5 Takeaways from My 1st Week of Remote Teaching

5 Takeaways from My 1st Week of Remote Teaching


5 takeaways from my 1st week of remote teaching

Buckle up! If you're not remote teaching yet, it could be headed your way soon!

A little background... my first week of remote teaching took place in November. In my local district, teachers were teaching both hybrid and remote students. It was a crazy amount of work!! Thankfully, our SAU found funding for a 7th/8th grade math remote teacher to take away some of the burden of the other classroom teachers. I think there was likely exactly ONE certified math teacher sitting at home researching and writing math content, so I applied. This blog post is all about my 5 key takeaways from my first week of remote teaching as I entered mid-trimester and took over teaching all of our remote 7th and 8th graders.

1) COMMUNICATE

Communicate clearly with parents and students. Make sure expectations and schedules are crystal clear.  I took the time this week to send out batch emails with all the Zoom meeting times and links that they will need. I responded to every parent and student email promptly to ensure everyone understood the expectations of when to log on. My students in particular had been asynchronously remote learning for the first part of the year. This week I stepped in and the program itself was different. This caused a lot of confusion but emails and phone calls helped significantly.


my binders full of student info

2) ORGANIZE

I inherited 96 new students mid-trimester coming from 6 different math teachers. Oh. My. Gosh. The overwhelm potential was off the charts. I took a couple of hours right away to set up a binder for each of my 5 classes. I used dividers for each student. Then I organized every grades sheet printout from previous teachers, IEP, 504, ELL plans, important email correspondence, etc. I am so glad I took the extra time to do this, because now when I get a question about a student or an email from a parent I can open right up to that section of the binder and I have a little bit of context and background knowledge.


3) QUESTION

Don't hesitate to reach out to other teachers, guidance counselors, curriculum coordinators, ELL specialists, special ed teachers, administrators. Working from home can feel isolating if you let it. Especially as a new addition to the staff, I am trying to reach out to as many people as I can and attend all virtual meetings. Ask questions about why some students might not be engaging or how to best provide accommodations for other students. It takes a village! Don't let yourself become an island.


5 takeaways from my 1st week of remote teaching


4) OFFER GRACE

I tend to hold pretty traditional values. I like work to be turned in promptly for full credit. I think attendance is extremely important. Videos on is the best way to engage in our virtual classroom. BUT I have decided to take a step back and offer grace. Often times we have no idea what is going on with our students and their families. Covid has flipped everything upside down and communities are struggling. So I'm choosing grace. When a student emails about missing a Zoom due to a doctor's appointment or needing an extension or whatever the situation might be, the answer is "Thank you for letting me know. No problem!"


5) SHOW UP

The most important thing is to show up and be there for your students every day. It is so challenging to get to know students when you've never met in person and often times I am teaching to little gray boxes. Well, I make sure I hear their voice at least once each class. For attendance this past week, students needed to unmute, correct any pronunciation errors of their first or last name, tell me their nickname if they have one, and then tell me their favorite number or (the next class) tell me about their pets. I write everything down, and it all just continues to help me understand and get to know the students that I'm working with. As a teacher, in general, I show up smiling and inserting little off topic stories in order to engage my students in everything I'm trying to relay to them. I will show up as a supportive adult for them as often as I can to make these crazy times just a little better.

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10 Websites for Teaching Math to Remote Students

10 Websites for Teaching Math to Remote Students


In this post, you'll find a list of 10 websites that can facilitate teaching math to remote students. I am not affiliated with any of these websites. This post is merely a roundup of some great sites I've discovered.

1) VOCAROO

This free website allows students to upload a voice recording and share it with you.
Why I love it? Vocaroo allows me to get a better read on my students' understanding.


2) FRECKLE

This is an amazing resource for providing your students with online practice.
Why I love it? Freckle is differentiated and standards-aligned!


3) EDPUZZLE

Great for formative assessment, this website allows you to add your "magic touch" to videos.
Why I love it? I can add checks for understanding throughout my Edpuzzle videos!



4) KIALO

This is a free website for classes to use for discussion, debate, and collaboration.
Why I love it? Kialo provides an amazing opportunity for math classes to incorporate higher order thinking tasks.



5) YO! TEACH

This website hosts a backchannel chat for classroom use.
Why I love it? YO Teach! promotes cooperative learning and discussions among students.


6) GOSOAPBOX

This website is a web-based clicker tool that anonymously collects student responses.
Why I love it? GoSoapBox provides a great way to monitor student comprehension.



7) JAMBOARD

This Google product is a whiteboard app with awesome editing tools.
Why I love it? Jamboard helps make math visual.



8) CLASSCRAFT

This innovative website utilizes gaming principles to teach students.
Why I love it? The strategies used on Classcraft greatly motivate students.



9) NEARPOD

This website helps make print lessons interactive.
Why I love it? Nearpod helps me prepare my old lessons for remote learning.



10) EDULASTIC

This website identifies math skill gaps, remediates skill gaps, and tracks data.
Why I love it? Edulastic helps me prepare my students for standardized assessments.





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3 Tips for Planning Digital Stations

3 Tips for Planning Digital Stations


 

3 tips for planning digital stations

So you have all of these wonderful stations activities that you've planned in the past, and now you can't use them as you have in previous years because, well, COVID. Stations are a great way to engage students in review activities! We can still keep many of the benefits of stations in mind as we plan digital stations. In this post, I'll share 3 tips for planning effective digital stations for your math classes.

Tip #1: Check for understanding by using a recording tool such as Vocaroo.

What I love most about stations is that I can listen in on math conversations and gage understanding of the topic students are practicing. Sadly, this type of interaction is often lost in a remote learning environment. I love using tools such as Vocaroo to have students record his or her thinking for me. Students can use the site to easily record an audio clip of their mathematical thinking. Then they can share the link so I can listen and provide feedback. This is a million times more valuable than answers on a page. Being able to hear my students talk through a math problem provides valuable data; not to mention it can help with relationship-building and classroom climate, too!

Tip #2: Promote collaboration among students using Google Slides and Google Meet.

Collaboration among students is essential to successful stations. To continue doing so digitally, use breakout rooms and Google Slides to continue collaboration among students. Students can "share" Google Slides with group members so that everyone's work is on the same slide. By placing students in breakout slides in Zoom or Google Meet, students can chat about the math as they type and work together. And I can pop into the group to monitor progress and answer questions. Any opportunities for students to connect with one another in a digital way is a positive step toward community, collaboration, and mental health.

Tip #3: Keep students on track by inserting a timer on your slides.

When I plan stations in the classroom, I project a timer on the board so that students have an awareness of how much time they have to work. This keeps systems working in a timely and orderly fashion. This strategy can adapted in a digital environment, too, by adding a timer to your Google Slides. Go to Insert --> Video. Then search YouTube for a 5-minute countdown timer. This will place a timer directly on the slides of your choice, and will keep students focused on the task at hand. This is especially helpful when using stations as part of a live virtual class in order to make sure students get the work done in the allotted period of time.

Exciting news! Free to Discover Stations are now available in both print & digital formats! You can shop here to download created-for-you stations.

Thanks for reading! What other activities are you working on making digital?

3 tips for planning digital stations


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Halloween Goes Digital

Halloween Goes Digital


 Halloween goes digital blog post

Halloween goes digital! Are you ready to engage your students in a rigorous and engaging Halloween-themed math activity? Whether you are teaching in the classroom or working remotely, we've got you covered! Since 2015, Free to Discover's Halloween activities have been wildly popular because they engage students in relevant and rigorous learning activities, while embracing the excitement of the time of year. Students solve math problems, work collaboratively, and solve riddles.  

And now there's a brand new line of Halloween activities built especially for Google Drive! These digital activities provide students with clear directions on the first Google Slide so they know exactly what they need to do in order to complete the activity. Students solve each mathematical problem that is presented. Then they can drag and drop the answer to the indicated place on each math card. Each math card has a letter so that letters and numerical answers match up and can be used to decode the riddle!

Here are the 3 steps for students to engage in the activity.

Students solve each problem. They can type answers on the provided workspace slide or they can upload a photo of their work if they prefer to handwrite the mathematical steps. 8 possible answers to the 6 questions are available in the margin. Then students drag-and-drop each correct answer to the black circle on the appropriate math card.

Sample slide pictured here

Once students have matched up the 12 answers with each card, they can decode the riddle by substituting letters for the numerical answers. Once again, the letters can be dragged-and-dropped to the appropriate place. Not all answer/letter combinations will be used.

Sample riddle slide shown here

These resources are easy to implement and super engaging for students! Current math topics available include: Solving Multistep Equations, Solving Two Step Equations, and Calculating Slope Given Two Points. 

The resources include:
  • Teacher's Guide
  • Student Instructions
  • 12 Practice Problems
  • Student Workspace
  • Halloween Riddle Component
  • Answer Key
Bulleted list of included components

Click the images to learn more and shop:

Solving Multistep Equations Halloween Activity

Solving Two Step Equations Halloween Activity

Slope Halloween Activity

And while you're here, scoop up this newly updated FREE activity for calculating slope from two points! It includes PDF and Google Drive versions. Intended to work as a partner activity, each worksheet contains 12 practice problems. Although each worksheet has different pairs of coordinates, each corresponding question number will yield the same slope so that students can complete their own work and then compare answers with a partner. Download now, and then let us know how it went!

Slope Free Activity

Want to save this idea for later? Pin it!

Halloween Goes Digital Pin

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