The 1st full week of distance learning done. I would say it was successful and a big part of that was taking it slow. A lesson that took me a couple of weeks to learn during the summer. But a lesson that I learned.
My objective as a teacher was to facilitate connections between my students. I tried to do that by having kids come up with what they think collaboration looks like. The first block day I put students in break out rooms and they wrote and shared ideas in their notebook. I popped in and out frequently to eavesdrop and check in with kids.
The last time I popped in, I had kids put their video on and put their notes in front of their faces. Kids thought I was checking their notes, but I really had an ulterior motive. I wanted to start to get them to use their video just a little bit. There were only a small handful that chose not to. And I wasn't going to push them.
The second block day was to take that and put those thoughts into a shared "Google Slide Deck." I was shocked when I surveyed kids before we started at how few had done this. And I fully admit, this is the first time I have done this in math. But rest assured, won't be the last! So I went through some guidelines and demonstrated a bit. But not a lot. I am a big believer in the best way to learn something is to dive right in and play with it. And it worked! Kids did great. Just a handful that were a bit confused. This brought to light that I need to find a way to check for understanding without looking at body language or calling on particular kids.
The next step is to do a virtual gallery walk with what they did to narrow down what collaboration looks like. This will be next week. This week I need to work on getting some things set up and more building relationships. My Twitter colleagues have been great at giving me so many ideas!
My objective for kids was for them to become independent learners. Over 80% of the student population is highly dependent. And mostly because of all the hand holding that goes on from when they are little. Just because kids are from a vulnerable and disadvantaged area, does not mean they cannot. But that is the mindset that so many educators have. If kids are given the opportunity and have scaffolding in place, success will happen.
I help students become more independent when in the classroom, but I am really struggling with it virtually. Especially since when I call home, I am only getting through to a small percentage.
Thankfully, I am extremely obstinate. I won't give up on my kids.
If I had to go back in time, I would start with more of what I am doing this week; which is playing games and doing some math art. And then do the "Collaboration" lessons. I also would take more advantage of the "private chat" feature with students.
One thing that is hard is that I have about an hour total with them each week. This is because I am taking 80-minute block and breaking into 2 groups where I meet with them for 30 minutes. I will have to rethink this in a week when I need to get into the curriculum. But for now, I think it's working. Kids are able to stay engaged for the entire time. Or as far as I can tell.
- 10 to 15 minutes to work on the Deltamath assignment
- #mathartchallenge by @anniek_p: "Looping Colors" (get kids to put video on and share their work when completed)
- "Attendance" question - ask kids to rank how this week went on a 1 to 5 scale
So this week will hopefully build more connections. But I wanted to slow down for me, kids and families to give some room to transition. I spoke to many parents and caregivers over the last week who are overwhelmed and are dealing with a lot of hardships. I also need some time to deal with the increase mental strain distance learning is having on me. It's just so hard to teach without seeing the kids facial expressions and body language. I need time for my brain to accept and adapt.
This is going to be a tough year all around. I will be so happy to see the end.