As the 2020/2021 school year approaches, teachers have a lot of questions about what it will look like. When we ask this question, it seems like all we hear is “We don’t know yet.” Since governors, district leaders and administrators don’t know what schools will look like next year, teachers are struggling to figure out how to prepare. In this blog series, we are looking at 10 ways that we can prepare this summer without wasting our time. Each way will prove beneficial to you, whether your district ends up using distance learning, traditional classrooms, or a hybrid education approach. Included in each blog post in this series will be tech tool suggestions, free resources, and a giveaway entry form.
We have already talked about setting up your digital classroom, exploring technology tools, exploring both digital and paper formats for teaching resources, building up a communication system for parents, digging deep into your standards, making prerecorded teaching videos and having a classroom management strategy prepared. Today we will discuss something else all teachers should do to prepare for next school year:
You can consider differentiation options.
Differentiation was a very challenging part of distance learning. At my school, we used Google Meet for our live lessons, and there were few ways to have each student working at their own pace. However, all of my students still had individual learning needs. One way that I was able to provide differentiation was with a To-Do list. I presented a list of possible math problems. Students start at the top of the list (with the easiest problem) and then work their way down as they get each problem correct. (I presented the list on Google Meet and then watched their work using Whiteboard.fi.) This allowed my quick finishers to move on to harder problems and I could attempt to support my struggling students with guiding suggestions. Since I couldn't pull those struggling students into a "small group" like I would in class, I would then create a video mini lesson on any topic that I saw them struggling with and post it onto Google Classroom.
This tweaked version of the To-Do List differentiation strategy (which I used in my brick and mortar classroom regularly) worked well in a distance learning environment. Another differentiation strategy that works well with distance learning is tiered assignments. In my math lessons, all students were working on similar problems, but at a range of difficulties. I generally had 3 or 4 different problems. Students are told ahead of time which level they should work on. All students worked on the 1 problem that was closest to their level. Then we reviewed all of the problems as a whole class, so all students could benefit from the review. This could be done with reading comprehension questions as well.
How else could differentiation look in a distance learning environment? Some of that will depend on your particular school's rules and expectations. We weren't allowed to do breakout groups because of technology issues and equity concerns, but small group instruction might be a differentiation strategy that works really well at your school. No matter what, differentiation needs to be at the forefront of our mind. I suggestion looking at the different strategies that I line out in 10 Differentiation Strategies - How and Why to Use Them, and asking yourself: "Is this something I could tweak to work in a digital environment?" and "How can this work if I need to go back and forth between bricks and mortar and distance learning?"
FREE Resources for Your Classroom
As you take some time to think about differentiation, here are some free resources which may help you out:
Subtraction with Regrouping Tiered Activity - This activity gives you 3 leveled sheets for subtraction with regrouping, as well as a quiz for pre and post testing students.
Shape Words Self Correcting Puzzles - This puzzle allows students to work on reading shape words. They know automatically if they have the correct answer because each word only fits with one picture. Once students have used this puzzle at least once, give them a set amount of time to see how many they can match. (Different groups can have different amounts of time.)
The Tortoise and the Hare Fable Response Packet - This packet has multiple pages at multiple levels. All of your students can read the same fable, while filling out different pages in a form of jigsaw differentiation.
June Digital Learning Resource Bundle Giveaway
Now time for our giveaway!!! With today's giveaway entry form, you will be entering to win my 2nd Grade Internet Scavenger Hunt Bundle. This bundle includes: 8 different internet scavenger hunts. Each scavenger hunt comes with 4 different formats: .doc format that allows students to type on them, a .pdf that allows students to click the links, a QR code version that allows students to scan QR codes and a Google Classroom version that includes a Google Doc and a Google Form. Enter to win this Internet Scavenger Hunt Bundle, by completing the the June Giveaway Entry Form #8.
All winners will be chosen on July 1st. Winners will receive the bundle directly to the provided email. All those who enter will also receive my monthly Raki's Rad Resources News Releases.
Interested in more tips on how to prepare for the unpreparable 2020/2021 school year? Come back tomorrow for tip #9!
Missed a day? This blog post contains the entire list of 10 Things You Can Do to Prepare for Next School year.
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