Anyone else tired of that word? If I never hear the words ‘pivot’ and ‘unprecedented’ again, I’d be a happy teacher. Oh, 2020. How you’ve challenged us as teachers! I’m always looking for the positive in any situation. Even though 2020 has brought plenty of challenges and struggles, there’s a lot of good that’s come from it as well. Here’s a list of things I’m keeping in my classroom as we move on and 2020 becomes a distant memory.
If you haven’t tried them yet, I’m telling you it’s worth the hype! I love Boom Cards so much. It’s a great way to individualized skill practice. When you teach multiple grade levels and have students anywhere from emerging skills to at/above grade level, you cherish anything that makes differentiating easier. Boom Cards do just that. Pick a skill, assign a deck that helps practice that skill and your students are off and running. Had it not been for COVID-19 and distance learning, I don’t know if I would have tried them!
Individualized Reinforcer and Work Bins
I’m telling you, I thought I was organized before COVID hit. Once we started meeting and making plans for in person learning this school year, I realized I was going to have to up my game when it came to organization and work to make things individualized. With a strict no share rule, I started brainstorming ideas. One thing that I did was create a cubby area inside our work cubbies that hold each child’s work materials for ABA and reinforcers. This has been such a game changer for us. Behavior is at a minimum because adults get right to work with students and work time isn’t distracted by adults gathering materials. Students have their own reinforcers like play-doh, slime, candy, etc all within our reach.
I set out to try some new things this year in my classroom. One of those things has been running guided reading groups. Our general education classes have daily guided reading groups. Teaching guided reading is one of the things I miss most about teaching general education. I thought I’d give it a shot this year and see where we got. It’s magical! I’m so impressed at how much my students have improved their reading skills. In addition, I’ve got one kiddo now pushing in to general education guided reading!!!! Each kiddo has their own, individualized guided reading bag, which helps keep materials separated and not shared. Looking for some tips to get started? Check out this blog post from Sasha!
Virtual Book Club
Our administration started a virtual book club and I’m hooked. We vote on books to read, have discussion groups and take time to work through the content together. It’s a great way to connect with staff you wouldn’t otherwise work with. It’s also great to hear from other teachers and how they are working through COVID changes, and the challenges that in person and virtual learning bring.
Individualized Leveled Daily Curriculum Binders
I’ve always been a fan of leveled daily curriculums, but they have been a lifesaver as I’ve had students in and out of remote learning and quarantine. Each student has a binder set up with their math, reading comprehension, and language arts leveled daily curriculum copied and ready to go. My in person learners just grab their binders to complete their work daily. If a student is quarantined, I can simply scan the pages they need and see exactly where the student is at on each curriculum. I then assign the work through SeeSaw. Or, if the parent asks for physical copies, I send home the copied pages and have the parents post a picture of each page completed.
I absolutely love the simplicity of Edmark Online. The data that I get as a teacher is amazing! Students complete their reading assignments quickly without me having to fumble through a million picture and phrase cards. For details about the online version of Edmark, check out this blog post!
2020 Hasn’t Been Easy
In fact, for educators, it’s been down right difficult. We are balancing more than ever and learning so much each day about what works and what doesn’t when teaching remotely. However, as with anything difficult, when we look hard enough, we can find some good. These things are just a few of the things 2020 and COVID have brought to my classroom. Things aren’t perfect at all, but I’m thankful for the new things 2020 has taught me!