If you are a parent trying to teach your child at home while still taking care of your house/pets/husband/wife/chores/meals/career/etc ..this learning at home thing is probably both new and challenging. Or if you are a teacher learning about new technology/answering emails all day/staying up late worrying about your students-are they safe? are they happy?/doing everything you can to stay connected to them..this learning at home thing is probably new and challenging for you as well. Just know, we got this!
I feel fortunate to work in a school district that is doing what they can to make things as smooth as possible for both teachers and families at home. Last week, our superintendent helped deliver over 1,000 Chromebooks and WiFi hotspots to students so they would have access to technology at home. Breakfast and lunch became available each day for families through a rolling pickup line. Teachers were provided with online professional development trainings through webinars, Zoom meetings and self-paced online lessons.
And although this is all so amazing (and I’m sure many other districts across the country are doing similar things), it doesn’t even begin to take away from the anxiety, the uneasiness and the stress that I know many parents, teachers and most importantly our students are feeling on a daily basis.
One of my second graders (7 + 8 year olds) sent this to me today in a GoogleDocs for our daily writing activity (I removed the name for privacy):
“I feel not good because the corona virus is not stopping and we can’t go walking outside because it is cold and it used to be way hotter. But know it is cold and yesterday me and NAME got to met him in google hangout he said other people were coming but they did not join so it was just me and NAME we did it because my dad told me that NAME is feeling lonely so we did it.”
This just makes me so sad. This is why I am doing whatever I can to make sure ALL my students still feel connected to their teachers and to our classmates. I am also very lucky to have an amazing team of 2nd grade teachers who I work with.
Here are some resources we are using to help connect our students and help our families with At Home Learning:
Zoom This is similar to Skype (anyone remember Skype?) where you can host/join a video chat with multiple people at once. It can be used to record and teach students a lesson (using video and/or sound), to share your computer screen with others, with powerpoint presentations, etc. My second grade team and I have been using Zoom to collaborate and plan weekly resources for our students and provide daily parent support. Parents – your child could use Zoom to share their work with their teacher/classmates. They could also use this to connect to friends and family members living in different household such as grandparents, uncles, etc.
Padlet My team and I created a shared 2nd Grade Padlet where our students can upload photos of themselves while learning at home. We are using this website as a way to see each other and to stay connected. The kids can also comment on their classmates photos. All teachers need to do to incorporate this with their class is create an account (free) and share the link with the students. I absolutely LOVE checking this each day to see what the kids are up to (and they also love when teachers share photos of what they are doing at home).
FlipGrid I just discovered this site and I love it! I plan to post weekly videos where my students can watch and then respond back to me by creating their own videos/messages at home. The kids can also view, comment and respond to each other. It’s free to sign up, and you can make your account private so only the students and families who have the code can view and record.
GoogleSlides Each week, we create a new GoogleSlides Presentation to send out to families with specific links and resources for each subject that the kids can access from home. Below are two examples from GoogleSlides.
At Home Learning Calendar This is used as a resource for students to check off items that they complete. This also helps parents know what their child can do at home each day. I use this editable Learning Calendar Template from TeachinginRoom6. Below is an example of the calendar I sent out to families on Monday.
Lunch Time Doodle I came across this site featuring famous author, Mo Willems, where every weekday at 1 pm he will be sharing a video to help learners draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing. This could be an excellent “brain break” or lunch time activity or really anytime activity your students/child can do at home! There is also a step by step activity page on the left side of the website families can download and use as a directed drawing.
GoogleClassroom My Second Grade team and I use a shared GoogleClassroom to store all our uploaded documents/worksheets, directions, links and resources. If you are an educator, I highly recommend setting up a GoogleClassroom for your students! Everything is all in one place, kids can turn in assignments and you can give them instant feedback.
Animal PostCards I shared this idea on a previous blog post but wanted to share again. I plan on mailing these animal postcards to each student, surprising them with a little message and telling them how much I miss them. Also, a former colleague of mine had an amazing idea – the kids can do a research project on the animal they get in the mail. Then they can present their animal through Zoom/FlipGrid and share on GoogleClassroom (Thank you Cassandra for this idea!). Parents – you could have your child write postcards to their family members/friends and mail them out!
These are some of the main resources I’ve started to implement with my second graders since my school closure on March 16th. We are all still learning how to navigate this new at home learning lifestyle caused by the coronavirus, but it doesn’t mean we have to do this alone. If you are a teacher looking for online resources or looking for ways to stay connected to your students, please reach out! If you are a parent who needs some support or guidance with at home learning, I am happy to help! Or if you are implementing something at home with your students/with your kids that is working well, please share! I would love to collaborate with you as we navigate this uncharted territory together. Remember, we got this!