My New Year’s Resolutions as an Online Educator

I’ve been a teacher with EdOptions Academy by Edmentum for three years now, and I can honestly say the last five months have been like nothing I have ever experienced. Truth- I was not the best teacher I could be. Like so many other teachers, I was in survival mode trying to juggle so many new online learners at one time.

As I sit here enjoying my winter break, for the first time I’m able to really reflect on my teaching this year. My ultimate goal is to provide my students and their families with more tools and resources, while also balancing their emotional needs. Below are my personal resolutions for my virtual classroom.

1. Make myself more available for my students. Every week I hold office hours to help students with assignments, but there are times where my students do not take advantage of this extra help. Going forward, I’m going to send out an invite for my students to attend my office hours for a hot chocolate get together just to talk. This will help me build trust with my students and allow me to get to know them on personal level. It will also provide them with a safe space to talk about what they are experiencing, especially since so many of them have been quarantining since August.

2. Provide more resources for my students. When I give my students feedback on their assignments oftentimes I include links to videos to help kids. For instance, if a student struggled with active and passive voice I will send them this video link. Going forward, I want to create a document for my students that includes all of the video links organized by category. I also want to create graphic organizers for some of the writing assignments that students can use to brainstorm their ideas.

3. Create a cheat sheet for parents. Parents receive sooo many emails from online teachers because it’s our main way of communication. It’s very easy to get lost in the sea of emails full of important information, so I created a cheat sheet for parents. The sheet has a place for them to record log in information, teachers, office hours days/times, links for meetings, and also a few important reminders about the courses. Click here to see my cheat sheet. Hopefully, parents will be able to save a few minutes and clicks to access information they use on a daily basis. For more parent information about online learning check out E-Learning: Setting Kids Up for Success and What Parents Should Know About Virtual Learning.

4. Host a monthly read aloud. Read alouds are without a doubt my favorite part of teaching, especially online. I used to host weekly read alouds with my students, and while my calendar doesn’t leave me time for a weekly one, I would like to host a monthly one. A few months ago, I hosted a read aloud for an hour and read Fantastic Mr. Fox to my kids just for fun. I had quite a few participants and many students thanked me for doing it. Going forward, I need to put the read aloud on my calendar and encourage students to attend. For more information on virtual read alouds, check out Effective Read Alouds in the Virtual Classroom and Incorporating Read Alouds for GradesK-12: Tips and Tricks from a Virtual Educator.

My resolutions are realistic for me to tackle as we start to gear up for second semester. While I wasn’t the best teacher first semester, I’m proud of myself for still providing quality feedback to my students and helping them earn credits towards their high school diplomas.

Little Reading Coach is a certified Teacher of English (K-12) and Reading Specialist (P-12) offering online reading,  writing and home-based learning support tutoring services for students in grades 6-12. For more information click here.

My Favorite Literacy Blogs

I love how social media has allowed me to connect with some amazing individuals over the years, and it has also introduced me to incredible members of the literacy world. I look to these fabulous ladies for inspiration and motivation on all things literacy :).

  1. Read Aloud Revival. If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m OBSESSED with Sarah Mackenzie (see Reading Aloud Resources for Parents post). She is a homeschooling mom who has such an incredible passion for reading with her six kids. Her blog is geared towards families who read at home with their children. One of my favorite things that Mackenzie does is create book lists. Not only does this make life easier for busy families, it provides guidance in creating a culture of reading at home. Mackenzie also has an ah-mazing podcast.
  2. The Literacy Nest.  The last year and half I’ve been immersing myself in dyslexia and Orton-Gillingham. Through this journey I came across Emily Gibbons from The Literacy Nest, who is my guru in the dyslexia world. Her blog includes fabulous tips, strategies, and ideas to help dyslexic students. I love that the information can be used by teachers AND parents. She even has a Teachers Pay Teachers store where you can purchase resources to use with students (click here for the store). I’ve also had the privilege to learn from Emily through Tutor Success Academy and she is just awesome!
  3. Katie McKnight Literacy. I found Dr. Katie McKnight my first year teaching and have been following her ever since. She focuses on secondary (grades 6-12) reading and writing skills for the 21st century. What makes her stand out to me is her constant support for teachers and parents. She has published books, won multiple awards, and has presented all over the US. She even provides professional development online, in webinars, or in person.

 

Using Zinnia and the Bees in the Classroom

Last week I posted a book review of Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis. I really enjoyed this book, and while I was reading I had a bunch of different ideas go through my head about incorporating it into the classroom or homeschool curriculum. Today, I want to share my ideas. This post is for educators and homeschool families.

Reading the Text

Depending on your curriculum and classroom structure, this book may fit best as a whole class read aloud. I would try and pair it up with other texts that revolve around friendship, family, environment or nature since those are the biggest themes present.

Pairing Fiction with Nonfiction

Since the introduction of the Common Core, there has been a push for pairing fiction texts with nonfiction texts. Zinnia and the Bees provides a great connection for this with the concept of migratory bees.

After doing a little bit of research, I came across a perfect article to introduce and explain the importance of migratory beekeeping. The Mind-Boogling Math of Migratory Beekeeping is a fantastic article from 2013 that dives into detail about bees and the impacts they have on our food. This text is a little challenging because of all the math included, so I would suggest doing a partner or whole-class read with the article. Kids should also highlight the text for information they find interesting or important. After kids read and highlight, I would suggest having them complete reading questions (click here) to solidify their understanding of the material.

Some other ideas for infusing nonfiction with this text:

-online scavenger hunt about bees

-research project on current situation with migratory bees

-compare and contrast migratory bees in other countries

Discussing the Book

One of my favorite aspects about this book is the diversity of themes that it covers. You can do whole class or small group discussions about the following themes:

-Bullying

-Friendship

-Family

-Environment

-Death

-Trust

-Change

If you use this for a read aloud, try asking a theme related question each day (trust me there is lots of material) to help generate discussions.