COVID-19 Diaries: Anatomy of a Fourth Grade Zoom ClassApril 28, 2020
As our schools in Ohio have shifted to online learning for the rest of the year, one positive thing has happened: I sure am learning a lot, including how to host a Zoom call for my fourth-graders at Thornville Elementary. Before COVID-19 I had only participated in a handful of Zoom calls. But a few short weeks later, I am becoming a pro.
One thing all students and teachers are craving during this uncertain time is connection. That’s why my colleagues and I are doing our best to give students opportunities to connect with us and their classmates. Using all of the safety measures possible, we are having a great time hosting Zoom lessons for our classes. Our goal: Keep it simple, fun and engaging.
So how does teaching over Zoom actually work? Here’s a detailed look at one recent lesson, which my three-teacher team planned over a series of text messages (that was new for us, but we made it work).
Part 1: Guidelines. We explained the expectations for students just as we would in a regular classroom lesson. After our first Zoom class we realized that the kids really like the chat feature, so for this lesson, we made sure to set the norm about using it appropriately.
Part 2: Time for fun. We used the breakout room feature to let students share a show-and-tell item. Each breakout room had four or five students. We gave them eight minutes to chat in their small groups.
Part 3: Engaging activities. Each of the three teachers planned a 10-minute lesson. I teach math, so for my lesson, students watched a short video about improper fractions and mixed numbers. Then I had the kids use paper and pencil to draw a few examples as I used the Zoom whiteboard feature to guide them. It was neat to have all the kids hold up their work to the camera for me to see. In fact, it was a much faster formative check than if I had been walking around my classroom. I let students know there was going to be a Kahoot game (their favorite) available to play about this math topic after our lesson. I posted that link on our ClassTag parent communication app and our class Edmodo pages.
Next, Mrs. Tigner taught a social studies lesson about the continents with tons of student participation. When she called on kids to answer, our students quickly got the hang of unmuting to respond. Then they listened to a continent song on YouTube.
The final lesson came from Mrs. Fisher who read a picture book and used it to review the story elements of character, setting, problem and solution. It helped that she picked a funny book!
Part 4: Brain breaks. Between each lesson we played a short GoNoodle video and encouraged the kids to get up and move. It was fun for them and fun for the teachers to watch them dance on the screen. We could see some siblings and parents joining in the fun. Some of our kids have moves!
Part 5: Wrap it up. We left the end of the Zoom call as a time for questions about the project they are working on—they have to design their own ice cream shop, including the name and menu, order-taking process and calculating tax. It was a good way to finish and clear up questions from parents and students. Some were struggling to start, where others wanted to build an actual store out of materials at home.
The best part was connecting with our students. We love and miss them very much, and we need our kids to know that we care and we haven’t forgotten about them. We’re in this together!
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