Monday, April 27, 2020

Virtual Teaching: Eight Weeks Ahead

This is what the top of our weekly learning menu looks like. The banner is updated regularly to motivate students and keep them up to date with the learning and teaching. 
For the next 8.5 weeks I'll be in virtual teaching mode. What does this mean for my students and me?

Fortunately I work with a great team of teachers, and we've created a good weekly pattern for virtual teaching and learning. Essentially each week includes a number of small group and whole class meetings for each student as well as projects and practice related to the many subjects students study.

With regard to math, my goal is to engage each child in at least two 45-minute math lessons a week. The lessons will provide the foundation for the follow-up practice exercises and activities. If students want to attend more than two meetings a week, they are welcome to do that. The focus of the lessons will be math problem solving and math talk related to the standards set by the system and state.

I'll also coach a team of students as they study a global changemaker with depth. There are many educators involved in this interdisciplinary project that will result in some kind of special, virtual project that children can attend in their cars such as a drive-in show or watch with their family members in the comfort of their own home. Whatever the final project will be, it will be special.

As far as science, we're promoting a number of hands-on, Earth-friendly, hands-on explorations that students can do at home inside or outside to learn the standards set for fifth grade. For example, this week and next week, students will learn all about composting, and then their job is to make a composter for their home or yard.

As far as social studies goes, we've shared some movies and videos that help to teach the standards in engaging ways.

The key to keeping the students and families engaged is to stick to a pattern that's easy to follow and easy to respond to. The pattern is shared on a weekly menu that includes a news banner at the top of the page (see above). The news banner includes highlights of students' efforts plus links to engaging videos and other learning activities. We update the banner regularly.

Today was a good start to this eight-week leg of the year, and then we'll likely spend that last half week engaged in celebrations of one kind or another. We can do this.