At long last, a group of 5 students from third grade became my first blended learning students yesterday! As a new teacher to this school, the majority of these students I had met just once before, at their First Communion Service. In some ways, having students come into the classroom after I had seen their home environments (albeit virtually) was a helpful change; a kind of home visit experience we all have been thrust into. I was pleasantly surprised that even though students didn’t know me perfectly yet, we had developed enough trust that it felt like a relatively familiar experience hosting them. One thing I didn’t expect: just how short they were. Zoom has been a great equalizer in terms of height, and for better or worse, it’s much different to meet people virtually than face to face. Believe it or not, I actually think there is less room for snap judgments (especially when you are forced to be together and have to make the most of things).
Check out the pictures to get a feel for our first day of Blended Learning!
Day 1 At a Glance
My Favorite Strategy
Last of all, I finally got to test a theory yesterday about how to help students’ feel at peace during break times. As students face an abundance of screens, my thought is that they also need opportunities to listen (and speak) as much as they absorb information through their eyes. We got started by listening yesterday to 1) Bible verses from the Psalms on the Dwell app 2) Instrumental Worship music on Youtube as they worked, and 3) Rain sounds on the Calm app (this feature is free).
While I only get to see each of my 3 groups of 4-6 students once per week (the other day they are with their Spanish teacher), I am confident that the small size of groups and once a week schedule will still allow us to get to know one another well (while not getting too sick of each other). I’ve been pleasantly surprised by students’ senses of humor as reflected through emogees, assignments, and other conversations over Zoom. I’ve learned that students’ needs are very different by grade: my 3rd graders need wiggle breaks more frequently, while my 4th graders love staying on Zoom just to chat for 10 minutes after the call is over. While their conversation has to remain school appropriate (and I disable the chat to help support that), about half of the class still loves having an outlet to be social. Today we talked about “Would You Rather” questions, and being goofy with them was one of the highlights of my day.
Now that we have begun to get students’ settled into Blended Learning, my next goal is to find manageable ways to differentiate students’ assignments based on their Scantron Data I sorted from September. Please let me know if you have any digital tools to recommend for 3rd/4th grade Vocabulary, Fiction, Nonfiction, Geometry, Data, Measurement, Algebra, Number Operations, and more!