I've been teaching math virtually this week, and there is has been some true joy and positive challenge.
We've divided our 69 fifth graders into about 8 small groups. Each group is scheduled to meet twice a week. The small groups really lend themselves to good math talk and learning. The group sizes vary and because we know the students well, we've been able to group the students in ways that lead to positive group dynamics.
As students enter the chat room, I greet them and we all talk a bit of topics such as cooking, playing outside, and other easy topics of interest. I make sure to make time for questions before we start.
I take attendance for two reasons--one to see who showed up and also to make sure I say each person's name. I generally have them respond to a simple question such as what's your favorite number, color, food. . . .This provides simple recognition to all who are there.
Two or More Teachers
We have two or more educators in each small group session so that at least one educator can keep an eye on the students and the chat room while the other(s) one focuses on the lesson.
The lesson is created on one Google doc and generally includes models, charts, and questions. The lesson is a scaffolded discussion. I use the same lesson with each group, but generally the lessons move in different directions or stop at different points along the scaffold depending on the group. Sometimes the lesson includes a game.
The challenge at hand is to better the virtual teaching by creating lessons that focus on the topics we want to cover that engage and involve all the students there, and ideally lessons that students want to replicate and continue on their own time.
This is a positive challenge for these COVID days. Onward.