Learning from a Distance
My inclination in these posts is to help share all of the amazing learning moments I see at school: noticing the variations in our fingerprints, peeling apples, and creating forts in the woods. I love helping to set up our kids with interesting experiences, and then observing and talking with them to see what they are learning. We stress hands-on learning, spend lots of time outside, and revel in the natural world. But right now, that's only part of the picture because we are in a hybrid model.
Historically our school has used technology in pretty limited ways, and then Covid-19 came. Suddenly we found ourselves doing Zoom morning circles, posting assignments to the Google Classroom, screen sharing for read-aloud's, and posting videos through You Tube. It was a challenging spring, but we learned a whole lot. We also learned from our families that they really didn't want their kids to spend very much time looking at a screen. They wanted paper packets, so we have checklists of work for the kids to do for those at home days. We still check in through Zoom, individually and as a group. We try to move together, sing together, and play together online - freeze dance, scavenger hunts, and show and tell all work through a screen. I've had kids take me on walks around their backyards and read their writing to me while riding in the car. The older kids are doing even more of their work online, but we're trying to balance that work by keeping a big chunk of the work without a screen.
Theresa's Reflection on the 3rd-6th Graders
The big kids at Country Classroom have settled into an at-home routine. Monday and Tuesday, we get things started during our in-person days. I check their workbooks and notebooks for the previous week's assignments. Then, I make assignments for the coming week by writing the days in their notebooks. At home on Wednesday and Thursday, they mostly work on assignments on paper, though their work is supplemented with online work. On Friday, we review the work that they did, and do some more work together, online. Last week, I taught the kids how to multiply multi digit numbers, online! While it is not yet graceful, there is progress and learning happening. We are establishing the routines that will carry us through the year, no matter how it unfolds.
This Monday, some of last year's students visited us for a socially distant walk in the woods. They marveled at how much easier it was to get to the "Big Tree" at the back corner of the property than it was two years ago. On Tuesday, we took our afternoon walk to the cemetery. We examined the stones in the African-American section of the cemetery and talked about its significance. We also looked for the oldest and most recent tombstones. What an interesting way to study American History!
We're hoping that we don't have to go to all distance learning again, but our hybrid model has helped us to put in the routines that can carry us if we do. We're thankful that we have this time now to build relationships in person.