Sunday, March 29, 2020

The New Normal Part 2: Synchronous Teaching

(If you want to read part 1, my outlook and what I actually assigned to the students, click on "The New Normal Part 1: Shifting Gears" post.)  

This is the 2nd part of my personal process of dealing with the new "normal", trying to keep it simple, and accepting that this is my life. 

And also teaching online in a synchronous 30 minute slot,  three levels, three times a week. (3 total; one for each level.)  

Before all this happened, I had planed some cool activities. Like- I was super proud of them and spent a little extra time prepping because it was Parent/Teacher conferences, and by the end of 8th grade, there aren't a ton of parents that really need to meet with me, so I had some time.  

Storyasking is actually the most fun ever.
I had story asked in two different levels (three classes total) and we had not yet spent much time with the stories.  

In another class, we finished the story and interacted with it in a few ways, and had moved on to more content-based discussions and resources.  

My plan *was* (pre COVID-19): 

Spanish 1 Honors: Re-read class story, play a quick round of Quick Draw, do a mash-up of "Around the world" and "Who said it?"- only with all the sentences in 1st person, a quick listening assessment, and then have students fill out a 2 truths and a lie form about the story, to be played later.  This was probably going to take a  couple of class periods, and I would have added on some weekend chat with a write and discuss, and maybe finished the week with another story.  All in all, a lot of reading and re-reading our (incredibly hilarious) class story.    We were working in SOMOS 1, Unit 6.  


(I am teaching, they are joining in a zoom/meetup)

Bonus Documents: 
(because I made them, might as well share them; directions are linked in the documents) 


Changing the Around the World/ Who Said It activity to the new format was awesome.  

Reading the story in breakout rooms worked pretty well.  I need to try to work out at least one way for them to do that each session, and also remember that it is kind of time consuming for me to jump in and out of breakout rooms.   

I needed to do more brain breaks. Like more than one. Seriously- how could I forget this?  

Comprehension checks are HARD.  It is really hard to see if they understand.  I did ask them to move so that the light wasn't behind them if possible so I could see their faces.   Using the chat function on Zoom for students to do L1 comprehension checks worked out pretty well- all I did was ask them to type what I just said in English.  They did.  

*Note- if you use Zoom, you can change the settings on Chat- you can make it so that participants can only chat with host, can not chat at all, can only chat with everyone...I decided to try "only message everyone".  I might play with that so that they only message me if I continue to use that function, but maybe not.

And in the "kids say the darndest things" category:  One kid told me that another kid's internet was out, and wanted to know what to do about it.  Um...I told him that was part of this new normal and he needed to be patient.  

Spanish 2 Honors: 

Pre-COVID-19 Plans
Continue with the SOMOS 1, Unit 17 Past Tense lesson plans.  We just finished the reading assessment and discussion about immigration to the USA, and I was planning on using the video suggested in the lesson plans, doing a gallery walk for students to respond to some questions, then leading another discussion based on the gallery walk.  Students were going to work on reading and responding to a PDF document about border controls, and then we were going to do a writing assessment.  We were also going to do a cool jigsaw activity using some texts from Mundo en Tus Manos.  

*This class is more like a Spanish 3+ class in terms of their abilities to create with language- I would *NOT* do something like a jigsaw activity in a lower level class.  

This was the first class I actually taught online this week. It was the least smooth, but also the class that I have had the longest, so I felt confident that they would be supportive and understanding if it was a massive fail.  I really missed them!!! 

We did a little check in chit chat, then I adapted the video activity from the lesson plan and we did that.  The original activity had a series of phrases from the video for students to mark off as they heard them- a very challenging activity!- and then questions to provide input that is more comprehensible than the video dialogue.  

I decided to play a variation of (st)RIP BINGO and had them write down 6 of the phrases, making sure they were comprehended.  Then I played the video twice, and students marked what they heard.  Then the input came from a discussion.


Despite the fact that these kids have a TON of language, I would say this was a bit of a flop.  Chit chat/ small talk was pretty hard.  Having a discussion was hard- it was hard for kiddos to come up with contributions to the discussion even though I am actually 100% sure in this case that it was comprehensible.  More about how I will do that differently below.  I mean, they demonstrated their understanding of the main points of the video, but when it got to the meatier parts of the discussion (do you agree with what the people are doing, would you do it, etc.) I realized that I couldn't use the same scaffolded techniques that I use in class (e.g. turn and talks, gallery walks) to give everyone a chance to form thoughts and contribute. In this case, I couldn't do a gallery walk, for instance.  

What I can do for next time is to give them the questions in advance, put them in breakout rooms to talk to each other about the questions, and then come back to a big discussion. (Hey, this is why I am writing this blog- reflection time!!)  

It wasn't a total failure- having them do something with the video was good and I think they liked that it felt like work, and that it felt like a bit of "normal class".  

OK, I am done writing. This post has been more screentime than I wanted...more later!  

1 comment:

  1. Elicia, thank you for sharing your struggles and triumphs! It really helps to see how you did things in this weird context! I had never heard of "class tools" before and when I saw it, I was like "cool!" Now, I have another option to explore.