Remote Teaching….Again

In the spring of 2020 when we were told there would be no school for 2 weeks due to Covid 19. I knew right away it would likely last more than 2 weeks. However, I really did think we would go back into the classroom before the end of the school year. Even when the end of the school year came and we weren’t back in the classroom I thought we would definitely be back in the classroom by the fall of the next school year. While several counties in North Carolina are going back on a hybrid schedule, there are many counties (like mine) that are going back virtually only.

So here we are again…planning for another virtual learning school year. Thankfully we have had the summer to physically (and mentally) prepare for more remote teaching. Below are some things I have been working on this summer that you might find useful for the upcoming school year.

Last spring, NC teachers had NO time to prepare for virtual learning. We left our classrooms on a Friday fully expecting to be there on Monday. While I love using technology in the classroom, 100% digital assignments is not best practice. This year I will fill these Virtual Learning Math Bags with dice, playing cards, timers, paper fraction bars and any other things that students can use while at home. This way students can have hands on manipulatives and items that they can use to play some interactive math games.

Every teacher and parent knows that many students struggled with remote learning last spring. Many struggled because of lack of support at home and others because they never had to learn remotely before. To help parents & students prepare for another round of distance learning I created this handout with tips and tricks they can use at home to help their student. I’ll print this out and send home with open house papers. If I can’t send home a paper copy I’ll e-mail a copy to parents (and you can e-mail a copy too!)

In the spring, our county allowed us to use any learning management system we wanted. However, in the summer they announced we had to use Canvas for the upcoming school year. I’m definitely a “Google Girl” and wasn’t thrilled with this idea. Thankfully after teaching virtual summer school I learned Canvas can be amazing, but it’s only as amazing as you make it. You really have to put the work into Canvas to make it great. This summer I made these neon digital buttons and banners for my own canvas course! Most of my students are NOT familiar with canvas so having these buttons will make it simple for them to navigate!

Before my county announced 100% virtual we still planned to go into school 1 day a week and students would not only have to wear masks but remain 6 feet apart. We know that good teaching involves students collaborating and working together and I was really worried how we could collaborate from 6 feet apart. I created this digital game board in Google Slides so that students could share the game board and still play with each other – from 6 feet away or even in their own homes.

Even with all these tools I am still incredibly nervous that my rising 5th graders are going to come to me with some significant gaps in their math ability. It would be easy for me to find an end of year 4th grade assessment for math, but I don’t care if they remember EVERYTHING from 4th grade. So I created this 15 question pretest that only assesses them on their 4th grade skills that are relevant to 5th grade math. This will tell me right away what skills we need to review before getting to the 5th grade content.

I know no matter what happens this year, this school year won’t be typical and it won’t be easy. I am excited to go back and hopeful that we can enter in the classroom again at some point. Hopefully the items I have made this summer will help teachers (and myself) prepare for the upcoming school year!

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A Covid School Year

It’s July 2020 as I write this, and every teacher in North Carolina is waiting on pins and needles about what the upcoming school year will look like. As we speak there is a lot of social media “talk” about “Plan B” being the preferred option. Plan B, being a third of students come to school 1 week and then have 2 weeks of virtual learning.

This may or may not be the best option for our students, but as a teacher (and mother) it makes me very nervous. As a mom I’m trying to figure out where my children will be when they are doing virtual learning for 2 weeks when i am in the classroom teaching still. Sending them to day care seems counterintuitive to what North Carolina is trying to accomplish. I’m also trying to figure out as a teacher how on earth am I going to teach my students in the classroom while still supporting my students who are at home needing help.

In March 2020, I really started to push digital products and all new products made were digital only. Now that it may be very possible that I will have some students in the classroom while some students are at home I am taking my printable resources and adding digital versions to it. I’m hoping that this prove to be useful for the upcoming school year. If we have some students in the classroom and some at home it will ease my mind if all of my students are doing the same activities (just differentiated based on printable and digital).

I have many “Basic Bundles” in my store that are geared towards 5th grade math. A “Basic Bundle” always includes a foldable for an interactive notebook, 1 week of homework, 20 task cards, 4 worksheets and 1 assessment. I have recently updated my 2D Shapes bundle to include digital versions as well as printable.

If we end up following “Plan B” here is how imagine we could use the resources below for the upcoming school year.

Have students glue these 2D shapes foldables into their interactive notebook during the week they are with you.

Here are 4 worksheets for 2D shapes. These worksheets can be printed or can be completed in Google Slides.

These task cards can be printed & laminated like we normally would use them or they can be completed in Google Forms!

Send homework home on 1 sheet of paper for the whole week or give students access to the 4 google forms (1 for each night of the week).

You can still assess your students knowledge of 2D shapes with this printable assessment or Google Form Quiz version.

If you feel like you could use them all , purchase the bundle instead to save some money. The bundle will only cost you $5!

I plan to update all my printable resources this summer to include digital versions as well. If you have already purchased these resources then you will receive the updates free (just make sure to re-download them). If you are wanting to make a purchase you can head to my store and click on the category that says ***Distance Learning*** to find all products that can be completed in a virtual learning environment.

Next week we may find out that we are teaching completely online or completely in person and then teachers may not need for both printable and digital versions of the same resources; but I hope no matter what happens teachers find these resources helpful.

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How much is too much technology in the classroom?

Anyone who knows my teaching style knows I love integrating technology and I love to pilot new programs and apps. However, the debate always comes up, how much is too much technology?

First, let me make clear, putting a student on a reading or math program all day is not okay (even if it is at their ability level). As much as I do love using technology in the classroom, I will never condone that practice, no matter how amazing the program might be.

The reality is however, that our children are growing up in a technology rich world, and technology will only increase as they become adults. Teachers must integrate technology for a multitude of reasons but mostly to make sure are students are adequately prepared to enter the workforce and adult hood. Below are a few reasons how integrating technology into your classroom can benefit the student and teacher.

Saving Time for the Teacher

The first reason we need to integrate technology is to save time! At the end of the day, we need to spend majority of our time teaching if we are going to make a difference in a students education. Anytime spent grading, copying, meetings and other duties takes away from that valuable face to face instruction. We need to be creative and find ways to reduce the time we spend on other activities so we can focus on the most important thing, the students!

A few years ago my county switched to standards based grading. While I know standards based grading is in the best of interest of our students, it caused me to spend so much more time grading and completing report cards. A few years ago I ditched the gradebook and adopted this digital gradebook. Rather than inputing scores by date, I input scores by standard. So all assignments tied to that standard are in one location on a Google Sheet. When it comes to report cards, all I have to do is quickly scan the heading with that standard and I can instantly give a final score for a students report card.

To Enhance Understanding

Another reasons to utilize more technology in the classroom is to use to enhance a students understanding of a concept. A few years ago interactive notebooks flooded classrooms and were a huge hit for many. I personally didn’t love interactive notebooks, they were so much work and were a challenge for some students to keep up with. I also taught science at the time and I needed a way to provided great visuals for students that were clear and in color preferably (wishful thinking, right?)

Digital interactive notebooks, are exactly what they sound like they are. They are interactive notebooks that are digital (typically in Google Slides). Instead of cutting, glueing and folding students are typing, dragging and linking. Students are not only practicing computer skills needed for the future, but I am able to provide them with visuals that promote a better understanding. I can also link in online articles and videos on the particular concept. Students will also never lose this notebook since it’s in Google Drive and they can easily share with their families to show them what they are doing in the classroom.

To Provide Rigorous Learning Opportunities

Another reason to integrate technology is to provide rigorous learning opportunities. We know good teaching is all about providing learning opportunities for students, especially real world experiences. This can be so challenging to do sometimes with limited time and resources.

Providing real world experiences can be much easier when you do them digitally. Like this PBL in which students must plan a vacation for a celebrity. They explore different travel websites, and document all their expenses on the Google slides. This saves time and paper for teachers. This also means less chaos in the classroom as there will be no papers students have to keep track. Students are still focused on the math skills, but the integration of technology helps to provide an easier way to apply their understanding.

To Teach Remotely

While not ideal, with Covid-19 impacting or schools in 2020, remote teaching became a reality for many schools across the globe. Teaching students remotely was the only way for us to continue the learning opportunities for our students.

In this case, using technology wasn’t an option for many teachers. Thankfully there were many teachers that created and sold amazing digital products. However, having resources that could be used digitally during remote teaching AND used in physical form when teachers & students were back in the classroom is a huge plus for teachers. They can purchase products that can be used digitally while remote teaching but then can be printed and used when they were back in the classroom.

I will likely always be that teacher that integrates technology daily. It not only helps me, but helps my students with their education. Technology is exactly what you make it, if you just put your students on a computer program all day you will likely not see the growth you want. When you use it as a tool to provide opportunities for learning, you will likely find engaged & excited students who are pushing their learning to the next level. I’d love to hear how do you integrate technology in your own classroom.

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