during this past quarter. I also used a lot of Power Points and Recorded Read Alouds. I am curious to know how you were able to set up the interactive part of the Powerpoint. How can you get it so that each student can participate and do one part of the exercise on their screen and everyone can see it. The interactive part would be a HUGE benefit and a definite game changer.

    Reply
    1. Cara PiperCara Piper

      Hi, Georgette!

      This was written when we used Blackboard. We now use Zoom and don’t have moveable objects for the kids, but there is still the option to use Zoom tools (drawing, stamping, etc). Another idea is to use Nearpod. You can upload your PowerPoint to Nearpod and present it to your kids and they can all interact with every activity. The student can only see their work, but the teacher can see everyone’s work. It’s super cool and highly engaging!
      -Cara

      Reply
      1. Deb

        Cara- I am also a kindergarten teacher trying to get some ideas with the upcoming year possibly being virtual again. Is there a video you could post on how you used zoom tools? We used zoom, but it was more for just checking in with students and making sure they were doing well. I would love to see how you used the tools in zoom. 🙂

        Reply
  2. Twila

    I am considering this for my 5th grader for the 21-22 school year. How are accommodation handled with children that require extra guidance? Did I read correctly that class time with teachers is two hours twice a week? So are they working at their pace the other days?

    Reply
    1. FLVSFLVS

      Hi Twilla, All students at FLVS have access to many accommodations that naturally occur in the virtual setting. FLVS may also be able to provide additional accommodations per a student’s IEP or Section 504 Plan if the accommodation(s) is/are applicable to the online educational environment.

      FLVS Full Time students are required to attend Class Time three days a week and FLVS Flex students are strongly encouraged to attend Class Time two days a week. Students work at their own pace outside of Class Time with a recommended pace chart to help them stay on track. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  3. Scott C

    Hello! So we have 2 children that will be going into 2nd and 6th grades next month in Sarasota County. We are actually going to be traveling the country in a motor home starting in October and looking to transition them to FLVS at that time. How would I go about transitioning them into the flex program from their brick and mortar setting?! Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Nicole

    Hi! I am still waiting on application status, I received an email today stating the applications for my twins for 5th grade will not be until after the start of school. I know there is an option to do flex but we prefer the full time option. If they do not start until September how will it work for course work, will the be already behind? Also what is the online teaching schedule for 5th grade? Do they have two hours of instruction daily? and specials ? Thank you so much

    Reply
    1. FLVSFLVS

      Hi Nicole, You will receive another email when your application is approved. Once your children are placed in their courses, our teachers will work closely with you to ensure that they stay on track. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  5. Ani

    Hi,
    I have submitted my application today since it’s a last minute decision due to Delta. When do you think our application would be approved? If she is not approved by first school day, how she can be on schedule? How she would be able to participate in class time where other students are on track?

    Reply
    1. FLVSFLVS

      Hi Ani, We are currently experiencing a high volume of new student applicants for FLVS Full Time. Our admissions team is processing applications within a 3-week time frame. Once your student’s application is approved, our teachers will work closely with you and your student to ensure they stay on track.

      Reply

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