Today is a Great Day to Learn Something New and Creative in Education
COVID-19 crept up our doorstep and altered the way we do things in life and in education. I never expected the bell dismissing my sixth graders for spring break was going to be the last official bell of the school year. It is crazy how a virus can make such a significant impact on everything we do.
As with most educators, I felt sadness. I knew I was going to be missing the fun in person learning I had planned for the rest of the year. I wondered about what would happen for all of my students, worried what I would do each day to reach each of them, and yes, I worried about my students who come from rough homes or have little to eat on a regular basis. We all worried about these things.
Schools scrambled to find alternatives to fill the learning gaps that were to come. Some schools required online learning while some made it optional. Some schools sent out packets for students to complete, again as either mandatory or optional. The major problem that exists is that technology is not equitable. The main concern became how do schools supply equitable learning opportunities at a time of crisis.
.......and then the worst news came when state governors started announcing that school would remain closed for the remainder of this academic school year
So, with that said, as educators we have all pushed through this obstacle and created new opportunities to do all we could to make learning happen. I will walk away from his with a new appreciation for some tools we use every day and some that are new to my toolkit.
My Virtual toolkit
I started out like most of you, unsure of what direction to take. I did some read aloud videos using PowerPoint with embedded video. I tried some Flipgrid videos of touring my property and animals, fun scavenger hunts, I created digital geography scavenger hunts, and others. But, in the end, I finally settled on a format. I create a weekly agenda based on a theme. Our virtual meetings were about enrichment, not introduction of new material.
The weekly agenda included weird holidays for each day of the week, sometimes with a connected activity on Padlet, Flipgrid, or Poll Everywhere. I added learning in the area of reading, writing, and/or social studies. I shared with my partner teacher so she could add math and science activities. We had a weekly challenge. I even included fun facts related to the theme. Another part we added was Wellness Wednesdays.
A reading activity could be a reader's theater, which they love to do. However, this past week, I did an article related to the weekly theme which was video games. I tied it to current events as much as possible. Here is the activity.
We did a writing activity as well tied to the theme. This was a five-minute timed writing. The stories the students produced were fun. Each student shared their story and we applauded just as if we were in the classroom. Here is that activity. As a quick note, students did not see the writing opportunities unless they selected that tunnel.
There were math and science activities as well. for the week shown in the presentation, my partner teacher even found a couple of video game related Quizizz' to do. We had a lot of fun. She and I discuss many activities, but overall she is in charge of her specific contents If you have any questions about math and science I know she would happily provide me the answer.
Of course, we offer other fun tasks throughout the presentation.
We always ended our meetings with reminders, upcoming tasks, and also the answer to that riddle from the beginning.
COVID-19 created a shift in education, in the sense of virtual education. Many of scrambled trying too many things because of the wealth of resources. I think my biggest take away was to stick with what I knew, integrate meaningful resources for my students, make it very interactive, and most of all have fun with the students in a stressful time for many. The agenda and presentations I put together helped to tie it all together and they can give you some ideas, too
My life journey is that of a mother, wife, grandmother, weenie dog owner, blogger, conference speaker, mini-farmer, writer and an occasional mistake maker with over 24 years in education. Follow me on Twitter @CrazyCurrChic