What to do Wednesday: Drawing A Blank

Wednesdays’ blogs are going to be based on different experiences teachers may have in the classroom. For now, I will create the scenarios and characters and provide feedback on how I would handle the situation. I hope you find this helpful. As our community grows, my vision is to have teachers send me their ideas of what is stressing them out in the classroom so hopefully, I can help.

Dear Lesson Plan Toolbox,

HELP! HELP! HELP! I am literally drawing a blank on how to continue to meet the needs of my students. We are currently teaching virtually and I feel like I've tried everything, but it doesn't seem to be enough. I just don't feel like I am reaching them. I want to be creative and not rely so heavily on websites, but I just can't get unstuck. Sorry, I should probably tell you that I am a kindergarten math teacher. Math is my primary focus for all of the kindergarteners, but I also teach handwriting, phonics, and writing. At any rate, do you have any ideas on how to teach virtually, but not have to use technology with everything? If you have any thoughts I'd LOVE to hear them.

Thanks for your time,

Drawing A Blank

Dear Drawing A Blank,

Woohoo! You are one of the very first virtual teachers I have heard from that is trying to figure out how to teach, but not necessarily using links and all things Google. Cheers to you! To me, this is an out-of-the-box method of embracing virtual teaching and I applaud your effort. Please know, that your current methods are probably reaching your students more than you realize! Let's see if we can add a little pep to your teacher step.

So honestly, I have thought about this quite a bit. When students are clicking on links and opening docs class after class, it can get a little repetitive. They want to feel like they are in the classroom, just as much as we want to teach like they are in the classroom. Being that math is your main area of focus, I am going to share with you an idea that may help how you approach your planning. Think theme-of-the-day! 

Let's say you are teaching kindergarteners about shapes and patterns. Each day I would have a theme to follow and this would repeat for my whole unit on shapes. For example:

Monday = Music Monday - I would find a song to tie into a specific shape that we will focus on for the week. Students would then draw an image of what they are picturing from the song. Repeat the song several times and maybe start each lesson throughout the week with it.

Tuesday = Talk About It Tuesday - I would choose a picture book text to read to the students about the shape. I would probably briefly explain the title, front cover, etc., but spend most of the time discussing the shape and what makes it that shape. Today, I would orally ask students questions about the shape when I meet with them in small groups.

Wednesday = Write About It Wednesday - Today we write! What? Kindergarteners writing right now? Yep! You can come up with a sentence together about something they learned and model how to write it. If you have an advanced learner, then let him/her try to think of their own sentence. Students can then give it a try again in small groups with you.

Thursday = Think It Through Thursday - Today would be assessment day. I was never one to assess on Fridays because I feel like that's what every teacher does to end the week. So for this, I would have a stack of shape flashcards that we would be reviewing throughout the week and individually assess the students on the number of shapes they can name. Each week, I would build this stack to include more shapes.

Friday = Friday Funday - Today, I would introduce patterns to students. Hopefully, they have some pattern blocks that went home in their math toolboxes, if not they can always draw it. I would spend time modeling AB, AAB, and ABB patterns for the students. Then, I would allow them time to build and explore their own pattern. Once they've done that, I would say, "It's Friday Funday! Now you have _______ minutes to simply have fun with your shapes and see what you can build or create." 

Wow! Just reading all of this makes me teacher tired! That said, I think if you follow a model similar to this, then your students will not only be engaged, but you will spark the curiosity that they have inside. I hope this helps you as you begin your virtual teaching journey. If you need more ideas or are still stuck, please feel free to reach out to us on Instagram (@lessonplantoolbox) so we can continue to help. Our mission here at Lesson Plan Toolbox is to do our best to make the lives of teachers just a bit easier.


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