School just ended for me here in Missouri, but like you, I am already thinking ahead to next year and how on earth school is going to look during this COVID-19 Pandemic. My mind is spinning and I’m seeing all kinds of crazy pictures and recommendations on social media.
States are trying to decide what school will even look like. Will we go back inside the classroom? Will will stay home? Will it be a hybrid of at school learning and distance learning? Will students go on an A/B schedule with some students attending in the morning and some in the afternoon? Will some students attend school on Monday and Wednesday and another group on Tuesday and Thursday? Will we have to wear masks? No more flexible seating? Desks have to be 6 feet apart? And it just goes on and on and on, and guys….. I’m over it.
I’m over the stress and the uncertainty. I am a classroom teacher. I am not in charge of making any of these decisions, and let’s face it, I’m not going to have a say anyway. So instead of ruining my summer, I am going to stay calm and focus on what I have control of.
You need to take a break my friend! Seriously! I know you hear about self care all the time, and remember that means your mental well-being. Focusing on all the uncertainty and things you have literally no control over will NOT HELP.
Here is what we can control.
1. We CAN brush up on technology and digital tools for next year.
2. We CAN get a jump on websites we can use in our classroom or virtually.
3. We CAN organize our resources and make them digital.
If you know me, you know I HATE wasted time. Meaning, I don’t want to spend time preparing for something that might not happen. I am only going to focus on the things that will help me and my students no matter what happens!
1. Focus on Technology Platforms-Posting and Recording Assignments
My district uses Google Classroom, so I am making myself an expert with that. I used Google Classroom before distance learning to push sites and links out to my students and I will continue to do that no matter what, next year. Ask your district what platform they are thinking about using.
If you want to see how I used Google Classroom during distance learning, go to my instagram stories here.
This is a Tutorial for Google Classroom that explains everything for beginners.
If you already use Google Classroom, here is a tutorial on how to post assignments and Google Forms.
Recording Teaching Videos
2. Websites for Distance Learning AND for in the Classroom
I used this for Math and ELA even before the closure. It also has science and social studies. It allows you to pick the standards and decide on an exit ticket or assignment. You can view the types of questions before assigning and view reports. It also groups students for you. The free version allows you one assignment per subject at a time. It has reading articles, grammar, word study and so much more for ELA.
This is my students’ favorite math site. It is basically like a little video game, but they are asked challenging math questions in order to advance. I like that you can set the standards that they work on, or have them work in certain domains and they advance after they take a pretest. This is free.
This site is amazing for reading! It is basically an online library with TONS of QUALITY books that you actually have in your classroom library, not obscure books. You can assign books or allow students to choose. You can even assign quizzes. It is currently only free until the end of June, BUT it was always free for students during school hours.
This was my favorite tool during distance learning and I am going to continue it into the regular classroom as well. Flipgrid is a platform in which you can assign students a task and then they respond with a video! They can respond to each other’s videos if you allow it. I used this for my daily read aloud. I recorded my read aloud in Youtube (Flipgrids’s longest video is 10 minutes) and then pasted the link in my grid assignment. Students then responded to my question with their video. I am going to use it next year with having students video themselves teaching a lesson. I did this with having students teach me how to tell time, and it was amazing!! Watch how I used Flipgrid in my instagram stories.
3. Organize Your Standards and Make Curriculum Digital
One of the other things I can focus on this summer, is taking my resources that I already use and turning them into Digital Resources.
For example: How can I take that writing assignment and make it digital to use at school or at home? Easy- just take my directions and my rubric and create a Google Doc or Google Slide that students can type their writing on.
Take your math worksheets and turn them into self-grading Google Forms. You can use mine here.
Check your TPT purchases. Many of your purchases from TPT are being converted into digital products for you. Most sellers like myself, are including that in our paper versions so all you have to do is go to your purchases and redownload the new additional digital resource.
So… I am just going to focus on what I can control and not dwell on what could be. We will find out soon enough what our classrooms will look like for Fall 2020. Don’t let worrying about tomorrow, rob you of your joy today!