COVID Tool #2: Shared Google Docs
So, I think students learn best when they interact with each other. When they do, they use terms and make connections that I wouldn't be able to. For instance, I had a few students last year who kept relating things back to anime characters that I had never heard of. It worked for them, so I am okay with it.
Small group interactions is much more difficult in a socially distanced "COVID Classroom". Google Docs provided me a way to allow students to work in small groups while staying socially distant.
If you give any of these a try, please let me know how it went in the comments below and don't forget to visit my store for more great Social Studies resources.
COVID Tool #1: Mini-Whiteboards
These two words pretty much define my teaching this year. I had a set way of doing things until COVID. Many of these things have had to change. These changes have come through a lot of thinking and trial and error, but, fortunately, I have found some solutions to my biggest problems caused by teaching in my "COVID Classroom". My first big discovery was how whiteboards can be used to replace a lot of the group-based activities I have always done as well as give me a window into their social emotional wellness.
I ordered a class set of mini-whiteboards a few years ago with grand ideas of how I would use them, but never really utilized them very well or often because I didn't have too - I had other activities and strategies that I was more comfortable with that I kept falling back on. Now that most of those group-based strategies cannot happen in a socially distanced classroom, I wiped the dust off my whiteboards, and they have been a Godsend! I use them all the time now. Here are some of the ways I've been utilizing them that have been the most effective:
I hope these were helpful and maybe sparked some ideas. If they did, please let me know in the comments, and don't forget to visit my store for great Social Studies resources!
How COVID Has Changed My Teaching
Over 18 years of teaching, I have developed techniques and strategies for getting my students engaged in and loving history. Everything is based on learning in collaborative groups that foster small risk taking within a small group that eventually blossoms into whole-class level confidence for shy or typically lower achieving students. A classroom where we act things out, do group-based warm ups, learning activities, and review games using a variety of collaborative strategies. Everything was a well-oiled, smoothly running, Marzano-based interactive and inclusive machine that engaged the vast majority of my students. Oh, and no computers - everything we did was pencil and paper based.
Then Friday, March 13th happened. Like many of you, the end of the school year was just survival mode for me. We were directed to provide students with ungraded work as best we could and we'd be back to normal by September.
Well, it's November, and almost NOTHING is back to normal. I know some schools are fully remote, some are hybrid and some are fully face to face. My district offers face to face instruction for families that need/prefer it as well as a fully virtual option. The end result is that instead of having 115ish students, I have around 75 or so for face to face instruction spread across 4 classrooms that they stay in all day long while us teachers rotate every hour.
The other day, I called my dad and he asked how it was going. The only thing that came to mind was, "It's hard. Absolutely everything is different," Although I'm getting more comfortable with things, I wouldn't say things are getting easier, I'd say I'm getting tougher. I'm starting to find some solutions to problems caused by my new "COVID Classroom" that I will be sharing here in the coming weeks. I hope they help.
In the meantime, check out my store for some great Social Studies resources (over 70 of which are Google-based and able to be shared through Google Classroom), and if you have any tips or ideas that might help others, please leave them in the comments section.
Early in my teaching career, a principal said I should do something "Thanksgivingish" around the upcoming Thanksgiving Break. Thanksgivingish. What did that even mean? Apparently, he wanted my students to make horns of plenty, Pilgrim hats and hand turkeys.
I asked my students what they knew about Native Americans, and they said something like, "Like at Thanksgiving?" but couldn't tell me much more. That was all the research I needed. I decided to go in a different direction. We were going spend the day before Thanksgiving Break learning about Indigenous Peoples.
Then I hit a road block. There just weren't that many good, inclusive, middle school friendly resources to use. They were either too old or scholarly or too young and, at best, accidentally racially insensitive. So, I did some research and created a few:
In writing these resources, I made every effort to use authentic names, respect Indigenous beliefs and values while presenting their cultures in a middle school friendly format. However, they have not been vetted by any official body representing Indigenous Peoples.
So, if we are going to do something "Thanksgivingish" this year, let's do better than headdresses and hand turkeys. Let's present our students with an accurate, inclusive and culturally sensitive picture of Indigenous cultures.
If you are interested in any of the resources listed above, click the links and check them out, and don't forget to visit my store for more great Social Studies resources.
I'm an 18 year veteran teacher that loves teaching, coaching, writing, and my family.