Can we do a quick check-in on how e-learning is going?
Our kids went back to school this week and we decided to have them continue with e-learning. They haven't been in a classroom since March and we saw no good reason to send them back now -- especially since things have gotten worse.
The first day was a trial run to make sure the technology was good to go. So, Tuesday was their official first day of school...and boy, was it a day! I actually talked about it in this video. I don't know about you but imagine trying to get a bunch of first graders to use Microsoft Teams. It was a complete and utter nightmare -- for us. See, I'm tech savvy and I like to be prepared for new adventures. So, let's get into some of the steps I took to make sure the first day of school went as smoothly as possible.
Create a Game Plan...and Stick to It
You need to decide who will take the lead on e-learning. We learned early-on that our daughter thinks my husband is the fun parent. So, that means she has to do e-learning with me. The only time she does e-learning with him is if I can't do it -- which is rare. She's a creature of habit. So, we knew that we needed to stick to our game plan once we made it. She starts school at the same time I start work. That means our morning routines are essentially blended -- which works well for the both of us!
Part of what is keeping us organized is this E-Learning Weekly Schedule I created. It has done wonders for us and helps us to keep everything organized. If you have the ability to do so, I recommend getting it laminated. That way you can reuse it as many times as you'd like!
Once we determined what our game plan would be, we shared them with our daughter. She is a key stakeholder in this new normal, and it was important for us to orient her to this new process. We finished out the last school year via e-learning but this upgraded version to the process is completely different. We've gone from having school days that were being held together by a thread to having a formal e-learning program.
Therefore, we had to get her ready for what was to come. This included having her set an alarm that would give her enough time to get ready in the morning and eat a balanced breakfast. It also included having her pick out her outfits for the day, even though they can only see her from the neck up. We just wanted to make sure she was as much of an active participant in this process as she was. Intrinsic motivation helps to ensure the plans work well and lasts long.
In order to have a successful e-learning experience, you have to make sure you get plugged-in. Whether you make arrangements with your child's school to borrow an e-learning device or you secure your own device, it is important that you have a reliable device that can support what your child is expected to do.
We decided to purchase a HP Chromebook from Target for this school year. We absolutely struggled with the iPad last school year. Knowing that she was going to be using Microsoft Teams, we wanted to make sure she had no compatibility issues. Plus, the Chromebook came highly recommended by some friends and we are extremely happy with it! Even if this particular model isn't available, I think you'd be happy with any Chromebook device.
Supplement In-Class Instruction
As I discussed in my latest video, I'm extremely concerned about how gains will be made and measured throughout the year. They decided against standardized testing last year due to the quick shift to e-learning. I'm not quite sure if they're going to do the same this year. However, I can't even imagine what that will look like.
I initially thought that our daughter would have a teacher that is dedicated to e-learning. What we have instead is a teacher that has to split her time between the kids in class and the kids online. I know this isn't the teacher's fault, and I applaud her for being able to corral all of these first graders. However, I'm just having some trouble wrapping my head around the effectiveness of this.
So, we are on the hunt for supplemental education. I've included some of the resources some of my buddies have told me about below --
Do A Trial Run
One of the best things we did to get her year off to a strong start was do a trial run. As soon as the school sent out the access codes for her learning programs, we got in there and started poking around. We were already familiar with the programs from the last school year. However, we wanted to make sure we brought her (and ourselves) up to speed before the year started. This has proven to be extremely helpful for her and me. In doing this trial run, we:
Knew exactly where to go and what to do on the first day of class
Downloaded and printed the worksheets ahead of time
Did some self-guided practice
Bookmarked all of the pages we would need for class
Are these 5 tips foolproof? Absolutely not.
However, they've helped to make our e-learning experience less painful. If you decide to incorporate these tips into your e-learning routine, let me know!
Good luck and I hope you have a safe, happy school year :-)
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