Every day when teaching remotely, I worry when I do not hear from a student for the entire day. Either they did not post in the chat that day or they did not turn on their microphone. I often wonder if they are even there. I had to think of something to reach every child and to have at least one small contact with these “non-participants” once a week.
Thankfully, my board had a guest speaker at our last staff meeting and I was able to hear about a great idea to start small groups. You create small meetings for six students per day. I meet with these students at the beginning of our language meeting and we meet for thirty minutes. I had to think of fun animal names and it is the new norm that they join that call rather than joining our larger meeting. The first week was an introduction to our media literacy unit, last week was reading a newsela article about Sarah Fuller being the first female in a Power Five football game and this week, we will do fun holiday activities.
During these group meetings, I encourage students to use their microphone rather than their chat. It is an intimate setting where I leave my camera on and it feels like small groups in the physical classroom. Students that are nervous to participate in the larger setting get a chance to shine now. They are doing much better in this setting and I am looking forward to hearing from them during this time. Even some of our students who have been anxious to turn on their microphone have made it their goal to speak in the small group meetings. I made sure to group the students that participate the most in a group together so that the students who haven’t been participating as much have time to share their ideas in their group.
I look forward to extending this idea during math periods and continuing to set up these meetings for students who are involved in group meetings for science or other subjects.
I am really excited to continue trying things that have been working for other remote teachers and keep posting the ideas that have been working for me. I am getting really used to the online platform and although I do miss the face to face connections, I am loving this new and innovative way of teaching!
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all. I hope the well deserved break will recharge us for an exciting (and hopefully less dramatic) New Year!