Teaching online has been more difficult for me than I thought. I had done this before, and I knew what I wanted to do- but then I started questioning everything. I saw what others were doing, and I started doubting what I was doing. I typically know that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, people highlight what the best is on their social media- which can be very different from reality. I KNOW this, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t hit me hard recently. Plus, online teaching can seem relentless, and it is! I have taken more time putting together a video for my early childhood classes than I typically do planning and teaching them!
While I am feeling better- mostly- there are some days that are still difficult. I set aside some time in the morning to work and then I get more work done in the afternoon when my husband can be with our son more. I am not an afternoon work person! I am normally exhausted by then and not as productive. Plus, it can seem like my to do list just hangs there- not getting done. This week, I am going to try to set an alarm more (although it wasn’t too necessary before because I naturally get up by 7 at the latest.) I am hoping a little extra time in the morning and a shower will get me going.
I have reached out to others online- and I know that I am not the only one. But I put this out there in hopes to be honest about how I am feeling. If you feel this way, you are not alone. This is hard. I put together what I am doing to hopefully help you- but don’t feel like you need to compare yourself to me. Whatever you are doing is GREAT WORK!
I am lucky that we were able to go back and put together bags for students to pick up. I was able to pass out our novels to my students. My sixth graders are reading Felipe Alou and my eighth graders are reading Bianca Nieves both from Fluency Matters. I have transferred some of my activities that I typically use face to face online. My classes meet 4 times a week. My plan is to have students complete 3 chapters per week then have either a cultural activity or a synthesizing activity. However, I also have been sprinkling shorter cultural activities in throughout the week.
Pear Deck is still my go to for reading guides. I ask a variety of questions including:
- a review of previous chapters (ie: list three important events from the last chapter)
- fact based questions where students can find the information right in the book
- opinion based questions
- translation questions to make sure students are focusing on those main ideas
- drawing activities to check for understanding
- analysis questions especially from Pear Deck’s critical thinking library
I really like having students manipulate templates that are on Google Slides. I have figured out Smashdoodles this year- and Scott Benedict has created an amazing template online. This is an easy assignment with little prep on your end. Plus, I love how it is open-ended for students.
Speaking of templates, I have been using Matt Miller’s Google Slides and Drawings templates. I have used the timeline option and character map. I also found this fun Instagram template to have students create with one chapter. This week, I asked my 8th grade students what they liked, and they said they liked when they had choices of what to do. For example, one day, I said they could:
- make a comic strip of the chapter. (I said ten panels, but one student told me that was too many! I will limit it to 8 next time.)
- create the character map.
- recreate a video with it.
My go to quiz game has been Quizizz. I like this because it gives instant feedback. Students can also retake it. I set Quizizz up to show the correct option and then allow students to retake it until they earn 70%. Also, I wanted to give more listening activities for my fifth graders, and I used the new recording feature! It seemed to work well for my students. I also like this to provide more listening comprehension for my students when they are doing more reading.
This week, for my face to face class with my 8th graders, we played the Games of Quotes– which was a lot of fun. I gave them five lines from the game, and then split them up into breakout rooms. They found their quotes (took about 18ish minutes), then we all voted back together. Our favorite (boldest?) quote was when I asked for something that I do after school and one team put she used to flirt with my father. That got a lot of laughs.
I am transferring some of the traditional “puedo” speaking activities to Flipgrid as well. I try really hard to have my sixth graders say mostly things they can find in the book instead of application. My eighth graders can create more with the language.
For culture, I used an article about the Mirabal sisters from El Mundo en Tus Manos while teaching about Felipe Alou. Dreaming Spanish YouTube has some great videos that I could use for Spain and Bianca Nieves. This week, I was hemming and hawing for what to plan for my eighth graders when I realized that I haven’t used a song in awhile! Kara Jacobs has some great songs about Alvaro Soler. I also put in some links for them to see what he is doing as he is staying at home. Finally, the novel Felipe Alou discusses the Panamerican Games. I know that my students don’t know that this exists still, so I wanted to pull in the website and some other authentic resources from last year’s games into a Pear Deck. (Note: I used a presentation from Slides Mania because I am not that skilled!)
I hope that this has given you some ideas! I would love to hear what you have done online while teaching novels.