Day 1 of Blended Learning

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

I placed the Student Schedule in a central location
Verdict on the Face Shield? Too much condensation.
After weighing the pros and cons of each seat, I assigned students to a desk based on their needs (groups not shown for privacy).
After a year of idling in my garage, this weirdly shaped pocket chart finally has a use: displaying groups of students (and their desk numbers) for Blended learning.
This replacement projector remote arrived just in time! During Zoom meetings, I could easily turn on the projector, connect to Zoom on my phone, cast my phone screen to the projector (so students’ could see their classmates), and turn off the projector/log out of Zoom once the meeting was over. I also used the connection between my phone and the projector to play a book from Kids A-Z while we ate snack, and clarify assignments.
Our day in detail! Some routines we practiced: Coming into the classroom and wiping down your desk/chair, and wiping your desk/chair after snack. lunch, and before dismissal.
We also practiced standing on circles to walk in the hallway, so that each person has enough space.
Students worked on Distance learning assignments at their desks before and after our morning and afternoon Zoom calls. They put their devices away and watched the Zoom meeting on the projector during calls (including explanations of documents through sharing my screen).
Here is an example of a student work station, with a divider, device, headphones, and backpack under the desk. Students also hung their coats on their chairs to make it simple.
When the kids are at recess with another teacher, I retreated into the storage closet to get some alone time. While we have used this closet as a coat closet in past years, it is currently off limits to students because of a lack of ventilation. However, it an excellent place to hide from the germs and mental stressors of the classroom as a whole.

Next Week

Next week, I will introduce these blue foam tiles to students as an alternative seating option. These tiles have been spaced out 6+ feet apart throughout the classroom, and labeled with students’ desk numbers. Students will have the option to sit on these tiles instead of at their desks while they are doing Distance Learning assignments (and not eating or watching Zoom).

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).

Final Reflections

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!

Take care,

Haley

Published by Haley Nus

I am a bilingual Christian Educator in the heart of D.C. who longs to see revival transform K-12 education both domestically and internationally. I believe that inquiry-based and experiential teaching methods pair seamlessly with godly awe and point us through the gospel towards a Creator who invites us to taste and see his goodness (Psalm 34:8). While I love sharing the gospel with people, I take Jesus's invitation to welcome children in his name (Luke 9:48) and Jesus's exhortation to become like children (Mathew 18:3) literally! In order to shape the world well for adults, we must serve the youngest among us so that we will truly understand who we are as sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18).

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