Just like many, the last 10 days have been a whirlwind. One moment I’m in my classroom working on fractions with my 4th graders and the next, I’m at home teaching them how to learn in a virtual environment. Luckily, my classroom is 1:1 and my students already knew the basic skills required to navigate this unknown world. However, I had to figure out how to adjust my teaching to match my student’s needs.
My goals for the first week were to:
- Stay connected to my kids
- Set up a digital learning environment
- Get students used to virtual learning
I didn’t want to assign anything too difficult, I really wanted to keep it light-hearted and fun because I knew this time would be emotional and stressful for teachers, parents, and students. Plus, I would need time to get my bearings and thoughtfully plan the days ahead.
The first thing I did was send my kiddos a video message. My insecurities made this a challenging task, so I recorded my video first thing in the morning while enjoying a cup of coffee and before I’d gotten dressed…yes, I was in my pajamas!
This first video led to their first task…What do you look like in the morning? I asked them to post pictures and videos in Google Classrooms which I then posted to our new website (Virtual Learning with Mrs. C). I also asked them to work with their families to create a daily schedule. I knew this would be an important tool for many of my kids who thrive on routine and structure…heck, I did it for myself to make sure I didn’t spend my days snuggled up on the couch in my pajamas watching The Hallmark Channel all day long (not that I’ve ever done that before). The 3rd thing I asked them to do, was to make sure they got in the habit of checking their email on a daily basis. Google Classrooms and Gmail would be our home base and tools for communication.
Other tasks I had my kids do this week were:
- Describe in detail what they typically eat for breakfast using Flipgrid
- Share their learning space with pictures and/or videos – I modeled this with another video!!
- A weekly blog/reflection – we did this at the end of the week. I wanted a check-in to see how they were all feeling about the changes and their new learning environment
- Class meeting using Zoom – normally, we end the week with a class meeting, so why should this week be any different. I sent all of my kids an invitation and 16 were able to make it to the meeting!!
By the end of the week, students were comfortable with the new learning environment, knew how to communicate with me, and they had fun staying connected to one another. When I read their reflections many students share that they were missing their friends, but excited to see what we would do the following week. They also said their favorite activity was using Flipgrid to share what they ate for breakfast. I made a mental note of this and made sure to incorporate Flipgrid into the lessons I planned for the following week. All in all, the first week of virtual learning was a great way to ease students…and their teacher…into an unfamiliar and unknown mode of learning. And yes…by the end of the week I’d let go of my video insecurities and recorded FIVE videos the first week!!