Teaching Face to Face in 2020


Well, we are about 13 weeks into the 2020-2021 school year and for us, 12 have been in-person, face to face.  Our first week was virtual and then we jumped into a hybrid situation of two groups per day.

I'm going to preface this with the following statement: Every district, city, and area is different but my area has (and continue to have) extremely low Covid numbers.  My district has gone above and beyond with health and safety measures (endless PPE for staff and students, regular mandatory testing, maintaining a public online dashboard of cases, ect) that make me feel incredibly safe, both as a teacher and a mom of students in the district.

If a family or teacher didn't feel safe to return, the district created an entirely new, online only option.  Therefore, I am only teaching face to face.  A student is in either group A or B and if they're not with me, I assign asynchronous work they complete either at home, extended care, or wherever they go after school.

But of course, school looks different.  It was tricky at first (for me; the kids have been unbelievably resilient) but we are now in a groove and I'm so grateful.  Let's take a look at some things that are helping us!


Because we are doing two daily groups, I only have them in-person, for two hours and forty minutes each day.  This meant that I had to really zoom in on the things that are absolute necessities and it also meant that we had to be extremely mindful of time.

I only see one group on Wednesdays (the other group is assigned asynchronous work all day) and that's when we do science and social studies. 


Morning meetings have continued to be non-negotiable and we start each group with one.  I use THESE cards and they are honestly a classroom staple.  They're quick, engaging, and they get kids talking and making connections, even if we are behind masks and shields.


Speaking of which, we are still building that classroom community of readers.  Students are required to do one book talk per month.  They used to sign up on these but now I just put it under the document camera and they tell me the date they'd like.  They write their selected date in their planner and we do book talks during every morning meeting.  If you want to read more about morning meetings, you can click HERE.


We also still do about 2-3 power words a week, also during our morning meeting time.  The goal is to encourage them to either find these words in texts or use these words as writers.  While they can't come up to ring our hotel bell when that happens, they raise their hand and share and we all celebrate. 


And, while we can't do our traditional soft starts this year (no shared materials allowed), we've found ways to gently begin our days.  While it's always morning meetings, we've also been doing play dough challenges on Fridays, which have been a BIG hit.  They REALLY look forward to it.  I gave each student a little can of play dough back in September and they store it in their pencil box.


You can grab the challenges in HERE.  I also give them tools like toothpicks, googly eyes, pipe cleaner pieces, or gems.  They truly love it.


They do have to wear masks all day and they sit behind shields, which they adapted so easily to doing.  In order for me to see their little hands raised, I made each student their own "high five" hand.  They LOVE these and it makes it VERY easy for me to see who has a question or comment.  We even use them to give each other high fives because that was something I realized I was really missing.  


I know they're really missing class jobs but again, we just have to adapt.  Instead, the Lucky Duck of the Day was born and it's been fabulous.  Each day, a new duck is selected and this person gets to stand up and lead us in our class promise, the pledge, and any announcements.  This individual also gets to lead the line for our bathroom break and gets to dismiss at the end of the day.

You can click HERE to grab the adorable tiny ducks.  I just numbered the bottom of each one, which means I can reuse over and over.


And yes, we are still doing the 40 Book Challenge!  And yes, we've had to adapt but that's okay.  Where there's a will, there's a way!  They use THESE resources and clip THIS to their desk.  When a genre is completed, they add a bead!

You can click HERE to read more about how we do the 40 Book Challenge in upper grades.


We do have to make sure books have time to air out before going to the next reader.  I created a waiting room basket, where books stay for one week before going back out on the shelves.  You can grab a ton of classroom signs (including this one!) as a freebie right HERE.


But, we do still have time to read and do Flashlight Fridays every week.  It's hard on a shorter schedule but I'd also argue that it's vital so... we make it work!


Another that has helped a ton is making sure that kids have everything they need at their fingertips.  Aside from our daily bathroom break, they don't get out of their seats so they need their materials and supplies ready to go.

Each student has a mini resource book (you can grab them HERE) which means they can access SO many anchor charts right from their desk.  I highly recommend, as these are always out on their desks.


We seriously have them out all the time.  I used a binding machine for mine but you could also staple or use a clip.  I bought THIS one years ago and love having it.


And finally, we are still crushing all things grammar and language!  Because I have two groups, we do posters for each and aren't currently manipulating the pieces.  But, they can come up with their marker to label quickly.

You can grab everything you need HERE.

So essentially, the name of the game is adaptability.  We take what we know works and we find a way to do it.  I'm grateful for every single day we are able to be face-to-face and hopefully, we can remain this way!





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