Class During COVID: monthly assessment shows kindergartners are on pace with their learning

West Middleton teacher Amy Blake says she’s amazed at how well her students are doing.
Published: Jan. 28, 2021 at 9:00 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 28, 2021 at 10:29 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Kindergartners at West Middleton Elementary School have spent the past five months learning virtually. Mrs. Amy Blake has been without students in her classroom for almost a year, but while many worry that students will be way behind when they return to in-person learning, she says she’s amazed at how well her students are doing.

Mrs. Amy Blake says despite five months of virtual learning, her students are progressing well...
Mrs. Amy Blake says despite five months of virtual learning, her students are progressing well through their benchmarks and learning important kindergarten skills.(Leigh Mills)

“We’re going to do letter sounds. We’re going to do snap words, and we’re going to read a book,” explains Mrs. Amy Blake to her 5-year-old student, Ellie Dowell, during their weekly one on one zoom meeting.

This month marks the halfway point of kindergarten in Blake’s class.

“I’m trying not to view it as a lost year, per se, but just as a different year,” says Blake.

All four kindergarten teachers at West Middleton do monthly “check-ins” to assess students’ progress. This month Blake checked letter sounds and SNAP words, which are words they need to know in a snap. In November, Ellie knew 3 SNAP words. This month she’s up to 18.

“We are all super excited about where our kids are at at this point,” says Blake, “I feel like it’s because we’ve had to completely zone in on the skills that we know kids need by the end of kindergarten that are absolutely crucial, and we’ve kind of let go of the things that aren’t as important.”

While some experts are warning about COVID slide, Blake feels her students are keeping up and are right where they should be.

“In those core subjects I feel like the kids this year are going to be just as solid as if they had been in school,” explains Blake, “There might be some skills they need to tighten up in the spring, but there’s no way, in my opinion, that the kids are one year behind.”

Now, after months of waiting, Mrs. Blake and her kindergarten class will be going to school for the first time next week. She asked her students about it during a live zoom call earlier in the month.

“How does that make you feel that we get to be in the classroom together?”

“Super excited!” replied Lauren D.

Amir C. added, “So, so excited!”

“I’m so excited to be back in the classroom, but there are so many things to be thinking about I have to plan for and prep for,” explains Blake,”So it’s a little bit of those butterflies and excitement in a good way, but also just wanting to make sure we’re doing it right and safe.”

Kindergarten orientation continues on Friday. The two cohorts for grades K-4 begin hybrid learning next week, with half of the students attending Monday-Tuesday and the other half attending Thursday-Friday.

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