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!