From Pre-Kindergarten through 12th Grade, the school year has officially begun for Shawnee Mission School District students.
On Wednesday, Shawnee Mission welcomed back students in 8th, 10th, and 11th grade. On Thursday, September 10, Shawnee Mission welcomed its youngest learners with Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classes beginning. The first days were filled with activities to help establish classroom norms, build relationships, and help students learn.
Kindergartners at Lenexa Hills joined class remotely in Alex Helpingstine and Mattie Weck’s classroom. Lessons included reviewing the class rules, singing songs, dancing, and listening to a story. Students were cued to give a thumbs up when they understood a concept or raise their hand if they had a question. Much like in-person learning, these signals will help establish classroom norms for the remote learning setting.
The teachers had laptops, iPads, and Smart Boards to assist with their lessons that included modeling behavior, interactive questions, and pictures to reinforce concepts.
“Kiss your brain!” Helpingstine exclaimed when a question was answered correctly – kissing her finger and touching her head. “Voice is quiet,” was demonstrated with a finger on the lips. The class discussed what good rules would be for kindergarten and decided on:
Raise your hand
Voice is quiet when others are talking
Following their morning meeting they moved on to make lion masks, since the Lenexa Lion is the school mascot. Students received materials for the masks when they drove through for supply pick-up at the school.
Weck invited her students to be problem-solvers and press the “belly button” on their iPads to reboot their session. Following their morning meeting she read the book “Our Class is a Family.”
In Pre-Kindergarten, Nicole Streeter used repetition and movement to share class expectations in a song including: eyes are watching, ears are listening, voices are quiet, and body is calm. Streeter invited students to stand up, do the motions and sing along during the morning meeting.
In the library, Melissa Sadrakula was meeting with a class during their library time and reading a story and asking questions.
At the secondary level, middle and high schools have engaged students in many of the same first-day lessons and traditions they would encounter any year.
Hocker Grove took students on virtual tours to meet school staff. Students joined icebreaker activities, learned about remote learning expectations. They also took part in service projects and took part in a lesson about taking care of their physical, mental, and emotional health. Kaitlyn Spencer, art teacher, is looking forward to recording art demonstrations to share with her students. The students will create art work with the art kits provided that included a sketchbook, colored pencils, water colors and other supplies. In Social Studies, students participated in completing a Canvas passport as they visited different parts of the platform. Kimberly Gilman, eighth grade social studies teacher collaborated with Molly Long, seventh grade social studies teacher, noting this would not have been possible without remote learning.
The first days at Shawnee Mission West included time for teachers to introduce students to Canvas as well as everyone in their class. In one activity, some teachers asked students to design a virtual locker space. It helped teachers and classmates get to know each other and what was important to them, Melissa Guinto, instructional coach said.
“These activities help us get to know our students and what is important to them. This time we invest in building relationships will pay off throughout the year,” Guinto said. “It’s been really great. Teachers have been helping teachers a lot and we keep focusing on persistence and resilience.”