Before we get started, please pat yourself on the back because you are an awesome educator who curated resources, transformed your house into a learning center for your kids and someone’s in a matter of days.
With regards to remote learning, I have realized that we are all operating on 60% battery life. We are drained from the stresses that the stay-at-home order has placed on our families, routines, and incomes. I set out from the beginning to approach my new found reality in the simplest terms possible, and below I have listed some crisis-response curricular shifts that have been working for me (I also recorded a webinar earlier this week with Teacher’s Discovery on this very topic, check it out):
- Mental Jedi trick: Adjust the dial on your expectations! The lower they are, the less frustrated you will be when things don’t line up! On my first day engaging students, I expected everything to go wrong from students not knowing how to mute to audio, to being flooded with extraneous sounds, etc. I pictured myself as one of the trauma doctors on Grey’s anatomy, trying to crike a patient and while simultaneously performing chest compressions (and blood squirting all everywhere. Sorry for the vivid imagery here). Establishing this mental disposition beforehand, or even giving in a bit to my “Negative bias” made me happier in the end. The first week, I was able to celebrate the little victories, which made me more pleasant to deal with.
- Stretch between breaks. Sitting for too long makes you even more tense. If possible, take a one minute stretch break. This helps me to relieve the pressure, inject a change of pace ( below we’ll talk about planning in such a way that you’re able to do this). In fact, I am so good at stretching my back now that I might not go back to my chiropractor once the stay-at-home order is lifted.
Managing The Workload
3. Break assignments down into manageable chunks. Don’t try to go all out or make this tantamount to your “in-class experience; it’s not and the quicker you realize this (managing expectations), the better off you will be.
I assign one big assignment every three days, and students complete only a portion (of the assignment) at a time (one a day). For example, my level 1 students will be reading a story about their ideal school. Their big assignment is the read an article excerpt from “Qué Tal: Una clase diferente.” Being mindful of their schedules and maybe even new found responsibilities, I endeavor to lighten the load just enough to keep them engaged, afloat, and racking up quick-wins as well. I give only a third of assignments or activities that I would give under normal circumstances. Below is what my schedule looks like:
A :Day 1 students are doing pre-vocabulary work for the article they’ll read. Define words, create sentences, share out in the meeting.
B: Day 2: They will read the article. I read the first page to them, asked questions and then had them finish reading and annotating offline. We rejoined and discussed the words, the article, and some characteristics about the class.
C: Day 3. They’ll answer the questions. I give them class time for this. We are all on the platform muted with cameras off.
1. Provide a daily prompt or students to journal about.
2. Provide them with a picture to describe, or a video.
3. Invite someone to your class for students to interview- I did this today with a class who read “La clase de confesiones” and “El escape.” I spent 10 minutes talking to them and they had good questions about the books, my life, and dreams. It was great! You can do this as well. Use your FB community!
4. Make ample time to describe the activity. Provide examples if possible.
5. Model with students during screen share.
How am I structuring my online classes?
1. Mood-meter check-in. I have students write in the Google chat (Google Meet) one word describing how they feel. I also use Profe Pistole mood-metered pictures. Students can readily access their mood. Click here for the emotion words with the sloth. Click here for the llama pictures.
2. Since everyone is watching television, I have them describe one series or show they watched using the past tense (level 1). I provide them with the sentence stem in the Google chat. You can use a PPT, but I am really trying to keep it simple.
3. I will introduce the assignment to them. I share my screen and read the directions. I assign students to ask me questions- this is helpful!
4. I give them 15-20 minutes to do the assignment. I have them mute their mics and turn off their cameras. I do the same. The chat feature is open so I am responding to questions.
5. We reconvene and I have a few of them share out. I usually call on people. It has been working thus far.
This has been very breathable schedule and I am able to answer questions and give them space to work. They don’t feel overwhelmed afterwards.
What are some ways in which you are making this work for you? Let me know!
If you haven’t downloaded my free resource, get it here! Animated book trailer for “La clase de confesiones” with activities. You don’t need to have the book to do the activity. This resource will be free throughout April. Also, check out the COVID-19 WL thread on Facebook. There are tons of free resources!
Remote Learning Decoded: How To Stay Afloat When Going Remote (Webinar Series)!
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