*A reminder of the tools Bryan Kincaid shared with you at our first COVID PD day: KAMI and Loom
*Scholastic has four weeks of at-home materials using real books
*There is a spring webinar series for supporting Phonics instruction at home and once we return back to the classroom from 95% group.
*Common Lit just added three new high-interest middle school units: 6th Grade: Failure and Success, 7th Grade: Understanding Other People, 8th Grade: Bad Behaviors
I'll leave you with this article:
Teaching Through a Pandemic: A Mindset for This MomentHundreds of teachers, many of them operating in countries where teach-from-home has been in place for weeks, weigh in on the mental approach you need to stay grounded in this difficult time.
By Stephen Merrill
March 19, 2020The thought ended almost before it started: “This is so overwhelming.” It was all one teacher managed to type before she stopped short, vexed into silence, perhaps, by the sheer size of the problem. In the pregnant pause that followed, undoubtedly, every teacher tracking the unspooling thread—about the dizzying, rapidly escalating viral crisis that was closing schools across the country—recognized the chasm they were all facing as well, and scrambled to fill in the blank.
In the next few hours, over 500 teachers joined two Facebook conversations about teaching during the coronavirus pandemic, spilling out their concerns and anxieties: What will we do if the schools close for months? How can I shift to online learning if we’re closing tomorrow, or even in a few hours? How will special education students be cared for, and IEPs administered? What about children who have no internet access, or who will be required, as Keith Schoch thoughtfully noted, to “become de facto babysitters” for their brothers and sisters. “There is no digital divide, but there is a digital abyss, and America’s rural poor are living at the bottom of it,” said Anne Larsen, with devastating concision. What if, in the end, the school systems decide that online learning is working just fine, and never reopen?
The panic was all perfectly understandable.
But there were plenty of teachers in the mix who had weeks of crisis experience under their belts by that time—several in Hong Kong and Italy and the state of Washington, for example—and others who had long careers in online and distance learning. In the end, too, there were many fantastic, highly creative teachers providing strategies as fast as the obstacles appeared.
At the highest level, a shift in mindset would be required—even the most optimistic educators conceded the point. There are plenty of strategies and tactics we’re covering at Edutopia—and we’ll continue to—but here are the crucial emotional and psychological scaffolds that our audience agreed would be needed to teach in this new paradigm.
EXPECT TRIAL... AND PLENTY OF ERRORStart by being reasonable with yourself. It is, in fact, impossible to shift to distance learning overnight without lots of trial and error. Expect it, plan for it, and do your best to make peace with it.
“I can tell you, now that we’re in week 7 of online learning, that much of what you will do will be trial and error,” wrote Stacy Rausch Keevan, who was teaching in Hong Kong. “Don’t stress about that—it won’t do you any good. For my middle school English and humanities classes, I’m offering the same lessons I would normally do live, but in smaller doses.”
ACKNOWLEDGE THE EXTRAORDINARYReset your baseline. We're all operating in the shadow of a global pandemic, and it is disorienting and limiting. Business as usual is unrealistic.
The real “points to consider” are not “the strict adherence to ‘regular’ conditions and norms,” wrote Amy Rheault-Heafield in a reply to a question about how to structure distance learning like more typical learning experiences, “but how to provide a rich experience to all learners who are now without ‘traditional’ teachers standing beside them in classes.”
So while you should try to provide “meaningful activities,” cautioned elementary teacher John Thomas, “we should remember that on short notice—and because many of us have limited PD utilizing these tools—we can’t tackle everything immediately. In other words, we should give ourselves the time and permission to figure this out.”If your district allows it, you should plan to do less. Students won’t be able to work as productively, anyway—so if you can’t scale back you’ll be sending them work they cannot do—and your own life and family need added care.
“Feedback from students and families over the last 10 days in Italy is ‘less is more,’” commented Jo Gillespie. “Consider that parents are trying to work from home, and siblings are vying for computer and Wi-Fi time. Try Google quizzes using Forms, a reading log, some short live sessions with teachers and classmates, maybe vocabulary extension, maths and geometry problems (but not too many). And that’s probably enough.”
And Keevan, the teacher in Hong Kong with weeks of experience, confirmed that time and distance play funny games during a crisis: “What would normally take you one class period to teach in the classroom will probably take you twice as long.”
NO PERSON IS AN ISLANDHumans are social animals. Working from home, or worse, from quarantine, is isolating and often depressing for both teachers and students.
Make a concerted effort to speak to other colleagues and trusted professionals to provide emotional and psychological context to your work. Teaching at this moment is extraordinarily hard, and you’ll need the virtual company of people who are experiencing what you are.
And don’t forget to “reach out to students as often as you can,” said Keevan, who still teaches classes live despite a (slightly inconvenient!) 13-hour time difference. Or you can facilitate peer-to-peer communication. John Thomas assigns pen pals in his first- and second-grade classes, so that kids with no internet can feel like they belong.
EVERYONE THINKS THEY CAN’T—BEFORE THEY CANSome degree of pessimism and self-doubt comes with the territory. Teachers in the Facebook thread advised more perspective-taking and being more patient with yourself: You know how to teach, and you will figure this out in time.
“We are in week 7 and I have three children of my own at home,” wrote Salecia Host, a teacher in Tianjin, China, reflecting on the arc of her emotional response to the crisis. “Just take it day by day. It gets less overwhelming and more routine.”
Try to remain calm—though you’ll have a few moments where that goes out the window—and keep plugging away: “Being open-minded and flexible is key,” said Kaz Wilson, who also works in China. “Everyone thinks you can’t until you pause, talk it out with folks who are doing it, and know that you’ll get through it.”
MIND THE GAPYour work will be hard, but there are students facing more severe challenges. Students with no internet or no computer will need support, as will those with learning differences or other circumstances that make distance learning especially difficult. Supporting these students was on almost everyone’s mind—it came up dozens of times in the Facebook thread.
“I’m in Italy. Our schools closed a few weeks ago without any previous warning. We shifted to online immediately. It is hard and exhausting,” admitted Eleonora Borromeo, before providing a ray of hope. “Equity is an issue. Assessment is an issue. But the students are doing their best and giving us the strength to go on.”
Solutions from our audience of teachers focused on the old analog approaches: paper-and-pencil tasks, workbooks and activity packets that can be mailed home, and updating parents and students via phone calls daily.
* A reminder, here is the document we shared at our big meeting in March with all e-learning resources: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dPPfjLBOIM4M3bSIZm5kEDom75E_5Prdx3Yz0EaH0Qs/edit?usp=sharing. In addition, Ms. Bruemmer made padlets and shared them here.
*This is a book from the math consultant Cheryl Beasley shared with us a while back that has math problems with no numbers. I wanted to share it again!
*We use stemscopes K-8 for science. Some of you have been looking for more reading in science. Stem scopes recently told me they had "Reading Science, Tiered Reading Passages, Science Today, Communicate Science and Linking Literacy".
I'll leave you with a great article: Maintaining Relationships with Students While Physically Separated In this Edutopia article, Sarah Gonser reports on strategies she curated from interviews with teachers about how they stay connected with their students during school closures:
• Frequently saying hello – Several teachers emphasized the importance of communicating, by video if possible, that you’re thinking of students, care for them, and miss them. For students without video access, a phone call is a good substitute.
• Maintaining morning meetings – This might be a video of announcements and daily content, with students chiming in, or a recorded meeting that students can watch asynchronously.
• “Temperature” checks – One high-school teacher is using Schoology to have his students report on their state of mind: thumb up, thumb sideways (meh), or thumb down. As part of homework, another teacher asks students to check in on a classmate and report back to her by e-mail, text, or Skype. Other teachers are using forms like the one developed by the Association for Middle Level Educators https://bit.ly/2yvRUdl.
• Snail-mail pen pals, phone pals, or virtual turn and talk – One third-grade teacher uses the Zoom breakout room feature to have students discuss a question in small groups and follows up with one-on-one sessions with students, having them read aloud for a few minutes. At the low-tech end of the spectrum, some teachers are encouraging students to call each other on a rotating basis, or sending home paper, envelopes, and stamps for students to write letters to each other.
• Creating virtual “tables” – A North Carolina eighth-grade English teacher is using Google Classroom to get groups of 4-5 students (randomly assigned) discussing assignments, asking each other questions, and staying connected.
• Including parents – This same teacher checks in with parents via e-mail every day with questions like “How are you?” and “Do you need anything?” Another teacher connects with parents with the messaging platform Remind or, for parents who don’t have text messaging, a dedicated Google Voice phone line.
• Naming and processing emotions – Social isolation, cabin fever, and disrupted routines may be freaking out students, and many teachers are providing avenues for kids to express and explore their thoughts, feelings, and worries – individually or with classmates. As students share, teachers watch for those who are having the most difficulty and following up with individual dialogue and perhaps a counseling referral.
“7 Ways to Maintain Relationships During Your School Closure” by Sarah Gonser in Edutopia, March 25, 2020, https://edut.to/2JKmLW4
What have you been doing to stay active and healthy? I am reminded of the self-care Zoom meeting we did at the beginning of the crisis. Lately, I have been singing and dancing in my kitchen, and doing art with my children.
Here is the table district teachers made from the self-care Zoom: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1beZhW61bjrdvlZNndtDBbMTXR3xsRKCTKpCh1Da8b6A/edit?usp=sharing
Is anyone using book widgets? You can use it to embed games in your google classroom. Jaime Koziol shared it with me, and I thought it was great!
Katherine McKnight is continuing her national morning meetings next week and the following week. Sign up here by scrolling down to the bottom of the page for each day this week.
Have you seen wideopenschool.org ? It is curated by Common Sense Media and is superbly organized- suggested by Kathleen Podwika.
I want to share a great resource with you! As we continue to transition to remote learning, it’s only normal that we may need some help. Teach Plus Illinois is offering All Means All: Making Remote Learning Work For Every Illinois Student. All Means All is a free, facilitated space for Illinois teachers to collaborate and adapt to the new remote learning environment. Teachers from the National Board, Illinois State Teachers of the Year, and Teach Plus Illinois will lead these planning and problem-solving sessions.
Divided by grade band and content area, these sessions can provide a basic schema for curriculum planning, plus address engagement strategies and social and emotional supports. These weekly, ongoing professional learning communities are free on a space-available basis to all Illinois teachers. To register, please fill out this short registration form.
Here’s the schedule:
Grades K-2 Thursdays at 8-9am
Grades 9-12 ELA Wednesdays at 3-4pm
Grades K-2 Thursdays at 3-4pm
Grades 9-12 Science Thursdays at 3-4pm
Grades 3-5 Fridays at 8-9am
Grades 9-12 Math - TBD
Grades 3-5 Fridays at 3-4pm
Grades 9-12 SS - TBD
Grades 6-8 Math Fridays at 3-4pm
Early Childhood Education - TBD
Grades 6-8 Science Wednesdays at 4-5pm
Arts - TBD
Grades 6-8 ELA/SS Thursdays at 2-3pm
CTE - TBD
Grades 9-12 ELA Wednesdays at 9-10am
I cannot wait to go back to school. When I think of all the amazing things you do with your kids this time of year: Special novels, frog dissection, egg drop, speeches, skating in the gym, etc. There is nothing like being in a classroom with you all. You are truly missed!
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