November Virtual – Week 1

As our school pivoted to virtual, our 8th graders got settled into the new, temporary routine! Here are some updates for parents (and kids) and anyone else who happens across this about our first week learning from home.

What can you do?

I’ll kick this post off with a few things you can do to support your child in virtual learning and then share about our week.

  1. Establish a consistent work space, ideally at a table or desk. Bedrooms are very comfortable but sometimes too comfortable for focusing.
  2. Establish a consistent bedtime and wake-up routine just like with brick and mortar school.
  3. Check in with your child about how the day went after each day. Check out Brightspace with your child so you can support work.
  4. Consider having a fun goal for the week and a reward. In my family it is as simple as the week ending and getting one night of take-out. Something to look forward to at week’s end is really great. For kids struggling with work, treating it as a reward for completion could be something to consider.

We’re following the bell schedule

There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle when deciding a schedule and our middle school went with our bell schedule. This was great because kids are used to following it for in person school and it allowed things to feel less compressed. Even so, it was a very big adjustment to being on screens most of the day. Tuesday felt like Friday to me and the Veterans Day holiday turned into an almost 100% work day for me. In weekly self-reflection one student said, “this week felt long” and another said they spent Wednesday’s day off working on back work all day.

Snack opportunities, fun new backgrounds and integrity

Last year in 7th grade, the students spent a lot of time focusing on integrity. They learned about what it means and worked to always “stay in their integrity.” Students need to feel safe in virtual spaces just like they do in our brick and mortar classrooms and we had to revisit this topic this week. There are many known struggles for online learning already and I hope our kids have learned not to add to these very real struggles by taking photographs and posting or mocking students in virtual classrooms.

I truly appreciated students having camera ON this week. I could see raised hands and thumbs up, confused faces and confident faces and feel human. Our digital space IS our classroom right now and it can feel just as fun (in a different way) than meeting in person. We had a pretty solid start!

Cool tech

An example of my board as we talked through a problem.

I have found a few things that are rather fun in the past two weeks. My colleague introduced me to a digital whiteboard that I tried before we went virtual. The kids liked it and we all quickly got the hang of it so it was the first tool I employed this week!

Desmos has some AWESOME activities. We tried one out in Algebra this week and once we got past the struggles of entering the code and getting in it was good. We plan to do more of these next week both in Algebra and Math 8. We’ve already done one of these in Math 8 in our hybrid model and the kids liked it.

Go Guardian is a tool I have had access to for a long while at school but I just tried it out this week. When in a virtual setting there are so many screen struggles – getting to the right spot, knowing what to do when you get there, managing the band width of a meet AND an activity and more. Go Guardian let me support kids with their work while having them leave the Google Meet so their Chrome Book could handle the load of a video or an activity. My favorite moment from the week was when a student was working and was still on the meet and I heard her say, “wait I don’t get this one.” I saw her screen and what she was struggling with and was able to chat with her in Go Guardian and tell her to pop back over to the meet and I could help her. Of course it also serves the function of letting me know when kids are playing video games when they should be working and more and unfortunately we’ll need that information too. Our kids are learning how to stay focused when we are not in a physical space and all these tools help us.

I saved a rabbit today

On Thursday after the school day, I drove my son to work and delivered cupcakes for my business. I decided to use the little bit of daylight left to run on the Black Diamond Trail so I parked on the trail toward the bottom. My son had asked me to take a video of the trail for him, so I stopped my watch after just under a mile of running and shot some video. I forgot to restart my watch and just kept running. My intention had been to push to the last bits of daylight and enjoy my run but not to run til it was pitch black. That meant I had about 4-5 miles total in time.

My rabbit dressed up for Halloween.

As I began my run I was tired. I felt spent and felt like I had been moderately successful with most things and felt a little mired in some of the failures of other things. I set an intention to use my run to switch my mindset. Because of the watch debacle I ended up running past 6 miles and until it was fully dark. I was a little scared because I hadn’t brought a headlamp, but I also felt refreshed, energized and POSITIVE. The running brought perspective: Most kids had their cameras on. Most kids participated. Most kids tried their best. Most kids stayed in their integrity this week.

On the way home a rabbit darted in front of my car. I managed to avoid the rabbit. For a brief second I thought, “I almost killed a rabbit.” and then I quickly spun it to, “I saved a rabbit today.”

We can’t control that we are virtual right now but we can choose our mindset!