Sunday, March 29, 2020

COVID-19: The Teaching/Learning Week Ahead

Today I'll prep a better space for at-home teaching and learning.

I've located a cozy corner in the den with plugs and a narrow shelf. I have a small desk and old office chair upstairs that I will move into this corner. I may even find or make a small inspirational poster to place behind the desk and I'll collect a number of pencils and markers to have on hand should I have to demonstrate a concept on paper. Mostly, I've created a number of Google doc "whiteboards" that I'll use for teaching--I can create and color tables, use the draw feature, and even ask students to write, color, and draw too if desired on these documents.

The lessons, in general, will follow a similar pattern. I'll greet children as they log in.

After that, I'll take attendance and check off the names at the top of the lesson Google document "white board." I will also remind students of the supplies they need for the lesson which are paper, pencils, and markers, crayons, or colored pencils. And, I will invite them to open up the Google doc on a separate window so they can work on the document with the small group. (I've created open share w/editing privilege on the lesson documents)

Then I'll review the lesson order:
  • Present the problem
  • Call on people to answer questions and add to the discussion
  • Time for more questions and a review of the optional extension. 
I will review the lesson protocols too:
  • Mute your mics
  • When I call on you, unmute your mic and answer the question or say "pass"
  • If you have a question, unmute, and politely say, "This is (name), I have a question."
  • Patiently wait your turn if many students have questions.
Then we will begin the back-and-forth lesson/math talk. Each lesson reviews a concept students have been introduced to with a goal of deepening their understanding of the concept as well as their ability to break down math problems into manageable chunks with tables, models, algebraic expressions, and equations. 

Each lesson is planned to last about 45 minutes. Each student has been invited to two small group math meetings this week. I have found that the small group meetings give more children a chance to ask questions, share their understanding, and participate in the lesson. Typically a teaching assistant or special educator joins me at these virtual meetings and that is very helpful.

My new teaching week has the following expected routine:
  • 8 - 12: meetings, prep, and planning
  • 12-1: lunch break
  • 1-2: more meetings, prep, and planning
  • 2-3 and various other times during the day: more planning, prep, and response to requests and emails. 
It will be a full week of teaching and learning. My overall objectives during this teaching/learning week include the following:
  • Positively engage students in math conversation and problem solving
  • Make time to connect with each student with a positive greeting and time to ask them if they have questions or concerns that I may be able to answer and support.
  • Develop my ability to teach, learn, and connect virtually.
  • Develop my ability to engage students in math talk in a meaningful, engaging, standards-based way.
  • Continue to strengthen the fifth grade made teaching/learning community  by fostering these discussions as well as students daily independent practice online and offline
I am happy to have a schedule to follow. However, like so many today, there's a bit of worry that I will get the coronavirus or that someone close to me will come down with the illness. If that happens, everything will change. I know that the families, colleagues, and students I work with have that potential too as the numbers continue to grow in Massachusetts so I know that I have to be ready to be flexible and respond accordingly. 

Let's see how the week goes.