How Mindfulness Can Help Students That Find School Holidays Emotionally Difficult
It's one of our most awaited times of the year! Or is it? Spring is in the air and Spring Break is almost here. For many people, the holidays are full of laughter, fun, and gathering together, but for others it can be very difficult. School is a safety net that will be taken away for a couple of weeks. Some families are struggling with critical illnesses and loss. We need to remember to be mindful of these situations as we say goodbye to our students for the break or when it is time to greet them again after the break.
When classes return after the break, some kids will feel uncomfortable sharing their holiday experiences. They may need to have time to reflect and adjust again to their safety net and the people they can trust. It is important to build in opportunities for this to happen.
Instead of having big group sharing about the holidays, maybe there could be different activities that would allow for individual sharing and reflecting as well as perhaps some special stories or anecdotes that will help the students to feel acknowledged and heard.
Each of us has a different approach for how we connect with our kids. That's what makes it genuine. Just tap into what works for you and find the balance between sharing happy moments and being there for those who are struggling.
Good mental health is so important, especially following a couple of years of pandemic restrictions and stresses. Kids need to feel that they matter and that they are loved. We need to make sure that mindfulness and SEL activities are part of everyday teaching to help our kids get through all the difficult times they may experience both physically and emotionally.
I am glad that SEL has been added to our teaching and that mental health is now considered an important part of a child's welfare and education. It hurts my heart to see so many young people struggling emotionally. We need to help them realize how special and important they are.
Thank you for all that you do in the classroom everyday to help this become a reality.
Last time, I wrote about using a second language after not using it for many years and how it was like riding a bicycle. It would be rusty, but with some practice it could come back.
Imagine now that you were starting to learn a language with no previous experience to fall back on. You don't know any of the vocabulary, the way that the sentences are formed is different and all the nouns are either masculine or feminine, but you don't have any way of figuring out which gender they are.
Imagine the feelings you would have if you needed to communicate. This can be the way young children feel when they enter an immersion program.
Note: I will be referring to French throughout this post as that is the second language I have familiarity with. However, these thoughts can apply to other languages as well.
When young children enter into an immersion program, they don't have someone translating for them. They have to figure out what is being said through pictures, stories, gestures, and songs. As they begin to do various activities and their ears become attuned to the accents and the ways the sentences are spoken, they will gradually develop a vocabulary that they can use to begin communicating themselves.
Here are some ideas to help kids feel more comfortable when learning a new language. Some of these ideas will also work for older learners. it's important to keep in mind that beginning French learners can be scared to take risks in speaking and writing French, especially if they are older and more self conscious.
If you are teaching French Immersion or tutoring beginning learners it can be challenging when your students don't understand what you are saying and they are unfamiliar with the sentence structure and grammar rules. You have to remain patient and provide activities that will engage their attention and stimulate their French comprehension.
French immersion can be a tricky subject for beginning French learners, especially when it comes to grammar and remembering which words are masculine or feminine. To help ease their transition into French speaking, try encouraging them to take risks in their French by providing fun speaking and writing activities.
The goal is to help them get comfortable with the language and encourage them to take risks speaking and writing. Listening carefully and repeating stories or poems, playing guessing games to learn vocabulary, conjugating verbs, creating songs and rhymes, as well as writing French postcards are among the many captivating tasks you can use to engage your new French speakers.
If your students are reluctant to participate, try starting with gesture-based activities like Simon Says and Follow the Leader; challenge the children to listen carefully and respond in French. Instead of educational games, use French-style charades or improvisations where they build French sentences around their body movements.
Beginners can sometimes even find it intimidating to take a risk and speak any French out loud – so here are some activities you can use in your classroom to develop French fluency among students. A good activity for speaking French is role-play of everyday tasks, like grocery shopping or ordering a meal, which shows students different ways they can use French in their daily lives. Other useful activities include group work to help students practice conversation, playing Pictionary or matching word games for spelling and vocabulary building, creating board stories or comic strips for writing practice, and making silly sentences. These activities are great for making French both challenging and amusing for beginning learners.
Fortunately, there are plenty of fun activities that can be done to help them understand French better. I have only provided a small sampling of ideas.
Throughout the years, I have created many resources that have been helpful in the classroom and with tutoring young students. You can check out my TPT store French categories to find out more about them.
Here's one that can help with ordering food at a fast food place. This was created with one of my students. Click on the image to check it out.
Don't forget that helping students feel safe makes a world of difference when exploring French -- positive reinforcement and plenty of encouragement will foster enthusiasm for speaking and writing in French.
It's that time of year again! Christmas is just 2 weeks away and a new year is around the corner. The New Year is a special occasion for kids, and there are plenty of ways to make it special in the classroom. With games and activities to teach skills and concepts, you can use special occasions to start out the year with fun. This is also a great time to refresh and set goals and prepare for new themes and units.
Here are some ideas for celebrating special days in the new year.
New Year's Day
Although New Year's Day is usually a holiday, it can be the focus on the first day back after the winter break. New Year's Day is considered a day for setting goals and resolutions. Here are some ideas for making this meaningful.
1. Create a school goal, a personal goal, and a home goal and write them down. Put them on fancy paper and place it inside a personal planning folder. Throughout the year, look at them and see if they are still working. This is a good time to reflect on realistic goals and on followthrough. If they are working, celebrate. If not, make some adjustments and carry on. At the end of the school year, revisit the goals again. Grab a free copy by clicking the image below.
2. Set some class goals for the new year and maybe even a goal tracker to see how well the class is doing. There could be a reward schedule also for various accomplishments along the way.
Creating a photo booth album for the class could also be fun. Check out this selection of different photo booth frames.
Groundhog Day is a fun occasion that is great for teaching many different science concepts. It is a perfect time for doing a weather focus, lessons on seasons, hibernation, shadows, and of course, groundhogs. It is also a time to talk about predictions.
There are many other activities you can do as well. You can read books about groundhogs, guess whether or not the groundhog will see his shadow and make a graph of the predictions, and check out whether or not the groundhog did predict an early spring or more winter. You can also do other fun math activities with a groundhog theme.
Chinese New Year/ Lunar New Year
Chinese New Year or the Lunar New Year is important in many different countries. This is a time to learn about different cultures and traditions. Read books, watch videos, and try some traditional foods as part of your celebrations. And for a fun math activity, have your students use dots (or coins) to create patterns with the lucky number 8.
In North America we are most familiar with Chinese New Year and the animal zodiac. There are lots of activities that can be done to explore this further. Other places that celebrate the Lunar New Year may have different traditions and activities that they follow. It might be interesting to make some comparisons of how they are the same and different.
Valentines Day is always a fun day for kids. It is the perfect time to talk about friendship and acts of kindness for others.
One year my class tried to come up with 4 or 5 acts of friendship each and we made hearts with these on them and posted them on the bulletin board. It was great to see how this created a positive focus in the classroom.
There are many language games that can be done such as sight word bingo, rhyming games, vocabulary activities, and conversation starters. Students can practice writing poems or making conversation hearts. It is also a great time to teach how to write friendly letters.
Hundreds Day is a day of celebration in many primary classroom because it marks the hundredth day of school. There are so many different activities that can be done to celebrate this day.
Hundreds Day is a perfect occasion for math activities! Students can count by ones, twos, fives, and tens to 100. They can also make patterns with 100 objects or solve word problems involving 100 objects. This is also a great day to introduce place value concepts such as ones, tens, and hundreds.
Dressing up as someone who is one hundred is also a popular activity to try. It is also a great time to think about what life might have been like a hundred years ago.
No matter what special days you choose to celebrate in your classroom, remember that the most important thing is to have fun! Enjoy these special occasions with your kids. They'll be sure to remember them for years to come.
If you are interested in any of the resources in the images above, you can check them out here.
Watching A Seed Grow
There's nothing quite like watching a plant grow. It's a miracle of life that never gets old, no matter how many times you see it. And there's no better place to see it than in the classroom, with a bunch of curious kids who are just as excited as you are. Seeing the wonder in their eyes as they observe the tiny seedlings sprouting up and then getting to watch them monitor the plant's progress day after day is truly a magical experience.
Seasons And Seeds
Spring is a great time to get seeds started for planting outside and growing fruits and vegetables throughout the summer. Watching that little seed that started its life in the classroom grow to maturity and produce food to eat is incredulous. Imagine one little seed producing an entire tree full of apples or a garden full of beans or other produce.
Fall can also be a good time to plant some seeds in the classroom. For example, if you plant a pumpkin seed at the beginning of the new school year, depending on the variety, it might produce a pumpkin in time for Halloween. Imagine growing your own Jack-o-lantern!
Potatoes are another plant that would be great to watch in the fall. It can start producing tubers and then stay dormant through the winter and continue growing in the spring. This would be a terrific way to see how some plants are fast growing and others are slow growing. It would also help kids to see that some plants produce underground.
Activities For Learning About Plants
Here are some different activities that you might like to try during your study of the plant life cycle.
1. Take an empty dvd case and put a bit of soil in it. Place a bean seed in the soil and moisten the seed and soil. Close up the case and place it near a window. Watch as the seed begins to sprout and produce roots. When it is about to produce leaves, remove it from the dvd case and plant it in a pot of soil. Continue to add water and watch it as it grows into a plant. Transplant it into the garden and continue to watch as the beans appear.
2. Put a potato that has sprouts (eyes) growing out of it into a large pot with some soil. Water it and watch it as it begins to produce leaves. Take note of the tubers when you transplant it into a garden area or larger pot. The kids will be amazed to see small potatoes growing underground.
3. Gather seeds from different fruits and vegetables and dry them. Plant them in the spring and watch to see which ones grow into new plants. Do experiments to see what happens when you add too much water, not enough water, not enough sunlight, etc.
4. Do art activities to show how the life cycle works and the various stages a seed goes through before it becomes a mature plant. For example: Cut out shapes from construction paper to represent each of the stages of the life cycle and make a life cycle mobile. Write on each shape which stage of the plant life cycle it represents.
With these plant life cycle activities, your students are sure to have a blast while learning about plants!
Plant Life Cycle Resources
Here are some resources that I created to help with studying various plant life cycles. They include worksheets about plant needs, the life cycle of the plant, and types of plants. Each resource also includes an observation journal for that plant. You can check them out by clicking the images below.
Teaching plant life cycle activities are not only fun, but they're also educational. They help kids learn about the different stages of plant growth and development. They also learn about where our food comes from, how different animals rely on plants for survival, and the important role that plants play in our ecosystem.
By incorporating plant life cycle activities into your lesson plans, you can help your students learn about these important concepts in a fun and engaging way. Plus, they'll always remember the time when they got to watch their very own plants grow!
Have fun watching the wonder in your students' eyes as they observe their tiny seeds sprout and become plants.
Summer Break Is Here
Most teachers are exhausted and need to take a break. Kids are also needing a break, however, it is important to remember to find a balance between taking a break from school and continuing to practice skills and concepts learned throughout the year.
Thinking about doing school work may seem daunting, but there are many ways to make academics fun during the summer.
Summer Learning Opportunities
Some places have some great summer camps and summer school activities available for kids. Not all of these options are available for all kids because of cost, but there may be some that are available in your area. The public library may also have activities and programs available for the kids.
Where I live, we are fortunate because there are many different summer school activities happening in our school district. These courses are available to any of our students for free, so it opens the door for all kids to participate. My daughter-in-law is doing a session on science and art and she plans on getting outdoors to do science activities in the nearby forest and at the beach as part of her activities. What a great way to take what has been learned into the real world. Many other sessions also involve academics and sports or other real life experiences.
Connecting academics and fun activities helps to keep kids engaged and learning throughout the summer. This really makes a difference when they return to school. I think we have all experienced something like the "summer slide" when we have not used a skill for a long time. I think this is especially true during the time we spent doing everything differently because of the pandemic.
Now that we are approaching a summer that is more in character with what we were used to, we need to reacquaint ourselves to the types of activities and experiences we used to take for granted.
The Importance Of Review After A Break
Let's be honest, not many of us remember the math and science concepts we learned in school unless we are using them now or we have been revisiting them for teaching. That doesn't mean we can't review them and do a refresh for our brains. Languages are the same. They become rusty if we don't use them for a long time. It's like we go into a "memory fog".
When I stopped teaching music in French, I didn't use my French for several years. It took some time for me to feel comfortable using it again. Once I got going, it did come back and I was able to go into my grandson's classroom and start volunteering there. I also tutored some middle school late immersion students. During the pandemic, I haven't been using it, so I feel that I will need to refresh again, but it will be much faster this time.
Kids also forget what they have learned if they don't revisit it often. It sometimes feels like they need to relearn almost everything when they return after a long break. That is why it is important to do some sort of review teaching as we begin a new term with them. Reviewing old skills and concepts before introducing new ones may sometimes feel like it takes too much time, but without it, many kids will be left behind because they won't truly be able to understand the new concepts. In the long term, that review that is done when they return will reap many benefits down the road.
Last year, I wrote a series of blog posts of tips for supporting primary kids during the summer. Next week I will be doing a roundup of different teaching tips and ideas for summer. In the meantime, check out my related posts at the end of this blog posts for some ideas.
If you are just wrapping up your school year, I hope you have a wonderful and refreshing summer break. If you are part way through your break already, I hope it has been relaxing or adventurous and that you have been able to recharge as you prepare for a new school year in a few weeks. Happy summer everyone!
Using Experiments To Practice The Scientific Method
Last week I shared the scientific method and the steps involved in it. This week I would like to share 3 fun and easy experiments kids can try that use the scientific method.
This is a fun experiment that lets kids create telephones and then test them out. I did it with my grandsons last weekend and they really enjoyed it. The oldest one did the worksheets and the younger two just played with the phones. We didn't have all the different types of containers, but we did do two different types and we tried 3 different string lengths. Check out the photos below.
If you are interested in finding out more, check out the preview for the resource. Click on the image to go to the resource.
Are You A Rectangle Or A Square?
This activity is actually a measurement activity that I did with my classes. It was a great way to learn more about measuring, while using the scientific method and investigating in a scientific way. I used it as a math activity for my student led conferences a couple of times as well. The kids were excited to see if their parents were rectangles or squares. Find out more by clicking the image below.
The Clink Clunk Test
If you want to surprise your kids, try this gravity experiment. They will be amazed to learn that the weight of the objects doesn't determine which will land first. It is also interesting for them to see how a crumpled ball of paper and a single sheet of paper react differently. Sign up for my newsletter and get your free copy of The Clink-Clunk Test.
These are only 3 of many different experiments that can be done using the scientific method. The more comfortable your students get with using this scientific process, the easier it will be to examine and investigate different things they wish to learn more about.
If you would like to get your own copy of the scientific method along with the worksheets that accompany the poster, click the image below.
Have fun trying out the above experiments and many more as your students explore the wonders around them.
Preparing For The End Of The Year
The end of the year is quickly approaching and there are many different emotions happening for teachers and students. Some people are looking forward to the school year being over and others are dreading it. Some are anxious because they have so much more to cover and so little time to do it. Others are trying to fill the days with activities that keep kids engaged as their attention wanes.
I remember being in the staffroom as the year was ending and there were countdowns on the board. One teacher used to have a roll of toilet paper with the number of teaching days on it. She would tear off a page each day.
I was one of the ones who wasn't counting the days because there were so many things I still wanted to accomplish before the year ended. It wasn't just curriculum, but other activities. I felt rushed when I saw the days counting down. As much as I was looking forward to a summer break, I didn't want the year to end because it meant saying goodbye to my students.
How Summer Activities Will Help Avoid Bigger Learning Gaps
It is a different situation this year because teachers are so burnt out dealing with the challenges of teaching during a pandemic. Not only have they been juggling the online/in person situation, they are dealing with the realities of all the academic challenges that have faced them this year.
I was fortunate enough to be able to finally go in and help some students last month. I saw some of the challenges first hand as teachers struggled to meet the wide range of academic and social needs of the kids. It was very evident that distance learning worked well for some and didn't work at all for others.
In order for the gap to close, it will be important for learning to continue throughout the summer break. The reality is that for some kids, this is not going to happen. The gap will be even greater in the fall when they return to school. This means that we will have to look at our teaching with a different lens. We can't just teach to the curriculum or the test. Too many students will be left behind if we do.
Last week I talked a bit about using differentiation and accommodations in the classroom to help students to move towards the levels needed and expected for their grade level. This week I would like to talk more about what kinds of things can be done to help kids continue learning throughout the summer.
I realize that some school districts are finishing up now and others have another few weeks to go, but in my mind, it is never too early to think about ways to extend learning.
How Summer Slide Can Be Avoided With Real Life Activities
I strongly believe that the best learning happens when it is connected to real world situations and daily life experiences. That is one of the reasons I tend to use projects for some of my assignments throughout the year.
I also think kids need to know why they are learning different skills and concepts. When they are given real life examples, they can see the purpose in what they are learning and it will make more sense to them.
Technology is like a two-edged sword. Although it is great for many things, it also has negative side effects when used too much, especially by kids. It can cause a lack of attention to things happening around them, and it can interrupt potential in-person social connections. Communication and partner activities can also be affected.
I think that the summer time is a great time to unplug and get outdoors. The weather is generally better and the days are longer. There are so many different activities that can be done outside. It is not necessary to take a vacation in order to have fun. There are lots of ways to enjoy learning and doing just where you are.
Tips For Summer Learning
Last year, I focused on the various subject areas and gave some suggestions and tips for how to continue learning during the summer. You can check them out for more ideas.
Tips For School And Home: How To Help Primary Kids With Language Arts
Tips For School And Home: How To Help Primary Kids With Math
Tips For School And Home: How To Help Primary Kids With Science
Tips For School And Home: How To Help Primary Kids With Social Studies
Tips For School And Home: How To Help Primary Kids With Social Studies Part 2
Tips For Summer Support: How To Help Primary Kids
I hope you will find some time for yourself as you prepare for the end of school and summer break. Hopefully, you will find some helpful tips here to make summer learning work for your students.
How Differentiation In Classroom Activities Will Help Our Kids Succeed After The Pandemic
Teaching Has Been Challenging
Teaching during a pandemic has been challenging for teachers. They have been struggling to meet the needs of their students during a time of constantly changing teaching situations. Some teachers are still teaching remotely while others are teaching in-person or doing a combination of the two. Kids are struggling or flourishing or somewhere in between. This leads to a huge range of learning needs in a classroom.
Teachers are looking forward to the end of the year and a break from all of this. However, it is important to think about how things may be different when school resumes in the fall.
The Need For More Differentiated Teaching
As we start to move forward from the pandemic and head towards a more "normal" classroom situation, it is really anything but "normal". There are huge learning gaps for some kids and yet the expectations are the same for them to be functioning at "grade level".
In order for this to happen, we will need to make many adjustments and accommodations in the classroom and in our teaching. The need for differentiated teaching will be much greater as we help our students move towards grade level expectations again. It is important that we continue to keep working towards this and not lower our expectations because of the wide range of needs in the classroom.
We will need to be flexible in our teaching to make sure that we are able to accommodate the learning needs of all our students.
I recently listened to a couple of podcasts from a fellow Canadian teacher, Patti of Madly Learning, that hit home with me. Here are a couple of nuggets from her podcasts.
Instead of saying "this is too hard", say "our students are not ready yet, but they will get there".
"Accommodations are when we are changing how a student is completing their work. It is different from modifications because we are still expecting students to complete the same level and complexity of the work as another student. We're expecting students meet grade level targets and demonstrate grade level knowledge and understanding of concepts but how they get there is different from other students."
She also used the analogy of a platform being the grade level target and ladders being the means to help get the students there. She emphasized that we not lower the platform, but that we meet them where they are and give them the ladders they need to help them get where they need to be.
I have been an advocate of differentiated learning and accommodating choice to best highlight a student's knowledge and understanding for a few years now, and I saw much success when I implemented this into my teaching. I realized early in my teaching career that teaching whole class lessons worked for some kids, but left others either lost and overwhelmed or bored and inattentive. This led to developing small group activities and lessons that still focused on the skills and concepts required, but made it more appropriate for the needs of the kids.
Most Classrooms Are Academically Diverse
Nowadays, there are often split classes with two grades combined. Here is a possible scenario from a late primary class.
In the same class there are students who are struggling with phonemic awareness and connecting sounds and written language, students that are emergent readers with simple decoding skills and reading abilities, students that are reading beginning chapter books, and students that are advanced readers that can handle novels and nonfictional material with ease. The writing abilities are widely different as well. Some are still writing simple sentences with little or no detail and description. Some are struggling to get started because they are unsure of how to spell words. Some are writing detailed and descriptive stories.
These same children have varying levels of competency with math concepts ranging from simple number recognition to more complex computational skills. They may be strong in math but struggle in reading, or they may be strong in reading, but struggle in math. Perhaps they are strong in both subject areas or weak in both subject areas.
Obviously, these strengths or weaknesses can carry over into other areas of the language arts, social studies, and science.
Now, imagine having to cover a set curriculum for all of these kids with the wide range of readiness skills that they have. No wonder teachers are stressed out.
Differentiation Is Essential For Success
Differentiation will not only be helpful, it will be essential in situations like the one above. We can no longer do whole group lessons and expect that this will meet the needs of all the students. Some will be totally lost, and others will be bored because they need more of a challenge. Only some of the kids will benefit from the lesson.
It is possible to do some whole group instruction, but it will need to have differentiated activities and extensions to go along with it in order to meet the needs of all the kids. This differentiation can be small group activities, one on one support, hands-ons practice, extra research activities, etc. The topic, requirements, and specific student needs will dictate how best to differentiate the lesson. The goal is to ensure that the students can understand the concept taught and use the skills practiced. They will also need a way to share their knowledge and understanding. This could be in a wide range of different means that will best suit their individual strengths.
Provide A Solid Foundation
Matching up lessons and curriculum requirements can be tricky, but it can be done if we look at the overall big picture and what is most important. From there, different activities can be provided to include these big ideas in a way that helps all students to participate and gain a better understanding.
In my opinion, it is more important to make sure the students understand the concepts first before moving on to new material or concepts. Otherwise, we are leaving them feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. We still want them to learn the more complex material, but it will need to have a solid foundation in order to truly be applied.
I worked with several older students supporting them in math prior to the pandemic. It was amazing to see how weak they were with basic computational skills. They were unable to do the work given in class because they didn't really understand the basic concepts needed to complete the work. Once we spent time solidifying the basic skills, they were able to move on. They started to feel confident and they were more willing to attempt new concepts.
This may mean that it will take a bit longer to get to the more complex concepts and skills, but kids will be more successful when they are introduced.
Make Accommodations Based On Student Needs
I have always been a big advocate for hands-on learning. If we focus on the concrete first, when we move to the abstract, it will make more sense. This is particularly true with math. Even older students sometimes need to have some hands-on experience in order to understand the concepts.
With basic facts, I often used dice or base ten blocks to help with the visualization of the concept of making tens, adding, subtracting, grouping, etc. From there, I would focus on the more abstract concepts of math. Some kids were able to make the transition easily and didn't need the visuals to be successful. Others needed to continue to use visual cues to fully understand the concepts. That's okay. Some people are visual learners and that works well for them.
It is important to know your students and make your accommodations based on what they need. Giving kids a solid foundation in math when they are young will help to make sure that they are ready for more complex and abstract situations that they encounter in the real world.
Guided reading was my go to with reading and the varying levels of kids. This allowed me to work with specific concepts and ideas that were tailored to the needs of the kids in the different groups. Through rotations and small group activities, those who needed more one on one support got extra teaching time and the others got to do activities that extended what they were working on. I have shared how I ran my groups and how you can set up guided reading in the primary classroom in previous posts.
For social studies, I created projects that allowed the kids to show their learning in a variety of different ways. This gave those who struggled with reading or writing, but were strong in other areas, a chance to shine. It was amazing to see them share their knowledge with pride and confidence when they did things this way.
The hands-on nature of science through experiments and observations also works well and requires less differentiation. Working in pairs often helps when recording information or reading instructions is necessary. One can help the other with this.
There can also be some choice and differentiation here for some situations. My solar system project is a good example of this. In-class science fairs, where kids can have choice of projects or experiments to investigate and share, is another great way for kids to share their knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts.
As you think about next year and the demands that it may have due to the gaps created during the pandemic, I hope some of these suggestions will help you with your planning.
I wish you the best as you near summer break and a well deserved rest.
Too Much Technology And Kids
Last week I wrote about changing technology and how we can often learn from kids as things continue to progress. It is okay to sometimes let them be the teacher and us the student. We can learn many things if we are open to this.
Although kids are more adept at technology in many cases, this can have a negative side if not careful. Kids are spending so much time on technology nowadays, especially since the pandemic and moving to online learning, they can become addicted to the technology and the feeling of excitement it can provide. It can become a problem if it interferes with social and emotional connections. It is important to find a balance between online and offline activities and interactions.
Technology Balance Is Important For Kids' Mental Health
Social interactions and group activities are still important. A fellow teacher told me the other day that she was very concerned about some of her students who were not engaging in the group activities and participating in the centers activities the same way as they used to. She was worried that they were getting too much stimulation from technology. Many of her students indicated that they stay up late playing video games or they get up early and play before coming to school. She noticed that they were less attentive and often very tired as a result.
Because our kids get so much more stimulation at home, it is important to provide as many opportunities as possible to remain unplugged at school. Hands on activities, community building games and projects, active games and even walks are some ways we can do this. Sometimes, good old paper and pencil activities can work well also.
Pre-pandemic, getting to do digital activities was a treat and it was used sparingly. Kids were excited to have the chance to interact with these activities. Nowadays, digital activities don't have the same enticement factor and they can actually sometimes be considered "boring" by our students because they have become used to action packed activities.
When we choose to use digital activities, we need to make sure that all the kids are actively engaged in them. They don't need to be fancy, but they do need to have value. If kids don't engage, then we need to find other ways to help them with their learning.
Technology Balance Is Important For Kids
This doesn't mean that using digital materials and technology shouldn't be part of the school day, just be careful about how much time is spent using it each day. There are many different positive reasons to use technology. Technology opens up different ways of portraying knowledge, allows for differentiation of material, and opens up access to more resources and information.
Finding a good balance will help with your kids' mental health and with community building in the classroom. I would love to hear ways that you have created a balance with technology in your classroom.
Hopes and dreams changed by the unexpected
Two years ago we headed into the New Year with hopes and dreams for an exciting year ahead. No one was ready for the change that happened in March of 2020. All of a sudden, we were thrown into unknown territory and a completely different way of teaching. There was lots of uncertainty and we were overwhelmed with learning how to navigate this new world. Teachers, students, colleagues, parents, and the community at large were worried, scrambling to figure out how to work virtually, scared of the unknown. and wondering how to stay safe.
Fast forward to December 2021. We thought we had things more under control and we were starting to reconnect with family and friends and beginning to return to a more familiar way of teaching and living. Plans were being made for holiday celebrations. Suddenly, this all changed as a new variant arrived. All the things we had been doing that were working, were no longer enough.
Getting through the next wave
This new variant is reacting differently and we need to make adjustments again to get through this wave.
How are we going to navigate through this next wave and still stay safe? I am sure this is a question on everyone's mind. Some places are going to online learning again while other places are still going to do in person instruction. All the protocols from the first wave are back in place, but are they enough? From what we are experiencing, they don't seem to be enough. We need to be even more vigilant than before.
Hang in there. You've got this.
I get that it is important for kids to have interaction with others, but I also wonder what kind of balance is needed between personal interaction for mental health and distancing for physical health. Nobody seems to know what will work right now. This crazy variant is finding us no matter where we are or how careful we are trying to be.
This is one of those times when we have to do whatever we can to protect ourselves and those around us. If you are teaching in person, take care of yourself and try to focus on the kids and how you are there for them. I pray that the protocols in place will protect you and that your students will realize how much it means to be there for them.
If you are teaching virtually, hang in there. I know that this is not why you became a teacher, and that it is difficult for you to be away from your students instead of interacting with them in the classroom. I pray that this will not be for too long and that you will once again be able to get back to teaching in a way that is satisfying and fulfilling.
I have such admiration for you and all the teachers that are using every creative way they can think of to weather this next wave. Hang in there. You are appreciated and you are making a positive impact on kids.
If you are looking for some ideas for how to incorporate projects and real life learning into your instruction during this time, check out some of my ideas in these posts.
Teaching And Learning Online And In Person
Using Projects For Student Learning
Learning At Home And Keeping Kids Engaged
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About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.