Thursday, April 23, 2020

Virtual School: Post Vacation Plans

Our school system has been on vacation this week. I must say that this stay-at-home vacation was a welcome reprieve that brought perspective. I'm sure that when we meet at PLC and staff meeting next Monday, people will share all kinds of new ideas, questions, and plans. As for my part of the virtual school puzzle, these efforts take priority.

Math Teaching/Learning
Similar to what I do at school, I typically motivate students' math learning by all kinds of learning goals. This week's goal is a typical end-of-year assessment that students take. Students are motivated by doing well on assessments, so their job this week is to choose one of our practice sites and commit to that practice this week. I created a Google Form decision tree that gives students a format for making the decision about which practice site they'll focus on. I'll look carefully at the results and then follow students' practice efforts online related to the choices students made. I'll reach out to students who don't complete the survey or who don't stick with the plan they made to see how I can help. The assessment data will be used to inform the virtual math teaching ahead. It will not be used to grade students.

For the small group virtual math lessons, we'll focus on addition and subtraction models for fractions. This is a review topic with the added depth of looking carefully at how we make models that demonstrate mathematical concepts. Students will be asked to draw these models on paper as they take part in the lessons.

Science Study
In Massachusetts, every fifth grader is supposed to learn about composting. For the next two weeks students will learn about composting and how to make indoor and outdoor composters. Students' assignment will be to make a composter in the next two weeks and share an image of their composter as well as description of how they made their composter. This is a positive, Earth-friendly activity that can be completed with recyclables and food scraps.

Social Studies and ELA
My colleagues are leading this signature fifth grade project where each fifth grader does a deep study about a Global Changemaker that "speaks to them." The project has many facets that are engaging and enriching. All the teachers associated with our team will coach a team of student researchers on this project and then there will be some kind of virtual presentation of the project. Since this project has been a signature project that children look forward to every year, I expect that there will be a lot of motivation to do this well.

This study area will also include continued independent reading and the encouragement to study United States history via books, videos, and historic walks.

Changing Bodies
At the end of fifth grade, we generally spend a few days discussing changing bodies. This year we'll likely send the video links to family members and encourage those family members to watch the videos with their children and discuss the topic.

Global Cardboard Challenge
Since many camps will be closed, it may be fun to focus on this project in June with the entire school. The theme could be "Summer Fun" and the challenge could be to make games, toys, and play structures that help children have fun during the summer.  We could ask students to share what they've made on a slideshow and then that slideshow could be turned into a video to share with the community to inspire students' creativity ahead.

Learning in Nature
As we approach the end of the year, creating opportunities for students to learn in nature more and more will be positive.

I'm sure that we'll also focus on transition efforts as we put this school year to rest and plan for next year too. Onward.