Distance Learning in Fifth Grade

Well, we are in the midst of a global pandemic that caused districts worldwide to abruptly shutter their schools and classrooms.

There's a sentence I never dreamed I'd type out!

But, here we are and if I've learned anything it's that teachers and students are unbelievably resilient.

Over here, Monday marked the beginning of the third week into this journey called distance learning and I'd love to share some things that are helping us find both success and community.

For starters, I brought a lot home from my classroom.  A. Lot.
This is one of MANY piles and loads that came home!
I brought home PILES of picture books (even ones we'd already read), whiteboard markers, small whiteboards, highlighters, sticky notes, teacher guides (especially for math), and any answer keys I knew I'd need.

I know we can't go back in time (in other words, you likely can't go back to grab more) and I hope beyond HOPE we never experience this again in our lifetime, but these items have proven to be very helpful.
I set up shop in our dining room, making sure everything I'd need is at my fingertips.
Next up was to plan the structure.  Our district thankfully uses Google Classroom and my fifth graders were pros to begin with, which was a huge advantage.

We were told to use Google Meets for one hour each weekday, meaning we post the code on Classroom every morning, moments before beginning.  The code changes daily so once our session concludes, I go BACK on and delete the code.

I know some people use Zoom and I enjoy it for social purposes during this quarantine but for academic purposes, I've only ever used Meets.
My husband and I switch between helping the boys with THEIR Google Meet sessions.
When students log in, I give them about 2 minutes to join and chat.  Then, I announce that everyone goes on mute.  I have not had a single issue with this and the more you do it, the easier this ALL gets.  Promise.

Now that everyone is on mute, I begin the session.  If students have something to say, they'll use the built in option to either type, "I have a question," or, "I have a comment."  I call on them once we complete a section of the agenda.

Agenda.  Let's chat about it.  My session is an hour.  You can adapt to fit YOUR needs.

I launch with announcements, just as I would if we were in our brick and mortar classroom.  I wanted to keep our routine as closely aligned as possible, which would hopefully bring regularity and familiarity to our lives.
This is our morning meeting command central and I have continued using MANY of these components.  Grab them HERE.
For announcements, I go over any due dates, new assignments, or school news.  We even celebrate birthdays by going OFF mute to sing.

Then, we jump into the morning meeting card.  I've always loved these but now I deeply appreciate them!  I read it to them and show it to them and then we just go down the line.  A single student will unmute as I call on them, answer, and then mute again.  You can use this time to reinforce restating questions or adding a piece of evidence to support their answer or you can just practice listening and speaking.

This time can also be used to practice accountable talk.  Have students use stems like, "I agree with (blank) because," or, "I disagree with (blank) because."  They can also use the chat option at the end to further extend it.  Have them write something that they learned about a classmate or something that made them laugh or smile.

It really does increase engagement.

Next up is the meat of the day and whatever I have planned.  Early on, I devised a schedule and posted it to Google Classroom.  I will be switching things up again with our schedule because I don't want them to feel stale or mundane.
This is a freebie in my store.  Click HERE to grab it.  It's editable, too!
As of now, we've been doing:

Mini-Lesson Monday: This is where we review a math concept and then practice.  I use a tabletop whiteboard (which is so incredibly old that I don't remember where it's from) and they bring a pencil and paper to practice. If they got the answer or want to share out, they go to the chat option and type, "Ready."
Here's an idea of a finished session!  
Talented Tuesday: Bring something to share that you're proud of, which could be anything from a Lego creation to a drawing to a medal to a stuffed animal.  We then extend that talent with a directed draw.  I turn my screen so they can see the whiteboard and they draw along with me. Bring in literacy by discussing things that item could symbolize or when/where/how we see that item in literature.  I always leave them with a challenge, too.  I'll have them do something easy (color it and now teach a family member) or something harder (find me four facts about this animal/item).
My daughter spoke about middle school and it was AWESOME!  She also answered their questions, which was perfect.
Wildcard Wednesday: Basically I get to pick and surprise them!  We've done guest speakers, we've played a Kahoot (just present your screen and have students open a second tab), we've done a Quizziz (same procedure as Kahoot), or we've even baked a batch of cookies together (tell them a fraction and have them make equivalent, such as 3/4 cup of sugar!).

Thoughtful Thursday: I read a picture book and plan a mini-lesson around it.  We continue to cover genre and theme but I'm using Jennifer Serravallo's book to guide my mini-lessons and it's been AWESOME.  
I have everything planned and prepped so that we can use every single minute of our hour.
Flipgrid Friday: We discuss our novel study on Fridays and students get to contribute to our Flipgrid.  They LOVE this and I give new prompts each week.  We usually have time to also review the answers from the math that was assigned that week.

We are currently providing enrichment and review and practice for our students.  We were in a unique position because we had completed the math curriculum prior to closure, which was initially meant to provide more time for review and test preparations.  

But truly, I'm also leaning into my relationships with them.  I want them to know they're safe, they're not alone, and I'm still their teacher, loudly cheering them on!
I have 30 students and visited each house at night to leave a chalk note for them. 
I'm constantly thinking of ways to connect in a tangible way, but from a distance.  Our school participated in a car parade, which might have been the most heart-warming experience of my life.

And also, know that this is constantly a work in progress.  As we do more, we learn more, and we find what works for us.

That's truly teaching, right?

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