Week 1 in Distance Learning 2020

September12

I used to do a weekly review of my week in the classroom and before that, the computer lab. I thought it might be a good time to revive that practice.

First, some background. I am teaching a fourth grade classroom that is largely comprised of students I had last year in third grade. This is my first time teaching fourth grade in a long time, but it’s after two years teaching third grade, and a lotta years teaching sixth and fifth grade. Doing a “loop” up with my kiddos and their families is a great opportunity in a situation like distance learning, so I consider myself fortunate, and I hope that my families appreciate having someone that knows them, and that they know.

This week started with a lot of chaos and confusion around scheduling that I will not belabor, but since the start time was the same and I had already established solid contact with my families, so I had 90% attendance, and have run about the same since then. I do have some concerns (which I won’t go into, privacy) but I have a supportive admin who is aware of them, etc.

Here are some tips based on this week (and prior experience last year):

  1. Start with bell-work, do now, or some other piece of work that they can begin working on as class starts and they come in. We’re supposed to be doing an SEL activity, and I am doing meditation. This doesn’t work if you have kids dropping in a minute or two late (and you will) as you’re doing a focusing meditation. This gives students 5 minutes or so to “file in”. In a normal class, I’d do 10-15 minutes for this, but time is too valuable in a Zoom classroom, I move on and tell them to finish it later during our independent work time or as homework. I’m doing Daily Language Review and Daily Cursive Practice with my kids. My kids were used to DLR and handwriting at the start of day from last year. I wanted them to have some paper and pencil work as well, since they have a lot of screen time. You may not like these, come up with some of your own, there are plenty of options out there.
  2. Come up with signals, audio ones, to signal transitions. I’m working on getting some sounds. I’m using things like online timers and my mobile phone timer which have distinctive tones. I also got a doorbell  sound off of Youtube. I need to work out which one I will use more consistently, but definitely needed.
  3. Figure out how to get kids from Zoom to online applications like Nearpod. This is tricky even with 9 year olds who were pretty familiar with online applications. Here is how I do it.
  4. Teach kids how to take pictures of their work, and then post it up on Google Classroom. This is critical because not everything they do will be digital, nor should it be. This shows them how to take pictures with chromebooks here, and how to attach it here.

I hope this will prove useful to others. If you have a tip, leave a comment below.

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