Back to School... Virtually

Last week, we returned to school... virtually.  We spent our first week together through Google Meets and while I was filled with worry about it, the week turned out to be amazing!

Obviously, we had to make some modifications and think outside the box a bit but we made it work.  I can confidently say that we already feel like a class family and I am SO grateful.  

Let's jump into what we did!

I had everything set up in two spots: the standing desk from Ikea and a student desk (for when I wanted to sit).  I used my laptop to run the Meets and an additional Chromebook as a second screen.  My main laptop rested on THIS and it was SO helpful to have it raised and slightly angled.

Because my document camera was having a hard time, I used anchor chart paper (I love THIS from Target) and the white boards.  It worked out great and now we have great anchor charts to reference.

We start every morning with a morning meeting card.  While they're thinking of their response, (which I either have them type in the chat feature OR just raise their hand) I'm taking attendance.  And yes, I know there are extensions for attendance (we use them) but I still like to see who's here and check them off on my own chart.

Each morning, we do something with these responses, too.  You can see on the board that on this day, we tallied responses and turned them into fractions, which is a great way to build in math language and thinking.  Other mornings, we will have students defend their answers and then re-vote to see if anyone's view was swayed.

All in all, this takes about five minutes and is a great way to ease into the day.

We go over the agenda for the day, which I write on the board, just as I would if we were face to face.  Next up, we always read a picture book.  Again, just like if we were in person.

For our first week, we read (in this order): The Day You Begin, Our Class is a Family, I Am Enough, The Bad Seed, and Miss Rumphius.

Each day, I set aside an intention with the book, which gets covered during that morning meeting time.  Additionally, I linked a mini-lesson with the book, which was covered during our small group ELA Meets.  Those were based off standards.

With The Bad Seed, I wanted to work on describing a character and providing proof for each.  Again, they just raise their hands and I call on them.  The grid view saves my life!  You CAN also use the chat feature but I like to just call on them and they unmute to answer or share. 

We recorded everything on chart paper and this was also a GREAT way to review and practice using the depth and complexity icons.  You can grab them all HERE.  I just print and keep a stack ready to glue on.

With each anchor chart, I just popped them up on our cabinets.  When our kids come face to face, these will be a great resource and THEY built them!

 We also talked a lot about feelings.  A lot.  Their lives were flipped upside down in March and now with school beginning, they're all feeling different emotions.  I love showing THIS Kid President clip and then creating a gratitude poster.  We added onto this throughout the week (and even incorporated discussion of nouns!).

We also talked about the changes we've experienced in 2020 and how those will impact our return to school.

Throughout the week, we also talked about things to include in our class promise.  They shared out what was most important and we added them to a chart.

I took the chart home and wrote a chant, using their top contributions.  I had it blown up into an engineer print at Staples.  It cost $7 and is huge!  The students will sign the bottom and we will read it each morning!

And again, we infuse our read alouds into everything we did for ELA.  These were great ways to get kids talking and sharing. 

Now for math, we LOVED doing an Esti Mystery everyday.  As students entered the Meet, I had the link for Fact Monster in the Chat and they would jump in and start doing multiplication facts (level one or two to review and build confidence).  We also did a number talk each day using one of THESE images.

I also pulled problems from the third grade curriculum and they would solve on papers or whiteboards (if available).  Those are our "looking back" problems and the "looking ahead" ones came from the first unit we will cover.

And again, of course a ton of discussion and anchor charts were created!

We also loved using THESE to launch sessions and the kids LOVE them.  They would type their response in chat and I'd call on them to defend their selection.  They already know that my favorite word to use is "because."

All our assignments are housed in our district platform but we also created a Google Classroom, since it's familiar and easily accessible.  They've already submitted an interest survey and I Am poem with GREAT success!  You can grab those HERE (they're printable AND digital).

It really was a great week and we worked hard but also had fun together.  When they entered each morning, I'd have music playing (Trolls World Tour on Amazon Music was a hit) and when they left each session, many would stay a bit and chat.  I happily welcomed that in!


  1. This is wonderful! Thanks for a peek at your day.

  2. do you have a link/ post to your mini lessons?

  3. Thanks for sharing, Jill. Love it all! I'm curious about Number Talks. We have them embedded with our district adopted curriculum be seem pretty dry to me. I like your images better just curious how you lead talks with the pictures. Any response is greatly appreciated! Thank you!