Learning In 2020-2021
Kelly Harmon & Associates August 2020 Newsletter
This month we are bringing you ideas to start this unprecedented school year off with ideas for social and emotional learning (SEL), virtual learning tips, great read alouds, and much more!
Please let us know how we can better serve you and your students this year. We have included a survey to gather information about how our newsletter works for you and what could make it work better.
Thank you for continuing to do what you do each day for each of your students. We are always here to help!
-Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
Starting with Social & Emotional Learning This School Year
This year, more than ever, we as educators have to address our student's mental health. No matter if we are in person or virtual, we must discuss how students are feeling, coping, and provide opportunities for socialization (in a socially distanced world). Here are some ideas I will be implementing with my students this fall.
Morning Meeting Time
Starting off the morning with a group chat is important to setting the norm of "we are a community of learners". This year I plan I am planning on my morning meeting in 4th grade agenda to look like this:
- Ice Breaker (a game)
- How are you Feeling Today? Check In
- Agenda for Today with our Class Goals
- Quote or Song of the Week
- Read Aloud (about a character overcoming or dealing with an emotion or obstacle)
Being read aloud to has calming effects on children (and adults). I remember being in elementary and looking forward to relaxing after lunch/recess at our class read aloud time. Setting up a read aloud time in our schedules is so important. This year, I'm planning on at least 10 minutes of read aloud time each day in my schedule.
Have a growth mindset phrase of the week
Each week I want to have a quote that we study and discuss. I am eager to see what my students are thinking and processing as we dive into a quote each week. Some quotes I want to use this year are
- If it doesn't challenge us, it doesn't change us.
- It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Taking time to talk about empathy through read alouds, role playing, and discussions will help students be mindful of others. When we teach kids to have gratitude, we are in turn teaching them to be empathetic. Thinking of others is so important in life and we must actively model this for our students. This year I am planning on implementing a gratitude time by having an "I'm grateful for..." time of day to talk and write about one thing they are grateful for each day to share with peers.
Great Books for Teaching Empathy
- Eggbert, the Slightly Cracked Egg
- Giraffes Can't Dance
- Hey, Little Ant
- A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Music has the ability to change the brain. In the mornings on the way to school, I throw myself a "personal pep rally" to get my mind and attitude positive for my students and colleagues. We can do this for students as they walk through the door or come into our classroom or Zoom session. When you share a screen in Zoom, be sure to check the box on the share screen that says "Share Computer Sound." This allows you to mute, but the music plays through to students.
Also playing calming music as they work is a great "take a deep breathe" opportunity for kids. Play a classical music playlist on low in the background. I love playing The Piano Guys soundtrack on Amazon Music or The One Voice Children's Choir.
Allow for Talk Time
It is so important that our students get a chance to socialize this year. They have been home for months now and some have not had much interaction with others, much less the outside world. Plan to give students a time to talk and connect with others in their class. For virtual classrooms, you can put them into breakout rooms on Zoom and have them chat about a question.
Games change the brain as well. Play games to start the day off, during middle of the day as a brain break, or to end the day. I want my students to build relationships with their peers and myself on day one of the year. I found this free game online called People Bingo. Students fill out the bingo cards with classmates' (and the teacher's) names by finding out who can answer yes to each of the questions. For example, Who has a birthday in November? Students fill in a classmates name in that box on their bingo card.
Organize Class in Teams
Teamwork makes the dream work! Organizing students into teams or pods is a way for students to connect and problem solve together. For virtual classrooms, this can be done through breakout rooms for each team. When students feel connected and have a common purpose they are working together to accomplish, they do better. This is also an opportunity for socialization. Students should have team responsibilities so that each member "pulls their weight" if you will. Responsibilities are also crucial for students to feel accepted and purposeful.
Plan for Art Time
The arts are so important and we should allow for time to process emotions and new learning. Allowing time for students to draw, write, sing, create, and showcase their creations is crucial for their emotional well being. Don't be afraid to step outside the box and have students create a representation to something they are learning about this year. You will see some of your students flourish with a task such as this.
Starting Distance Learning Off Strong
Set Your Norms First
It is important to set your expectations or norms with students (and parents) first! Let students know what behavior and interaction is expected at the first meeting by introducing yourself and your classroom norms. Hold a discussion about each norm you set. Remember: be consistent! Students need consistency and structure.
Create a Class YouTube Channel
With a Google Account, you can watch and like videos and subscribe to channels. However, without a YouTube channel, you have no public presence on YouTube. Even if you have a Google Account, you need to create a YouTube channel to upload videos, comment, or make playlists. You can use a computer or the YouTube mobile site to create a new channel. You can add videos for students to watch before a lesson to build content knowledge or add videos if students want extension to the learning. Learn more about how to create a Youtube channel here.
Virtual Books Talks
Students take over book talks around the third week of school. Each week, students can take turns sharing their own book talks and giving us a glimpse into their reading lives.
In Zoom or Google meet, use the chatroom to share shout outs. Shoutouts build community and help everyone feel connected.
The First Days of ELAR in a Distance Learning Classroom
Teaching Phonics and Spelling in a Virtual Environment
Distance Learning: Strengthening Your Online Instruction
In this NEW strategy-packed seminar by Kelly Harmon, an international educational consultant with 30 years of experience working with primary students, you will discover how to empower learning for your Second Graders using the most effective, cutting-edge, distance learning instructional strategies. You will learn dozens of ideas for working with all Second Graders, from struggling to high performing, along with ways to continually monitor and adjust instruction based on student results. You will leave this outstanding seminar with renewed enthusiasm for teaching and learning as well as a wealth of ideas for innovating the learning opportunities for your Second Grade students and ideas for partnering with parents.