I first want to start by saying I am NOT an expert! (Frankly, none of us are!) We are all navigating this for the first time and we are all doing the best that we can for our students. This post is all about things I have learned from the past week. This includes tips, tricks, lessons after failure, & a couple of products I have been loving! I just wanted to share my experience after my first week! I also know that SO MANY of you are getting ready to start week 4 of e-learning! Major props to you!
I am very fortunate that our district is 1:1 with Chromebooks for grades 6-12 (I teach 6th grade). I also have an AMAZING team of wonderful women who put our students first. I cannot imagine doing this without them! (#6BShinesBright) Our team consists of 6 teachers, one for each subject & one LBS1 teacher. We have around 140 students on our team.
One thing my team wanted was to have one place where parents and students could go with all of the information they needed for the week. We made a shared Google Document that all teachers had access to edit. We share this Google Doc with the students and parents via email every Sunday night so they have it for the week. The schedule lists out what subjects and tasks the students will be completing each day. It also has links to our Google Meet sessions. You can access the editable schedule here for free! Just click the link & it will have you make a copy.
We are very lucky that all 5 subjects have been using Google Classroom since the beginning of the year. I know that for many of you, it is the first time you and your students are using Google Classroom! I have 5 sections of science so I have 5 separate Google Classrooms. Below are some features that I have been taking advantage of:
- Pre-scheduling posts
- This has been so helpful! Every Sunday night I pre-schedule my posts to go live on my scheduled science day at 8am from the schedule we sent out! The only downfall with this is that I have to do this individually in each class, rather than posting to all 5 classes at once!
- Attaching multiple items in one post
- In one post I can attach a link to a website, the assignment, & a video of myself explaining the directions!
- Private commenting on student assignments
- This has been a game changer in my personal communication with the students! I hate to say that I did not do this before e-learning!! I add a private comment for every student on their assignment. I would remind them to turn it in when they are done, give them quick feedback, & write a quick personal note! When you add a private comment they get an email notification! I have had so many beneficial conversations here!
- Make a copy for each student
- Many people have asked me how each student gets a copy of the choice boards. When assigning on Google Classroom, make sure you select “make a copy for each student.” This lets each child have their own to edit & type on.
Google Meet Tips
If you caught my Instagram stories the other day you would know that the first Google Meet I had with my students was a hot mess!! I definitely learned a lot. (Side note: these Google Meets are just to ask questions, provide feedback, and make sure our students are doing okay. We are not required to teach live.)
- Download the extension “Google Meet Grid View.” This allows you to see all the students at once.
- Students mute themselves when they enter the meeting.
- Students raise their hand when they want to speak.
- Utilize the chat section! Have students type questions they have for you here.
- I had a white board that I wrote some things on too! I learned that it looks backwards to you, but it is normal for the kids!
- I did a scavenger hunt with my students the first time. They had to go find whatever object I said around the house & bring it back!
Flipgrid was the first “assignment” I had my students do. It was the first time I got to hear and see them in two weeks & I cried watching their videos!! This is such a great tool to utilize during this time. Students create videos answering questions. You can reply back in a video or comment! I recorded a video to reply to every student.
When thinking of what I would be assigning during this e-learning time, I knew I wanted the students to have choices. I loved choice boards so I made a digital one. I have gotten such positive feedback from the students! In a time where they have no control, they feel like they have some control over their learning. I made a Water Cycle choice board that you can purchase here. I also made a video tutorial walking you through how to make your own on my Instagram IGTV! You can view that here.
Parent & Student Feedback Survey
This idea came from my amazing teammate Karen! (YOU DA BEST) Karen created two separate surveys! She made one for our students that she had them do as an assignment yesterday. She also made one that we will have the parents complete on Sunday. We loved reading the feedback from the students! We used it to re-evaluate and plan for the next week! Some example questions from the student survey were:
- How long are you spending on assignments?
- Is the amount of work: too much, good, too little
- What types of learning activities would you like to see being assigned?
- Have there been any assignments you felt were too difficult or challenging?
- Would you like us to continue doing Google Meets?
- What time works best for Google Meet?
- Is there anything else you feel the teachers should know?
School Staff Private Facebook Page
This idea was from Coach Curby, one of the PE teachers at our school!! (YOU DA BEST) She announced on our last day together as a staff that she had made a private Facebook group for the staff of our school! We are a close staff and she wanted us to all stay in touch during this time! We have all been sharing pictures of what we have been up to, family activities, cooking pictures, TikTok dance challenges (yes, for real!) & more. It is honestly one of my favorite things during this time!! I highly suggest you do this with your building!
We have a private team Instagram that students and parents follow. This has been such a great tool to keep in contact with our students. We don’t communicate WITH them on here, but it is more to GIVE them information & show them some of us! We have been posting newsletters, pictures of the teachers in quarantine, clips of what the teachers have been up to, etc. This has been a great platform during this time.
I have found it is much easier to make a 4 minute video of me explaining the directions for the week rather than typing everything out! Not only is it easier, but the students said they prefer this as well. Here are the steps that I did to make a short video:
- Record the video horizontally on the camera app on my iPhone. (You can record it in separate chunks rather than all at once!)
- Upload to the app Inshot. Here I just added some text over the video of important information such as due dates, etc.
- Save the video to your camera roll.
- Upload the video to the Google Drive app.(This took me about 30 minutes for my 4 minute video!! Hopefully it is quicker by now)
- Upload the video to Google Classroom!
Products I’m Loving
No these items are not necessary AT ALL, but they have been making my life a little easier these days. (Links are affiliate links meaning I make a small commission if purchased)
- Quay Bluelight Glasses (I have the Tortoise color)
- I get headaches so easily & am on the computer, iPad, or phone wayyyy too much these days! These help so much.
- Ring Light
- No this is not necessary!!!!! It has just been helpful for all of the videos I have been making. This one has 3 light settings & the height is adjustable!
I am sure by next week this list will be completely different! I am learning something new every day. Good luck to everyone out there! You are doing amazing!